Chinese Lesson

I went across the hall last night to BegoƱa and Will's place so Stephen (proper name Xihao, who's from Shanghai) could give us a lesson in Chinese. We spent the whole time working on the pronunciation of Hanyu Pinyin (Wikipedia) structures. If you look at the linked page, take a look at the "affricates" in the chart a short distance down the page. These are particularly difficult to distinguish/pronounce for a native English speaker with little other language experience. Several of them involve a sound like "sss" that we make when we see an "S" in a word, but they start with another small and short sound. Pinyin "c" is pronounced sort of "tsss." I think. Of course, the "c" is an "initial," and a word is never constructed without a "final," a vowel sound following the "c." The system itself isn't too bad, but pronunciations are going to keep me stumped for a while. Not to mention that it's also a tonal language ... But perhaps I shouldn't complain: this is Mandarin, which is spoken in most of China. Cantonese is spoken in Canton and Hong Kong, and it has nine tones instead of the mere four used in Mandarin. This isn't singing - you don't have to hit 2000 Hz to pronounce a particular word. Instead, the tone changes as you speak the word (see further down in the Wikipedia article).

About a week ago, again in discussion with Bego, Will, and Stephen, we decided that I needed a Chinese nickname. We chose "Long Legs," which translates to "Chang Tui."