How to Make a Chinese Purse

The Chinese language

We are of the opinion that we should only use advertising language in the smallest amount. We want you to understand how the Chinese language works first. Whether you want to learn Chinese with us is up to you. We look forward to everyone who dares to take the step to broaden their horizons!

So I want to start with the basics to give you an idea of ​​the Chinese language. In this article I want to explain to you:

  • What kind of language is the Chinese language?
  • How does the Chinese language work when compared to Latin, German and English?
  • What makes Chinese different from other languages?
  • Why are sentences so important to the Chinese language?

In this area the topic becomes a little more specific. I, an enthusiastic linguist, sinologist and English scholar, love to see and interpret Chinese in a "big picture".

It may be too dry for some people, but it provides a solid foundation for our particularly easy course and if you invest 2 minutes to read this page, you will learn a lot about the Chinese language until today nobody could tell.

Chinese is one of the oldest languages ​​in the world. Most people know this, but what it means for an extremely ancient language to exist so vividly in modern society is something few people understand.

In Chinese it means: The written form is already over 2000 years old, while the "modern form", namely that what is spoken is written down in this way, has only been around for a good 100 years.

100 years ago people wrote Old Chinese. The difference between the two forms (written and spoken) is so great that it can be compared to German (spoken) and Latin (written).

At the beginning of the 20th century came a movement, namely "the creation of vernacular literature". She made people write like one speaks. This movement was the beginning of a long development that continues to this day.

There are three characteristics that distinguish Chinese from most other languages:

1. Chinese consists of two languages: the spoken (modern) and the written (old)

To understand this concept, you have to understand one thing: learning Chinese is not comparable to learning German or English, but rather like learning German or English and Latin at the same time.

Like Latin, the language has existed for a very long time. The script has hardly changed for over 2000 years. The only significant change was the 1956 script reform carried out in mainland China, but the characters have remained fairly close to their origins. However, the spoken language has constantly changed over 2000 years. So it is pretty accurate to compare Chinese with German AND Latin.

In terms of content, Chinese is also comparable to Latin; the root of a word sometimes works like the original meaning, but often no longer. Many words have long since developed so far from their origin that one can no longer guess what they used to mean.

The “bad thing” about this combination, compared to Latin: Old Chinese was never seen as a different language. The Chinese learn this as a matter of course and consider their knowledge of Old Chinese to be part of the modern language, while Old Chinese works pretty much like Latin: It is a separate language and is integrated into modern (spoken) Chinese.

The phenomenon is hardly known to native speakers: They consider their knowledge of Old Chinese to be “general knowledge”, which, however, cannot possibly be achieved as “general knowledge” for language students!

So that you can better understand the concept, I have the word "capit" as an example:

Imagine you started with Latin to learn English. This is how people are currently learning Chinese.

2. Pronunciation and characters have absolutely no connection

Even when you are learning Latin, one rule applies: the written language (alphabet) gives you clues on how to pronounce a word. This applies to all Indo-European languages. In German, for example, you write exactly as you speak.

Chinese doesn't work that way. Spoken Chinese has its own system that also serves as a guide to how to speak a word (“pinyin”). But this system has absolutely no connection with the written form. The only way to memorize the pronunciation is by memorization.

Therefore, characters do not serve as an aid, but as an obstacle when starting out with the language. Imagine, for example, as if you were learning English and Latin at the same time, plus that Latin uses a separate, very different writing system than English. This is how people are currently learning Chinese.

3. Chinese is a context-based language

It's hard to imagine for many who are always used to individual words having unique meanings. You expect every word to have a “real” function, that's what words are for, right?

E.g. in English "bag" simply means "bag". If you have memorized this word, you can go straight to the market and with this one word “bag” you can quickly understand what you are looking for.

But Chinese doesn't work that way. If you have learned the word “bao” (bag) correctly, with the correct pitch, you still cannot express yourself clearly. In addition, because Chinese is not based on the alphabet, Chinese has no rules for the pronunciation of the characters. In addition, Chinese has no grammar: no singular or plural, no tenses and cases. You just put words together like "earlier" to express the past tense and "already" serves as the perfect tense. In other words, everything that is used in the Indo-European languages ​​to avoid misunderstandings does not exist in Chinese. How do the Chinese avoid misunderstandings?

They use whole sentences. The context is the solution.

Even when getting to know each other, such conversations take place quite normally:

That clearly shows how important context is in Chinese.

So it is almost useless to simply pronounce a word like “bāo” as perfectly as possible, it is both difficult and unnecessary. But if you learn the whole sentence “wo xiang mai yige shoutibao”:

This makes it almost impossible to be misunderstood.

And that is the basis of our method: You learn whole sentences, always with the right context. You don't have to learn the pitches or characters in order to communicate as quickly as possible.

Because, you don't have to be perfect to learn Chinese.

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And if you've got more courage now, then start right away with our free trial course, so that you can learn your first 30 sentences in Chinese right away!

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The Chinese language was last modified: February 3rd, 2021 by Chi Zhang