Explaining the four tones used in Mandarin Chinese
To explain the four tones and how they affect the language,
I’ll use the Chinese pinyin syllable “ma”
The four tones used in Chinese are typically shown through
pinyin above the affected letter, like mā, or occasionally represented after
the affected letter with the number that corresponds with the tone (ma1).
dictate the way in which words are pronounced, similar to accents. The
difference between tones and accents would be that in actual written Chinese,
the tone marks do not appear, while accents in languages especially noted for
them like French and Spanish, the accent marks do appear (résumé). Tone marks
were created to explain in pinyin the difference in pronunciation.
As you’re about to discover, pronouncing pinyin syllables wrong,
and not following the tonal rules, will result in the wrong word being said (that being said, most native speakers won’t be angry that you got it wrong, they’ll probably just find it funny and cute).
1st tone mā (妈) – mother
With the 1st tonal mark on ma, you pronounce it with
a purposeful flat pitch, like m-ah.
Saying it this way, you are reciting the Chinese character 妈
2nd tone má (麻)– numb/hemp
With the 2nd tonal mark on ma, you pronounce it
with a purposeful low to high pitch, like ma-AH.
Saying it this way, you are reciting the Chinese character 麻 aka numb/hemp
3rd tone mǎ (马) – horse
With the 3rd tonal mark on ma, you pronounce it
with a purposeful dip in pitch, from high to low to high, like Ma-aH.
Saying it this way, you are reciting the Chinese character 马 aka horse
4th tone mà
– curse/name call
With the 4th tonal mark on ma, you pronounce it
with a purposeful high to low pitch, like MA-ah.
Saying it this way, you are reciting the Chinese character 骂 aka to curse/name call
Neutral/no deliberate tone ma (吗) –
indicates a yes/no question
Just saying “ma” without intent of pitch, at the end of a
sentence, turns it into a yes/no question!
A/N: Let me know if you have any confusion or I got something wrong! Also I am the new admin covering the mandarin chinese learning content. I plan on doing “learning chinese through cpop” posts along with normal structure and vocab posts.
depression - 抑郁症 yìyù 抑 - to restrain, to restrict, to keep down 世卫组织称，全球范围内，共有超过3.5亿人患有抑郁症，遍布各个年龄组。
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - 强迫症 qiángpò 强 - strong, powerful, vigorous, violent, best in their category 迫 - to force, to compel, to approach or go towards, urgent, pressing 强迫行为是我们的自我保护方式，并不是坏的东西。
panic attack - 恐慌发作 kǒnghuāngfāzuò 恐 - afraid, frightened, to fear 慌 - to get panicky, to lose one’s head 恐慌 - panic, panicky, panic-stricken 发作 - to flare-up, to break out 虽然每位病人的恐慌发作时感受都有不同，但有一点是相同的：恐慌发作非常吓人。
phobia - 恐惧症 kǒngjù 惧 - to fear 恐惧 - fear, dread, phobia 患有社交恐惧症的人一想到要见陌生人就发抖。
post-traumatic stress disorder - 创伤后压力紊乱 chuāngshāng hòu yālì wěnluàn 创 - a wound, cut, injury, trauma 伤 - to injure, injury, wound 创伤后 - post-traumatic 压 - to press, to push down, to keep under (control), pressure 力 - power, force, strength, ability, strenuously 压力 - pressure 紊乱 - disorder, chaos 在美国，每年约3.5%的成人罹患创伤后压力症。
schizophrenia - 精神分裂症 jīngshén fēnliè zhèng 精神 - spirit, mind, consciousness, thought, mental, psychological 分裂 - to split up, to divide, to break up, fission, schism 精神分裂症患者通常不知道自己病了。
*a useful note from rolandbarfs:痴呆 for Alzheimer’s is considered dated and pejorative (I’ve previously been told this by a Chinese mental health expert). A much more neutral, non-judgemental term is 阿滋海默症 — even Chinese state media tends to call it this now.