Language and Culture

Why It's Hard to Learn Chinese - Disentangling Emotional from Lexical Meanings of Tones


Branka Zei-Pollermann

Vox Institute, Geneva, Switzerland

No language is spoken on a monotone. Variations of pitch are found in all languages.  For the speakers of English, French or Italian they are musical features of speech. As in song, in speech the pitch can go up and down within an utterance and end rising, falling or flat.

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China in Four Characters


Julie Kleeman

Editor, Oxford Chinese-English dictionary Julie lived in Beijing for five years, and writes in a private capacity.

Someone once said that “learning Chinese is a five-year lesson in humility".

Mark Rowswell, (stage name Dashan 大山), would seem to agree.  Born and raised in Canada, Roswell is probably the most famous foreign face in China. A hugely popular Chinese language educator and television host, widely recognized as being one of the world’s most fluent, non-native Chinese speakers, Roswell says that when he first started learning Chinese, he was “horrified” to hear that it would take him ten years to achieve fluency. “27 years later”, he says, “I'm still working at it.”

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