Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, travel in China is once more becoming a viable option. Connecting with locals is one of the greatest joys of travel; to do this successfully requires knowing their language.
Discovering simple travel phrases in Mandarin Chinese should not be too challenging! Here are a few helpful hints and strategies for you.
1. Know the Pinyin
Pinyin is essential when beginning Chinese, since it provides a system for romanizing Chinese words into other languages with ease. Consisting of 23 initials, 38 finals and four tones (plus a neutral tone), each character represents one sound from Mandarin: initial represents the beginning part of a syllable while final represents its end; all letters written like English alphabet letters with tone markers showing how they should be pronounced.
If you are unfamiliar with any particular sound in Hanyu, using an online Hanyu pinyin chart or Hanyu pronunciation dictionary may help. Not only will this increase your overall understanding of the language, but also enable correct Mandarin pronunciation – for instance without it, there would be no way of determining whether ma should be pronounced as rising or falling tone, which could change its entire meaning!
Practicing Mandarin with either a tutor or friends is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with its sounds. Tone practice in particular will prove invaluable; since Mandarin is a tonal language and any errors with tones could make understanding difficult; people may not hear your pronunciation at all!
2. Learn the Phrases
Chinese isn’t as intimidating as it might initially seem; just putting forth some effort will yield great dividends. Beginning by learning key phrases is an effective way to learn Chinese as part of a travel itinerary or simply learning basic Mandarin basics – these travel phrases will assist with navigation!
Are You Asking Directions or Booking Tickets? – Mandarin Phrases to Start Out Now will serve as an ideal starting point. Simple in their format, these phrases include both pinyin and phonetic pronunciation so that you can practice with a native speaker and correctly pronounce their phrases. Remember to pay close attention to intonation so as to pronounce each sentence correctly!
Zai nali (where is?) can also prove invaluable, whether asking for the location of restaurants, shops, or even finding bathrooms. Furthermore, it can help when someone tries to help but doesn’t understand your English; using it politely to explain that Chinese is all you speak.
If you want to show your thanks and appreciation for their hospitality or kindness, xie xie (xx) can be an appropriate gesture. This gesture may especially come in handy if they allowed you to cut in line ahead of them or gave up their seat on an overcrowded train.
3. Learn the Vocabulary
Learning Mandarin may seem intimidating at first, but with just a few phrases you’ll soon be on your way! Plus, traveling through Chinese helps expand your cultural understanding.
One of the key phrases you must learn for travel is “Zhe Ge Duo Shao Qian?” which translates as: “How Much Does This Cost”. Knowing how to ask about prices during shopping trips will ensure that you do not end up being overcharged! Knowing this phrase will also help protect you against being ripped off!
Bargaining for goods in China is a tradition, so don’t be shy to attempt to negotiate for a better deal! Just remember to negotiate confidently and say, “Tai Gui Liao! (tai gui le).”
Maintaining this basic vocabulary will put you on your way to becoming a fluent Mandarin traveller! For further study, TUTOROO provides Mandarin tuition options tailored specifically for each learner – find your tutor now and start travelling! Good luck and happy travels!