NATIONAL

Learning Chinese through Tamil

Hong Kong Oct. 3. A book about the Chinese language in Tamil, written by an Indian Foreign Service Officer, M. Sridharan, was released at a function organised by the Tamil Cultural Association in Hong Kong on September 28 by the Indian Consul General in Hong Kong, Ashok K. Kantha.

The book is the first using an Indian language to teach Chinese without going through the medium of English. Though both the languages have been spoken in Asia, the relation between these two languages is at best episodic. The author of the book, Chinese Language — an introduction, feels learning Chinese through Tamil is a far easier way for a Tamil speaker than most of the currently available method.

This book projects that Tamil and Chinese are not unrelated. The similarities in sound system, words, sentences and grammar are interesting. The research in this area needs to continue. It introduces and provides the initial steps of learning Chinese (Mandarin). The book includes 56 basic sentences for the learner, and sentences for seven important occasions (introduction, travel, hotel, food, shopping, sightseeing, emergency medical assistance).

This also includes a select word list for ready reference. In case the reader is yet to study a sentence, she can just show the Chinese words printed alongside and communicate the same. For the first time, this book introduces a direct Tamil to Chinese sound system whereby the reader can read the Tamil scripts to produce Chinese sounds. (He or she need not go through pinyin).

To assist the reader in avoiding the common mistake of reading pinyin as English, a list of pinyin to Tamil sounds are also given.

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