Resources for Educators who are recruiting and enrolling students from China in the USA.
Published On: Tue, Jun 4th, 2013

Difference between English and Chinese language

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Common difference between Chinese and English:

1) Chinese language has several dialects in China and no one really knows just how many but these dialects can be categorized under 7 main groups: Putonghua or Han Yu (Mandarin named after the largest ethnic group in China, Han Chinese), Gan, Kejia (Hakka), Min, Wu, Xiang and Yue (Cantonese).
2) Chinese do not use articles simple as “a”, “an”, “the,” etc. The Chinese version of articles are more complicated in the sense that the word used for “a” car vs “a” shirt is completely different.
3) When speaking Chinese, he/she is the same word spoken (ta) but different character written (他(male) /她 (female)).
4) Southerners in China have a different accent than Northerners when speaking Mandarin, just as southern accent in US. Only the ‘twang’ or curling of the ‘R’ is more related to the Northerners in China.
5) ‘Ws’ and ‘Vs’ are different for Chinese to distinguish and pronounce.
6) ‘Ns’ and ‘Ls’ are also very similar to the Chinese and they often mix these sounds up.
7) There are no tenses in Chinese, it is more like I see you tomorrow vs I will see you tomorrow. Tomorrow indicates the future tense.
8) Chinese uses ‘this’ and ‘that’ a lot.
9) Each word in Chinese can be pronounced using 4 tones. Each tone determines the meaning of the word. If you get the tone wrong, you could called your mom a horse. Each word is written differently as well.
10) Questions in Chinese uses a lot of nuh, ma, ne for emphasis. It is the equivalent of a Canadian ending his/her sentence with eh?
11) Chinese characters are pictographic not phonetic so you need to memorize Chinese characters in order to read them.
12) Chinese characters come in traditional and simplified versions. The simplified version is kind of like short-hand in English. The government in China simplified traditional Chinese characters and their strokes so that they could improve literacy across the country during the 1950’s-1960’s. Traditional Chinese characters are still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Irene Tieh
Cross-Cultural Connector and
Founder of USA College Connection

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