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Chinese tongue twisters

tonguetwisterToday, once again I will write about tongue twisters. This time, however, I will move towards an oriental language, namely Chinese (or Mandarin, to be more specific). You may be surprised that even such a difficult language has its own tongue twisters to make things even more challenging.  I must admit (as a language learner myself) that I found Chinese tongue twisters really hard to pronounce.  When  I was trying to combine the right pronunciation together with appropriate tones I literally almost got my tongue tied.  Now, it’s your turn to have a go. But be careful!

lǎoshī shì sìshísì, shì bú shì? (The teacher is 44, isn’t he/she?)

mā mā qí mǎ, mǎ màn, mā mā mà mǎ (Mother is riding a horse. The horse moves slowly. Mother chides the horse)

Hóng fènghuáng huáng fènghuáng fěnhóng fènghuáng fěn fènghuáng fēi (Red phoenix, yellow phoenix, pink phoenix, pink phoenix fly)

Chinese is very tricky for many foreigners because it contains a great number of sounds that simply do not exist in other languages. To make things even worse Chinese is incredibly rhythmical. There are four basic tones and it is absolutely paramount to use them correctly. Otherwise you might mix up, for instance, ‘mother’ with ‘a horse’. This is because tones change the meanings of words. Thus, ‘mā ‘ means ‘mother’, ‘má’ –‘to bother’, ‘mǎ’- ‘a horse’ and ‘mà’-‘to chide’. Quite complicated, isn’t it?

If you have enjoyed practising Chinese tongue twisters and you’d like to familiarise yourself with a wider range of them, I recommend you have a look at this website.

And once you mastered the Chinese tongue twisters, why not try some from all over the world!!


Article Name
Chinese Tongue Twisters
Here a Lingua Translations, we take a look at Chinese Tongue Twisters.

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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