👋 Welcome to this week’s issue of the Giant Mandarin newsletter (the new name for the Chinese Is Hard newsletter). This week I cover words on the topic of health. I also include my thoughts on four fundamental concepts for Chinese language learners: tones, pronunciation, radicals and grammar structures.
- 健康 jiànkāng - health; healthy
身体 shēntǐ - body; health
身体健康 shēntǐ jiànkāng - good health
- 生病 shēngbìng - to fall ill 🤒
- 不舒服 bù shūfu - unwell
- 感冒 gǎnmào - to catch a cold; (common) cold
- 过敏 guòmǐn - allergic; allergy
- 打喷嚏 dǎ pēntì - to sneeze
- 流鼻涕 liúbítì - to have a runny nose
疼 téng - ache; pain
头疼 tóuténg - headache
嗓子疼 sǎngziténg - sore throat
- 医院 yīyuàn - hospital 🏥
医生 yīshēng - doctor 👩⚕️
看医生 kàn yīshēng - to see (or consult) a doctor
药 yào - medicine; medication 💊
吃药 chīyào - to take medicine
开药 kāiyào - to prescribe medicine
药店 yàodiàn - pharmacy
Four fundamental concepts for Chinese language learners
There are four fundamental concepts that all Chinese language learners should actively seek to improve their understanding of: tones, pronunciation, radicals and grammar structures.
🎼 1. Tones
Getting a handle on the four tones is essential for distinguishing between different words and characters and communicating with others.
🗣 2. Pronunciation
While tones are a part of pronunciation, they aren’t the only part. The Chinese system of syllables is relatively systematic, with most syllables a combination of an initial and a final. While learning Chinese, we’ll all come across challenges pronouncing and differentiating certain initials and finals either in isolation or combination.
🧱 3. Radicals
Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet, but it does have radicals, the graphical components of Chinese characters. There are around 200 radicals that in many cases encode information about meaning and pronunciation. There’s no need to learn all the radicals and learning 10, 25, 50 or 100 of the most common radicals is incredibly helpful.
⚙️ 4. Grammar structures
While language learners often focus on the vocabulary lists in their Chinese textbook chapters, the grammar structures accompanying each chapter are equally as important. I like to think of grammar structures like factories, recipes or algorithms. Using certain words - the materials, ingredients or inputs - with a particular grammar structure will enable you to produce and communicate specific meanings.
Learning to Ski in a Country of Beginners (June 2021), Peter Hessler, The New Yorker
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Thanks for reading and see you next Thursday!