If you don't speak Chinese and want to make yourself understood in Beijing, you might as well save yourself the trouble of finding the right words even in English, the dpa reported.
The truth is that beyond the Games' security precinct, where volunteers try hard to communicate with visitors in the language of William Shakespeare, almost nobody in the city will understand a word in any language other than Chinese.
Even basic English won't help you get a cab driver to take you to Tiananmen Square or a shop assistant to sell you cheaper that silk shirt you liked or a set of chopsticks you plan to use at home.
In any case, sounds will only perhaps succeed in making less comical the use of the universal language of gestures which - be warned - may not always work with taxi drivers.
You're best off carrying with you a map in English, for yourself, and one in Chinese for drivers. That way you can show exactly where you are trying to get to.
For everything else, you'll need imagination. Deploy all your acting ability and don't despair when the person you're talking to speeds off in a speech that is incomprehensible to you and seems full of wu, ton, yi, na, xie, yau, shi, ja, nin, gao, chon or nao.
You can learn a few words to feel better, like a friendly xie xie to say thank you, ni hao for hello, tsai chien to say bye or bao chien if you are trying to apologize.
But don't overdo it - you don't want people to take it seriously and reply as if you understood Chinese.