No matter whether traveling for business or pleasure, learning a few Mandarin Chinese travel phrases will always prove useful. This article covers some of the most helpful words and phrases to assist in planning your trip and make navigation much simpler.
Pinyin, or pinyin-style Chinese characters, are written using Latin alphabet with tone markers over each syllable to indicate intonation. Be sure to practice these phrases prior to traveling so they sound as natural as possible!
Asking for directions
Acquiring the ability to ask for directions when traveling in Chinese is essential. Doing so will allow you to avoid missing any sights that were planned and give you the chance to practice your Mandarin skills at the same time!
First and foremost, you should familiarize yourself with the essential vocabulary for directions: East (/ yue), West (/ w), and North (/ n). These terms can be used either alone or combined with side (/ bian) to specify exactly which kind of direction you are searching for. In addition, be sure to know any relevant Chinese idioms for directions as well.
Start off your requests for directions by politely admitting you’re lost; this will likely result in much warmer responses than appearing as though you already know all the answers. Say something like: “Qing Wen, Ni Zhi Dao Na Er?” (or something similar).
While Chinese may seem daunting at first, with practice comes ease of understanding and asking for directions in Chinese. Try practicing with friends or family before traveling to China so you feel more at ease when exploring a new city and can relax into enjoying every minute of your vacation.
Asking for help
The word “mandarin” derives from Portuguese mandarim, derived from Malay menteri and Sanskrit mantrin. Initially it referred to a Chinese official who had successfully completed imperial examination system tests but has since come to describe any pedantic official; today however, most modern lay people use “Mandarin” in reference to particular groups of Chinese dialects or even as an umbrella term referring to all standard Chinese languages used across mainland China.
Learn the Chinese language if you plan to travel, or just to become more fluent, knowing how to ask for help can come in handy when visiting or exploring China. When seeking assistance from someone, say Bu Hao Yi Si (Do you need my help?) as this phrase could potentially save your life during medical emergencies.
No matter where your travels take you, learning a few travel phrases in Mandarin will help prevent future misunderstandings and create opportunities to connect with locals. This is especially helpful when traveling through China where many do not speak English – asking directions and communicating needs such as washing hands or waiting for a bus will require language abilities in order to navigate this vast country effectively.
Starting your Mandarin journey can be easier than you imagine; to do so effectively, start by memorizing some basic words and phrases to help communicate on your trip. Also remember that Mandarin is tonal language that requires careful pronunciation to ensure you don’t say something different than you intended due to missing any tones.
Download an app or print out a list of common travel phrases so that they are always within your reach while traveling, serving as a handy reference if you get lost or forget how to pronounce words correctly or get disoriented. Record yourself saying these travel phrases so you have something as a backup should your accent change! Not only will learning travel phrases help improve communication with locals but they’ll show them you respect their culture by showing that you care!
Learning just a few Mandarin Chinese phrases can make any trip that much more enjoyable, especially when used to learn phrases instead of individual words. Furthermore, Chinese is one of the few languages worldwide where tones don’t alter word meanings like they would elsewhere.
The term mandarin comes from Portuguese “mandarim,” which derives its roots in Sanskrit’s mantrin – counselor – meaning magistrates who had passed China’s imperial examination system and later used by Europeans to describe them. Nowadays, however, it refers specifically to standard dialect of mainland China while Taiwan and surrounding countries use terms Pu Tong Hua or Guo Yu in reference to their Chinese population.
If someone does something nice for you in China, such as allowing you to cut in front of them in line or giving up their seat on an overcrowded train, be sure to thank them by saying “xie xie” (pronounced shi-ex-shee). This is considered the polite way of showing appreciation in Chinese.