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|So today, we are going to start with one of the things that differentiates Chinese from English and probably one of the things you will have the most trouble with. So I hope you don’t get discouraged. Today’s lesson is going to be on the four tones. Chinese tone language. Words are distinguished by the ways they move up and down in pitch. In English, the pitch doesn’t matter. If you say me and you say me, it changes a little bit of the meaning. One of them asks a question and one of them is a statement but the word is still the same. In Chinese, changing the pitch, changing the tone signals totally different words, 马(mǎ) and 妈(mā) are different words entirely. The first one meant horse, the second one means mother. Again I am warning you. The hardest part about Chinese is the tones. A lot of people get discouraged in the start but that’s why I am here. I am going to try to ease you in, we are going to try to make this as easy as possible and don’t worry, I will stick by you at least for 50 lessons or so. Here we go guys. In standard Chinese in Mandarin, there are four tones. The first tone is the flat tone. It does not change the pitch, it stays the same. 妈(mā), did you see that? I just stayed the same level the entire time, 妈(mā). This tone is called the first tone often but we can also refer to it as the flat tone. The second tone is the rising tone. It starts low and goes up higher, 麻(má), again we can label this tone by number, the second tone or we can call it by its pitch, the rising tone. The third tone is probably the hardest. It falls a little bit and then rises back up. Most students of Chinese had the most trouble with this tone. So we are going to try and I will give you a couple examples just so you can hear it really well, all right. Remember, it falls a little bit and then comes back up. We are going to refer to this as the falling rising tone or third tone, 马(mǎ). Did you hear that? It comes down, it stays low and then comes back up at the end. That one is very difficult and many people never perfect it but if you try hard, I am sure you can do it. The last tone is the fourth tone or the falling tone. This tone starts up high and comes down low, 骂(mà), did you hear that? 骂(mà). A lot of people try to fake this tone by just shortening the word but that’s not quite right. You have to start up high and come down low, 骂(mà). Did you see, I start out high and come down low, 骂(mà). It’s kind of like you are giving someone a command like stop. You start out high and you come down low, stop, 骂(mà). Again it sounds high pitched but it comes down low, 骂(mà). Now congratulations, you just had your first introduction of Chinese. It seems really simple, doesn’t it, yeah, yeah I know. Don’t worry about it, it will get easier. So now, you’ve initiated – you’ve officially joined the realm of Chinese speakers. Now we get to the complicated part. The reason I chose 骂(mà) is because all four different tones of ma have different meanings. They are actually separate words. So here I will tell you the four different meanings for these four separate words. 妈(mā), first tone, the flat tone, 妈(mā), that means mother. The second tone, the rising tone, 麻(má), one more time, 麻(má), that one means numb, the third tone, 马(mǎ), like we said before, that one means horse and then the fourth tone, 骂(mà), that one means to scold and actually that’s just a tip of the iceberg and so now you know, now you are part of the wide world of Chinese speakers. Now you have something to share with other people. Tune in tomorrow for the next lesson. Good luck guys.|
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