Languages of the world: 8. Mandarin Chinese

Languages of the world:

Mandarin is a group of related dialects or varieties spoken the Northern and Southwestern of China. It has more native speakers than any other language in the world (nearly one billion speakers). The term “Mandarin” is borrowed from Portuguese (“mandarim”), this word means counselor or minister.

In the early 20th century the “Standard Chinese” was adopted as the national language. It was based on the Beijing (phonology) and other Mandarin dialects (vocabulary), thus this “Standard Chinese” is also known as Mandarin (Pǔtōnghuà).It is the official language of the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore.

The phonology of Mandarin Chinese consists of two dozen consonants and about half a dozen vowels, some of which form diphthongs and four tones.

The writing system for almost all the varieties of Chinese is based on a set of written logograms that has been passed down with little change for more than two thousand years. While it is possible to invent new characters, Chinese usually borrows old ones that have fallen into disuse. Chinese characters were traditionally read from top to bottom, right to left but in modern usage it is more common to read from left to right.

Although Standard Chinese is the lingua franca of China, it differs from dialects, even in the Mandarin group, to the point of being to some extent unintelligible. The linguistic diversity is so large that neighboring city dwellers may have difficulties communicating with each other without a lingua franca.

Chinese facts:

  • Chinese grammar is surprisingly straightforward, with none of the tenses, plurals, cases or genders that can make learning European languages difficult.
  • The hard part about Chinese is mastering the tones. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means the pitch or intonation in which a sound is spoken affects the meaning.
  • For reading Chinese without using Latin alphabet it is necessary to memorize a large quantity of Chinese characters. If you want to read a newspaper you will have to learn around 2.000 Chinese Characters.
  • Intonation is very important in Chinese. For example xiǎng wèn nǐ, means I want to ask you. But if you say it with a different intonation you may end up saying I want to kiss you.
  • Chinese people place great emphasis on titles. If the name of your teacher is for example Mrs Wang, you should call her Wang Lǎoshī, meaning Teacher Wang. For doctors it is used Yīshēng. Xiānsheng for Mr. and  Nǚshì for Ms.
  • Keep in mind that in China there are different dialects, and they are hardly understood among them, so you could end up listening to two Chinese people talking in English because their dialects are completely different from one to another and they find it easier to talk in English language if they both know it.
  • Knowing how to read and write Chinese characters will help you pick up Writtern Japanese quicker, because Japanese langue uses a large amount of characters with exactly the same meaning than in Chinese but pronunciation and grammar is completely different between these two languages.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find Chinese courses in our “centro de lenguas”.



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Languages of the world: 7. Arabic

Languages of the world:

Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD.  It includes the literary language and the spoken Arabic varieties.

The literary language is called Modern Standard Arabic. It is the only official form of Arabic.The spoken Arabic varieties are spoken in a wide territory stretching across the Middle East and North Africa.Arabic languages are Central Semitic languages, most closely related to Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic and Phoenician.

It is official in 26 states and it is also the liturgical language of Islam. Despite of its different dialects, the modern standard Arabic is widely taught in schools, universities, and used to varying degrees in workplaces, government and the media.

This language is the only surviving member of the Old North Arabian dialect group. It is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right to left, although some spoken varieties use Latin alphabet.

Arabic has lent many words to other languages of the Islamic world, like Persian, Turkish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Malay and Hausa. We can appreciate Arabic influence in languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Sicilian. Arabic language has also borrowed words from languages, for example Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Syriac, Turkish and English and French in recent times.

The major dialects groups are:

Egyptian (Spoken by 80 million people), Maghrebi (75 million people speak this dialect), Mesopotamian (Spoken by 36 million), Levantine (35 million speakers), Sudanese (30 million people), Yemeni (25 million speakers) and Najdi (10 million people).

The Arabic alphabet can be divided into two groups order.

  • The original ’abjadī order (أَبْجَدِي):
غ ظ ض ذ خ ث ت ش ر ق ص ف ع س ن م ل ك ي ط ح ز و ه د ج ب أ
gh dh kh th t sh r q f s n m l k y z w h d j b
  • the newer hijā’ī order (with letters partially grouped together by similarity of shape, used where lists of names and words are sorted):
ي و ه ن م ل ك ق ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ر ذ د خ ح ج ث ت ب أ
y w h n m l k q f gh sh s z r dh d kh zh th t b

Arabic is a language which lies far from English but still you may find some false friends such as:

  • If you hear the word “when”(وين) in Arabic they are talking about where something is.
  • If your name is Anna, you would be saying in Arabic “I” (أنا).

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find Arabic courses in our “Centro de Lenguas

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Es tu Tiempo de Lenguas, aprovéchalo!

¿Quieres mejorar tu nivel de inglés? ¿O de francés? ¿O de alemán? Los idiomas se están convirtiendo en un requisito indispensable para acceder al mercado laboral actual. Sin ellos, tus oportunidades se verán reducidas. Así que, es hora de que dediques una parte de tu tiempo a aprender idiomas, un tiempo para aprender otras lenguas, un tiempo a: ¡TIEMPO DE LENGUAS!

Tiempo de Lenguas es una empresa del vivero que lleva 2 años en nuestras instalaciones de la Universidad de Almería. En el año 2010, María Cerdá presentó su proyecto ante el tribunal que otorgaba viveros a emprendedores y ganó uno de ellos; una academia de idiomas con clases distintas, clases a domicilio y online que favorecieran el aprendizaje de otras lenguas adaptándose a los horarios de cada alumno. Fue un proyecto que gustó mucho.

Tiempo de Lenguas ofrece una amplia gama de idiomas, entre los que destaca español para extranjeros e inglés, aunque también existe la posibilidad de solicitar clases de francés, alemán y ¡hasta chino! Ellos están especializados en la preparación de estudiantes para exámenes oficiales como los exámenes de inglés de Cambridge, entre otros.

Como todos sabemos, los horarios de hoy día están cada vez más aglomerados con actividades de todo tipo. Por eso, Tiempo de Lenguas, se adapta a ti, a tu horario, a tu lugar de trabajo, a tu casa: donde quieras, ¡cuando quieras!

¿Y qué más ofrecen?

  • Clases a domicilio, in company,  online a través de una plataforma…
  • Adaptación de horarios
  • Inglés específico adaptado a tus necesidades
  • Servicio personalizado
  • Todo el material a tu disponibilidad
  • Contratos mensuales sin matrícula inicial
  • Clases individuales o en grupos muy reducidos (3/4 personas del mismo nivel)

¿Necesitas más razones para comenzar tu TIEMPO DE LENGUAS?

Puedes encontrarlos en la planta baja del CAE (conocido como CIDU), despacho 0.19 o en

¿Eres profesor titulado o estudiante Erasmus especializado en idiomas? ¿Quieres trabajar con ellos? Debido a la creciente demanda, Tiempo de Lenguas busca profesionales para impartir clases de inglés, principalmente nativos ingleses u otras nacionalidades que hablen bien inglés y español. ¡Aprovecha esta oportunidad!

Contacta con ellos en el 636007886 o en