Front Cover  Phrase Book

  Dissemination of restricted matter - The information contained in restricted documents and the essential characteristics of restricted material may be given to any person known to be in the service of the United States and to persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion who are cooperating in Government work, but will not be communicated to the public or to the press except by authorized military public relations agencies. (See also par. 18b, AR380-5, 28 Sep 1942.)

 China Phrase Book


  North Chinese (also called Mandarin) is the everyday language of about 300 million people in northern, western and southwestern China and in Manchuria. It is also understood by educated people throughout the rest of the country, where several other languages are spoken. The best known of these is Cantonese, the language spoken by most of the Chinese living outside of China, including those in the United States.

  Like English, North Chinese is pronounced differently in different parts of the country. However, the pronunciation given in this Phrase Book, which is that of Peiping, will be understood by all.

  This Phrase Book contains the Chinese words and expressions you are most likely to need. All the words are written in a spelling which you read like English. This spelling is given in the second column on each page. Each letter or combination of letters is used for the sound it normally represents in English and it always stands for the same sound. Thus, "oo" is always to be read as in too, boot, tooth, roost, never as in blood or door.

  In the third column of each page is given the Wade-Giles Romanization of the Chinese, and in the fourth column are given the Chinese characters. The third and fourth columns will not concern you unless you have studied Chinese before.

Special Points

  Speaking Chinese is a little like singing. It is important to give the right tune to each expression. In the Phrase Book the tones used in speaking Chinese are shown as follows:

Small letters indicate low pitch, capital letters high pitch. Example: "hwaw CHUH" meaning "train."

A curved line means that your voice slides up. Example: "NEE~EEN ha~OO" meaning "hello." In "NEE~EEN" your voice starts high and rises still higher. In "ha~OO" your voice starts low and goes up.

An exclamation point means that your voice starts high and slides down sharply, much as in English commands like "Stop!" or "Halt!" Example: "YOW!" meaning "want."

A slanting line is put into the longer expressions at the point where you can pause for breath. It is important not to hesitate except where there is a slanting line.

Ü with two dots over it stands for a sound we don't have in English. To make it, say the ee of feet and at the same time round your lips. Example: "CHÜ!" meaning "go."

How to Use the Phrase Book

  The Table of Contents lists the situations covered. Try to become familiar with the contents of the Phrase Book so that you will know where to find a given section when you need it. In each section you will find a number of questions, each one so phrased that the Chinese speaker can give you a simple answer, point out the direction, give you a number, and so forth.

  The Chinese never reply with just "yes" or "no" but make a short statement in answer to the question. The answers you are most likely to get are given after each question. Frequently a Chinese will shake his head for "no" or nod it for "yes," just as we do. If you want this kind of answer, you can get it by using the following expression:

  English: Please answer by nodding or shaking your head

  Pronunciation: CH~ING nee / YOONG! d-yan TO~OO / YA~OO TO~OO / HWAY~EE DA

  If the person you are speaking to knows how to read, you can point to the question in the column headed Chinese and ask him to point to the answer:

  Point to the answer in this book

  ba YOW! HWAY~EE DA duh HWA! / jer GAY~EE waw KAHN!

The Chinese use "please" even more often than we do. It is used as follows:

  Please                        ch~ING
  Please repeat             ching / DZA!ee SHWAW
  Please speak slower   ching / MAHN! ee d-yan / SHWAW

  It is a good idea to memorize the numbers (at least up to ten) and the other expression you will constantly need. The Chinese use their own system of writing numbers. If you do not understand a number when it is spoken, you can show the person the list of Chinese numbers and ask him to point.

  Please point               ch~ING jer / GAY~EE waw KAHN!

  If you need a single word, look for it in the Alphabetical Word List at the back of the book. You will also find page numbers there telling you where to find expressions containing the word.

  To help with the pronunciation of Chinese, a set of phonograph records is issued with the Chinese Language Guide (Introductory Series). These records will help you get proper tones for the different expressions.


 Phrase Book
 Phrase Book
 Phrase Book
 Phrase Book

Special thanks to Gary Goldblatt for providing the original booklet on which this page is based.

Copyright © 2004 Carl Warren Weidenburner. All rights reserved.