Many of us love a bit of Chinese, especially on a Friday evening in front of the telly or a nice film. But how many of us can speak any Chinese? With a culture we’re so accustomed to eating from, isn’t it time we all learned a little about the language and how to speak it.
Chinese (汉语 or 漢語, Hànyǔ) is really a group of related language varieties, several of which are not mutually intelligible and according to Wikipedia, about one-fifth of the world’s population, (over one 1bn people) speak some form of Chinese as their first language. There are between 7 – 13 main regional groups of of the language with the most widely spoken being Mandarin.
To make things somewhat simpler, ‘Standard Chinese’ evolved, a standardised form of spoken Chinese based Beijing’s Mandarin dialect. This form is the official language of the People’s Republic of China(PRC) and the Republic of China and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
In the video below, you’ll learn how to say hello and start a conversation in Mandarin. To help you understand, they’ve also added the written versions – but with the alphabet we are familiar with, rather than the Chinese alphabet. Try it out in your local take away this weekend, or ask them to teach you some more!