Today I learned that English tongue twisters have nothing on the Chinese ones. I mean, I heard of them before and they were pretty mind blowing but geez when you actually see it yourself it’s like WAIT WHAT? I mean, wow, it sounds mostly the same but it’s all different characters! *mindblown*
My Taiwanese friend taught me (well, tried to teach me) some basic Mandarin tongue twisters. By the end of the video, all I learned was that ‘shi’ is pronounced many different ways with many different forms and that putao means grapes.
Interestingly enough, though, Chinese is not the only tonal language. In fact, there are lots of tonal languages scattered across continents, especially across Asia and Africa. According to linguists, tone is a product of merged or loss of consonants. For example, in Mandarin the rising and falling tones are from the loss of final consonants. This also created the no tone option in Mandarin that exists when both final consonants are absent.
Usually there is up to five tones, but in Nigeria there are six and in part of Southern China, nine. Wow. I have nothing to complain about. But then again, should I be complaining? This is a language, this is a culture. All because it’s different and a bit harder doesn’t meant that it’s bad. There’s a rich history behind it, and even more than that, a people behind it.
And that’s what I love about learning different languages, the fact that it ushers me into a new culture from a non-tourist point of view. This is not to say that I’m giving up my culture for another, but more to say that I’m enriching myself with another culture. I am, and forever will be, a Korean fundamentally. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate and learn about other cultures. The world is so rich with different perspectives and peoples, it’d be a shame if I didn’t try to invest in some of them.
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Also, here’s a video of my trip to the Chinese market:
If anything, I’m even more determined to learn more Mandarin now because wow I’m still hopelessly lost when I look at anything in Chinese…
But it’s okay! I’ll get there one day~