Playing Mahjong
Learning Chinese

Playing Mahjong

Mahjong Solitare is a tile matching game comprised of 36 tiles laid out in 4 instances creating 144 playing pieces per round. While several different types of Mahjong solitare layouts exist, the rules for clearing the board persist between layouts.

Users may only select open tiles. An open tile is defined by a tile which has an open side on it's left or right, and is not covered by another tile layer. Users select open tiles and then attempt to match them to other open tiles, opening up other tiles in that process. Tiles do not have to be on the same row or layer to be matched, they merely need to be open on the right or left hand side and not covered by another tile.

A "match" between tiles means two tiles with the same symbols, and pinyin beneath the symbols, are identical. If a user attempts to match a tile that does not bear the same symbol and pinyin, the sound of a tile hitting the board twice will play indicating this is not a match. If a user attempts to select a closed tile, the sound of a tile hitting the board twice will play, indicating the tile is not open. If a user selects an initial open tile that he/she cannot find a match for, they must press the original tile selected again to deselect it. A selected tile is identifiable by a golden outline and halo. When tiles are successfully matched the sound of mahjong poker chips jingle, indicating a correct pairing.

If a user comes to an impasse where no open tiles are matchable, they have the option to utilize the "shuffle" option, which will re-arrange the existing tiles on the board in hopes of producing additional openings. Shuffling the tiles results in a mild scoring penalty, but sometimes may be necessary to complete the board.

Once all tiles are successfully matched, the user will advance to a new level that features new symbols to memorize.

Learning Chinese

This app is designed to introduce users to the most frequently used Chinese characters. While there are over 47,000 Chinese characters, not all of these are used in daily interactions. By focusing on the most frequently used 500 Chinese characters, if retained in memory, a user could understand around 75% of Chinese speech and writing. Levels in this game are broken up by nouns, verbs, adjectives, and miscellaneous forms of grammar across those most frequently used 500 characters.

Each of the symbols presented are single characters, and in the real world are often combined with other symbols to create more complex words or meanings. While learning all of the symbols presented in this game will give you ample context and meaning when attempting to read a Chinese newspaper, real world experience and a Chinese language learning course are recommended to become truly literate.

There are many Chinese languages or dialects, however they all share the same common symbols and characters for communication, similar to the romanized alphabet used in English but without variation whatsoever between languages, with the exception of Simplified versus Traditional characters. In the 1950's the Chinese introduced simplified forms of Chinese characters to promote literacy. While some simplified characters are identical to their traditional counterpart, some are dramatically different due to a decrease in strokes used to present the character. Both systems are still in use, but their adoption varies by geography. Mainland China uses simplified characters, while Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional characters. A large portion of mainland China and Taiwan speaks Mandarin as a first or second language, while Hong Kong and southern China typically speak Cantonese as their first language. The version of Tile Speak you're leveraging has paired simplified or traditional characters appropriately based on the Chinese language or dialect you've chosen to learn. If you're learning Mandarin, all tiles featured are simplified characters. If you're learning Cantonese, traditional tiles are presented.

As you select open tiles, when the first tile is pressed an audible representation of the word will play over the speaker. The phonetic pinyin is also presented on the tile itself. Additionally, the English form of the word will display in the green bar in the upper left hand corner. As you match the tiles, take time to associate the English word presented to learn the meaning of the symbol you've selected. Practice saying the word along with the narrator, attempting to mimic tone as closely as possible. To help identify characters for English speakers, our Chinese symbols have been given a color associated with their tone. Tones introduced in this application break out by Chinese language as follows:

Mandarin Tones:
Tone 1 - High Level - Red
Tone 2 - Rising - Orange
Tone 3 - Falling Rising - Green
Tone 4 - Falling - Blue
Tone 5- Mute Tone - Black

Cantonese Tones:
Tone 1- High Falling - Red
Tone 2- Low Falling - Orange
Tone 3- Mid Rising - Green
Tone 4- Low Rising - Blue
Tone 5- Mid Level - Black
Tone 6- Low Level - Purple

While the colors themselves are likely to just be used as character distinctions for English speakers, it's advised to be aware of what the colors truly represent. Rising and falling tones vary the meaning of a word, so in order to most accurately mimic the narrator it's recommend users keep these associations in mind.

The more you play the game, the more you'll be exposed to Chinese characters and Chinese speech. Commit these to memory with retention through repetition of selection, and you'll be well on your way to speaking Chinese.

2011-2012 TileSpeak Software.  Patent Pending.