Counting and numbers

Here’s a video on counting to ten. The only hard part about learning numbers is getting the inflections right. They may be rising, falling, level or falling-rising. This is the hard part about learning how to say anything in Mandarin!

  1. Yi (level)
  2. Er (sounds like are) (falling)
  3. San (the a in sand) (level)
  4. Si (the vowel sounds sort of like the double-o in good) (falling)
  5. Wu (sounds like woh) (falling rising)
  6. Liu (sounds like leo) (falling)
  7. Qi (chee) (flat)
  8. Ba (flat)
  9. Jiu (joe) (falling rising)
  10. Shi (the vowel is close to the sound of eu in French) (rising)

Eleven is shi yi, 12 is shi er, etc. Ten plus the number. Twenty is er shi–two ten. Twenty-one would be er shi yi. It’s easy enough to extrapolate (though it would take a while to learn to count and say numbers readily).

The real pay-off to all this is that now I can say the names of the forms. We need one more tidbit, however: Shi with rising inflection is ten; shi with falling inflection means form. So shi occurs in the names of all the forms twice, pronunciation varying slightly (for those who can hear it).

Tai Chi Chuan (spelled variously as taiji quan or taiji ch’uan) means ultimate fist, but as I hear it used, taiji quan follows the empty-hand form names, while taiji jian is a sword form (jian being sword).

  • 24-form: er shi si shi taiji quan
  • 42-form: si shi er shi taiji quan
  • 32-form: san shi er shi taiji jian
  • 48-form: si shi ba shi taiji quan
  • 88-form: ba shi ba shi taiji quan

Just to add one final, random note of confusion: Bai, with falling-rising inflection, is hundred (yi bai is 100). Bai with rising inflection is white (as in crane).

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