Ma

Today’s word, ma 马, means HORSE。
[audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/horse1.mp3|titles=horse]

ma 马 is pronounced in the third tone. It starts low, drops lower and then rises to a higher tone.

ma 马 is also a common Chinese surname.

ma 马 lu 路 means road or street or avenue.
[audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/road.mp3|titles=road]

In the old days, people walked on narrow alleyways between houses. But horses and carriages traveled on major roads which were wide and straight. These large roads became known as ma 马 (horse) lu 路 (roads) or avenues.

lu 路 is pronounced in the fourth tone, short and abrupt like saying the word NO.
[audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/no.mp3|titles=no]

Homework: Type 马 twenty times while saying 马 repeatedly. [audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/horse-x-3.mp3|titles=horse x 3]

Now type 路 twenty times while saying 路 repeatedly. [audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/lu-x-3.mp3|titles=lu x 3]

Type 马 路 twenty times while saying 马路 repeatedly. [audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ma-lu-x-3.mp3|titles=ma lu x 3]

Zi

一  字  一  日

ZI   字

Zi 字  is pronounced in the fourth tone.
[audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/character-word.mp3|titles=character-word]

Two separate meanings:

  1. character, word

examples:  yi 一 zi字    = one word

zi 字dian 典 = dictionary

zi means word and dian means standard or canon

  1. name

example: qian 签 zi 字    = sign one’s name
[audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/name.mp3|titles=name]

qian is pronounced `chien’ in the first tone .  The letter q in Chinese words sounds like ch.  The word means to sign.  In this instance, means name.

Yi

yi zi yi ri

一 字 一 日

Since the title of my website is Chinese Character A Day, we will begin by translating that title into Chinese and start with

YI   一

The word Yi 一  is the most commonly used word in Chinese.  It is pronounced like the letter E but in the first tone: a high, level tone with the E held constantly. [audio:http://chinesecharacteraday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/yi.mp3|titles=yi]

Yi  一  has many meanings: one, alone, single, whole, each, all, throughout.