Qin Shi Huang And The Chinese Language

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Saturday, 1 August 2009 0 comments

My friend Gabriel, over at learnchinesetoday.info has written a guest post based about histoical figure Qin Shi Huang and his influence on the Chinese Language.

As some of you may know, the official title of 'emperor' was first used by Qin Shi Huang several hundred years before Christ. At the end of the 7 warring states period, the Qin state had conquered most of the other states and unified China properly.

Historically speaking, it was true that under the leadership of Qin Shi Huang, life was harsh and difficult. Many historians viewed him as a dictator who ruled across the land with an iron hand.
Untold numbers died working to build the Great Wall of China.

And yet paradoxically, it was Qin Shi Huang who had help create a lasting legacy in Chinese history. He had played a huge role in maintaining the stability and longevity of Chinese culture.

What did he contribute? Well, before the Qin dynasty, the 7 different states each had their own languages, rules and customs. After unification, Qin Shi Huang went about creating one common language. Everyone had to read and write the same Chinese characters.

This seemingly simple but profound change in standardizing the Chinese language would bind and enable the Chinese people to maintain their identity and culture for thousands of years to come.

If he had not done so, China might have developed differently. The Chinese people might have different languages and writing not unlike Europe (the French, British, etc.)

There were many more changes Qin Shi Huang made that help shaped the future course of Chinese imperial system, but suffice to say, Qin Shi Huang was not merely known as just a brutal dictator.

So the next time you wish to learn Chinese, think back to this historical figure who had contributed much to this ancient language.

Counting to 1000 in Mandarin Chinese

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin 2 comments

Chinese Mandarin may not have an Alphabet but its Numerical system is very logical, much more so than the English number system. Here are the first ten numbers

0 零 / 〇 líng
1 一 yī
2 二 èr
3 三 sān
4 四 sì
5 五 wǔ
6 六 iù
7 七 qī
8 八 bā
9 九 jiǔ
10 十 shí

Once you have mastered these you have basically mastered the numerical system upto 99. So just to give you an idea here are the next ten numbers in Chinese.

11 十一 shí yī
12 十二 shí èr
13 十三 shí sān
14 十四 shí sì
15 十五 shí wǔ
16 十六 shí liù
17 十七 shí qī
18 十八 shí bā
19 十九 shí jiǔ
20 二十 èr shí

Techincally these first ten double digit numbers should use the preceeding 一(yī) but in most dialects it is ommited. Thus best practise for 11 is 一十一 (yī shí yī). The language allows you to add the number before the ten. So when you need to use the number 40 you will be saying four-tens. Here are the tens upto one hundred.

10 十 shí
20 二十 èr shí
30 三十 sān shí
40 四十 sì shí
50 五十 wǔ shí
60 六十 liù shí
70 七十 qī shí
80 八十 bā shí
90 九十 jiǔ shí
100 百 baǐ (一百 yībaǐ)

And when saying numbers in double figures for example 42 (the answer to life, the universe and everything). As above you say four-tens two. 四十二 (sìshí èr). This works exactly the same when working into the hundreds. For example 438 is four-hundreds-three-tens-eight. 四百三十八

1000 一千 yī qiān 

So lets try some now. What is the Mandarin phrase for 68? (answers at the bottom.)




And what number are these?

三十二 ?

八十七 ?

六百十五 ?

Scroll down for your answers:

68 is 六十八 (liù shí bā)

91 is 九十一 ( jiǔ shí yī)

136 is 百三十六 (baǐ sān shí iù)

424 is 四百二十四 (sì baǐ èr shí sì)

八十七 is 87
三十二 is 32
六百十五 is 615

Hopefully this lessons got you involved and wanting you to learn a little more about the numerical system, and with repitition you should be able to grasp the numbering system easily.


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Daily Chinese Proverb: Calm

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin 0 comments

"To be calm and unhurried"


cóng róng bù pò / cong2 rong2 bu4 po4

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Flickr: Yakobusan

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