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Chinese Words

Chinese characters are most often romanized by a system called pinyin ("peen -yeen"). In nearly all of the cities in China you'll see street signs and store names written in both the pinyin and Chinese characters.

Basic pronunciation is as follows:
* Vowels
a: "ah" as in father, arm
e: "uh" as in were, fur
i: (after z, c, s, zh, ch, sh and r) "er" as in sir, otherwise "ee" as in we, tea
o: "or" as in bore, snore
u: "oo" as in who, too

* Consonants
z: "ds" as in zoo, but zh is pronounced "j" as in job
j: "g" as in get
q: "ch" as in cheek
x: "sh" as in shy
Some Useful Chinese Phrases and Words

  • Mei-guo (May-gwaw) - America
  • Zhong-guo (Joong-gwaw) - China
  • Ni Hao. (Knee How) - Good day / Hello / How are you
  • Xie-xie ni. (Syeah-syeah nee) - Thank you.
  • Dui-bu-qi. (Dway-boo-chee) - Excuse me.
  • Wo bu dong. (Waw boo-doong) - I don’t understand.
  • Qing shou Ying-wen. (Ching shwaw Ying-wun) - Please speak English.
  • Qing bang-zhu wo. (Ching baang-joo waw) - Please help me.
  • Wo mi-lu le. (Waw mee-loo luh) - I am lost.
  • Zai jian. (Dzai gee-en) - Goodbye.
  • Ni, chi fan le, mai you (Knee chir fawn la, may yo) - Have you eaten
  • Ming tien jian. (Ming tien jian) - See you tomorrow.
  • Tai gui le. (Tai gwee luh) - (It is) too expensive.
A few hard to pronounce Chinese pinyin letters
  • ZH - as in the beginning of "jeweler"
  • CH - as in ZH above, but with a strong puff of breath
  • SH - as in "shoe"
  • R - as in "run"
  • C - like the "ts" in "it's high," but with a strong puff of breath
  • J - as in "Jeff"
  • Q - like the "ch" in "cheese"
  • X - like the "sh" in "sheep"
I, me
Wo [3] (Waw)

You (singular)
Ni [3] (Knee)

He / she
Ta [1] (Tah)

Zhong-guo [1-2] (Joong-gwaw)

Good day / hello / how are you?
Ni hao? [3-3] (Knee how?)

Thank you
Xie-xie ni [4-4-3] (Syeah-syeah nee)

Excuse me
Dui-bu-qi [4-2-3] (Dway-boo-chee)

I don't understand
Wo bu dong [3-2-3] (Waw boo-doong)

Please speak English
Qing shou Ying-wen [3-1-1-2] (Ching shwaw Ying-wun)

Please help me
Qing bang-zhu wo [3-1-4-3] (Ching baang-joo waw)

I am lost
Wo mi-lu le [3-2-4-0] (Waw mee-loo luh)

Zai jian [4-4] (Dzai gee-en)

Have you eaten?
Ni, chi fan le, mai you? [3-1-4-5, 3-3] (Knee chir fawn la, may yo?)

Zhen jiu [1-1] (Gin joe)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
(counting from one to ten)
Yi, Er, San, Sz, Wu, Leo, Qi, Ba, Jou, Shi

Qi gong [4-1] (Chee gung)

See you later
Ming tien jian [2-1-4] (Ming tien jian)

Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Ch'uan)
Tai ji quan [4-2-2] (Tie gee chwan)

I don't understand
Wo bu dong [3-4-3] (Waw boo dung)


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