Chinese language and your Brain
Researchers recently analyzed brain reads of English speakers and Mandarin Chinese speakers. They found that when English speakers heard English, their left temporal lobes became active Synapse xt.
However, when Mandarin Chinese speakers heard their native tongue, there was a buzz of action in both the right and left temporal lobes! Why? The reason lies the way mental performance processes the information which our five feelings supply.
Scientists have concluded with reasonable assurance that different patches of the cortex apparently help one to hear words, see words, and speak words. The left temporal lobe is generally associated with piecing sounds together into words; the right with processing melody and intonation.
Learning Chinese Tones
Why then when Mandarin Chinese speakers hear their native tongue, both the right and left temporal lobes become active? Because in Mandarin Chinese the correct intonation is essential to the meaning of any word! On the contrary, English (or German, French, Spanish, etc. ) is not a tonal language, then there’s no need to use the right temporal lobe.
In Mandarin Chinese the same “syllables” can be said in four different tones (plus the fairly neutral tone), so that, for example, the syllable “ma” said in the first tone will mean “mummy”, in the second tone will mean “pitted”, in the third tone will mean “horse” and in the fourth tone will mean “curse”.
It means that if you by mistake change the tone of the word for “mummy”, you might call her “horse”!
How should this affect your learning of Chinese language?
I know by experience that a lot of students tend to take Chinese language tones lightly.