Monday, 19 July 2010

Count to Ten in NINE Languages - then count to twenty!

I'll be brief today - we want our boy to be bilingual in Mandarin/English and to have the building blocks to learn several European languages from an early age.  I'm told by linguistics experts it is feasible and I know I'll only do it if I can keep it fun for us both - I have no expertise in these languages so it will be mostly fresh for me too.

So here is a starter for you new parents to sing your kids to sleep with - 180 words in 9 languages.  I believe you'll remember these after a week.  Seriously.  There are so many similarities - it's easier than you think!

     English     Mandarin Cantonese      French   Spanish     Italian    
1   One         Yi(1)             Yat           Un         Uno          Uno      
2   Two         Er(4)            Yih           Deux     Dos           Due      
3   Three       San(1)         Saam        Trois     Tres           Tre      
4   Four         Si(4)            Sei            Quatre  Cuatro      Quattro
5   Five          Wu(3)          Ng            Cinq     Cinco         Cinque  
6   Six            Liu(4)           Luht          Six       Seis            Sei        
7   Seven       Qi(1)            Chat          Sept     Siete          Sette      
8   Eight         Ba(1)            Baat         Huit      Ocho         Otto      
9   Nine         Jiu(3)            Gau          Neuf     Nueve        Nove    
10 Ten          Shi(2)            Sahp        Dix       Diez           Dieci      
11 Eleven      Shi(2) yi(1)    Sahp yaht Onze    Once         Undici    
12 Twelve     Shi(2) er(4)   Sahp yih   Douze   Doce         Dodici  
13 Thirteen    Shi(2) san(1) Sahp saam Treize  Trece        Tredici  
14 Fourteen   Shi(2) si(4)  Sahp sei  Quatorze Catorce  Quattordici
15 Fifteen      Shi(2) wu(3) Sahp ng    Quinze   Quince     Quindici
16 Sixteen     Shi(2) liu(4)   Sahp luht  Seize     Dieciseis   Sedici  
17 Seventeen Shi(2) qi(1) Sahp chat  Dix-sept Diecisiete Diciasette
18 Eighteen   Shi(2) ba(1)  Sahp baat Dix-huit  Dieciocho Diciotto
19 Nineteen  Shi(2) jiu(3) Sahp gau Dix-neuf Diechinueve Dicanove
20 Twenty    Er(4) shi(2)   Yih sahp    Vingt      Veinte        Venti  

German        Latin              Japanese
1  Eins          Unus              Ichi
2  Zwei         Duo               Ni
3  Drei          Tres               San
4  Vier         Quattuor         Shi
5  Funf         Quinque         Go
6  Sechs       Sex                Roku
7  Sieben     Septem           Shichi
8  Acht        Octo               Hachi
9  Neun       Novem           Kyu
10 Zehn        Decem          Ju

11 Elf           Undecim       Juu ichi
12 Zwolf      Duodecim      Juu ni
13 Dreizehn  Tredecim       Juu san
14 Vierzehn Quattuordecim Juu yon
15 Funfzehn  Quindecim     Juu go
16 Sechzehn  Sedecim        Juu roku
17 Siebzehn   Septendecim Juu nana
18 Achtzehn   Duodeviginti Juu hachi
19 Neunzehn Undeviginti    Juu Kyuu
20 Zwanzig    Viginti           Ni juu

Note I've included the numerical equivalents of the four tones used in Mandarin - if you memorise the above, sounding the "i" at the end of a word as an "r", and ignoring the tones, you'll be pretty close - you can hone your skills by looking at an excellent Singaporean Government Mandarin site:
Lots of excellent multilingual material once you know a little so that you can navigate to the beginners' modules (email me if you want any help as this is a really fabulous resource.

Finally, please do email me any corrections or suggestions - I may well link to further pronunciation guides at a later time.


  1. You seem to have forgotten Welsh -

    Un 1 prounced een
    Dau 2 die
    Tri 3 tree
    Pedwar 4 Pedwaar
    Pump 5 Pimp
    Chwech 6 This is a hard one to pronounce as you have to make the ch noise which is like the noise when you clear your throat ...
    Saith 7 Sayth (don't pronounce th like the)
    Wyth 8 Oyth
    Naw 9 now
    Deg 10 deeg

    I hope you can say them - it was really fun trying to work out how to say them


  2. Thanks very much BNM - fantastic!
    That'll give me something to memorise this morning when I'm walking with my boy in the rain!

    More languages welcome - please add just like BNM!