Spoken in People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore.
The written language
Mandarin is the dialect that forms the basis of
the standard written language, uniting the many dialects of spoken
Chinese, which can be as different from each other as French and
Italian are. The examples in this section refer to Mandarin.
Mandarin uses compact ideographs, not an
alphabetic script, so readers are used to processing more information
with a shorter eye span. One and a half lines of a Chinese text might
require more than ten or fifteen lines when translated idiomatically
Sentence structure and word order
Nouns and pronouns
- No difference between word order in statements
and questions: *When they will arrive? 34b.
- Subject can be omitted: *Is raining.
- Very little inversion of subject and verb:
*She is leaving and so I am. 34b.
- Conjunctions occur in pairs: *Although she is
rich, but she wears simple clothes. 62e.
- An adjective phrase precedes the noun it
modifies: *He gave me a too difficult for me book. 62b.
Verbs and verbals
- Nouns do not have plural forms: *He has three
- Pronouns can be dropped (he, she, and it have the same sound), and
no distinction is made between subject and object forms: *He
stored [his] furniture. *I gave the forms to she. 44a.
- A noun will often have the same form as an
adjective: *She is very beauty woman. 45.
Adjectives and adverbs
- Chinese has no inflections for singular and
plural, tense, or verb form. Most words in Chinese have just one
form, often just one syllable, so changes reflecting number,
tense, part of speech, or agreement cause difficulty: *The house
was painting last month. *The singer have a big band. 42;
- Little differentiation between a base form, an
and a past participle: *I was very confusing. *They decided moving
to Baltimore. 61c-61f.
- In Chinese, an adjective can include the sense
of the verb be, so the form of be
is frequently omitted in English: *She
always cheerful. 38c; 41c; 45c.
- No equivalent of auxiliaries be or have: *I am be able.
- Adjectives such as easy, hard, and
difficult apply to how a person feels, not only to the nature of
the task: *I am easy to program a computer. 64e.
- No articles in Chinese: *I bought book.