how mandarin is special

127. What’s Special About Mandarin & Happy CNY!

Podcast Duration: 01:06:23

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

What's Special About Mandarin & Happy CNY!

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0:24 Comments & Emails

Robert Carver by Community

Question for Luke or Phil: in a recent podcast Luke was talking about the challenge of translating a joke into Chinese, and in the process of explaining mentioned that “French is a great language for swearing and English is a great language for telling jokes.” So I’m curious, what do you feel Chinese is able to do really well that is more difficult to do in English?


Christopher Thompson on Vocab Unlocked from 租

I am happy I finally got to this character, so that I finally 0know all the components of 出租车, a word I have encountered many, many times since I started studying Chinese. Here’s the thing. Every other time I have seen or heard 出租车 used, the verb associated with it is 坐, as in 我们可以坐出租车去公园。Now, in the example above, I see 我们可以乘出租车去公园。Is there any real or even subtle difference between the two verbs, and how they are used in conjunction with a taxi, or other form of transportation? Just curious.


Jason Pon on 借 in Context

Can 我借你几千块 mean both ‘I’ll lend you a few thousand’ and ‘I’ll borrow a few thousand from you’ without context? Or would the latter be said a bit differently?

Example: 请你的书给我一下

借 – 借一下 – 借给 – 借用


Heather Renfrew by Community

Hi! I’m Heather, and I am 44 years old. I live in Fulton, NY.  I’m a machine operator in a factory that makes food packaging. I have always had a love for Chinese culture, although only from the American perspective. I watched “The Untamed” during a lockdown binge with Netflix and I was so struck by this story that I read a net-translation of the book it is based on, watched the animated version, and watched the special version of the live-action. During all of this, I noticed how different the translations were for each network that was showing the episodes. I watched it on IQIYI, Vikki, Netflix, and Tencent’s Youtube page. They all use volunteers for subs, it’s not something that is universal. Anyway, I started teaching myself Mandarin because I realized how much I love Chinese dramas and music. I wanted my own understanding, not someone else’s interpretation. (I’m a little bit of a control freak. LOL.)

I paid for and used all kinds of products and apps before I found MB. I have many bad habits to correct. I’m super excited about my level of understanding based on only my completion of the pronunciation course. I’m looking forward to starting the actual method course. Being a part of an online community is a new concept for me. I have only really used the internet for paying bills and emails. 2020 has changed the world for all of us, I guess. I can’t wait to participate with all of you guys!
PS- if you are interested in the novel “The Untamed” is based on I believe it is called Mao Dao Zu Shi. It is adult literature. Be aware there are a couple of very naughty chapters.


Corinna on 看书 in Context

I just wanted to say that this new approach with the sentences at the very end of a lesson is kind of a game-changer for me. I feel like I can really understand and recall the words and sentences better now – after already learning the individual words first. Having reviewed the words for a while before jumping into sentences really helps.
So – thanks for the change! 🙂


Heather Renfrew on Unit 5 Wrap-Up

So, here’s a problem I’m having while learning. I find that I am often breathless and slobbery. It makes me either chop through or rush through sentences. With English, I know where I can pause and swallow or take a breath. How can I keep from sounding like a Mandarin-speaking Captain Kirk?


Andrew Osborn on 上来 in Context

I had to suspend level 13 sentences when I got there. For me, I needed to continue with Anki word recognition for another two weeks. It was just too much of a jump. Noting that I had not given my movies enough time to set.

At this point, I’m reading quite happily at this level and amazed (proud even) at myself at being able to read like a 4+-year-old.

Also, your timing of encouragement has been perfect. Doubt at one’s inability to get this to gel has crept in, then the next video comes along and I say “that’s exactly me” there’s the encouragement I needed.

You are 100% spot on with this course.


Roland Kofler on Casting Call r- 4/55

What if I pick myself? I’m Roland and I have a vivid image of myself ;’) …
I’m just wondering if it interferes in some way with the Mandarin Blueprint technique, for example because I need to observe the movie scenes and should not be part of it? Or is there a future actor where you want to put your students in? Just let me know…


Andrew Clapham on 如果 in Context

Curious, what’s up with the repetition in “你们就可以去约约会,吃吃饭”? Is it just being cute? Cheers


Roland Kofler on Unit 9 Unit Wrap-Up

Thank you! I’m still struggling a lot with zh/ ch or z/ c even with the Minimal Pairs deck. Its impossible for me to distinguish the sounds. I asked my Chinese teacher but her mapping to similar initials in my native language (German) do not help. We have no emphasis on pronunciation in the Chinese class so I won’t dig further here. I researched the web, the suggestions there do not help. I finally used the “browse>preview” function to switch between cards like cuan2/ zuan2 with headphones and I’m a little desperate now. With some goodwill I can say that e.g. zuan2 is a bit harder than cuan2 but I fear I’m just explaining it away and under normal conditions I would never distinguish it. Can you help me to find a key to this situation?


Al Berley on  种 in Context

At this point, I find myself understanding the meaning of the characters on the page quicker than I can recall the pronunciation for each character.

Should I:
1. Deduce the meaning as quickly as possible, even if I didn’t really read it ‘in Chinese’ (e.g. I just know that 种 = type)
2. Read each sentence out loud/in my head and recall the pronunciation from my ‘memory palace’ as is often required to make the full connection of 种 = type = zhou3



John Nomura on 东西 in Context

你是什么东西!is this talking about your profession?


Heather Renfrew on Nasal Final ÜN (YUN): 运气 yùnqi,训练 xùnliàn,军队 jūnduì,裙子 qúnzi

I’m a little confused with this group of nasal finals. Are you pronouncing the “y” or not? Did I miss something? ?


Jonathan Glazier on Vocab Unlocked from 厌: 讨厌

Just revisiting Tǎo in pleco and no mention of coax. Everything from discus or study through to invite, send armed forces!

讨论 lùn – discuss; talk over
讨厌 – to dislike; disagreeable; annoying
讨好 – ingratiate oneself with; fawn on; to curry favor with
讨饭 tǎofàn – to beg for food
讨教 tǎojiào – ask for advice
讨价 jià – ask (or name) a price
讨价还价 – to haggle


Robert on MAKE A MOVIE 寸

I was confused as an inch is an imperial measure in the USA/UK, But China uses Centimetres. So I looked it up and it seems that some dictionaries say it is a bit bigger than an inch (3.3 mm is bigger than 2.5mm). is there some more history, or china specific uses to this measure word?



Xiao En on MAKE A MOVIE 才

What’s the difference between cái 才 and gāng 刚?


Evan hall on 相信 in Context

So what would be the difference in using 相信 and 信?


使用 – 用
学习 – 学
生气 – 气

49:13 Living Links

Stelios T. on The “Living Links Logic” of Chinese Word Learning – Part 3

I laughed so hard with “if something is cheap, it’s appropriate to pee on it”, bless!


Jeff Johnson on Vocab Unlocked from 法: 想法 – 看法

看法 – makes me think of artists and perspective lines.

So I said, An artist has a way of “looking” at the world “methodically” and seeing perspective.


Ija on Vocab Unlocked from 农

If you’ve come this far, there’s a high probability that you’re a software person 😀

Here’s a fun word for you – 码农

55:32 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 数

Shrek (shu-) is in the bathroom (4th tone) at my childhood home (-Ø) balancing a bowl of rice (米), wearing a red dress (女) and tap dancing (攵). He thinks of a NUMBER in his head…ah 五。Then spins around 五times while COUNTING to 五until he reaches his bedroom. He lays down dizzy and exhausted.


Roland Kofler on MAKE A MOVIE 午

Mom made lunch and and calls me. But I cant open my bedroom door. The lock is broken. “Shoot it open”, my Mother cries, “the noodles are getting cold”. I have my musket in the wardrobe but its so heavy and I fear to miss the lock and hit my mom. When the church bell hit 12, Wickie the Viking enters from the window and shouts he has an idea! He takes the cross from the wall and I can rest the rifle on it.
It looks like this: 午 Much better. I finally target the lock. Shoot. and the door opens with the air filled with powder dust. I emerge from the dust and finally join my family for lunch! Victory!


Luke Eberhard on Make a Movie 衣

greeted by an unusual visitor wearing and odd mix of CLOTHING.
What stands out the most is the TOP HAT and SCOTTISH KILT, which
she takes a great liking to before letting the visitor inside.


Robert Corr on Make a Movie 系

Shakira is in the bathroom of my childhood home and she is using a SAMURAI SWORD to try and cut and kill the CORONAVIRUS SPIKY BALL in the sink to stop it spreading around the world, however as she’s so large and the virus is so tiny she can’t manage it.

STUART LITTLE appears and asks her what she’s doing, and admiring
her for trying to protect the world from coronavirus, he offers to help. She hands him the samurai sword which shrinks down to his size and he successfully slashes and kills the virus.

Triumphantly they both turn towards each other in slow motion, Stuart looking admiringly at Shakira for wanting to save the world, and Shakira gratefully at Stuart for being there to help, and they both realise it is the start of a beautiful RELATIONSHIP.


Stephanie Arapian on Make a Movie 听

Tanya and I are outside (-eng) trying to fix the Food Scale. It’s supposed to “ding!” once it hits a weight, but it’s not working. The Giant Rolling Stones mouth is trying to get our attention, “Helloooo? Are you LISTENING to me?”

The Mouth bangs on the front door, trying to get our attention, but we’re totally absorbed. Mouth starts singing ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?’ (by The Rolling Stones)


Kate Gans on  Make a Movie 雨

Keyword: RAIN
Set: Trump is in the living room of my childhood home
Props: Razor, Towel, Four Drops Water

Trump is sitting on our pool (billiards) table using a Razor to shave. He is also using a Towel to wipe his face, but because of the RAIN cloud that exists only over him, Four Drops Water fall on him and the Towel is saturated. He ends up with shavings all over his face mixing with orange makeup. What a mess!


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 估

Gu-Actor wants to sell his great grandfather’s wooden trunk for an estimated (估价) price of $400. It has been in their family for generations. So he puts the trunk outside the entrance of the null set. Chuck Norris (亻)enters the scene and wants to buy it, but he suspects the price of the trunk is a bit over-estimated (高价) for just something below a century. He wants to get it appraised (估计). Gu-actor assures Chuck Norris that since it is undamaged conditions the estimate (古) is reasonable. Moreover, Gu-actor pulls up a certificate that he is a certified appraiser 估价师 himself.

16 February, 2021