Nǐ hǎo 你好 Adafruit is learning Mandarin Chinese, we’ll have a longer post about “why” we’re learning Chinese (some of it is obvious, some may be surprising). Like everything we do – we wanted to share how we’re doing something that we feel is important to our business and will likely help someone else. Plus it’s fun to learn a new language, more so when we can talk to others who have learned/learning or are native speakers.
It won’t be easy, this chart above is intimidating…
So far we have an instructor who is stopping in each week teaching us the basics. We’ve started learning Pin-yin. This is a spelling system that uses the english alphabet to transcribe the sounds of Mandarin Chinese.
We learned the three kinds of vowels in Mandarin chinese: simple finals (also know as simple vowels), compound finals/vowels and finals with nasal endings.
1. Simple vowels: a, o, e, i, u, ü (here’s a site we found where you can listen to them, search around for other/better ones).
2. Compound finals: a, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
The compound finals are the ones to really really work on and memorize. Being able to instantly say them correctly and also write down which ones they are when you hear them seems to be the key to advancing.
3. Nasal finals. These have NG sounds either in the front of back of your mouth.
1) Front nasal: an, en, ian, in, uan, uen, üen, ün
2) Back nasal: ang, eng, ong, iang, iny, iong, uang, ueng
So… 35 finals/vowels in three categories…
6 simple final / vowels: a, o, e, i, u, ü
13 compound finals: a, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
16 nasal finals: an, en, ian, in, uan, uen, üen, ün, ang, eng, ong, iang, iny, iong, uang, ueng
That’s it for now. If you’ve learned Chinese post up your experiences, tips, suggestions and more. If we can keep this up we’ll do a wiki page and keep everyone updated on our progress! xiè xie! 谢谢
We made a quick python script that helps us quiz ourselves (you’ll need to supply the mp3s and name them properly)…
#!/usr/bin/python import os import random import subprocess print "Lets practice pinyin finals" files = os.listdir(".") mp3s =  for file in files: if file.find(".mp3") != -1: mp3s.append(file) while mp3s: #print mp3s random.shuffle(mp3s) #print mp3s for mp3 in mp3s: # play MP3 answer = "" while not answer: subprocess.Popen(["/usr/bin/afplay", mp3]) print "What was that? ", answer = raw_input() if (answer == mp3.replace(".mp3", "")): print "Right!" mp3s.remove(mp3) else: print "Wrong" print mp3.replace(".mp3", "") #glob.glob("./*.mp3")