Practice using the four Mandarin tones. Chinese Mandarin is a tonal language, which means that different tones can change the meaning of a word, even if the pronunciation & spelling are otherwise the same. If Chinese scholars wish to classify them as fangyan (“topolects”), that is their prerogative, & Western linguists should not interfere. So long as fangyan & “dialect” are decoupled, there is no reason that the proposed English usage should cause any disturbance among speakers of Chinese language(s). It is essential to learn the different tones if they wish to speak Chinese Mandarin correctly. Learn how to count. Luckily, the Mandarin numerical system is fairly straightforward & logical, & once they have learned the first ten numbers they will be able to count to 99.
Chinese Mandarin has four main tones, as follows: When they hear a word in English, think about how they would say it in Mandarin. If they don’t know what it is, jot it down & look it up later. It’s handy to keep a little notebook on they for this purpose. Attach little Chinese labels (with the character, the pinyin & the pronunciation) to items around your house, such as the mirror, the coffee table & the sugar bowl. They’ll see the words so often that they’ll learn them without realizing it! If we call Swedish & German or Marathi & Bengali separate languages, then I believe that we have no choice but to refer to Mandarin & Cantonese as two different languages. At the very least, if diplomatic or other considerations prevent us from making such an overt statement, we should refer to the major fangyan as “forms” or “varieties” of Chinese instead of as “dialects”.
I am fully cognizant of the fact that the proposals set forth in this article have potential political implications. Below they will find the numbers one to ten, written in simplified Chinese characters, followed by the Hanyu pinyin translation & the correct pronunciation. Make sure to practice saying each number using the correct tone.
Once they have mastered numbers one to ten, they can continue counting in double digits by saying the number in the tens’ position, then the word shi, followed by the number in the one’s position. For example: It is for this reason that I wish to state most emphatically that my suggestions apply only to English usage. I am making no claim about how the Chinese government or Chinese scholars should classify the a lot of languages & dialects of their country. My only plea is for consistency in English linguistic usage.