Mandarin Weekly #74

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) Welcome to the latest Mandarin Weekly, with yet more links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Dragon Boat history

Last week was the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. What is this holiday, and what are its origins? Here is the story in Chinese characters and pinyin (and also translation, if you get stuck):

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Dragon Boat phrases

Want to talk about Dragon Boat with Chinese friends? Here are some key phrases you can use to chat with them:

Dragon Boat vocabulary

Here are some more vocabulary words, descriptions, and sentences you can use around the time of Dragon Boat:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Zongzi and Dragon Boat

Why eat zongzi? How are they related to Dragon Boat? Learn all about it, as well as how to make zongzi, in this video from LearnChineseNow:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Chinese ebooks

Want to improve your Chinese reading? Perhaps some ebooks will be useful to you:

Twitter: @FluentU

Some common characters

This week, we have a video lesson from in which we learn all about how to use 是 and 很

Twitter: @Chelseabubbly

Mind your tones

There are countless examples of how tones can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Here’s a good one:

Homophonic poetry

Lots of Chinese characters sound the same, and many others sound the same except for their tones. This article presents a few poems whose words all have the same sound, albeit with some different tones:

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Under the knife

The character 刀(dāo) means “knife,” and is used in a component of many other characters and words:

Cheaters never win

LearnChineseNow describes the GaoKao entrance examination for universities, and the lengths to which China is going to stop cheating:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Chinese in 140 characters

Addicted to Twitter? You can use it to improve your Chinese, with this list of high-quality Chinese-learning Twitter feeds:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

In the neighborhood

Can you describe your neighborhood in Chinese, including the stores and other locations? Here’s a useful list:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Pinyin is your friend

Most (all?) of us who learn Chinese do so with Pinyin, the Romanized version of Chinese pronunciation. Pinyin is crucial and helpful, but it can also be quite surprising and frustrating. Here are some hints for improving your Pinyin use and understanding:

The time bank

A short essay about our use of time, in Chinese characters (and English).

Crazy English names

Chinese people usually choose an English name, in order to work with the West. LearnChineseNow shares some of the odder ones they’ve found:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Chinese words you wish English had

Do you sometimes learn a Chinese word and say, “Wow, I wish English had that word”? This discussion provides many such examples:

I think it’s true…

How can you say “I believe,” but not in the sense of believing, but rather in the sense of not being sure?

Brown rice

True, rice in China is normally white… but how you would say “brown rice”?

Mistakes were made

How can you use the passive voice in order to indicate that something ws done, without indicating who did it? An interesting discussion of the passive vs. active in Chinese (and English):

Again vs. both vs. also

A number of characters have similar meanings, but are used differently. If you’ve ever wondered when to use each of them this discussion should help:

Less, please!

Want less sugar in your drink? Learn to ask for “less” in Chinese:

Improving your tones

How can you ensure your tones are as good as possible? Here is some advice:

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