Thursday, 10 May 2007

Learning Chinese R/W way - Lesson 2

Learning Chinese is easy because it is a very "lego-like" language. Once you know a few characters, you can build on that.

In English, January, February, March, April, ... are all different and hence you need to learn all twelve by heart. In Chinese, 月 means moon - the brightest object we can see at night at the sky. Since Chinese calendar is a "lunar" calender, one month is one cycle of the moon from new moon to full moon and back. By the way, at the beginning of a Chinese month, it is always new moon. Full moon at the middle of the month.

Now back to the month, the same word 月 is used to express western month as well.
January is 一月,
February is 二月,
March is 三月, etc.

Hence by knowing the numbers, you already know how to express the month by knowing one more word, 月.

Two more words to complete your ability to express a full date: 年 (year) and 日(day).

Today, 10th May, 2007 is expressed as 二千零七年五月十日. (Since May is the fifth month in the year) The order is year, month and then day.

What about time? OK, three more characters to learn: 時, 分, 秒. If it is 9:35:42 am, we say 上午九時三十五分四十二秒.

上午 means morning,
中午 means noon, and
下午 means afternoon.

So you may have guess that 午 means middle of the day (noon)! 午時 was the olden way of saying midday.

Look carefully how 上 and 下 are written. The horizontal stroke represent the baseline. So 上 means "above" or "upper". 下 means "below" or "lower". 中 means middle.

Now, I shall also tell you how to express weekdays. No, we don't have to remember another 7 words. We just need to understand that week is western concept. So when it is introduced into China, we need a phrase to mean week: 星期.

Monday is 星期一, Tuesday is 星期二 and so on. Sunday is a bit different. It is not 星期七. It is 星期日.

Exercise:
What does the following mean?
二千零七年五月三十一日星期四 31st May, 2007 Thursday

In this lesson, you have learnt these words:
年月日時分秒上中下午
these phrases: 上午 中午 下午 星期
and how to express date time in Chinese

Next time, we shall look at the characteristics of Chinese character and how to write them. Should be interesting.

3 comments:

Bob said...

Haha, the "lego-like" comparison is excellent!

There are some nice stuff on Chinese-Tools.com just as the "Chinese colourful characters" page...

William said...

I am also learning Chinese by a special and innovative service in Beijing Chinese School. I like to learn in live class with teacehrs from Beijing directly. I also like to practice Chinese with volunteers freely everyday. Watching Chinese learning TV on CLTV is also interesting and helpful to practice listening and learn more about Chinese culture.

Albert Ip said...

Hi, This course is quite different from others in that I will not be emphasis how to pronounce any words. In fact, I believe it is counter-productive to learn Chinese by listening and speaking.

Hope that I can prove that by this course. :-)