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  • murrayjames

    997,630 Characters to Go

    By murrayjames

    In “The 2019 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic” thread, I recently resolved to read one million Chinese characters in books and articles this year. Our esteemed forum administrator @roddy reached out to ask if I would chronicle my attempt to do this through posts on this website. And here I am.   My goal is to read one million characters in 2019. To accomplish this will require reading 2,750 characters per day, or three to seven pages of text per day, on average. That is a manageable
    • 2 comments
    • 253 views
  • anonymoose

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

    By anonymoose

    Not much to say for this one. Enjoy!
    • 4 comments
    • 289 views
  • abcdefg

    Toilet instructions

    By abcdefg

    One sees this sign, usually only in Chinese, in the male toilets of lots of public places. The English translation here is particularly lame.  
    • 10 comments
    • 511 views
  • anonymoose

    温馨提示

    By anonymoose

    这张照片是在哪里拍的?
    • 0 comments
    • 213 views
  • roddy

    Signese Revival 14

    By roddy

    One fairly random photo of Chinese characters in action, per week, until sometime in 2018. And perhaps longer if I'm encouraged. Those who want to contribute their own random photos of Chinese characters are welcome, just get in touch and I'll add you to the contributor list so you can post directly, from computer or phone.   This is, without a doubt, my all time favourite. Guy was just pootling along the third ring road, I think. 
    • 0 comments
    • 426 views

Our community blogs

  1. feihong
    Latest Entry:

    By feihong,

    blogentry-38695-0-91172300-1316373677_thumb.png

    Point out the errors in the translation.

    Mark: AWESOME night. Dry spell = broken.

    Mark:这天棒透了。干旱期结束了。

    Karen likes this.

    Karen觉得这挺赞的。

    Mark: MOM WTF

    Mark:娘你发疯了吗

    Karen: Oops. How do I unclick?

    Karen:是故意的。玩得很开心吗?

    Melissa: HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Melissa:呼呼呼呼呼呼

    Source: Awkward Moments in Facebook Likes

  2. Publius
    Latest Entry:

    By Publius,

    Can you guess what kind of business they are in?

    IMG_20190626_140559.thumb.jpg.719701ce227cb384db6c9e430410f287.jpg

    Spoiler

    IMG_20190626_140914.thumb.jpg.21ca68ebe0e87a476adb41698fffb9e7.jpg

     

  3. This was copied from the conclusion of a research paper I wrote. I'm not super confident on the quality of the paper so I'm not putting it here. A lot of this should be "no shit" to many of you. Some of it might be surprising.

    A teacher’s ability to naturally gravitate toward good pedagogy depends on target language proficiency, linguistic expertise, and familiarity with current research and technology. Based on the studies referenced in this paper and the discussion in the previous section,

    • Reading complements writing and writing complements reading. They should be developed together, with reading prioritized.
    • Students should not be expected to write whatever they can say or read, but should be expected to write something in order to develop sensitivity to orthographic features of Chinese.
    • Students should be shown and be allowed to use the best learning tools available on their various devices.
    • Allowing novice students to produce written Chinese using phonetic input methods is not a handicap, but a scaffolding tool providing reinforcement of the connection between phonetic notation, meaning, and written representation of words.
    • Learners who are freed from having to handwrite everything in their oral vocabulary should learn handwriting at a more deliberate pace, where more attention is paid to form.
    • In particular, the modular structure of Chinese characters should be taught explicitly.
    • Although unfashionable, rote repetition is still useful in developing motor memory, which automatizes encoding, allowing a focus on meaning.
    • The same stroke order should be followed each time a character is written.

  4. bijian's Blog

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    Recent Entries

    昨天和今天,我花好几个小时看一篇文章在这个URI: http://business.sohu.com/20100730/n273866891.shtml

    我为什么选择“北京人大常委会建言:对流动人口采取新户籍模式”的文章吗?就是因为二零零七年在北京的时候,一个中国朋友叫我周末的时候去教英文。我同意了,然后找到学生们是流动人口的孩子们。这些孩子給我留下很好的印象所以想看到这篇文章对他们的情况说什么。

    北京人大常委会建言:对流动人口采取新户籍模式 - 2010年07月30日07:17 - 来源:新华网

      北京市人大常委会就“十二五”规划建言 对流动人口采取新户籍管理模式

      针对制定北京市国民经济和社会发展“十二五”规划,昨天的北京市人大常委会第十九次会议上,市人大常委会盯紧建设科技创新中心、建设服务业中心、建设宜居城市、加快农村城镇化、合理调控城市人口规模等五大问题,提出了一揽子建议。

    我认为上面的意思是在北京从现在到五年以后人们要不但建设很多东西,而且急步农村。加油!

      “房地分离”经适房面向全体城镇居民

      市人大常委会建议,市政府进一步改进和规范经济适用房在规划、建设、出售、使用、回购及监管等方面的制度,确保其社会保障的性质和功能。在此基础上,研究采取“房地分离”的经济适用住房建管新模式,即购房人只享有房屋所有权,不享有土地收益、处置权。在价格构成上,购房人只承担房屋的基本建安费用、相应的配套设施费用和税费,与政府按照一定比例共有产权。

      出售时购房人与政府按产权比例进行收益分配。在适用对象上,应该是面向所有的城镇居民,首次购房的居民都可以根据自己的意愿和实际需要,购买一套能够满足基本生活需求、标准化配置的住宅,做到公平普惠。这种模式,有利于解决以往经济适用住房与市场不接轨、“有限产权”界定难、退出机制难以操作等弊端,还可以大大降低监管成本。

    是不是政府不想人们在比较底的价买房子格然后在比较高的价格卖这个房子?华盛顿和美国的别的市政府也有差不多一样的政策,就是买房子以后得等两年才可以卖房子,要不然得付比较大的税费。对不对?

      符合条件流动人口采用新户籍管理模式

      市人大常委会建议,在合理调控城市人口规模的基础上,加强对流动人口合法权益的保护。要加强对流动人口结构的分析研究,对那些已经在京拥有合法所有权住房、具有稳定职业和收入、连续居住并缴纳社会保险金达到一定年限,符合一定条件的流动人口,研究采取新的户籍管理模式,让他们更快、更好地融入北京。

    如果人们已经在北京有工作,有房子,那这个节目要“让他们更快、更好地融入北”。

      农村城镇化要“一变四有三进”

      市人大常委会建议,要充分发挥农民在农村城镇化中的主体作用,切实保护农民的合法权益,努力实现农村城镇化进程中“一变四有三进”,即:随着农民集体土地性质功能的变化,使农民有住房、有新型产业、有稳定就业、有新型经济组织的股权,进入与城市衔接的社会保障体系、进入均等化的基本公共服务覆盖范围、进入股份合作制的新型经济组织。记者 王皓 实习生 王颜欣 (来源:北京日报)

    (责任编辑:李瑞)

    文章来源:http://business.sohu.com/20100730/n273866891.shtml (责任编辑:李瑞)

    人们想让农民什么时候都有房子和工作。

    请您让我知道我的错误。谢谢大家。

    ---

    九月二十一号2010-很感谢Zomac,geesisy,和Archie.,因为您们改了好几个错误

  5. jbradfor
    Latest Entry:

    Just a warning, in case all of the "女" confuses you into thinking that a "女婿" is female. I assumed it was, and boy did I get the wrong impression of that relationship!

    "姪女婿" is male too. Just saying.

  6. buanryoh
    Latest Entry:

    n./adj. 直观

    This word means intuitive, audio-visual, visual, i.e. something that is directly perceived through the senses.

    直观教具

    aids to object teaching; audio-visual aids

    直观教学

    object teaching

    On the upside, I found working with the Facelets API to be very natural and intuitive.

    在有利方面来说,我发现使用Facelets API非常自然和直观

    The touch-key designed accords with the trend of the products, and operate the products more easily.

    符合产品潮流的触摸按键设计,更直观轻易操作产品

    For an interesting take on intuitive English vocabulary learning, check out: http://pic.daqi.com/slide/2934663.html

    What do you think?

  7. Chinoiseries Etc.

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    No blog entries yet

  8. Forums Affairs

    • 2
      entries
    • 16
      comments
    • 83352
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    Recent Entries

    roddy
    Latest Entry:

    It's way too early to tell what if any impact the change in software will have on site usage. But lets look at some numbers anyway.

    First off, early indications are that everyone has figured out how to post - new posts figures for the last couple of days are broadly in line with the same days last week. Subtract all the posts made in the topic about the move (which don't really count as normal posting) and you've got figures down a bit, but not to a worrying extent.

    There are page redirects in place to bring anyone attempting to visit old forum content pages to the right place on the new system, so search engine traffic is still finding us. It has dropped by about 10% on the same day last week, presumably as Google and the rest update the index with the new urls. That kind of drop is well within the realms of random Internet fluctuations anyway.

    Talking of Google, the changes have certainly been noticed - there's a clear spike in indexing as the new pages are visited to check what if anything has changed. blogentry-3-12735792029_thumb.png

    And it's maybe a bit early, but it looks like Googlebot is finding the new pages easier to eat - this shows how long on average it takes to download a page. There's not a lot of value in that information, but it indicates that the new scripts are at least not running any slower than the old ones.

    blogentry-3-127357919233_thumb.png

    And if anyone wants to do their bit to boost the stats - get posting. Posts generate more posts, and more visitors.

  9. simonlaing
    Latest Entry:

    I take the Shanghai metro a lot. While on the subway they have different TV programs, at the moment usually just the recap of the Shanghai expo of the previous day. On the weekend though I have found they have a program I like to call "Shanghai's most devious Criminals" blogentry-9471-127686048303_thumb.jpg

    The show features a police man and actual CCTV footage of criminals stealing or doing some sort of con. The con in the picture is an old man crossing the street and making an expensive car slowly bump into his partner in crime a bicycle that just happens to be riding next to the car in the blind spot when the old guy walks towards the car. The bicyclist falls down and asks for compensation. The policeman is eventually called and after reviewing the tapes and seeing how these two scam artists worked arrested them for the scam. There was another one 2 weeks ago which had the cop chasing the criminal who ran across a wide 3 lane road and climbed over the median. He was about to get away when a pedestrian saw the cop chasing him, ran after the criminal and tackled him to the crowd, putting the criminal in a headlock until the police could catch up and put the cuffs on him. For a public documentary show it had a bunch of action and a little uneditted violence.

    Anyway this use of the Metro TV is quite interesting I thought, it was half instructional on how to spot scams and half (look how we're catching criminals, don't think about trying anything as we have cameras everywhere.)

    Much better than the red light -green light of how to get on the subway movies and how not to go after your cell phone after you drop it on the tracks.

    Have fun,

    Simon:)

  10. Beijing Bicycle

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    Recent Entries

    I pity the fool who can't shake the evil bean. (Not really, I just wanted to use Mr. T's famous "I pity the fool" line.)

    Living on the Big Island of Hawaii for 7 years turned me into a coffee snob. I grew to like the strong, bitter taste of Kona coffee and the coffee my friend grew on the Hamakua coast. During my 3 years in Japan I frequented two small cafes in Gifu City that served strong coffee and sweet cake, and played good, old-school jazz. I never got hooked on Japanese green or barley tea. Japanese green tea is good, but I prefer green tea ice cream and green tea chocolate to drinking it.

    So when I moved to China last year I was hoping to maintain the coffee buzz. Not sure what happened. A few lukewarm cans of Nescafe and a few mediocre mocha's at some cafes and I just wasn't feeling the buzz anymore. So I gradually switched over to tea.

    Flashback: The best cup of tea I've ever had in China (or anywhere else for that matter) was in a small town called Xiahe(夏河) in Gansu province. It was in a small ramen shop. The young waiter reached into a bag, pulled out a handful of tea leaves that were so dark green they almost looked black, threw them into a drinking glass (not a tea mug) and then poured hot water over them. The tea had a strong, smoky taste but it was also very smooth. I've been trying to "find" that taste ever since (about two years ago). I got a hint of it in a small ramen shop in Miyun (密云) two months ago. It wasn't as strong, but a hint of the smoky taste was definitely there. I asked the waiter what kind of tea it was and he said it was Oolong. A few weeks later I went to a couple of tea shops and tried to explain the flavor of tea I was looking for, but I still haven't found it. Maybe a trip back to 夏河 is in order. Next time I'm going to take some of the tea leaves with me.

    So I bought a tea set the other day. And so far, my male ego is taking it in strides. I'm thinking I need some dolls and stuffed animals for a tea party. While she said it looks nice, my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm for tea. She likes fruit juice and milk. I'd like to bring this point up the next time a language teacher throws me a "Chinese people like tea, Americans like coffee" generalization.

    I'd like to study the art of making tea. For me, it's about more than just drinking a beverage. It's like a mini ritual. It's about taking time out, sitting quietly, drinking something that tastes good and relaxes me.

    I'm digging Jasmine tea. I'm hoping to switch to some green tea as the Summer heats up.

    What kind of tea do you like?

  11. A few Kunming signs

    abcdefg
    Latest Entry:

    I've been traveling again. Here's a sign above a urinal in Kunming Airport.

    blogentry-20301-061432100 1312591563_thumb.jpg

  12. keitha's Blog

    • 4
      entries
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    • 37556
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    Recent Entries

    keitha
    Latest Entry:

    I've been here in Beijing at Beihang University for a week now. The lectures starts on tuesday so I have had some time to explore the surrounding area and check out some markets. So far it has been a great experience and from a swedes point of view the chinese are very friendly and open for contact. I wish I had some language skills to be able to chat with people but that will change (hopefully!).

    Some photos : http://www.flickr.com//photos/keithakid/sets/72157627476683131/show/

  13. Shelley
    Latest Entry:

    Hello everyone,

    It has been a while since I last updated my blog. There were a couple of reasons for this - My eyes:shock:

     

    My vision was deteriorating quite a lot and last November the decision was taken to under go cataract surgery. As this was in the UK and on the NHS the wheels grind (no complaints it just the way it is) and eventually I now have 2 new lenses and can see better than I have been able to for many years. I found it was becoming increasingly frustrating trying to read characters with bad eyes and magnifying glasses are a pain, hard to scan pages with one.

     

    I am still in recovery, it is only the third day after my second eye so slowly slowly does it. 

     

    My intention is to return and update my blog with my new learning schedule and updates as to my successes and failures and hopefully help myself and others to progress with learning Chinese.

     

    Just wanted to update anyone who was interested that my hiatus from learning is now turning slowly into a return to learning.

  14. navaburo
    Latest Entry:

    I have had trouble with the trio of traditional characters which simplify to 干. It turns out (as usual) that all three have curious and twisted etymologies. Here are some mnemonics for keeping the traditional characters 幹干and 乾 straight in your head:

    乾gan1

    This is the most straight-forward of the trio.

    It means "dry":

    乾果

    dried fruit

    乾淨

    clean

    In its qian2 pronunciation, it is also one of the Eight Trigrams, and a surname, but those are much lower frequency uses.

    Mnemonic: When there is a drought you beg for even a little mist.

    Etymological note:

    Wieger clarifies that "dry" was originally written using 旱 on the left (with 十 above it?). The character 乾 originally was read qian2 and represented the sun shining into the jungle, dislodging vapors which then rise up into the sky.

    幹gan4

    This character can mean "to do" or "tree trunk".

    It can be used alone:

    你幹了一件蠢事。

    You have committed ("done") a folly.

    Or in the common idiom gan4ma5:

    你幹嘛/ 你幹甚麼?

    What are you doing?

    A canonical example of the "tree trunk" meaning is:

    樹幹

    shu1gan4

    tree trunk

    Mnemonic:

    A tree (which originally was made of wood but is now a post-modern clothes hanger pole) is topped with an umbrella of leaves. But, through the mist, you can only see the trunk.

    Etymonlogical note:

    Wieger says the 干 component in 幹 is supposed to be 木, the former being an "absurd phonetic redundancy" This would make more sense.

    干gan1

    This is the odd-ball in the group. It has several meanings. Its most prolific meaning is "to offend":

    干犯

    gan1fan4

    to offend or to violate

    干涉

    gan1she4

    to meddle

    But this gan can also mean "stem" in:

    天干

    the Ten Heavenly Stems

    An archaic meaning is "shield":

    干戈

    gan1ge1

    weapons of war, literally "shield and spear"

    Mnemonic:

    In Toronto, up until a couple of years ago, it was illegal to hang clothes outside, i.e. one of the biggest offenses and ways to offend the sensibilities of people was to hang your clothes outdoors. Silly, but unfortunately true. (credit: koohii user vorpal)

    Etymological note:

    Wieger tells us that 干 represents a pestle. By extension it means to grind or destroy. Destruction in the moral sense gives offense. Destruction in the martial sense gives the warlike association in 干戈.

  15. Have almost finished translating the song 纯真年代 so will post that up when done, but to take a break and try translating some smaller passages I'm going to copy some sample sentences from NCIKU.com's dictionary. Here is the first one I tried with my translation underneath:

    A: 回忆起过去那如火如荼的革命岁月,他激动不已。

    B: 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

    A: Remembering the rapidly growing revolutionary years, he is endlessly excited

    B: The years are endless, world affairs are like white clouds and dark green dogs

    • 回忆起过去

    "memories form and pass by".

    I thought remembering or as he remembered would be an appropriate translation but I am unsure.

    • 那如火如荼的革命岁月

    "That like fire like bitter herb revolution years".

    This really confused me when I broke it down as I didn't know how to combine the 如火如荼 part. The dictionary said it was a saying meaning either "magnificent" or "originally used to describe a soldier's demeanor and discipline; developing quickly; growing rapidly;blazing", so I opted for rapidly growing as seems more appropriate to describe a revolution.

    • 他激动不已

    "He excited endlessly".

    I thought this would sound better as "His excitement is endless" but that would need 的, and the translation that I have for 不已 is endlessly, which is an adverb. I would have used this first translation but when I saw that 漫长 translates as endless in the second phrase I compared the two.

    I don't know what time frame the first line occurs in. Present tense? - As he remembers the revolutionary years he is endlessly excited, or past tense? - As he remembered the revolutionary years he was endlessly excited.

    • 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

    I'm not sure about the last line, Nciku.com says that it's a saying meaning "how things change in this world". My literal translation looks a bit silly but it's based on my current knowledge so I will leave it as it stands.

  16. Bigdumogre
    Latest Entry:

    Well its been a while since I updated this blog and I have tons of excuses why and why I haven't studied for 6 weeks until last week. But that's what they are just excuses, and I should of never of stopped. So I am going to redo all the NPCR chapters I have already finished, redo most of the pimsluers I have completed and re listen to podcasts that I already know. I know this will take a few weeks but I will be back up to where I was and with accurate tones and words. Has this happened to anyone else? Seems like at times stepping back a few steps will help your get to your destintion.

  17. js6426
    Latest Entry:

    I finished up the spring semester of my second year yesterday with my final of 7 exams.  Next week we start a 4 week summer semester, which consists of a week of class, followed by some outings and then a final exam.

     

    This semester has been great, and I feel like I have made a ton of progress.  I still struggle with my tones, but thanks to lots of speaking practice I feel much more aware of the mistakes I am making, and am being much more conscious in my efforts to correct and avoid mistakes.  I really enjoyed speaking class this semester, as we had a lot of opportunities to be up the front giving presentations and such.  This was definitely the highlight for me.  Of course I would do massive amounts of preparation beforehand, but the fact that our teacher won't let us take notes up to the front to read from meant that I was forced to go with the flow much more.  This in turn has led me to feel much more comfortable speaking in front of others.

     

    Final exams seemed to go ok.  In general they were similar in structure to previous exams.  I made a couple of silly mistakes here and there, but nothing major.  I find myself losing interest somewhat in exams and results, as I want the focus to be actually being able to converse fluently in Chinese, read books, write articles etc, rather than comparing myself to others, or getting great marks on an exam. 

     

    I have already bought most of my books for third year, and have begun looking through them.  My reading book is the same series as this year, and so the jump isn't too intimidating.  However, for some reason we are now using a 高级 book for writing (I mentioned this to the teacher as I thought he had made a mistake, we are only 准高级 in third year, but he said this is the book).  There is a marked increase in difficulty here, and aside from pinyin for a few words, there is no English whatsoever.  This may not be a huge deal, but it's a cool little milestone for me hah!

     

    I finished watching 男人帮 ages ago, and I'm now 20 episodes in to 一仆二主, and loving it!  The first was set in Shanghai, but seemed to use very standard putonghua, and so I didn't find it too hard to understand.  The latter is set in Beijing, and for some reason I am finding it far harder to understand!  If it wasn't for the subtitles there are whole sections that would just sound like one, long, slurred 儿 sound!  I am understanding enough to know what's going on for the most part though, and I am picking up lots of new vocabulary and characters, as well as working on my 听力!

     

    I also bought a book.  I foolishly bought a copy of 三国演义,being as it was at a great price.  It took me half an hour to get through the first paragraph, at which point I realized this wasn't a productive undertaking.  Still wanting to be able to have a crack at such a Chinese classic, I bought a 青少年版。  As expected, it is much more manageable, yet still far beyond my level.  This is a challenge for me to accomplish over the course of the next two years.  Until then, I will stick with my textbooks, and of course with my great friend 淘气包马小跳!

     

    In August my family is heading out to China, and we will be traveling to Xian, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai.  I'm really excited to finally get to visit some other Chinese cities, as so far I have only been to 3.  Shanghai is mainly to get passports done for my sons (not to say I am not excited to visit, just that it wasn't at the top of my list of places to go).  I can't wait to check out the terracotta army in Xian, especially after spending some time learning about it in my 文化 class this semester.

     

    Finally, I have just applied for a scholarship for next year.  This is from the university rather than CSC, and there are 4 grades, ranging from fully covered with 1000RMB a month for living expenses, to 20% off.  My grades are probably good enough to get me something, but I have basically done no competitions or activities with the university, which is something they highly value.  Getting any money off would be amazing, so here's hoping!

  18. pon00050
    Latest Entry:

    Here is the line that made me write this blog post.

    奇点:那结果怎么样?找着了吗?

    I am familiar with the 着 for a continuous state.

    However, 着 in this line doesn't seem to indicate continuous state.

    What is 着 doing in this line?

    It does look like people say 找着了吗 based on the quick search online. LINK

     

     

     

  19. grawrt
    Latest Entry:

    Haven't really had a chance to update since the new term began, I had my thesis proposal in early September which felt like more of a defense than a proposal. Out of my panel only one of the professors could really ask me questions because the other two didn't have a background in cognitive linguistics and didn't really understand my topic. So I spent 20 minutes of defending my topic with this one professor (Actually my old Consecutive interpreting professor)  who began with "honestly this just feels like an idea on paper" ... ummm.... yes.. thats what a proposal is lmfao. but I continued to humor her and stand by my topic. It was rough, actually the entire classroom went through this slurry of vicious attacks toward our topics that if you were unable to defend yourself you would just be stuck standing there listening to them shit on you for 20 minutes. The hardest part was that everyone had to stay in the room so it was roughly 4 hours of listening to each student present and defend themselves. But I survived and my proposal passed somehow even though one of the panel told me that she felt that my topic was really interesting but just not for me. 

     

    This term I only have 4 classes. Written translation on Mondays, And 2 simultaneous interpreting courses on Friday. Our Tuesday classes (4 hours) began sometime after the holidays and every week since then has been a mental torture. The original teacher for the class "cross-cultural communications" was supposed to be an interesting guy from Australia. Unfortunately this guy is under Confucius scholarship studying his Phd and cant continue his teaching so we got stuck with the same guy who taught us last semester in 4 hour brackets. 

     

    Yes... that professor. I don't like to judge but this class should just be renamed "My musings" because every class has just been about him rambling off  things from his mind for four hours. Nothing he says has anything to do with the class or to anything even remotely useful. It actually feels like he's just trolling the class, because I don't understand how someone can talk about an ant and tiger analogy for four hours straight. I think the worst part of this class is that his musings always lead to something totally inappropriate. So something extremely racist or sexist, or homophobic crosses his mind and he just goes on and on and it really hurts me to hear that so many of my classmates find this "PHD" so interesting, when he would literally be crucified in my country for the things hes said. I don't know how someone like him has studied in America. I've been bringing my study materials and books to read in class so that I don't have to listen to that garbage that he says, but you know its really hard to block out something so completely inappropriate. 

     

    But other than his inappropriateness his classes are just a waste of time. I'm not even kidding when I say that I had to listen to him talk about colors yesterday. He started from Red and ended on Gray and then looked at the time and we had about 20 minutes left of class and he mused "what other colors have i missed? Oh yeah Brown!".

     

    The Monday translation professor is a close second to a professor I have no respect for this term. This lady prepares nothing for class. Her classes are prepared by a different classmate each week. And I'm not talking about just a short presentation. No. I'm talking about a full class, including creating group work exercises etc. She does nothing. What she does is sit there and when shes given the remainder of the class to add anything (roughly 20 minutes) her response is "well what am I supposed to do?" ...... um. Teach. That's what you get paid for . That's your job. In the very beginning of the term the professor wasn't clear she wanted us to basically teach the class every week so in week 2 when we came to class this lady had some nerve to criticize us all for being irresponsible and unprepared for class. She does this from time to time when people are late. I'm legit rolling my eyes in that class every week. 

     

    The only class worth mentioning is our simultaneous interpreting classes held on Fridays. The classes have been really difficult but really good for exercise. The only qualm I have is that I have my recordings played every class for both sections, so every week I have to hear my lousy interpretations twice in the same day (from E-C and C-E) its rough but I've gotten so used to it that Its kind of like meh whatever to me. Though its kind of irritating that its always the same people played every week. I haven't heard half of my classmates in that class even once. 

     

    So other than classes what have I been up to? Its a semester that leaves a lot open. I've been trying to work on honing my interpreting skills, especially in simultaneous interpreting which I find to be quite challenging. My professor suggested shadowing for about 10-15 minutes a day to get used to keeping up with the pace. A problem that many of us have with simultaneous is waiting too long to begin, and only speaking in 3 word clusters instead of having a fluid sentence. I've been shadowing with this program 《绝密档案》 from the app 蜻蜓。 The app itself has a lot of different podcasts to choose from to listen. I just find this program particularly interesting so after 15 mins of shadowing I just continue listening to the rest of the story. I've also made use of going over some of my old resources that we had from past classes so Ive been going over speeches that have Chinese and English to work on a more formal register and also to get a feel for collocations. 

     

    I wanted to work this semester but I think that with the thesis and everything I'd rather just focus on my studies this term. Its sad to be without the extra cash but I have my whole life to make money but just this year to really work on my studies. I've still been keeping my eyes on jobs because I'd like to find a job after my studies and stay here for another year. As much as China kills me at times, I'm not ready to leave. 

     

    That's it. Our first draft of our thesis is expected to be ready by December for our pre-defense. The date hasn't been confirmed yet but we've been told already we should have a minimum of 19,000 written. I still need to set my study up and get a move on it.  I'll try and keep this blog up to date! 

  20. DrWatson
    Latest Entry:

    Two-unit characters are characters that can be divided into two units based on the shape of a character. This can be a division based on left-to-right, top-to-bottom, or outer-to-inner. If you are familiar with radicals then the concept is not so alien. For left-to-right often a spacing, or lack of connecting from the left side of the character to the right side of the character, is where the the character is divided up into two units. For top-to-bottom it can be more tricky, but again if you think back to character radicals it is not a leap. For outer to inner, there is an outer shell unit that encompasses the inner unit.

     

    Once the character is divided up into two units, the following rules apply for determining the Cangjie input code:

    1) The first unit may only have up to two Cangjie symbols input. If there are more than two symbols in the unit, then only the first and last Cangjie symbols are input on the keyboard.

    2) The second unit may have up to three Cangjie symbols input. Again, if there are more than three, some skipping is involved. In this case, the first, second and last Cangjie symbols are input on the keyboard. 

     

    This may seem a bit abstruse, so let's look at some examples. Unfortunately I am on my android device right now and I don't yet have a very good Cangjie input method tool, so I'm still looking for a better way to bring up just the Cangjie symbol to show how things are built up. As such, to make sense of the following I suppose you need some familiarity with Cangjie symbols. I will try to update this post later if I can figure it out.

     

    1) 風 / 风    

     

    A quick visual examination yields a clear outer-to-inner relationship in both the traditional form and simplified form of the character. The outer unit is 几, which can be made up using Cangjie codes that look like 厂乙 (note these are radicals on don't reflect the exact Cangjie symbols, but I wanted to provide something to help see how the unit is broken down to Cangejie symbols. To build the unit, the input code is HN for the outer unit. The inner unit looks like 虫 with a "hat" on top. This unit requires four symbols, so we have to skip the third, with the Cangjie code being HLI. The resulting Cangjie code for the entire character is HNHLI.

     

    For the simplified character it is similar. The first unit is HN still, but the innter unit is simplified. It turns out that this unit actually represents a Cangjie symbol, so the Cangjie code for this unit is just K. Putting it all together, the resulting code for the entire character is HNK.

     

    2) 鍾 / 锺

     

    Upon visual inspect, this character is a left-to-right two-unit character. The first unit is 金 or钅, and the second unit is 重. Well, 金 is actually a Cangjie symbol, so for both the traditional and simplified forms, the input code for the first unit is C, and that completes the unit. The second unit, however, has four Cangjie symbols in it, so we have to skip the third since we are only allowed up to three symbols. The unit is made of a "hat" stroke on the top, 十 just below it, then skipping 田 because it is the third symbol, and finally 土. This turns out to HJG, and thus the entire code for this character is CHJG.

     

    3) 規 / 规

     

    Again, this is a left-to-right two-unit character. Based on the Cangjie symbols, the left side is built with the codes QO. For the right side, the code comes out to BUU for the tradtional. For the simplified, it is BHU. Again, I wish I could input just these Cangjie symbols for reference, but this one is proving challenging for my Android input method. The final code is QOBUU for the tradtional version,a nd QOBHU for the simplified version.

     

    Well, that is it for today, looking back at this post I am not even sure if it is useful. But oh well, this is kind of my journal too. When I am back on a real computer I will see what I can do.

  21. feihong
    Latest Entry:

    Terrace House is a pretty big hit on Netflix, but did you know that there are already three Chinese clones of Terrace House? The latest one, 遇见你真好, set in Shenzhen, is definitely the best one yet.

     

    I'm a huge fan of 中国好歌曲, the music competition where artists sing their own songs, and now there is finally a spiritual successor in 这!就是原创. Two episodes in, here are some of my favorite performances:

     

     

     

     

     

     

  22. Chinese listening challenge

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    neverending
    Latest Entry:

    A little embarrassed to notice I haven't updated on my progress since the first post - perhaps should have been predictable given how far down my list of priorities it this blog sits, but all the same...

     

    On the other hand, the challenge is still going strong - 74/112 days completed now, none missed so far! My method for keeping track of this, and motivating myself, is the old but classic crosses-on-a-calendar method. I've tried some phone-based "don't break the chain" apps in the past, but none of them have quite the same impact as keeping physical track of my progress. It's gotten to the point that, when planning excursions or family days, my first thought is often "how can I plan my hours around that to guarantee I don't miss a day?" 

     

    20170417_180905.thumb.jpg.99f8d82b99626cd3499f9ac72d0b1c70.jpg

     

    That's not to say it's become easy. I've almost never felt like the 2 hours were effortless. It's just without this motivation I'd probably do less and less every day until I stop altogether. Anyway, if you're struggling with motivation to keep a daily habit (as I often have), I can definitely recommend buying a cheap calendar and just marking it off every day. Super effective.

     

    So what have I learned over the 46 hours of Chinese since I last updated this blog?

     

    Firstly, just as intermediate learners often observe, the rate of progress feels slower every week. I'm still on the boundary between intermediate/upper intermediate on ChinesePod, and when I listen to hard dialogues I downloaded three weeks ago, I don't feel like they've become any easier to decipher in the intervening time. New stories and dialogues introduce just as many new words now as they did two months ago, and I'm getting a visceral sense of just how vast a task learning a language is. The number of near homonyms makes this no easier, and I'm constantly confusing the meanings of words that to a Chinese speaker sound nothing alike.

     

    On that topic, tones in particular continue to frustrate me. I'm not exactly tone-deaf - a few weeks ago I tried Olle Linge's tone training - 100% on the initial level placement - and John Pasden's tone pair drills - no problem there either. But I still often make comprehension mistakes in full sentences due to tones, and still can't reliably predict the tones of an unfamiliar word when spoken as part of a larger utterance. Even when hearing a tone isn't necessary to understand a sentence (at my level context is still mostly enough) it feels like full comprehension is slower than it should be, I'm using grammar/context as a crutch, and the other shoe is going to drop when I try to advance to native materials. It seems like there's a big gap in the market for intermediate tone training - forcing students to listen for tones until this habit is fully internalised. Does such a product already exist? I'm also quite curious what others think about this problem, and whether it's really an issue - particularly from those who have learned Chinese to a very high level of proficiency.

     

    On the other hand, I do feel like I'm currently developing in three related areas. 

     

    • "Chinese subconscious" - occasionally in the past two weeks I have found myself following some non-trivial material without actively concentrating on the language at all, just thinking about the subject material. This is one of the things I had been hoping to achieve through mass listening, and it's good to feel it might eventually pan out. I have very limited stamina to fully concentrate on spoken language (I can't maintain 100% concentration for more than a few minutes!) so this is very necessary in the long run. This point might seem trivial to many here, but it's a big breakthrough for me!
    • Speed of listening. The 4th level of the Chinese Breeze books has helped with this, as the narrators have stepped up the speed a bit for this level, forcing me to internalise more of the very high frequency words and grammatical structures. (I'll give a more complete review of the Chinese Breeze books later if I can find the time)
    • Ability to learn. The more words I learn, the easier it seems to be to remember new words, and the better I can distinguish between similar words. And because I can listen faster, I can hear more words and grammar structures in 2 hours. It feels like entering a virtuous cycle. Of course because I've properly hit intermediate level now, it still feels like my rate of progress has slowed in spite of all of this.

     

    Finally, I've entirely dropped SRSing of new words in isolation. I've just found it a drain on my mental energy with seemingly little-to-no gain. The SpoonFed Chinese Anki deck is doing a great job of introducing me to new words in context, and providing regular reminders. I re-listen to ChinesePod episodes at regular intervals when they have lots of new vocabulary (is there SRS software that can schedule this for me more conveniently than Anki?) The graded readers use the same words so often that there's no need to SRS them. And best of all, all of these activities are simply more fun than grinding Anki decks of words (well SpoonFed isn't much fun, but is definitely more effective). The only thing I'm losing here is the ability to recognise characters of words I'm learning, but given that all of my learning material currently comes with pinyin, this is something I can tolerate (and will probably fix through extensive reading after the challenge is over)
     

  23. mlescano
    Latest Entry:

    This morning I finished day 90. I used two types of content: 

     

    1) Clearly spoken stuff:

    Slow Chinese, HSK5 recordings, and a magazine podcast for natives. Sometimes I prepared subtitles beforehand using WorkAudioBook, and during the transcribing session I thus was able to do corrections immediately after each line. This lead to time "wasted" doing the corrections, but also stopped me from repeating the same mistake again. Other times, I did not prepare subtitles, and just used WorkAudioBook for automatic segmentation, and did the corrections after finishing each session. This, of course, can cause an accumulation of errors in repeated words, but also means I could write more in a session, as I was not distracted with corrections. So... The left column in the data is not very consistent in how it was done, and even less with the material used. In day 52 I forgot to start the pomodoro clock, so I got an outlier score. I'm leaving it out of the monthly averages.

     

    2) A TV drama called Great Marriage.

    I downloaded both mp4 video and srt subtitles from YouTube and used them with the fantastic Lingual Media Player, which can automatically stop after each subtitle line and makes it easy to toggle subtitles. In 90 days I only reached episode 8 of a 40+ episode drama, and that's watching long parts without transcribing! So, with this abundance of ready-made material, the right column is consistent both in source and in execution.

     

    During the first 75 days, I did 2 pomodiri (50 minutes) per day for each column. But two weeks ago I signed up for December's HSK5, so, to make time for vocab study and practice tests, during the last 15 days I only did 1 pomodoro (25 min) per day for each column. So, in order to "normalize" the scores with the previous days, I added a *2 in the formula.

     

    You can also notice that around day 32 I also started to seriously attack my Pleco SRS backlog. The number here is how many pending cards I have each morning. 

     

    My observations:

     

    Clearly spoken stuff

    You'll notice that during the last month my average score actually dropped for "clear stuff". Maybe in part because I switched exclusively to a magazine podcast for natives in day 60. I must add that, although this podcast is for natives, the magazine is a Chinese translation of the English original, and the podcast is actually just read from the magazine, so it's not at all like 原来是这样 or any similar 100% native, conversational podcasts.

     

    TV drama

    In the graph, you'll also notice that, after a fantastic increase in comprehension from the fist month to the second month, the're no such big increase for the third month. Maybe I'm hitting "diminishing returns" with this particular drama. Still, I've learned a lot!

     

    HSK5

    As mentioned, I'm attacking HSK5 on December, just as a personal challenge, not for scholarships or anything. My cousins, who are Chinese teachers at the local Confucius institute, passed this exam two years ago and then went on to get their Master's degrees in China, but my current level is nowhere near what theirs was two years ago! My current level fits perfectly the B1 description given by the Europeans. Still, after measuring myself with a couple of old HSK5 papers, I discovered I can pass, even if they completely discard my two essays. So in part I'm taking the test to prove a friend of mine that HSK is actually just B1... So I signed up for a test preparation class at the local Confucius. Nobody else signed up for level 5, so I accepted being put with level 4 test takers. My teacher can't speak Spanish, which helps.

     

    Conclusion

    So yes, this helps. The data shows it. I believe this has mostly given me confidence with my handwriting, as, before this, I only wrote individual words. This will certainly come in handy during the HSK5 writing part, because the only option available in my country is the paper test. During my attempts with past papers, I found this part to be the most relaxing. I can finish it in half the time. Of course, with awful grammar! (My teacher will help me with my writing). I haven't really done any traditional study of grammar after an introductory course back in 2012. It's been mostly input, input, and more input, particularly after I finally took Chinese seriously in 2015 and started with Heisig's Remembering Simplified Hanzi. Of course, I've checked difficult to understand points with Pleco and the Chinese Grammar Wiki along the way.

     

    So, what will my listening practice be now? I'll be attacking every single HSK5 past paper I can find, so that will be it, for the most part. I'll also keep watching the drama with LaMP, but without transcribing it. I might transcribe dubbed videos of talks, however, just to keep writing.

     

    Thank you for reading! Suggestions are welcome. I'm attaching the raw data, the monthly averages and a sample of my "day 90" handwriting. Now my focus will switch to reading speed, as it's currently my weakest point. I'll soon write another post about it.

    part1.PNG

    part2.PNG

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    IMG_4272.jpg

  24. murrayjames
    Latest Entry:

    Today I finished reading the novella 《偶然事件》 by 余华.

     

    The story is about a mysterious murder. In what appears to be a crime of passion, a man suddenly stabs another man to death in a coffeeshop, then hands himself over to the police. Much of the story consists of letters written between two witnesses to the murder. Following the coffeeshop murder, the witnesses become inadvertent pen pals, writing letters back-and-forth in which they opine and argue over the murderer’s motives, revealing much about themselves in the process. There are also narrative sections that provide a backstory for the characters involved in the murder.

     

    《偶然事件》 is an easy read, easier than 《活着》. There is plenty of dialogue, and even the letter-writing sections have a breezy, conversational style to them. The story is OK.

     

    Link to 《偶然事件》:

    https://www.kanunu8.com/book3/7199/159328.html

     

    Some statistics:

    Characters read this year: 517,291

    Characters left to read this year: 482,709

    Percent of goal completed: 51.7%

     

    List of things read:

    《三八节有感》by 丁玲   (2,370 characters)

    《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲   (10,754 characters)

    《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东   (18,276 characters)

    《自杀日记》by 丁玲   (4,567 characters)

    《我没有自己的名字》by 余华   (8,416 characters)

    《手》by 萧红   (7,477 characters)

    《牛》by 沈从文   (8,097 characters)

    《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲   (693 characters)

    《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲   (2,176 characters)

    《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM   (25,098 characters)

    《夜》by 丁玲   (4,218 characters)

    《虎雏》by 沈从文   (46,945 characters)

    《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存   (6,181 characters)

    《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》   (5,483 characters)

    《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文   (61,154 characters)

    《致银河》 by 王小波   (17,715 characters)

    《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华   (132,769 characters)

    《熊猫》 by 棉棉   (53,129 characters)

    《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒   (81,547 characters)

    《偶然事件》 by 余华   (20,226 characters)

  25. This entry has been delayed a bit for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of time, as I've got so much to say on this topic, but also because this is my most dreaded class. For more context on what I'm talking about, skip back and check earlier entries. For clarity, I am a native English speaker that is on the Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating masters course at Bath University, UK. We work in both directions, and I am the only 'foreigner' on the course.

     

    This last point is of crucial importance, as it has naturally set me apart from everyone else on the course. Just not always in the ways I was expecting before beginning this process. One of the most noticeable areas in which my background, different from my Chinese peers, impacted my performance was in the consecutive interpreting class. Unlike translating, which can be done at the safety of your own home, or simultaneous interpreting (aka 'SI') where mistakes can be forgiven due to time constraints and the high-pressure environment, consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most unforgiving and most difficult part of the job, as it requires high quality intepreting of complex topics. This of course runs counter to what most people believe, and when one of the course instructors said this at the beginning of the course, I found it difficult to believe him. But he was right. And there are two main reasons:

     

    1. You must understand everything. 1-2% non-comprehension is natural, 3-5% is acceptable, 5-10% is just about workable, but anything more and you lose the ability to accurately infer (yes these are arbritrary numbers, but I'm basing such estimates off my own experience this year). If you don't understand, you can ask the speaker. But 9/10 they will just repeat the phrase you didnt understand word for word, or if they are kind enough to rephrase, the chance you will still not understand a concept you don't even know in your native tongue is 'too damn high'. And I'm the kind of person that goes red in the face when they dont get it. The speaker will also think that your job is easy, as they have to stop for you and 'wait' for you to catch up. As a result, the speaker often speaks much quicker than normal, use more complex terms, and will sometimes even forget to stop for you in the bits they consider 'easy'.

     

    2. You must use a notetaking system. If someone says you dont need symbols or shorthand, just write down the main details and youll be fine...you know they are almost certainly a bad consecutive interpreter. There are simply too many details to remember in a live speech. You must find a way to take down more information than you can possibly remember. In our final exam this was 8 minutes of speech without any break. We then had to deliver the speech in the target language, hoping to also reach an ideal length of 7-8 minutes in our own delivery.

     

    This skill was the largest hurdle for me to get over (and I still havent to be honest), and it was the biggest difference between me and my peers. Nearly all the other students were coming into the course with a knowledge of a notetaking system, having taken courses in it back in China in order to prepare for the MA in Bath, or having previous undergrad experience in interpreting. Either way, from day one the teachers were calling us up to the whiteboard to 'show off' our own personalised notetaking (with each student having their own unique ways of taking down 5 solid minutes of statistics speeches, or symbols for taking notes on sustainable energy sources...). Consequently, I never had the chance to formally study this skill on the course, and this is the only area where I felt short-changed in my training on this MA.

     

    The first point was manageable, I just had to improve my listening comprehension. I have watched A LOT of news and public speeches in the last year to improve this. While I am watching, I actively ask my brain at the end of each sentence 'can you repeat that sentence back in Chinese? Are you hypothetically able to tell the person next to you what it means in English?' If the answer was 'yes' or 'pretty much' then I keep watching, keep listening. If the answer is no, I pause, search and take down all the words, listen again, add the words to a 'new words' deck in anki, then continue. Rinse and repeat for the rest of eternity.

     

    But the second point has been so difficult to deal with. While I was able to understand 99% of an English speech, there was too much information and too little time to write everything down. And yet, the person next to me was drawing pictures of little people and arrows everywhere, intermixed with shorthand chinese characters all over the place, then would stand up and deliver a near identical speech in English, far better than my own English! What do you do in a situation like that? Well I sat down with a friend and we ran through a basic set of maybe 150 or so 'concepts' that could be given symbols (see below), and began to learn them by heart. Gradually my notetaking did get better. But then I came across an additional third reason for why CI is so difficult:

     

    3. Our course is bidirectional, so I was not only required to interpret from Chinese into English (based on scruffy, incomplete notes), but also from English into Chinese. It was at this point where I realised why symbols were so useful. They sit in between the solid words and grammar of language, they represent the ideas and concepts that have yet to be given body by a particular language. So you can use one system to take notes from two (or more) different source languages. For example, if I write the words 'your country' down, when it comes to referring to my notes during speech delivery, I will naturally look down at this and blurt out '你的國家‘. But what if it should have been '貴國'? What if the original English sentence was 'the development of your country is important for the global economy' and thus the use of 'your' in the Chinese is totally redundant? Using notetaking, you dont need to worry about the difference between expression in different languages. You can take the concept of 國/country and write it as 囗 (a commonly used shorthand symbol in notetaking). Once conceptualised, you can look at it and express the idea naturally and uninhibited in either language. A symbol's usage can be expanded across your whole system, eg. I can write the phrase "the development of your country" as "'dev". By extension, the whole sentence becomes something like: "囗'dev=!>O" (where ! is important, > is 'to, affect, influence' and O represents global, all over the world). 囗 can be used not just for country, but also - 囗° =...國人(°=person), 囗al (national), 囗ty (nationality), 囗z (nationalize). etc. To get a real flavour of what CI notetaking looks like, I've posted some pics of my own (bad examples) below. In this way, you can write down more information at higher speeds, with higher clarity and accuracy, all while avoiding 'Chinglish' (or 'Englese'...?) pitfalls.

    So, now we know that notetaking systems can dramatically increase the amount and the accuracy of information one can take down at the speed of natural speech delivery. And we also know that it can reduce the amount of Chinglish one might otherwise say when reading notes written in longhand in the source language. And so that leads me to my last area I wanted to mention. The required quality of output in the target language. Unlike SI, the quality of CI sits closer to written translation in terms of quality. One must be able to understand the original speakers intentions, 'translate' it into notes, then produce a coherent stream of thoughts and ideas based on the notes, where the original speech is often reordered and reworded (like in written translation) in order to better mimick the ways of speaking in the target language. Some students were AMAZING at this. In fact I was in awe on an almost daily basis. That being said, I don't believe the ability to do this is something 'innate'. It obviously requires significant cognizant ability, but these skills have clearly been trained for years and years...and years. Although I am still yet to be able to perform at a professional ability in this area, I have seen myself make positive progress and believe if I really dedicated maybe another 5 years to this I could reach a very high standard.

     

    That being said. As it stands, my ability in notetaking is still rudimentary. In the end, it didnt matter how good my comprehension was, or even how good my actual oral language abilities were, the notation 'filter' in the middle of the CI process consistently stopped me from producing good output language. I mean, I've never heard myself speak such strange English before! We're talking saying things like 'this food good eat' if I wasnt paying 100% attention to the notes I was reading.

     

    And at this point I would like to say, I strongly, strongly recommend the course at Bath, as the course instructors are fantastic, and surely among the highest qualified in the world to teach such skills. A caveat should be noted for native English speakers: a prerequisite for the course should be a prep course in notetaking for native English speakers, and this should be explicitly stated on all interpreting course details (as all the Chinese speakers had all done this in China, without me knowning until after the course had started...). The course instructor of the MATBI course, Miguel Fialho, has absolutely blown everyone on the course away. His 普通話 is phenomenal, perfect tones, better spoken than any of the Chinese students in the class, and most importantly he is incredibly humble and understanding. You will see him on CCTV whenever there are meetings between the Chinese and Portuguese governments (he is half British, half Portuguese, and also does Chinese-Portuguese interpreting......). He. Knows. Everything. Pretty sure he has learnt an entire encyclopedia off by heart in three different languages. Jane is his equivalent for the Chinese students, and her English is far more eloquent than my, often ending up in me taking notes on how to speak better English after listening to her speeches! Dr Kumar is highly knowledgeable in economics and politics, is ultimately responsible for the excellent course structure and content, and most importantly, is really funny, so that really made things a lot easier when you're in high stress environments.

     

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    what my notes at the beginning of the year looked like. I was using a pencil, writing everything down longhand, and getting totally confused. I often ended up giving up and just trying to recite everything I'd just heard in one language in the other.

     

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    What my notes looked like by the end. You can see that for complex terminology, you can write down the word, assign it a number, then just write the number when the term is used. The red is for marking mistakes when going back and comparing notes to the original speech.

     

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    Practicing symbols. good god.

     

    OK I'm done for today, next blog entry will probably be more geared towards some thoughts on written translation. I'm just beginning to write my dissertation, which is a written translation, so will share anything interesting I come across.

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