Y: Perfect Chinese your way, in only five minutes a day. Welcome to Chinese
Studio, a brand new Chinese learning program on China Radio International. I'm Yajie.
Cam: Hi, everyone, I'm Cam. This daily show will teach Chinese at the elementary level, which is very appropriate, considering I'm just starting to learn myself! Hi Yajie, may I have the honour of suggesting our first topic?
Cam: Sorry.... I was kidding. I guess it's too soon for that! In fact, the first thing I wanna learn is all about greetings. How to say hello?
Y: I think it is also where most foreigners want to start learning Chinese. Now let's check Key words of the day!
Key words of the day
Cam: When somebody says Ni hao to you, what should you reply?
Y: Right, your reply should be same - Ni hao. Ni means "you". Hao means "good". Together "you- good":Ni hao.
Cam: The pronunciation of Ni is similar to that of the English word "knee", and hao similar to "how".
Y: But the tone is totally different. That's because Chinese is a tonal language. It has four basic tones.
Cam: That's what I always have a problem with. It's so confusing!
Y: Don't worry. We'll have plenty chances to practice the tones in the future.
Cam: Ni hao means "Hi, hello". Actually "Hi" is also used in Chinese to make a greeting. So when you forget how to say hello in Chinese, it still works if you say Hi. The reply can be same.
Y: Hi can be used on anybody, at any time, like Ni hao. And both of them are very causal expressions. So when greeting someone older, or, in a formal manner, we usually say Nin Hao. Nin is the polite form of Ni.
Y: Of course, after you say Nin Hao, you won't expect the same words as a reply. Actually the reply can be Ni hao, or simply a nod.
C: If you want to greet somebody you have already known, you can also say Ni hao ma?Remember, like the English expression "How are you?", it's only used on acquaintances.
Y: Ni hao ma?How are you? It's Ni hao plus ma. Like a question mark, Ma is a sign of a question in Chinese.
Y: Wo is I, Hen means "very", and Hao is "good", remember? So word for word, Wo hen hao means "I – very good."
C: Ni hao ma, Yajie？
Y: Wo hen hao, xie xie！Thanks. Xie xie.
C: In fact there are in China some special ways to say hello, which may confuse we foreigners if we don’t know the local culture.
Y: Yes. For instance, "Ni chi le ma?" - "have you eaten" . You'll hear this very very often in Beijing. But never be serious to answer "Yes, I've eaten blah blah blah at my dinner." Don't play fool.
C: In fact, Ni chi le ma? Have you eaten? - is simply a casual greeting like Ni hao. It's like we Canadians always talk about weather in our daily greetings. But this doesn’t mean we're all meteorologists. Got it?
Cam: Well, that's it for today. One more important thing, you can win a gift by answering the question of the day: What's the difference between Ni haoand Nin hao?
Key Words and Sentences in Chinese and Pin Yin