Okay tones

Get your Mandarin tones right, okay?  :):)

Stories From Tanya

As promised, while I’m no longer in China, I still want to talk about Chinese! Today I’m tackling something that scares many foreigners learning Chinese – the tones.

In a tonal language, part of a syllable’s sound is the intonation with which it is spoken. So a syllable pronounced with a falling tone means something different to the exact same syllable pronounced with a rising tone. In the case of one particular syllable in Mandarin, that difference changes a common surname to an offensive swear word! So as you see, the tone isn’t an optional extra – it is part of the sound itself.

Speaking Chinese without tones is akin to gibberish – it just will not be understood. Plenty of people live in China for years and continue to struggle with tones. My tones are quite good overall but I still mess up more than I’d like to admit!

Believe it or not, of…

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