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Enjune Zhang

Yammie Lam,HongKong actress living her life her way

 

It was in November 2018 that I read her story on newspaper. She was found dead in her shabby department alone, without no one knowing that she slipped and fell over in the bathroom until days later.

Her death brings about various news about her while she was still alive. They all focus on how beautiful and talented she was at her early age, and what kind of hard life she had been struggling through when she was claimed to be a psychopath.

She has been through a lot, the suppression by TVB, the personal injury when she was filming in Taiwan, car accident, sexual assault, myoma, etc . She could have been living a more decent life if she stopped fighting with what she thought is wrong. She refused all the things against her mind and principle. 

Her pretty face and fascinating smile remind me of my childhood memory of those famous TV series. There was glow shinning like stars in her eyes. Every role she played she told the story vivid enough for people to cherish in their memory. Although it is a pity that I learn her name after she passed away, her face makes it filling my mind with all the scenes where she had once been sparkling like fire.

 

蓝洁瑛,那个终其一生特立独行,只忠于自己的佳人又回到了天堂

https://www.bilibili.com/video/av50563582

https://www.bilibili.com/video/av73689377

 

Enjune Zhang

John Lone: A lonely Chinese movie star famous in Hollywood

 

He's known for his excellent acting proficiency in various roles, no matter it is the god father of the gang, the spy in disguise as an opera actress, or the last emperor of Qing dynasty. His oriental face was once getting in the way when he struggled to become a movie star in America, but it gave him the flame and glory when he reached the top in Hollywood. There is something deep down this Asian look that European actors hard to imitate or show. He hadn't lost everything unique in him, he polished his skill in American drama, spoke American English in a native way, and the western form he shaped for himself, hadn't changed the core in him. Deep down he deems himself Chinese. What's different in a person may make it hard for his way up, since he is so different from the popular criteria claiming what elites in this filed should look like. However, those loyal to what he originally was thrive and win. It was a lonely way for him to get to where he is now, but it is simply worth it. His time comes after it passes the turning point.

There seems to be a lonely king living in his heart, making every rise and fall of his eyebrow elegantly lined with noble temperament. This is something rooted in his life, his life as an orphan at the early age, a poor child without childhood, and an apprentice in operatic circle bullied and teased by the peers. What's painful inside the body of a shell, may be bred into the pearls. What's doom and gloom in his early life finally become the shining medal for the rest of life.

 

John Lone 尊龙

https://b23.tv/av69177103

Master work

1985  龙年 Year of the Dragon 

1987  末代皇帝 The Last Emperor

1993  蝴蝶君 M. Butterfly

Enjune Zhang

7 facts about Cantonese

7 facts about Cantonese

有关粤语的七个事实

 

Not everyone speaking Cantonese knows the facts about this language, more specifically, a dialect of Chinese. However, knowing them may smoothen your path of learning Cantonese.

1 Not every Cantonese could speak Cantonese

We call people born in Guangdong province Cantonese. People in Chaozhou and Meizhou are Cantonese, but they both have their own mother tongue, Teochew and Hakka.

 

2 Cantonese is spoken not only in Guangdong province

People in several parts of Guangxi province speak Cantonese, say Wuzhou and Yulin. Immigrants moving from south China to foreign countries speak Cantonese, especially those in New Zealand, Australia, American and Canada, etc.

 

3 Cantonese applies the same Chinese characters applied in Mandarin

Frequently applied Chinese characters are with their Cantonese pronunciation, but some are not applied when we write in Cantonese while we may have some other wordings describing the same thing different from Mandarin. It will be hard to find the exact character in dictionary corresponding to the pronunciation, since the modern dictionary is edited according to Mandarin. Therefore, we may make the written form of Cantonese closer to the Mandarin style, applying the characters normally used in Mandarin with the same meaning let along getting the character 100% matchable with the Cantonese pronunciation written. It is quite normal when someone speaking Cantonese doesn't know how to write a certain character he has just spoken. Written language in Cantonese is highly consistent with that of Mandarin, which makes the title in TV program reading friendly nationwide, while leaving that part of characters alien from the perspective of Mandarin seldom applied and recalled even by people speaking Cantonese.

 

4 There is Pinyin for Cantonese too

Pinyin in Cantonese is a romanization of of pronunciation. It is invented for foreigners or Chinese not natively speaking Cantonese. Actually, native Cantonese speakers have no idea of the tones and Pinyin of Cantonese, which is even hard for them to comprehend and master. Cantonese native speakers learn Cantonese via daily imitation and practice without the help of Pinyin.

https://cantonese.ca/romanization.php

 

5 There are more than four tones in Cantonese

There are six tones in Cantonese, which is marked as 1-6. If the Cantonese pronunciation of a character is ended with p, t or k, which sounds short, strong and stops in an abrupt way, it is taken as a special tone since it shares the same pitch of tone 1, 3 or 6. 

 

6 Chinese mark the pronunciation of Cantonese with characters

There is no such a thing as Pinyin in ancient China. Pronunciation of Chinese is marked by a combination of characters, with one familiar character sharing the same consonant with the alien character, and the other sharing the same vowel.

 

7 There are varies accents and styles of Cantonese

Not people speaking Cantonese can understand the Cantonese they speak to each other. Cantonese spoken by people in Hong Kong may sound a little bit different to those spoken by people in Guangzhou. But anyway they could understand each other. However, it is not the same when it comes to the case where the difference is distinct, say, pronouncing the same thing in hugely different accents, or describing the same thing in different wordings. It is talking about the difference between Cantonese in Guangzhou and Cantonese in other Guangdong cities. The latter may develop toward a way close to Cantonese in Guangzhou style or Hong Kong style, given that Guangzhou is the capital in Guangdong province, and its accent is taken as something standard for people in any other area of Guangdong to follow, while Hong Kong media like TVB are widely known and they are having greater influence to people in mainland China.

 

Video resources for Cantonese learners

TV SERIES

七十二家房客 

法证先锋

金枝玉孽

使徒行者

外来媳妇本地郎

NEWS

城事特搜

珠江新闻眼

CANTONESE SONGS BY THE SINGERS BELOW

陈慧娴

梅艳芳

徐小凤

叶倩文

Beyond

张学友

张国荣

陈百强

陈奕迅

TEACHING VIDEOS IN BILIBILI BY THE ACCOUNTS BELOW

粤语卜卜斋

笑谈广州话

粤语老师

粤知一二

粤讲越好玩

 

Enjune Zhang

How we practice spoken foreign language via shadowing and echoing

如何通过影子跟读 & 回声跟读提升外语听力口语水平

 

Have you been wondering why you have watched a bunch of videos in foreign language but still fail to utter the word appropriately and fluently when you need to. That's probably because you watch but never practice based on what you've watched.

为何看了那么多外语视频还是不能在口语交流中流畅而确切地措辞?那是因为你只是看了视频,却没有据之进行相应的跟读练习。

 

What we need to make it communicating fluently and finding the exact expression fitting the certain context when we speak? Basically three elements, familiarity of the wordings, pronunciation you are confident with, and swift reaction to what you've heard. Simply put, to manage a conversation well you need to know what the other party means, figure out the suitable words you would like to apply to convey what's in your mind, and pronounce it accurately enough for others to understand. If you stagger in any part mentioned above, the conversation lacks the fluency and agile state of mind to go smooth. 

为了能在口语交流中的流畅表达,找出符合语境的那个字眼,我们要做些什么?基本而言,有三点:第一,提高对词汇的熟悉度;第二,练就自信的发音;第三,能迅速反应所听到的内容。再简单粗暴点,要无碍沟通,就得知道对方在说什么,找到表达心中所想的那个词,并通过能让对方正确理解的发音说出来。如果上述三者中某一项不过关,沟通流畅度会降低,沟通者难以维持轻松敏捷的交流状态,对话也会随之受阻。

 

You may find that people good at talking with foreigners have a lot in common, and that's far from coincidence. First of all, their listening comprehension of foreign language won't get in the way of further expression. They make it understanding what the other is talking about in seconds, and the faster it is, the less time it takes for him to respond.

你会发现善于用外语交流的人都有相似点,而且这不是巧合。首先,他们对外语有较强的听力理解能力,这保证了下一步的表达不受阻碍。对方说的话,他们能秒懂,懂得越快,作出回答的用时越短。

 

Second, they are resourceful in the volume of expression available. The wordings seem automatically come into mind whenever the idea hits. And they are connected to memory by pronunciation instead of written form.

其次,他们可以用来表达的词汇也很丰富。每当大脑想到了什么,这些想法对应的外语表达词汇貌似都自动地闪进他们脑海。而且这些词汇是通过语音而非字形进行记忆的。

 

Finally, they are confident in their pronunciation. It doesn't necessarily mean the pronunciation is accurate or native without flaws, but it sounds not too weird for the native speaker to get it, so it won't make them too shy to speak out.

最后,他们对自己的外语发音很自信。这不一定意味着他们的发音准确地道得毫无瑕疵,但至少在母语人士听起来不会太奇怪以致难以听懂。这样他们就不会因为羞怯而不敢开口说外语了。

 

To make a progress in spoken language, we need to be familiar with the pronunciation, and the meaning corresponding based on how the words sound instead of the way they are written. Therefore, we could react quickly when we hear and get the words with the least struggling when speaking. How may practice echoing and shadowing help with the improvement?

要在口语上取得进步,我们要熟悉语言的发音和相关意思,要根据发音联想到意思,而不是根据字形。这样,当听到某个词的发音,我们就能迅速反应相应意思;口头交流的时候也能更轻松地引用这个词。回声跟读法和影子跟读法又是如何提升口语的?

 

Every time we watch a video in foreign language, especially those with titles, we read the meaning through the written language instead of understand it purely via pronunciation. And we've thought we get it, but actually we just don't focus on the connection between pronunciation and meaning good enough to make us well prepared to the future conversation with similar expression as the potential content. We may find it would be easier for us to realize what it means based on written form instead of reflecting its meaning the minute we hear it, since the connection between pronunciation and meaning hasn't been well developed. 

每当我们看一个外语视频,特别是视频带字幕的时候,我们其实更多地是在通过字幕而非纯粹根据发音了解意思。我们以为自己理解了,而事实上我们没有很好地注意发音与意思的联系,以至下一回同样的表达再度出现在谈话中时,我们措手不及,不能很好地根据发音反应对应的意思。我们会发现,我们没有建立起发音与意思的联系,所以我们会发现同一个词,根据字形比根据发音更容易辨别它的含义

 

Both echoing and shadowing help us build and strengthen the connection between what we actually hear and what it means. When we echo what we hear, we try to repeat and imitate the pronunciation and lessen the inconformity between what we hear and the way we pronounce. The more consistent it is between them, the less time it costs for us to reflect what's said and further what it means.

影子跟读法和回声跟读法都能帮助我们建立并强化发音与意思的联系。当我们进行回声跟读,我们是在模仿并重复所听到的声音,并使自己的发音趋近于它。当这两者越接近,听力理解所需的用时就越短。

 

Echoing also improves our muscle memory of the pronunciation and meaning of the words since we are practicing speaking up, which makes it relevant to our daily activity. Memory does serve better to the things we frequently apply than those we have ignored. We have paid little attention to the pronunciation when we watch videos without noticing the voice but the titles, or are too hurried for the meaning to notice how it is spoken. However, echoing brings us close to the pronunciation, which will be closer if we echo the video without titles and with scene where we could see how the commentator moves his mouth muscles.

回声跟读是我们练习发音的机会,使发音过程与我们自己的日常活动挂钩,这有助于增强对发音的肌肉记忆,进而提升对发音对应意思的理解能力。和被忽略的东西相比,越是被高频使用的东西,我们记得越牢。而看视频时我们一般只看字幕,或急于弄清意思而忽略发音。而回声跟读将让我们关注发音,如果进行跟读训练的视频不带字幕,且有发声者嘴部肌肉运动状态的镜头,那作用就更大了。

 

Pronunciation has something to do with oral movement, and it will be a guidance of how to pronounce by watching how it is pronounced by others. Reading the meaning from lips will bring you closer to the meaning, too. It means the connection among movement, pronunciation and meaning is established. You don't need to reflect the written form to know what it means when hear it, and you can simply move your lips for the certain vocabulary when the thought strikes you.

发音与口腔运动息息相关,看着别人是怎么运动口腔肌肉进行发音的,有助于引导我们正确发音。从运动的嘴唇判断意思,也能加快你理解发音的速率。当发音、肌肉运动与意思三者相互关联,你将可以通过纯粹的发音反应它对应的含义,无需通过联想字形才能得知意思,而当你想到某个点子,对应的外语表达也跃然脑海,脱口而出了。

 

When you are easy with echoing, it is worthwhile to take a further step to shadowing, which means repeating and imitating without pause. Unlike echoing where we finish hearing each sentence and hit a pause before we repeat, where we have more time to react and polish the way we speak, shadowing leaves us limited time to respond or polish since we are repeating almost simultaneously with the video.

当回声跟读已经不成问题了,可以挑战更高层次的影子跟读,即无间断无缝跟读。回声跟读时,我们听完每句话按下暂停键再模仿读音,模仿的时间更充足,更有利于雕琢每一个发音。与回声跟读不同,影子跟读几乎与视频发音同步进行,给你的反应时间或美化调整发音的时间是相对有限的。

 

Shadowing requires familiarity with the language, so that you are less likely to make mistake when imitating, and it means a higher level for reaction, which you cannot reach without former practice in echoing.

影子跟读训练要求我们熟悉语言,以减少犯错几率,这是对反应能力更高级的要求,没有前期的回声跟读训练,很难达到这种水平。

 

Imitation with consciousness is the shortest and most efficient path to mastering a skill, so it counts when you compare your pronunciation with the standard model and fill in the space of improvement if there is any. Make every move effective in boosting spoken language by echoing then shadowing.

有意识地模仿是提高一项技能最短最奏效的途径。对比你的发音与范本发音,找出差距,并填充进步的空间,将大有裨益。从回声跟读到影子跟读走起,一步一步地提升外语口语,让每一步都不白费。

 
Enjune Zhang

He learns to play chess and music instrument just to draw better

沈冰山:27载习棋练琴,只为更好地作画

 

It was Sunday, trapped in house by the rainy morning, that I read the story about him. I was not knowing what to do then since the rain put an end to my plan going out for a walk and doing the recording along the way. I was thinking about doing the recording at home only to find that the goddamn cellphone was unavailable for clear record without blending some noise of electric current into my voice. What the hell is going on? What a big joke!

星期天的清晨,正被雨天困在家里,我读到了关于他的故事。当时我正无所事事,这雨一下,我外出散步顺带录音的计划泡了汤。好吧那就在家里录音得了,谁知道这该死的手机居然闹起来别扭,录音也不能好好录了,人声跟电流干扰声还混声了。这是在闹哪出?诸事不宜吗!

 

We have planned to do a lot in the leisure future when we are busy, making a to do list and awaiting them to be finished when we have the time. But the things don't see any accomplishment when that time comes, since a lot of other things unexpected do come along with the time available.

在忙的时候,我们计划好要在将来闲暇的某个时段做很多事情,也列了相应的清单等待着那个空闲时间的到来。但当有时间了,我们却不见得能完成计划的事项,毕竟随之而来的可能是其他意想不到的状况。

 

Somebody may go around the obstacle and find another way to his goal set, while the others stand still wondering why, cursing damn, or moving to another direction when they see no possibility to go through the barrier. 

困境当前,有人会绕过障碍,开拓出另一种路径去接近原定的目标,而其余的人只是站在那里,或问着为什么,或诅咒着什么,或因为看不到穿越屏障的可能而改变初衷。

 

The story I read about Mr Bingshan Shen is a well reflection of the somebody mentioned above.

读着沈冰山的故事,我看到了上述“某一种人”的真实写照。

 

What if what you do could always have something to do with what you are going to do next? It may be a perfect form of efficiency in life, because nothing you've ever done has been wasted.

如果你现在所做的每一件事都能与接下来所要做的产生联系,你的生活会是怎样?这将是人生的一种高效形式,因为你所做的一切都不曾白费。

 

Mr Shen enjoyed drawing when he was young, and that's his lifelong love of labor too. Sight means almost everything to a painter, but illness got him blind when he was right 26 years old. He had to quit drawing unless he could draw without seeing, which means he should draw with the guidance of memory, judging the position of next stroke based on the last one, and having his own rhythm in mind to move along.

沈先生热爱绘画,这是他年幼时的爱好,也是他一生所爱。视力对于一个画家而言何其重要,然而他26岁时因病失明。他不得不放弃作画,除非他可以在什么也看不见的情况下画,这意味着他要凭借记忆对他的指引去画,根据前一笔的落笔去规划下一笔的走向,并心存作画时可依据的节奏。

 

That's difficult for even normal people, let alone for someone disable. But one has no idea of what difference he is capable of making until fate gets him cornered. He put drawing aside,  starting to learn to play chess and a kind of traditional Chinese music instrument named Yangqin. It took him 27 years. 

这对于正常人而言,都显得困难,何况是他这个残障人士。但若命运没有将你逼到绝处,你还不知道自己还能剑走偏锋。他暂时把画画这事搁置在一旁,开始学习下象棋,学习弹扬琴这种中国传统乐器。这花了他27载光阴。

 

He led the way back to drawing when he had mastered both chess and Yangqin well, which brought him fame nationwide. He wouldn't rest on that glory, since he knew what he had learned these for.

当棋艺与琴艺都掌握了,并且在国内也名声渐长的时候,他让精力回归到作画上。他没有在荣耀之上长眠,因为他深知,学习琴棋是为了什么。

 

I was shocked when I saw how he connected drawing with the way he played chess and the Yangqin. Playing chess gave him a great improvement in memory, so he's good at visualizing the chessboard in mind, systemizing every move based on the lines crossing each other on it. He made it planning what to do next playing without watching the layout. 

当领悟到他是如何把作画跟下棋和弹奏扬琴相联系时,我被震撼了。磨炼棋艺提升了他的记忆力,因此他善于让棋局在心头可视化,并有系统地根据其上纵横交错的线去设计接下来每一步棋的走位。于是他便可以不用看棋局也能自如地走子。

 

The layout's in his heart. And when this game saw its transformation on the paper and color, he could manage drawing well by memorizing what he had done and designing the coming steps based on what's formed in his mind, so blindness was no longer in the way. He took the paper his chessboard and every time he put a brush on it, it's like moving a piece of chess thereon.

布局就在他心里,当这个游戏延伸到纸面上,与颜色挂钩时,他便能凭借对之前步骤的记忆和心中所想,去画好接下来的每一笔,这样,双目失明不再是种障碍。他视纸箱为棋盘,每在上面添一笔,都像是挪动棋局之上的一枚棋。

 

His experience in Yangqin sharpened his sense in rhythm and alteration of details. Different pitches arranged in various rhythm make the melody. And he was specialized in  making ever-changing melody possible without seeing. He saw drawing as the flow of music where colors and lines got changing to make what's in his mind vivid onto the paper. That's how playing the Yangqin helped him with his drawing. It's all about control of rhythm when you polish the details.

扬琴的弹奏经验锐化了他对节奏和细节变化的感知。不同的音高根据不一的节奏进行排列重组,形成了旋律。他擅长仅凭感觉去弹奏并展现这种多变的旋律。绘画对他而言只是一幅流动的音乐,色彩与线条跃然纸面,且变化多端,他心中的画卷也随之在纸上活灵活现。弹奏扬琴有助于他作画:一切关乎雕琢细节时对节奏的把控。

 

Barrier brings him patience, and he makes it a legend.

命中的阻滞给了他耐性,而他成全了这段传奇。

 

IMG_20191013_174802.jpg

Screenshot_2019-10-13-17-45-12-571.png

Enjune Zhang

How does a Chinese child learn about his mother tongue (from age 3 to 8 )
中国人小时候都是怎样学母语的 (以3岁至8岁年龄段为例)

 

I happen to pay a visit to the bookstore and the children's book area is crowded with kids and their mothers busy teaching them how to read after the words. They get lucky to have parents around being their tutors, and I remember that I have nowhere to find mine when I was three or four, let alone to have them teach me how to read or write. It reminds me of how we learn mother tongue as a child.
碰巧去了趟书店,我发现童书区域挤满了娃和忙着教孩子朗读字词的宝妈。都是些幸运的孩子,有父母亲自上阵充当家教,要知道我三四岁的时候连见上爸妈一面都难,更不用说让他们教我读写了。这情景让我联想起年幼时学习母语的过程。


In China, children are supposed to go to kindergarten at about the age of four, and before that time family members play a significant part in showing us how to talk, besides, the TV programs and the materials with characters and vocal function mean a lot to us back in those days. 
在中国,孩子们四岁左右上幼儿园,在此之前,家庭成员在教我们怎么说话这件事上功不可没,此外,电视节目、带汉字和语音功能的学习器材也起了不小的作用。


At the beginning we have no idea what it means when we imitate the pronunciation of the adults, and they seem to enjoy teaching us how to speak without feeling bored. Later on we say the character or word presented to us before and we seem to get the things we want in return, and that's when we start to realize how speaking up will make the life of an infant easier. 
刚开始我们只是模仿大人们的发音,并不知道其中代表的含义,大人们也看似挺享受教我们说话的过程,没有丝毫厌倦的意思。后来我们说出了之前大人们向我们展示的字词,而且这让我们得到想要的东西。那时候我们开始意识到通过说话表达出自己的诉求可以让自己过得更随心所欲。


We still have no idea of the written forms of what we speak, and just name it after the adults, trying to make it sound not so confusing to them so our demand will be soon satisfied. Actually, we take speaking as a way to give the order, which we want the people around us to follow. 
我们只是说着母语,并不知道发音所对应的汉字。我们只是跟着大人们讲,并尝试着让声音听起来清晰不含混,让他们更快懂得我们的意思并满足我们的需求。实际上,我们视说话为发号施令的方式,我们说话是为了让身边的人围着我们转悠。


Therefore, what we speak is closely related to our need from within, until the adults bring about something like flashcards with pictures of animals and music instruments, story books and reading machine, etc. That's when we start to know something about the outside world instead of focusing just on the daily necessity of eating and sleeping. And what we have been exposed to at this period, somewhere around age three, will distinguish us from the peer concerning the level of language. 
因此,我们说话的内容与内在的需求紧密挂钩。直到大人们拿出了带动物和乐器图案的卡片、故事书和点读机等法宝,我们便开始了对外部世界的探索,关注的事情也不再局限于吃和睡。我们三岁左右所接触到的东西影响着我们的语言水平,这也让语言水平在同龄人之间有了分化。


We have no idea what this is about until we are put together in the kindergarten later, and see that some of the kids know almost everything even before the teachers start the lessons, while some of them have a hard time understanding what the teacher is talking about.    
我们对此并不知情,直到后来上了幼园,意识到确有这种情况:一些孩子在老师授课前就几乎懂了所有内容,而另一些孩子连听老师讲课都十分吃力。


Thanks for my grandpa's habit of watching CCTV channels and his patience reading bedtime story to me, I knew that there is another way of pronunciation of Chinese which sounds alien and strange to people speaking Cantonese originally. And my listening comprehension was pretty good before I went to the kindergarten.
多亏外公有看中央电视台的习惯,也会耐心地给我讲睡前故事,我知道汉语除了平时惯用的粤语发音外,还有另外一种发音,听着很陌生。在上幼儿园以前,我的粤语听力理解能力已经很好了。


The only thing puzzled me was that we talked with teachers and classmates in Cantonese but read after the tape in Mandarin when we learned from the textbook. We started learning how to identify the corresponding characters and build their connections with the pronunciations. With a certain foundation of listening comprehension, it was easy for us to link the written forms with the familiar words we'd heard hundreds of times.                                                                      

唯一一件让我困惑的事是,幼儿园里老师和同学平时都说粤语,但一到课堂学习课文时就放普通话的录音带。我们开始认识与发音对应的汉字,建立汉字与发音的联系。有了之前奠定的听辨基础,再去识之前听了上百遍的字就显得容易了。


Pinyin was not introduced until a term before we were going to primary school. Prior to Pinyin, we had read after the tapes for Mandarin pronunciation of the certain text. Actually we could speak Mandarin before we had Pinyin into our life. And then in primary school Pinyin was taught again and it remained an important part of our course throughout the nine-year compulsory education. Pinyin is not the necessity for someone to speak Mandarin. Language has something more important to do with imitation than rules.
我们是在上小学前的一个学期才引入拼音的。在学拼音以前,我们已经跟录音用普通话朗读课文了。甚至在学拼音以前,我们也会讲一些普通话。上了小学后,拼音又重新出现在课堂里,并在今后的九年义务教育里一直伴随左右。不一定要学拼音才会讲普通话,对语言学习而言,模仿比规则更重要。


I guess that people born in Beijing hardly need to learn Pinyin since they have mastered the pronunciation of Mandarin through everyday communication since childhood, and similar situation may happen to the English native speakers that they don't go directly to phonetic symbols when they study how to speak English. 
我猜想生在北京的人可能并不需要学拼音,因为他们自幼便以普通话进行日常交流,并掌握了这门发音方式。同样,英语母语者也是通过日常发音模仿学会说英文,无需直接从音标学起。


Pinyin is not the starting point of our connection with Mandarin, not should any pronunciation rules with any language. Speak first, then let Pinyin help us correct and polish the pronunciation we have, and lead us to more characters of which we have no idea of their pronunciation.
拼音不是普通话的起点,其他语言的发音规则也不应该成为我们与这门语言建立联系的起点。先通过模仿去说,然后再让发音规则帮助我们纠正或优化发音,并让我们通过发音标示知道更多生字的发音。


We started to look up a new character in the dictionary via radical and Pinyin when we read and wrote at the age of five or six as pupils in the first grade of primary school. Teachers taught us how to make words with the characters learned just now, and then the sentence with a certain word given. Building the words and sentences got us well prepared to the composition later on, and we started writing from diary. 
五六岁上小学一年级时我们接触到汉语读写,便开始按照发音和部首查字典。老师会教我们怎样用刚学的字组词,进而用所给的词语造句。遣词造句的能力给后来的写作打下基础,我们从写日记开始写作。


We were asked to do lots of reading apart from the textbooks, guided by the booklist recommended by teachers. But I was the one ignoring all the recommendation and went directly to the bookshop to explore books of my own taste. I read really slowly and even now I kept this habit. I preferred taking notes of the beautiful wordings applied and sometimes marking down things crossing my mind while reading. It helps my improvement in writing a lot, in native language as well as foreign language.                
老师会要求我们读许多课外书,并相应地提供一些书单。而我通常更倾向于直接去书店发掘适合自己口味的读本,并不局限于既存的推荐。阅读的速度也是极其缓慢,现在我仍保持这个慢读的习惯,以停下来记录优美的词句,或记下阅读时闪现在脑海里的念头。这对于写作能力的提升大有裨益,汉语如是,外语亦然。          

 


It will be a natural way learning language from listening, speaking, reading and then writing, and I'm curious about how much more efficient and effective I would become in learning English if I take the right path instead of paying partial attention to reading only. I try to recall how I learn Chinese just to see what kind of enlightenment I have for English study. 

Enjune Zhang

Read half of the books in Chinese book shop for free
免费看遍中国大陆书店里半数以上的书籍


You are just an app away from an opportunity to read over 50% of books published by various Chinese publishing houses for free. I am not crazy and this wish is not unrealistic.
想免费博览50%中国各大出版社出版的读本,你跟这个机会只隔着一个app的距离。我并没有疯狂地夸海口,而这个愿望也并非不现实。
As a senior searcher for materials free of charge, I strongly believe that there must be a free online library of Chinese books after I find the one with English original books available to download without paying a penny. I find it now. Although only online reading is allowed within two hours a day, it is enough for someone who spends 2 hours reading each day and keeps it this way day by day.
作为一枚资深的免费资源搜集者,自从发现了一个可以不费分文便能下载英文原版书的国际网站以后,我坚信中国也会有类似的免费网上图书馆。现在,我锁定它了。尽管该站只允许每天限时2小时的在线阅读,但如果可以坚持每天2小时阅读,日复一日地累积,每天2小时足矣。
Thanks for Netease snail reader, I have access to online library after I am away from college and still get the resources to keep lifelong study going on. Owing to this app, I stop buying books or being anxious about where I should keep the books after finishing them. I still keep a habit of dropping by the book store once every two months, just to get to know what's new for readers. All I need to do is have a name of the book I am interested in and put it on my bookshelf of that app.
多亏网易蜗牛读书,我得以在脱离大学生活以后的今天还可以通过网络图书馆获取资讯,以支撑终身学习的计划得以长效进展。有了这款应用,我不再买书,也不再担心书看完了要往哪里搁。现在我还保留着每两个月去一趟书店的习惯,只为了解最近上了哪些新书。我只需知道一本我感兴趣的书的名字,就可以把它加进app的书架上。

 

Here are the 6 ways that you could locate a book suiting your taste and bring it into your reading list in snail reader.
以下是6个途径,供你发现一本对胃的书并把它列入待读名单。
1 Find the Chinese counterpart of the book you are familiar with
找一本你所知道的外文原著的对应中文版。
2 Find the book of your favorite Chinese author
找你喜欢的作者,看他写了哪些书。
3 Check what's new on the recommended list
看看书单里有什么推荐。
4 Go to the Chinese local book store and have a glimpse of the content of the certain book you feel like reading
逛当地实体书店翻翻你感兴趣的书。
5 Search on Chinese online book seller for an attractive name
浏览中国各大售书网站看有什么吸引你的书目。
6 Search by famous Chinese public house. Start with the bilingual ones
搜中国各大出版社,从专门出版双语读本的出版商入手。

Find more details of this Chinese online library in PDF attached if you deem it useful

guidance for snail reader.pdf

Enjune Zhang

轻课 An creative business model of online course in Chinese educational industry   

轻课,中国教育行业的创新型线上网课经营模式 

                                                                                   

Entity training agency like New Oriental teaching English is nothing new in China, online education course is on the rise. Lately, I find one promising a 100% refund after full time learning. It's amazing, for both the operator and customers. But how could they earn money if the students paying for the courses will get all the money back after they finish the learning tasks on time as required?         

在中国,像新东方那样的实体培训机构已没什么好稀奇,网上教程如今正异军突起。最近,发现了一个承诺学够学时便全额退款的网课运营商。 这无论对经营者还是客户,都是大写的惊喜。 如果按要求按时完成学业的学生都可以在课程结束后取得全额退款,那么这种网课经营模式是怎样获利的呢?

                               

People signing up for the courses pay via Wechat and get the entry of the class. The courses take them 90-120 days or more to finish, and they need to guarantee an everyday visit up to required period to get the scholarship, with the same amount as the original payment, returning to customers' account 10 days after the end of the whole courses.   

报名参加课程的人通过微信付款。课程耗时90120天或更久,学员需保证每天签到并学足规定时间以获得奖学金,奖学金金额与当初交的学费相当,于课程全部结束后10天返还。

 

It amounts to a collection of money from the mass to earn money by the money kept by the operator for a period of time. Both parties are making temporary investment. The operator could lend the money to someone else to get the interests while the customers offer the money to get access to courses in limited time, a temporary investment of money to get knowledge, the influence of which could be permanent. That's about mutual benefit.                                                

这相当于是经营者聚拢大众学员的钱,在一定的时间期限内以钱生财。双方都在进行暂时的投资。在经营者而言,他们通过把暂时收到的钱向外提供贷款,以获取利息;在消费者而言,他们暂时付出学费以在有限的时间内学习课程,而学习课程给他们带来的影响却是终身的。好个互惠互利的模式。

 

Such a mode concerning incentive system does the customers good, too. It encourages the learners to learn and have the money back. Sometimes we don't have to own something to make profit or benefit from it. It is enough that we apply it and make the most out of it as a passerby.

这样有着激励机制的模式有利于消费者。它鼓励学员通过学习以赚回学费。有时候我们没有必要拥有某物才能从中获益,仅是像一个过客一样最大限度地使用并有所收获足矣。

 

Maybe we would leave the book purchased years ago sleeping with dust covered without turning a page or two, but we may probably be busy finishing those we borrow from the library with a specific time limit. That's it, we are born to be urged and motivated by the deadline, by the sense of urgency that something will be taken away from us, or we would rather lie idly than keep the ball rolling. This kind of business model does us a favor by limiting what we have to here and now in a creative way.                                                                         

也许我们会放任多年前买的书沉睡,封面蒙尘,不曾翻看过一页或半页,但我们却可能花时间读完从图书馆借来的需要定期归还的书。我们似乎天生要被最后期限敦促鞭策,心头需要有种好像东西要有被拿走的紧迫感,我们才不再葛优躺,才会不懈怠地完成某事。这种经营模式帮了我们一个大忙,它以一种新颖的方式把我们框定在此时此处。

                                                              

Be aware of the man reading just a single book, since he makes it focusing on the limited resources. In an era with information flooding in, it is not difficult to gather a bunch of materials and swear that we would get them conquered. It is just a matter of when. Attention is precious compared with the resources handily available everywhere.

小心那些只读一本书的人,因为他能把精力集中在有限的资源上。在这个资讯涌动的时代,搜集一箩筐的资源并不难,发誓要把它们征服也不难,这只是时间的问题。与俯拾皆是唾手可得的学习资料相比,注意力是种弥足珍贵的资源。

 

And it is true that attention is simply wasted away during the hasty skip from resource to resource. Therefore, the goal we promise to ourselves is mere an empty vision without a due date. It will be news for the nowaday procrastinators, dragging them out of the embarrassment where they keep claiming that they will do it but rewriting the deadline.     

蜻蜓点水般地穿梭跳跃于资料之间无疑是耗费精力。因此,如果不给自己许下一个期限,我们承诺自己的目标不过是个空荡的愿景。这样的网课模式无疑是拖延症患者的福音,这将把他们从一边许着务必完成的诺又一边重新拟定截止日的窘境中抽离。

                                

                                         

P.S. This is not an advertisement but an objective analysis for a business model active via Wechact recently, another brand new operation based on win-win situation between the company and the customers.

Enjune Zhang

Apps helping Chinese native speakers with their English may boost your Chinese 

 

Apps available for Chinese native speakers to learn English see a rapid boom these years, and most of them focus on providing video and audio materials and offering related practice aiming at the improvement on listening comprehension and spoken fluency. Materials for language learners are common, so if they could be applied to learn English by Chinese native speakers, they are applicable for non Chinese native speakers to learn Chinese. Both types of learners are doing the same thing actually, finding the connection between Chinese and English and figuring out a better way for them to sound native when applying a foreign language. Expecting pronunciation of Chinese and a function testing whether we have pronounced Chinese in a correct way from these apps is not realistic, however, if we have some other ways to fill the gap mentioned above, things will be different. And it's like developing a special version upgraded based on the particular need of foreign learners. To make this happen, we would build a connection between English learning app and translation app.


Two things important determining the outcome and experience will be the learning materials available, whether they are closely connected to daily life, and the level of translator, a translator making standard Mandarin pronunciation possible and offering a system telling you whether you are doing good in pronouncing Mandarin. A combination of the apps listed below would be practical and worth a try.


1 可可英语
An app with both audio and video materials for Chinese students to learn English, resources available concerning TED speech, foreign news, BBC documentary, American & British TV series, etc.


2 有道翻译官
An app available for text and voice translation, powered by Youdao group, catering for Chinese travelling abroad or talking with foreigners


3 一点英语
An app providing short English videos in various topics in multiple fields with Chinese and English titles


Details for downloading of the apps and the operating guidance of each app are shown in the PDF attached. 
Here are the basic steps concerned, and see if it could open up another channel for you to immerse in Chinese.
a. Find a certain bilingual audio/ video in可可英语 or一点英语.


b. Find how the wordings in Chinese match with the English text.


c. Copy the Chinese text to get it pronounced by有道翻译官 (for text in 可可英语,search it in Chinese search engine if direct copy from the app is not working).


d. Learn how it is pronounced and polish your own pronunciation, then input the same characters in short sentence with your voice. Your pronunciation need to be correct and standard for the system to get you the right character. This may be the objective reflection compared with a mere score given by the system.


e. Take the test provided by the system checking if you can choose the corresponding meaning of a certain word given in Chinese or English.

 

 


 

English learning app may help you with your Chinese if you want it -by enjune.pdf

Enjune Zhang

6 facts you should know about Chinese radical 

 

1. Code of character  

There are lots of characters sharing the same part, and meanings of these characters have something to do with that certain part, and this is more than coincidence. We call this part radical.It exists as part of the character before it is applied as the clue to search for the characters in dictionary.Radical (部首) is just the name given later.Characters with this part are essentially related to a certain kind of thing or something related to that certain kind of thing, and that's how characters are formed and the meanings stretch. A new character formed with the radical carries the basic meaning of radical itself, and some specific meaning further, which the radical itself could not reach. For example,氵means water, characters with it as radical (海江湖泊) have something to do with water,but their meanings will be more concrete than water.Relation between meaning of radical and meaning of character with the radical is like that between the general and the specific. An accurate identification of a character's radical could help you distinguish it from its counterparts by revealing what it is mainly about. Sometimes,we may come across confusing characters like 请清情晴蜻氰鲭, but the meanings may reveal themselves if you know the meaning of the radical 讠(talk),氵(water),忄(heart),日(sun),虫(insect),气(gas),鱼(fish). 讠refers to conversation, so 请 (please) is a wording applied in daily communication;清(clear),a description of water 氵; 情(feeling),a mental activity related to heart 忄; 晴 (sunny),a status of weather related to sun; 蜻(dragon fly), an insect; 氰 (cyanogen), a  poisonous gas; 鲭(mackerel),a kind of fish. Knowing the meaning of radicals can also help us with the identification of similar radicals like 礻(supernatural being) and 衤(clothes). Therefore, you won't apply 礻by mistake when you try to write the character 袖(sleeve),which is part of the clothes; neither will you think that 衤will be part of 福 (blessing),something supernatural beyond your control.      

 

2. A crack on the radical with greater amount of characters first  

Focus on the radicals widely applied to tons of characters instead of keeping your eye on those with small amount of example available. So it is wise to pay more attention to several radicals frequently employed. You will find the rule mentioned applies to most of the occasions.Sometimes when it is hard to find the relation between the character and its radical, don't be too hurried to cast a doubt in it.The evolution of characters may leave some original radicals behind. For example,it is unclear why 白 has anything to do with 的,and 宀 with 它.However, if we take a further look into the ancient form of character,the answer is around the corner.旳 is the original of 的,it takes 日(sun) as the radical.旳 means as clear and bright as the sun.And meaning could be extended into "as certain and undeniable as something's existence under the sun", which leads to 旳确 dí què. Here in this word 旳=确. Although its modern form 的 has another pronunciation of de, the wording of 的确 remains. And the transformation of the radical makes the relation between the radical and character confusing. Another case is 它 (牠).It makes sense that 他 (he) has a radical of 亻and 她 (she) takes a 女 as radical. And 牜(animal) acts as the radical of 牠(it). 牠 is the original of 它, and again the inconsistence of ancient and modern form brings about the mystery. Therefore, if the link between modern character and its radical is weak,try to give an exploration to its ancient form. Drop it if you don't have adequate clue to make the relation make sense. Just focus on what you know applicable. It is a rule self evident and can justify more than half of the stories if it is not for every occasion. Even universal law may have its exception. And what's more, it is a valuable clue for you to link characters together for easier memory.Building connections is the way to make learning less complicated,so if you figure out the path,don't squander it.    

 

3. Memorize the certain radical with its essential meaning and the related characters frequently applied  

It is unrealistic to learn radicals separating therm from characters related.It will be a utopian thought to conquer all the radicals and then take a look of the characters and expect that you could open every door with the key you get. Start with the common characters and find the radicals corresponding. Every link you see between the character and its character may mean another strengthening of your belief in mind.  

 

4. Focus on the radical that could be a character itself  

There are radicals acting as an independent character itself, and a concentration on them may save your trouble.  

 

5 How to strengthen familiarity with radicals  

Practice searching characters via radical; analyse the radical for every new character you come across, trying to see why the meaning has something to do with radical.  

 

6 How to decide the radical of a certain character  

If it is a character with a part reflecting the pronunciation (not the 100% pronunciation and probably the vowel of the Pinyin), and another part indicating the meaning, try the part carrying the meaning (清 with 氵). If it is a character with a part embracing another part, try the part outside (围 with 囗;句 with 勹, 函 with 凵).If it is a character with side by side structure, the left part is likely to be taken, but the right part could be the radical if it contains less strokes (姑 with 女; 故 with 攵). If it is a character with top-bottom structure, take the part less incompact (盛 with 皿, 覆 with 覀).If it is a character inseparable,take it as the whole (羊 takes itself as radical). If the radical is not clear to find, try the first stroke to see if you get it right (中 wtih 丨).


Finally, for those who would like to learn more about Chinese radicals, resources available are listed below.

汉辞网 http://www.hydcd.com/zidian/hz/2240.htm                      

汉字英雄 explanation of radical given by 于丹

Essential Meaning Of Radicals Frequently Applied-enjune.pdf

Enjune Zhang

3 things getting in your way to learn a foreign language

 

1. Afraid of making mistake

Don't be afraid to look stupid when you are trying to figure out something you are not familiar with. Dare to make expression and utter your voice even if you are basing on the wrong evidence. You may never know that you are wrong if you silence your opinion, your argument, your pronunciation, your writing style, your way of comprehension within your brain. Get them exposed and someone may jump out of nowhere to correct you, that's how you can boost your language skill and understanding of certain thing language related, whether your mistake is pointed out in a friendly way or not. Otherwise, you are stupid instead of looking stupid. It is quite normal that your pronunciation will sound strange and unnatural to native speakers. They could detect your atmosphere of foreign accent once you start with the greeting, and unfortunately what you are going to say next, anything different from what they deem normal and natural, could never escape their judgment. But it is not the reason to make you a mute. Keep speaking your way and make necessary adjustment as you know more about what will be the thing that gives you away, until one day you are next to perfect. Keep writing and posting in foreign language even if someone else keeps claiming that you are making things complicate or confusing to them but not in the way stubbornly clinging to your old habits. Maybe sometimes dignity and sense of shame may get in the way but you have to cut it loose and swallow the pain if you find that something does need improvement. And you do it for a better yourself. During adjustment, stick to your own view if you are not well persuaded even if you are not part of the overwhelming majority. Keep your own judgment and don't let it be navigated by bias or timidity of something not in line with you. If someone's claiming something isn't worth a try, you should be the one to test it and decide to be a follower or not. You just choose the same path or stay on your own way for your own sake.

 

2. Unwelcome things alien or different from you

We are born to seek ally and stand against the difference. Any voice not in the same tone with ours, we are likely to call it a noise. But learning and idea exchange is anti nature. We need to be brave enough to be different and tolerant enough to accept existence of different opinions. The real modesty is not solely presented to someone more professional than you but also an amateur, not someone showing their admiration to you but someone uttering a voice different from yours. Correct your pronunciation based on the way how the native speakers pronounce it and make it sound more native, but stick to your accent if it doesn't essentially prevent the others from understanding what you've said. Don't care too much about the uniqueness in accent, even native speakers have their accent inherited from local dialect to deal with. Keep it part of your pronunciation if it is not too strong to make yourself understood. 

 

3. Partial effort on input or output, orally or writtenly

He who is good at a language is a balancer, doing good in listening, speaking, reading and writing instead of blocking his potential to a certain aspect. Think about how it may have something to do with your spoken Chinese when you listen to the Chinese broadcast. Think about what you could read next when you see a bottleneck in your writing. Develop a nose for listening materials and reading materials, and make it output oriented. Spend related time to be a speaker, a listener, a writer and a reader during different time of a day.

 

Enjune Zhang

FOUR REASONS WHY CHINESE 成语 PUZZLE YOU

 

I have asked people learning Chinese as their foreign language what will be something puzzling them beside Pinyin, and 60% of them have idiom (成语) as answer.

Backed up by story and historical quotation, idioms frequently come in the form of four characters combination, based on the meaning of ancient Chinese, or extended meaning and metaphorical meaning of Chinese. It is a hard-to-crack case even for Chinese native speaks, let alone to mention the challenge they present to foreign friends.

I still remember the first material guiding me to Chinese idiom. It is not the dictionary but a picture book with cartoons vividly showing the background story of idiom. And that's probably the most frequently applied resource that open up a Chinese child's door to this special kind of wording culture-related. 

There will be many reasons why a certain idiom fails your comprehension, but most of them fall into the four mainly listed below. Elaboration is given based on 狼狈为奸 for example.

 

1. Not knowing the story behind it

Almost right behind each idiom lies a story, and some of them sound like a fable(寓言), containing the truth you need to know the idiom better. 狼 and 狈 pass a sheepfold and the sheep are attractive to them but out of reach. The fence is high for both of them. An idea occurs to狈, and he asks狼 to stand onto his shoulders so that狼could lay his hands to the sheep. And they get their meal by carrying out this plan. 狼狈为奸gives a description of this situation in brief wording. Both characters 狼&狈 appear at the beginning of the idiom, while 为奸means doing something evilly bad. So you know why it is stated as" act in collusion with each other "in the dictionary.

 

 

2. No comprehension based on classical Chinese

Idioms come from traditional Chinese culture, so ancient Chinese is involved beside modern Chinese. If you cannot figure it out based on the literal meaning applied nowadays, try the corresponding meaning in ancient Chinese. I bet you may wonder why 狼狈, describing an embarrassing and awkward situation, as it is shown in Pleco, would have something to do with 为奸. It may take you less time to see what 狼狈不堪 means, since the word狼狈here is consistent with what you are familiar with. That's it. 狼狈in 狼狈为奸means something different in ancient Chinese. 狼is wolf and 狈is a wolf-like animal. They refer to bad guys alike. Words in modern Chinese come in two-character form, so you may take为奸here as a unit instead of breaking it into two parts, 为and奸. Take a check in Pleco you may find the meanings are given respectively, which suggests that this is a combination of two parts, representing two separate meaning in ancient Chinese. 为=做=实施=do, 奸=奸邪之事=坏事=bad thing. The meaning could be around the corner if you take the words from the perspective of ancient Chinese, even if you don't know the story behind.

 

 

3. Things hardly existent in modern daily life

Something involved in the idiom could be rarely seen in daily life, and something is not even existent. It makes idioms more strange to non native speakers. 狈is the animal in tale only, so you would hardly know that it refers to someone next to the wolf in this idiomatic story,not a clue that it will be an executor 故事中的执行者 and subject 主语/主角 of the story.

 

 

 

4. Extended meaning and metaphor contained

Idioms act like a fable telling something more than the story itself. It involves meaning extended or implied. 狼狈为奸tells more than the story of how two evil animals snatch the sheep. 狼狈indicates the bad guys while stealing sheep could be extended to anything evil or illegal. Idioms are formed in detailed story but they are highly summerized and logically inducted, from the concrete to the abstract, from the particular case to the universal phenomena, available for analogy based on individual case arising from daily life. 成语是故事的高度概括与浓缩,归纳成一个道理,而我们对成语的运用则是基于日常个案的类比,借用成语形容类似的情况。The meaning implied or extended to fit in the summary universally applicable in daily circumstances makes idiom not straightforward enough to understand.

 

Enjune Zhang

8 Q&A ABOUT 七夕

 8 Q&A ABOUT QIXI FESTIVAL

 

1 Why is it called 七夕?

It is on July 7 lunar calendar, and the related activity worshiping Zhinv, the seventh daughters (织女/七姐)of the Queen of Heaven (王母娘娘), comes in the evening of this day. We call evening 夕(xi) in ancient Chinese. So it means a festival falling on the evening of July 7. And the legend of 织女 furthers the meaning of this custom and its connection with the number seven. 

 

2 Why does somebody regard it as Chinese Valentine?

As the myth goes, 织女 comes to the man's world (we call it 下凡) and falls in love with 牛郎. However, their love gets hindered by the parents of 织女, and the couple is forced to be apart, without any opportunity to meet each other except the date July 7, when the magpies (喜鹊) of the world gather to make the bridge across the milky way for them. 

It is said that 牛郎织女 will meet each other this day, which is a symbol of reunion of couples through the thick and thin, a reflection of 有情人终成眷属.

 

3 Is it really the Chinese Valentine?

Traditional Chinese Valentine is on Jan 15 lunar calendar, and it is lantern festival (正月十五:元宵节) too. Girls stay at home with no chance to meet the potential BF in ancient China, but their opportunity comes in lantern festival, when they are allowed to go out watch the lantern show (赏花灯) and have fun figuring out the lantern riddles (猜灯谜).  And that's when the single get to each other, so lantern festival works like the Valentine better than Qixi, when single girls just have fun on their own.

 

4 Why is it also called 乞巧节?

Being smart in mind and deft in handcraft (心灵手巧)is the best praise for girls in ancient China. It is a day when single girls ask that quality and ability from 织女. Zhinv is good at waving and capable of getting the fabric done next to perfect. Girls dressed up decently gather and worship the goddess with the handcraft they make, praying for the skillfulness like 织女 and a happy marriage like 牛郎织女. 

 

5 What did girls in ancient China do in Qixi Festival?

Worship 织女 with their handcraft. There will be a competition in handcraft, and girls are judged by their handwork, like embroidery, decorations knitted with beads, clay figurine, etc. as offerings.

Collect the dews to wash their hands and eyes. It is said that eyes will be clearer and hands will be more skillful and proficient with the craft after wash. Water is deemed blessed by 织女 on that day.

Wash their hair and dye their nails. Single girls do this as a way in seek of beautify and happy marriage. 

 

6 Why does ancient Chinese have a festival like this on July 7?

Initially, festival on July 7 has nothing to do with 牛郎织女, and it is just a day to worship time and nature. 七 is a special number in Chinese culture, which sounds similar to 吉.  It means lucky. July 7 could be deemed as double 吉, conforming to the Chinese saying 好事成双. China has several festivals like this, with the day in the same number as the month per lunar calendar, say, double five, May 5 as dragon boat day, double nine, Sep 9, Chongyang Festival.

 

7 Why is it a festival for single girls in ancient China?

It was originally a day for single girls to pray for all the best from 织女. Actually married female are fully occupied by family and kids and they are far away from those days when they gather to pray for a better self and the ideal marriage accordingly. Qixi provides a good timing for young girls to get together and discuss what they are longing for.

 

8 Why do people store water or go swimming that day as a custom?

It is said that 织女 comes down for a bath in the river that day and the water is blessed. People believe that water fetched in a certain period of time is magically good for human body. 

 
Enjune Zhang

FOUR REASONS WHY CHINESE LISTENING IS SO DAMN DIFFICULT 

 

It takes listening, speaking, reading and writing to make a language complete, and listening is always the hardest part to crack. Compared with reading and writing, you have limited time to react, without any possibility to go over a certain wording for times the way you do when reading. Moreover, reading doesn't involve pronunciation and sometimes you may find that you understand what's been said once you have the script of the listening materials. What'll be said and the way it sounds, the speed it takes depend on the person leading the conversation, and the uncertainty of content, accent and pace make listening harder than spoken Chinese. 

Conclusion above is based on the assumption that the degree of complexity stays the same. Characteristics of Chinese below make you need more time to figure out the content orally expressed, and further the uncertainty of Chinese listening. 

 

1 Different characters in the same pronunciation

There are several characters sharing the same Pinyin, and you have no idea what's talked about without connecting it to the words around it or putting it in the context. You won't see the difference about 气, 器, 弃 since they sound the same. And you have no idea which of the following is mentioned here, 中指, 终止or 中止if "zhong zhi" is all you hear. Such a high frequency in application of same pronunciation makes Chinese confusing to foreign speakers. Therefore, memorizing the characters in words, and minding how the certain word match with the other (collocation) mean a lot to improvement of Chinese listening skill.

 

2 Standard Mandarin challenged by dialects

Not every Chinese speaks standard Mandarin like the host or hostess in broadcast. Unfortunately, people living in different areas of China have a lifelong battle against their dialect's negative impact on Mandarin pronunciation. This could be a huge influence since Chinese dialects vary a lot from each other. You know the English is speaking English even if he has accent, but you don't know the Chinese is speaking Mandarin if he sounds much too dialect influenced. However, it's not the reason that you could slack off in practicing standard Mandarin. On the contrary, you should be familiar with Mandarin pronunciation to know which pronunciation is likely to be influenced by dialect and how it is affected, so you could realize which character is about even if it is not pronounced in perfect Mandarin. Be well prepared with the Mandarin blending with several dialect, so you are not losing confidence when you doesn't sound good for the moment, and you won't be too shocked when some Chinese disappoint you with their pronunciation far from perfect.

 

3 Pronunciation in monosyllable with tones unfamiliar to non native speakers

Characters are pronounced in monosyllable no matter how long its Pinyin seems to be. 

Each character is pronounced separatedly, like water drops falling down to hit the ground one by one, different from liaison in English, which sounds like a river flowing forward. Say each Chinese character independently without lengthening the sound or make them connect to each other. That's the way how Chinese is spoken, and familiar with such a style in pronunciation does matter to your listening. It is true that some Chinese students claim that the listening materials in English test will be easier to understand if the announcers making the audio tape speak English the way they do, pronouncing each t, d, k at the end of each vocabulary clearly, without consonant at the end of a word connecting to the vowel at the beginning of next word. Be familiar with the pronunciation rules and style of a language does smooth the process of listening comprehension. We may understand in seconds if our own pronunciation is identical with how native Chinese people speak Chinese.

 

4 Wording out of range

There are words you seldom come across in text book or literature reading, and you are likely to get trapped if they show up in the conversation. Make yourself exposed to 成语, 谚语, 歇后语, 网络热词, 双关语, etc, and listen to conversation or materials with topics close to daily life. I am not recommending CCTV news but you could try it if it is not boring to you. Documentary in CCTV 9 will be good choice but go get some refreshment before it makes you doze off. TV shows recording how people are asked to finish the tasks or introducing you to something worth your attention or place worth visiting (综艺节目, 游记, 美食节目) are easy for you to cling to and follow through. The more you don't understand, the more you need to practice listening. We didn't understand most of our parents' conversations when we were around two or three, but we still listened until we learned enough to comprehend what's been said. Therefore, do not say no to listening material because you understand little about it. Try and you may find even if you can't tell the meaning of a word you are still getting familiar with the way Chinese is spoken, how Chinese people describe things and what kind of wording they choose. It is a process of accumulation hidden but may see its meaning as you proceed with and finally make what you've heard part of your wordings.

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