Putonghua (Mandarin) is the official dialect (language) of China. It is taught in most schools and is the language of the media. Traditionally regarded in China as the main northern dialect, it is spoken in some form by over 70 percent of the population and is the language of government. About two-thirds of the Han ethnic group are native speakers of Mandarin. In China, there are various Chinese dialects and languages, and numerous minority languages, including Manchu, Mongol, Uyghur, Tibetan and Korean spoken in China. In everyday usage, people tend to speak regional dialects.
Putonghua is a standardized language based on the Beijing dialect. Mandarin is a term used by Europeans to describe Chinese scholars and the dialect gets its name from the fact that the Beijing dialect was the one most widely spoken by the scholar class in Beijing, China's capital and the home of the emperor and his bureaucracy of scholars. Even today speaking Mandarin is regarded as a sign of good breeding while not being able to speak it is associated with being lower class.
Mandarin is a "flat timbre" language with just four tones (high, rising, falling-rising and falling) and consonants that have no equivalent in Cantonese, which has nine tones. Kerry Allen of the BBC wrote:“Mandarin Chinese is one of the most complex languages in the world. Opening a Chinese dictionary, you find around 370,000 words. That's more than double the number of words in the Oxford English dictionary, and almost three times those in French and Russian dictionaries. [Source: Kerry Allen and Stuart Lau, BBC Capital, August 10, 2018]
Mandarin Chinese has been officially required for schoolteachers to learn and teach since 1949. Thus, anyone who has gone to school theoretically should know it. The figures for people that actually speak it are disputed, but by most estimates about 700 million Chinese — around half the population of China — speak Mandarin as their first language and some 1.1 billion (70 perecent of the poplation) speak it in some form. Since 1949, Mandarin has been called officially ‘Putonghua’, or the ‘common language’. In the countryside virtually no one uses pure Mandarin as their everyday language.
Websites and Sources: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Chinese Language.org chineselanguage.org ; Learning Chinese Chinatown Connection ; Omniglot omniglot.com ; learnchinesepod.com ; Pleco Chinese dictionairies pleco.com ; Haiwang Yuan homepage people.wku.edu Romanisation ay Pinyin Info: pinyin.info Chinese Pod chinesepod.com; etymological dictionary zhongwen.com character etymologies hanziyuan.net ; Translation Service chinesetranslationpro.com ; Chinese Language sites: sites.uni.edu/becker ; Rosetta Stone series rosettastone.com ; Clavisinica clavisinica.com ; China Sprout chinasprout.com; Sound and Pronunciation of Chinese Chinatown Connection Chinatown Connection
See Separate Articles: LANGUAGES IN CHINA: DIVERSITY, TONES AND HISTORY factsanddetails.com ; CHINESE DIALECTS AND LANGUAGES factsanddetails.com ; LEARNING AND STUDYING CHINESE factsanddetails.com ; PUSHING MANDARIN AND FIGHTING TO KEEP OTHER CHINESE DIALECTS AND LANGUAGES ALIVE factsanddetails.com ; WRITTEN CHINESE factsanddetails.com ; HISTORY OF WRITING IN CHINA factsanddetails.com ;
Mandarin Chinese refers to the dialect group native to north-central China (including Beijing). The most widely used dialect (language) in China, it is spoken with varying degrees of proficiency by most of the population and is the first language of Han Chinese of Beijing, the northeast and southwest. Mandarin is regarded as a separate language by linguists and as a dialect of the Chinese language by the Chinese government.
According to the “Encyclopedia of World Cultures”: “ Most linguists divide Mandarin into four subgroups: Northern Mandarin, which is spoken in the northeast, the Shandong Peninsula, and a wide area around Beijing; the Northwestern Mandarin of the less plateaus; the Southwestern Mandarin of Sichuan and neighboring regions; and Eastern or Lower Yangtze Mandarin, typified by the dialects around Nanjing. South of the Yangtze, the Chinese languages are more diverse and are not mutually intelligible with each other orwith regional forms of Mandarin. The latter include the Wu dialects, spoken in the areas around Shanghai; the Gan dialects of Jiangxi; the Xiang dialects of Hunan; the Yue dialects of Guangdong and Guangxi; the Min dialects of Fujian and south coastal China; and Hakka, which has a discontinuous distribution from southeast China to Sichuan. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume 6: Russia-Eurasia/China” edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond, 1994]
The northern varieties of Chinese, also called Mandarin, are spoken as a first language by over three-fourths of the population, in a large area extending east and west across north China from the coastal regions of Shandong to Sichuan in the interior, southward toward the Yangtze River and northward into Dongbei. They are for the most part mutually intelligible, given minor adjustment for tones, pronunciation, idioms, and vocabulary.
Creation of the Modern Mandarin (Putonghua)
Mandarin — then a collection northern Han Chinese dialects — did not become a language of China as a whole until the Manchu's overthrew the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and set up their capital in Beijing, where northern Han dialects were spoken. Although it was declared the national language of China after the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912 it did not really become the national language in practice until the Communists launched a nationwide literacy campaign after they came to power in 1949. Children of all ethnic groups, regardless of what language they speak at home, are taught Mandarin in schools throughout the country.
Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote in the New York Times’ Sinosphere: “At a chaotic conference in Beijing in 1913 led by the Chinese linguist and political anarchist Wu Zhihui, the teacups flew, as well as the words, as participants tried to work out: What was the Chinese language? It was an urgent task. Two years before, the last imperial dynasty had fallen in a republican revolution led by Sun Yat-sen. Reformers like Mr. Wu knew that China had to become a modern nation if it was to survive. But China was home to hundreds of spoken languages and dialects and a “fantastically hard” writing system that only a few highly educated people and officials were familiar with, according to David Moser, the author of “A Billion Voices,” a new book recounting the creation of modern Chinese. [Source: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, Sinosphere, New York Times, May 27, 2016]
“Standard Chinese — referred to in China as “Putonghua,” or “common language” — is, Mr. Moser said in an interview, a “Frankensteinian” amalgamation of several northern dialects that was finally adopted as the national language by the government in 1955, six years after the Communist revolution. But in some ways, he said, little has changed since that 1913 conference. “Yes, you have a language, but if you want mass literacy, this thing is a disaster,” said Mr. Moser, who is the academic director at CET, a Chinese language program in Beijing, has a Ph.D. in psycholinguistics and Chinese, and has lived in China for more than 30 years. “The written symbols are fantastically hard to master.”
“In Mr. Moser’s book, the efforts to define a national language run parallel with the decades-long fighting among warlords; the Kuomintang, or Nationalists; and the eventually victorious Communists to control and redefine the Chinese nation. As he described it: “The first part is a historical documentation of the struggle for a unified language of some kind. That’s why I structured is as a battle to win China, since the warlords and Nationalists were also fighting linguistic battles. The second part is after Mao Zedong came to power, how they came to enact this policy under a unified government. That’s an ongoing story, the end of which is not seen. There are still 300 to 400 million people who cannot speak or read Putonghua easily. And the third part is the messy linguistic explanations I have to throw in, because I can’t assume the reader knows anything about Chinese.”
“A major question he addressed is why the creation of a national language in China was so much more difficult than in, say, European nations. “The literary tradition began very much as an elite activity that only scholars could take part in. Very quickly in Greece and Rome there was a democratizing effort and the Greeks tried to publish their work in an oral language. That never happened in China. China has always had this problem with getting its language from basically a written form, a dead written form, to a living speech.”
Spread of Mandarin and Demands That Everyone in China Speak it
The use of Mandarin (Putonghua) soared after the Chinese Communist Party leadership selected it as the national language in 1955. At that time a plethora of languages and dialects were spoken all over China but by 2000 Mandarin was the common tongue of China with around 70 percent of population of China speaking it. “The national language has been a tremendous unifying force in China and it’s why they promoted Putonghua as much as they have,” Robert Bauer, a professor of Chinese linguistics at Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong said. “Young people don’t bother learning their parents’ dialects any more. When I was teaching linguistics in China the students told me that their local dialects are useless — in terms of feeling good about your culture and home it’s important [to speak your dialect], but in terms of getting ahead you need English and Putonghua.” [Source: Time Out Hong Kong, July 8, 2015]
In 2017, the Beijing government called for whole population to speak Mandarin. SupChina reported: China’s Ministry of Education and its National Language Committee have issued an announcement (in Chinese) calling for intensive work to spread the use of spoken Mandarin and standardized Chinese characters. Currently, about 70 percent of the population can speak Mandarin. In big cities, the figure is around 90 percent, but according to the announcement in some rural areas and among ethnic groups, the number is 40 percent or even lower. The BBC has a short report on the announcement that says the target is to have 80 percent of the population speaking Mandarin by 2020, but the original announcement does not actually mention that number. The Ministry of Education says that ensuring that the use of Mandarin is thoroughly popularized is an important goal of the 13th five-year plan, and necessary to meet China’s development goals and to preserve social harmony and unity of the nation. The announcement also calls for the “scientific preservation” ( kexué baohù) of the languages of ethnic minorities. [Source: SupChina, April 4, 2017]
British journalist Dr Martin Jacques, the author of “When China Rules the World: the Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World.“, said “China has had a very weak conception of cultural difference and is very disrespectful to those that do not belong to the Han identity, which they believe is the cement that holds the country together. The biggest political value in China is unity. How power is constructed in China is much different than the West. They view state power as the patriarch of the family. And this rule has not been challenged in the past 1,000 years.” [Source: Time Out Hong Kong, July 8, 2015]
Mandarin, the World’s Most Widely Spoken Language
Mandarin Chinese is world's most widely spoken language. There is so some debate on how many Mandarin and Chinese speakers there truly are. Figures vary widely on the total number of people who speak Chinese and Mandarin. The Chinese government says only 53 percent speak Mandarin. So 1.4 billion X .53 = 742 million. But 53 percent probably refers to those who speak it as the first language. If you include those that speak it as a second language or who speak some the figures are higher. Ethnologue puts the number of Chinese native speakers at 1.3 billion, of whom about 917 million speak Mandarin. In any case there’s no doubt it’s the most spoken language in the world.
First language speakers in 2009: 1) Chinese, 1.213 billion; 2) Spanish, 329 million; 3) English, 328 million; 4) Arabic, 221 million; 5) Hindi, 182 million; 6) Bengali, 181 million; 7) Portuguese, 178 million; 8) Russian, 144 million; 9) Japanese, 122 million; 10) German, 90 million. [Source: National Geographic]
Top first languages in 1999 (number of speakers):1) Mandarin Chinese (885 million); 2) English (322 million); 3) Spanish (266 million); 4) Bengali (189 million); 5) Hindi (182 million); 6) Portuguese (170 million); 7) Russian (170 million); 8) Japanese (125 million); 9) German (98 million); 10) Wu Chinese (77 million). [Source: National Geographic]
The world’s most widely spoken languages based on the number of native speakers: 1) Chinese — 1.3 billion native speakers; 2) Spanish — 460 million native speakers; 3) English — 379 million native speakers; 4) Hindi — 341 million native speakers; 5) Arabic — 315 million native speakers; 6) Bengali — 228 million native speakers; 7) Portuguese — 220 million native speakers; 8) Russian — 153 million native speakers; 9) Japanese — 128 million native speakers; 10) Lahnda (Western Punjabi) — 118 million native speakers. [Source: Babbel.com]
World’s most widely spoken languages based on the number of total speakers — 1) English — 1.132 billion total speakers; 2) Mandarin Chinese — 1.117 billion total speakers; 3) Hindi — 615 million total speakers; 4) Spanish — 534 million total speakers; 5) French — 280 million total speakers; 6) Standard Arabic — 274 million total speakers; 7) Bengali — 265 million total speakers; 8) Russian — 258 million total speakers; 9) Portuguese — 234 million total speakers; 10) Indonesian — 199 million total speakers, According to Babbel.com: The above numbers are total number of people who speak the languages with some speaking it as their mother tongue and others speaking it as lingua franca, and others simply speaking it, perhaps to get ahead in business.
Chinese is a hard language to master but the grammar is relatively easy (there are no verb tenses, gender or person and the pronouns "he," "she," and "it" are all conveyed by ta) and sentence structure is similar to that of English. But the pronunciation is difficult for non-Chinese. Each word in Mandarin is composed of combinations of 420 syllables. Each syllable has an average of ten different meanings (yi has 69 and shi has 59). Chinese has been described as more poetically vague and open to interpretation than English. It relies on word order rather than morphology to express grammatical relationships. The are no articles or future or past tenses. Instead time and plurality are defined by context or some additional words.
Angie Eagan and Rebecca Weiner wrote in “CultureShock! China”: The grammar of spoken Chinese is extremely easy. Verbs do not conjugate in Chinese, and nouns do not decline. Putting sentences in the past tense, future tense, conditional tense and so on is largely a matter of word order and the addition of certain standard participles: (le) for the past tense, (jiang) for the future tense, and so on. Word-order and correct use of participles (as well as other idiosyncrasies like naming participles and counting participles) will become important if you ever decide to make a serious effort to learn Chinese. But most businesspeople operating at a survival level in the language can easily afford to ignore the whole question of grammar. [Source:“CultureShock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette” by Angie Eagan and Rebecca Weiner, Marshall Cavendish 2011]
Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “Modern spoken Mandarin is a “syllable poor” language, meaning that there are only a limited number of syllables that can be used by Chinese speakers. In fact, there are no more than 450 possible syllables that can be used in speech. In English and most other languages, although there is a limited number of basic sounds (phonemes) that we expect native speakers to be able to use, these can be combined in new ways to create new syllable sounds, and these can become part of the language. For example, if you wanted to name your cat Blarksht, your English-speaking friends might be surprised, but they’d call her “Blarksht”; Chinese speakers who met your cat, however, would probably refer to her as “Bu-la-ke-shi-te,” breaking her name into five syllables that exist in Chinese as the closest approximation to the syllable you had invented. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]
In a review of the book “Language Diversity in the Sinophone World”, Ashley Liu wrote: Chapter 14, “Diverse Language, Diverse Grammars: On Quirky Phenomena in Mandarin,” by Jeroen Wiedenhof, discusses “many phenomena in Mandarin which are left undocumented in descriptive accounts and reference grammars” that exemplify the paradox between the “enormous diversity [in Mandarin] due to a vast number of speakers” and the demand for “fixed standards due to its prestige as a national language”. He illustrates many instances of locative markers, nominal predicates, endearment tones, and the /r/ phoneme in Mandarin that are dismissed as “rare or exceptional” by linguists and argues that the widespread existence of such phenomena begs for a re-examination of linguistic standards. [Source: Ashley Liu, University of Maryland, MCLC Resource Center, March, 2021; Book:“Language Diversity in the Sinophone World: HistoricalTrajectories, Language Planning, and Multilingual Practices” edited by Henning Klöter and Mårten Söderblom Saarela (London: Routledge, 2020)]
19th Century View of Chinese Grammar and Thought
Arthur Henderson Smith wrote in “Chinese Characteristics”: ““Chinese nouns, as is by this time known to several, appear to be indeclinable. They are quite free from "gender" and "case." Chinese adjectives have no degrees of comparison. Chinese verbs are not hampered by any "voice," "mood," "tense," "number," or "person." There is no recognizable distinction between nouns, adjectives, and verbs, for any character may be used indiscriminately in either capacity (or incapacity) and no questions asked. We are not about to complain that the Chinese language cannot be made to convey human thought, nor that there are wide ranges of human thought which it is difficult or impossible to render intelligible in the Chinese language (though this appears to be a truth), but only to insist that such a language, so constructed, invites to “intellectual turbidity" as the incandescent heats of summer gently woo to afternoon repose. [Source:“Chinese Characteristics” by Arthur Henderson Smith, 1894. Smith (1845 -1932) was an American missionary who spent 54 years in China. In the 1920s, “Chinese Characteristics” was still the most widely read book on China among foreign residents there. He spent much of his time in Pangzhuang, a village in Shandong.]
“The fact that Chinese verbs have no tenses, and. that there is nothing to mark transitions of time or indeed of place, does not tend to clarify one's perceptions of the inherently turbid. Under such circumstances, the best the poor foreigner can do, who wishes to keep up the appearance at least of following in the train of the vanished thought, is to begin a series of catechetical inquiries, like a frontier hunter "blazing" his way through a pathless forest, with a hatchet. “Who was this person, that you are talking about now'. This being ascertained it is possible to proceed to inquire, “Where was this?” “When was it!" “What was it that this man did?!' “What was it, that they did about it?" “What happened then? At each of these questions, your Chinese friend gazes at you with a bewildered and perhaps an appealing look, as if in doubt whether you have not parted with all your five senses. But a persistent pursuit of this silken thread of categorical inquiry, will make it the clue of Ariadne, in delivering one from many a hopeless labyrinth.
Of all the ambiguous words in the Chinese language, probably the most ambiguous is the personal (or impersonal) pronoun t'a, which signifies promiscuously "he," "she," or "it." Sometimes the speaker designates the subject of his remarks by vaguely waving his thumb in the direction of the subject's home, or toward the point where he was last heard of. But more frequently the single syllable fa is considered wholly sufficient as a relative, as a demostrative pronoun, and as a specifying adjective. Under these circumstances, the talk of a Chinese will be like the testimony of a witness in an English Court, who described a fight in the following terms : “He'd a stick, and he'd a stick, and he wacked he, and, he wacked he, and if he'd a wacked he as hard as, he wacked he, he'd a killed he, and not he he."
Impact of Chinese Grammar on Poetry
Perry Link wrote in the New York Review of Books: “The advantages of Chinese characters in avoiding grammatical specificity (advantages to poets, not necessarily to scientists or lawyers) can be analyzed primarily as absences of subject, number, and tense. Each of these three is worth a look. [Source: Perry Link, professor at Princeton University, New York Review of Books, November 24, 2016]
“Subjectlessness. It is the norm in classical Chinese poetry, and common even in modern Chinese prose, to omit subjects. The reader or listener infers a subject. In the first line of our Wang Wei poem (“empty mountain no see person”), only a perverse reader would say that “empty mountain” should be the subject because it is a noun and comes first. Common sense hears the phrase adverbially and infers the subject to be an unstated human viewer. But how can one put this effect into Western languages that ask by grammatical rule that subjects always be stated? Most of the translators in Nineteen Ways supply an “I.” Eliot Weinberger points out, though, that when “I” is inserted a “controlling individual mind of the poet” enters and destroys the effect of the Chinese line. Without a subject, he writes, “the experience becomes both universal and immediate to the reader.” This point is correct and very important.
“Another way to handle the subjectlessness is to use the passive voice in English: “no man is seen.” But this, at least to my ear, again particularizes the experience too much. That marvelous sense of “both universal and immediate” remains lost. A third alternative is to leave the voice active and, following the Chinese, name no subject: “in empty mountains, see no person,” or something like that. But this often sounds broken or childlike, which the Chinese line certainly does not. Burton Watson’s “empty hills, no one in sight” is about as good as one can do.
“Numberlessness. Nouns have no number in Chinese. Weinberger notes that “rose is a rose is all roses,” but that formulation still leaves us too far inside Western-language number habits. “All roses” in English means the summation of individual roses, whereas in Chinese meigui, or “rose” is more like “roseness” or “rosehood.” (If you want to talk in Chinese about one rose, you may, but then you use a “measure word” to say “one blossom-of roseness.”) So, in the first line of Wang Wei’s poem, it is not quite right to think ofshan as either singular or plural, either hill or hills. The concept is more abstract. But what can a translator write? Hillness sounds odd and hillhood almost funny. Any attempt of this kind tends to exoticize, but the supple Chinese line is not at all exotic. (It is worth noting that Western views of Eastern expression as quaint have often originated not in Eastern languages themselves but in the awkwardness that results when rules of Western languages are applied.)
“Tenselessness. There are several ways in Chinese to specify when something happened or will happen, but verb tense is not one of them. For poets, the great advantage of tenselessness is the ambiguity it opens up. Did I see no one in the hills? Or am I now seeing no one? Am I imagining what it would be like to see no one? All these, and others, are possible. Weinberger’s insight about subjectlessness — that it produces an effect “both universal and immediate” — applies to timelessness as well.
“But the effect isn’t possible in a Western language, where grammar always forces a choice of one tense or another. For this reason I will quibble with Weinberger’s choice of English infinitives as his glosses for Chinese verbs. He lists ru as “to enter,” zhao as “to shine,” and so on, but I am afraid that that little “to,” which comes from English grammar, subtly reinforces the mistaken notion that Chinese verbs are, or should be, conjugatable things, when in fact they are not. Moreover, infinitives in Western languages can be nouns. On stage at the Met, to enter is to shine — one noun is another. I would prefer to say ru is “enter” and zhao “shine.”
Mandarin Pronunciation and Tones
Dr. Eno wrote: A set of 450 available syllables is very small. There were probably many more in ordinary ancient Chinese speech, but over millennia, the vowel and consonant system of Chinese was greatly simplified, and distinctions among similar sounding words came to be made not through the use of vowel or consonant phonemes, but through standardized intonations, or “tones,” assigned to each syllable. Ancient Chinese was largely a “monosyllabic language”: that is, the semantic (meaning) units of the language were almost always expressed by a single syllable. Each of these semantically significant syllables constituted a word. Words were uninflected: they did not take variable endings that indicated features such as tense, number, gender, or case. For this reason, it was relatively simple to build into syllables – which corresponded to meaning units – a tonal element that would help distinguish their meaning. In standard Mandarin there are four “tones” – inflections that are a stable part of the pronunciation of each word or meaningful syllable: level, rising, low, and falling. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]
“Not every syllable can carry every tone, but tones in Chinese mean that, in practice, roughly 4 x 450 = 1500 syllables are actually possible in Mandarin. (Not that this removes all ambiguity – a small dictionary lists 130 different characters that are all pronounced as “yi” with a falling tone!) The syllable-poor nature of Chinese is one reason why, for foreigners, Chinese words may seem to look alike. Having few syllable choices, there is an unusual degree of resemblance among words transcribed into our Roman alphabet, and it makes it hard for Westerners when they encounter Chinese names and terms in their own script. In Chinese, the ambiguity is greatly reduced by the other striking feature of the language – written characters.” /+/
Studies using brain scans have found that Mandarin speakers use more areas of their brain than people who speak English. Unlike English speakers who use only one side of their brain, Mandarin speakers generally use both sides. In a study by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Research Charity on Britain, the left temporal lobe of English speakers lit up on brain scans when they heard their language while the left and right temporal lobes of Mandarin speakers lit up on brain scans when they heard their language. The right lobe is normally used to process melody, music and speech. Some have theorized this side may be activated by Mandarin because of its tonal quality.
thank you — xie xie
hello — ni hao
goodbye — zai jian
no problem — mei wen ti
take care — xiao xin
Is that right? — shi bu shi
Do you want it? — yao bu yao
sorry — bao qian
not bad — hai ke yi
[Source: “CultureShock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette” by Angie Eagan and Rebecca Weiner, Marshall Cavendish 2011]
My name is Jack — wo jiao Jack
Hello, Ms Chen. — ni hao, Zeng xiao jie.
Hello, Mr Lin. — ni hao, Ling xian shen.
Hello, everybody. — da jia hao.
How are you? — ni hao ma?
Good morning. — zhao an.
Welcome! — huan ying!
See you tomorrow! — ming tian jian!
Pronouns, Titles, Forms of Address
you — ni
he/ she/ it — ta
we — wo men
you guys — ni men
they — ta men
father — ba ba
mother — ma ma
kids — xiao hai
man — nan ren
woman — nu ren
Mister (Mr) — xian sheng
Miss (Ms) — xiao jie
Mistress (Mrs) — tai tai
colleague — tong shi
Important Mandarin Words and Expressions
close enough — cha bu duo
correct — dui
foreigner — wai guo ren
friend — peng you
English — Ying wen
Mandarin — Pu tong hua
outsider — wai di ren
relationship — guan xi
subway — di tie
work unit — dan wei
[Source: “CultureShock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette” by Angie Eagan and Rebecca Weiner, Marshall Cavendish 2011]
fish — yu
meat — rou
chicken — ji
egg — dan
beef — niu rou
lamb — yang rou
crab — xia
seafood — hai xian
mineral water — kuang quan shui
tea — cha
rice — mi
tofu (bean curd) — dou fu
vegetables — shu cai
water — shui
east — dong
west — xi
north — bei
south — nan
outside — wai mian
inside — li mian
Australia — ao da li ya
Canada — jia na da
China — zhong guo
England — ying guo
Europe — ou zhou
France — fa guo
Germany — de guo
Hong Kong — xiang gang
Italy — yi da li
Japan — ri ben
Korea — han guo
Tibet — xi zhang
United States — mei guo
Numbers, Time, Days, Months in Mandarin
zero — ling
one — yi
two — er
three — san
four — si
five — wu
six — liu
seven — qi
eight — ba
nine — jiu
ten — shi
[Source: “CultureShock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette” by Angie Eagan and Rebecca Weiner, Marshall Cavendish 2011]
time — shi jian
today — jing tian
tomorrow — ming tian
yesterday — zuo tian
the day before yesterday — qian tian
the day after tomorrow — hou tian
last year — qu nian
this year — jin nian
next year — ming nian
morning — zao shang
noon — zhong wu
afternoon — xia wu
night — wan shang
Monday — li bai yi
Tuesday — li bai er
Wednesday — li bai san
Thursday — li bai si
Friday — li bai wu
Saturday — li bai liu
Sunday — li bai tian
Today is Monday — jing tian shi li bai yi
January — yi yue
February — er yue
March — san yue
April — si yue
May — wu yue
June — liu yue
July — qi yue
August — ba yue
September — jiu yue
October — shi yue
November — shi yi yue
December — shi er yue
Swear Words and Expressions, See SEX IN CHINA: SURVEYS, VIRGINITY, SWEAR WORDS AND CHANGES factsanddetails.com
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2021