Before an international trip, what you should learn besides the trip planning and interested sights? The native languages! Although you can join a travel agency and have an English-speaking guide, you still need to learn some native words or phrases. On one hand, this would add more fun to your Beijing or Shanghai Tours, where you probably won’t refrain from not speaking Chinese; on the other hand, this will definitely help you when Travel to Guilin, or other relatively remote cities in Southeastern China. When I was taking a bus on the first day in 2009, I was so surprised to hear “hello” in Chinese from the bus driver. Then I talked with him about how he memorized these “difficult” Chinese words. He told me the similar trick that we ever used for learning English: replace the pronunciations with similar sounds in English! It seems like this method is universal in learning every simple words in other languages. So next, I will teach you these useful travel words and phrases in this way.

For daily phrases, Hello in Chinese sounds like “knee how”, and the pinyin (Standard Chinese pronunciation) is “ni3hao3”. The number “3” after Roman alphabet represents the tones of this word “ni” or “hao”. There are four tones in Chinese: 1) tone 1, high/ soprano tone; 2) tone 2, rising/ enquiring tone; 3) tone 3, falling rising/ sarcastic tone; 4) tone 4, falling/ emphatic tone. How are you? equals to “knee how ma?”, as the pinyin is “ni3hao3ma”. Good morning is “Dzau-shung how” and the pinyin is “zao3 shang4 hao3”. Sorry is a frequent word and in Chinese it is “Dway boo chee”. The tones and pinyin is “Dui4 bu4 qi3”. Thank you is another word you need to learn. You can just remember “Sshyeah sshyeah”, while the tones are “xie4 xie4”.

Another group of words is useful when you are trying to bargaining. Too Expensive in Chinese is “Tie gway luh” and the correct pinyin is “Tai4 Gui4 Le”. From the number one to ten, the responding Chinese words sound like “ee “ for 1, “r” for 2, “san” for 3, “sz” for 4, “oo” for 5, “leo” for 6, “chee” for 7, “bah” for 8, “jeo” for 9, “shr” for 10. For two digits numbers, just remember the rules: the number on tens digit+”shr”(for 10)+ the number on unit digit. For example, 23 in Chinese is “r shr san”. A hundred sounds like “ee bye” and A thousand is “ee chee an”. The rules for three-digit numbers are similar to the two-digit numbers: the number on hundreds digit+”bye”(for 100)+the number on tens digit+”shr”(for 10)+the number on the unit digit. For instance, 256 is “r bye oo shr leo”.

The third kind of phrases is useful for asking people for directions, which are the most frequent problems in travelling in China. Where is the bathroom? is “Sshee shoh jyen dzeye nah-lee?”. Bathroom is “sshee1 shoh3 jyen3” and “where is” is “dzeye nah-lee”. What is this? is “Jer shrr shnn-muh?”. How long (time)? is “Dwor jyoh”. What time? / What’s the time? is “Jee-dyen jong”. Do you have..? is “Yoh-may-yoh…?”

These words or phrases above are only a fraction of complicated Chinese daily words. However, since it takes long time to grasp a new language, especially a completely different one like Chinese, it is better for you to just write several words and their similar pronunciations. Also if you do not know Chinese at all and do not have time to learn these hard pronunciations, you can book the trip, including vacation packages, China Hotels, airlines online through some legal agencies. They will consider these for you and prepare everything you need during the trip.

Jack Li

1 Response » to “Learn Some Useful Travel Chinese Words”

  1. Another Title…

    I saw this really great post today….

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