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Popuplights

Learning to speak Mandarin

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Has anybody here learnt to speak mandarin Chinese,? I am hopefully going to be working closely with some Chinese engineering bods in the new year. It's been suggested that a basic ability to speak the lingo will go down well. Have any of the DOSBODS massive learnt Mandarin, and have any recommendations for courses etc?

 

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30 minutes ago, Popuplights said:

Has anybody here learnt to speak mandarin Chinese,? I am hopefully going to be working closely with some Chinese engineering bods in the new year. It's been suggested that a basic ability to speak the lingo will go down well. Have any of the DOSBODS massive learnt Mandarin, and have any recommendations for courses etc?

 

I learned to speak a bit of Cantonese when I was spending a lot of time in HK. It was fucking difficult but people were genuinely appreciative and forgiving of my terrible accent and grammatical errors so I’d definitely recommend doing it. Mandarin has fewer tones I believe but I’d guess it’s similarly hard to learn.

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I learned a bit of Thai at a language school for foreigners in Bangkok which aimed for native speaker level. (Intensive but up to you how many hrs a day/week you wished to commit. So flexible. Pay for a block of hrs up frint, then reload your credit when thise hours used up.) I did 1-2 hrs a day. They made everyone listen 1st - speaking was banned. That came much layer. (And later still reading/writing.) They decided when we were ready (individual progress) to move yp a class. As it's a tonal language (5 tones) like Mandarin, Ithink they had a point. Cos if you can't recognise the tones you can't really do anything right. So one has to listen a lot. Then try speaking only when you are able to reproduce the correct tones. (Same word in wrong tone = some other word which is confusing and sometimes dangerous!)

So i would recommend sime online listening to start with? Duolingo or something free like that? Or get sone mp3 downloads? Kids' stuff?

Good idea to try!

 

Edited by whocares

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19 hours ago, whocares said:

 if you can't recognise the tones you can't really do anything right.  

 

I learned this in rural Normandy. I had some schoolboy French but all of the villagers had no English at all. Except one guy that could say 'Good afternoon' with perfect received pronunciation.

Nice lady that ran the local shop tried her best to understand my 'Vin rouge, trois.' referring to a special offer my mate had bought there. Managed to get there with sign language.

She later had me trying to say the French for son and daughter. She'd repeat the words, pointing to a relevant sprog. I just couldn't tell those two words apart.

 

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I know nothing about Mandarin.

However I've been learning Italian with a combination of audio books, watching lots of Italian television, and one-to-one lessons with a tutor I found through:

verbalplanet.com

There is however a rather more expensive business option - if they're paying, maybe you can try it. It appears to be well-regarded. Perhaps there's a reason why it's more expensive..

https://hola.fluentcity.com/business/languages/

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Whatever country I visit, I regard the learning following as essential (and can transform the locals attitude to you when you use them).

Thank you
Please
Hello
Good Morning / Afternoon/ Evening
One
Two
Three
DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH

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I've tried to learn both Mandarin and Cantonese but had zero success.  I just cannot hear the tonal variances.  I know some phrases but I'm no better than a parrot.

 

Luckily almost everyone in HK speaks English

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1 minute ago, The Masked Tulip said:

So what happens if someone is tone deaf? Are there no tone deaf Asians? Or doesn't it work like that?

English is similarly tonal, or maybe that's not the right linguistic term, but I mean pronouncing a correct word wrongly can trash the meaning entirely. 

Suppose you pronounce "occur" as "ocker" (to rhyme with docker.) From the learner's point of view they have got it nearly right, but the listener doesn't understand at all. 

My Russian teacher used to make me grip a pencil between my back teeth to get the exact pronunciation of ы

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3 minutes ago, Happy Renting said:

Whatever country I visit, I regard the learning following as essential (and can transform the locals attitude to you when you use them).

Thank you
Please
Hello
Good Morning / Afternoon/ Evening
One
Two
Three
DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH

And let's not forget this one, which I can do in eight languages 

"Two beers please my friend will pay" 

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From Wikipedia:

Quote

English As She Is Spoke is the common name of a 19th-century book written by Pedro Carolino, and falsely additionally credited to José da Fonseca, which was intended as a Portuguese–English conversational guide or phrase book, but is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour, as the given English translations are generally completely incoherent.

The humour appears to be a result of dictionary-aided literal translation, which causes many idiomatic expressions to be translated wildly inappropriately. For example, the Portuguese phrase chover a cântaros is translated as raining in jars, whereas an idiomatic English translation would be raining buckets.

It is widely believed that Carolino could not speak English, and that a French–English dictionary was used to translate an earlier Portuguese–French phrase book, O novo guia da conversação em francês e português, written by José da Fonseca. Carolino likely added Fonseca's name to the book without his permission in an attempt to give it some credibility. The Portuguese–French phrase book is apparently a competent work, without the defects that characterize English As She Is Spoke.

Stephen Pile mentions this work in The Book of Heroic Failures and comments: "Is there anything in conventional English which could equal the vividness of 'to craunch a marmoset'?" The original has "to craunch the marmoset", an entry under the book's "Idiotisms and Proverbs". This is the author's attempt to translate the French slang idiomatic expression croquer le marmot, used to indicate "waiting patiently for someone to open a door", with croquer referring to the "knocking" or "rapping" sound, and marmot, a term for the grotesque door knockers in vogue at the time. The term is presumably inspired by the marmot's large teeth, as many of the grotesque door knockers were figures holding the knocker clasped in their teeth.

I have a facsimile copy I bought at the V&A many years ago. It is very funny, particularly as the humour is completely unintended.

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21 minutes ago, Funn3r said:

English is similarly tonal, or maybe that's not the right linguistic term,

Thats "stress". Emphasising the right syllable. (One of the reasons) Why we cant pronounce french, even with the words looking the same-

 

22 minutes ago, Panther said:

What are tones? Is it the 'sing song' sound that some languages (Vietnamese?) have?

Even Swedish has them, although only a couple of tones and it doesn't usually actually change the meaning of words like in asian languages.

Edited by steppensheep

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2 hours ago, wherebee said:

I've tried to learn both Mandarin and Cantonese but had zero success.  I just cannot hear the tonal variances.  I know some phrases but I'm no better than a parrot.

 

Luckily almost everyone in HK speaks English

I wonder if you found the same as me..

Cantonese,  quite easy to pronounce..  just very difficult to remember everything because unlike Latin languages there is no equivalency to allow educated guesses or word linking.

Mandarin,  just impossible on every level.

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2 hours ago, Panther said:

What are tones? Is it the 'sing song' sound that some languages (Vietnamese?) have?

Vowels are either rising, falling, down up down, up down up ...or flat. (That makes the sing song sound!) I got the hang of it after some initial hesitation. You have to sing it. And lose your inhibitions 

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2 hours ago, Happy Renting said:

Whatever country I visit, I regard the learning following as essential (and can transform the locals attitude to you when you use them).

Thank you
Please
Hello
Good Morning / Afternoon/ Evening
One
Two
Three
DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH

You missed some other essentials:

Two more beers

Fuck off

Send in another whore, because this one is dead

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1 minute ago, Captain Cavey said:

You missed some other essentials:

Two more beers

Fuck off

Send in another whore, because this one is dead

Not sure if will be using that last one in a business situation...

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I can speak some Mandarin. The problem is the dialect in different regions makes it difficult for the Chinese to understand, never mind a Westerner. My pronunciation is very good for the limited Mandarin that I know - despite this I either get a blank expression from the person I am talking to, as if I’m speaking Clingon, or they think I am fluent and then start jabbering away! There is no in between - they either understand what you are saying or have not got a clue, even if you pronounce a word (almost) perfectly.

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