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tannranger

I would like to read 三国演义

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tannranger

Hello all,

I'm writing because I'm trying to gauge my progress so far, and estimate how much more I need to study. I began studying Chinese about 6 months ago, being inspired in large part by 三国演义 and a very sincere desire to become more engaged with Chinese history and culture.

Since then, I've worked up to the end of Defrancis' "Intermediate Chinese Reader Part II", which uses traditional characters. I can probably recognize around 800 characters, and maybe 3-4K words. I'm a fairly quick learner....

Can anybody on the forum give me an idea of how many characters I would need to know to read 三國演義 either in the original chinese, or in a modern chinese translation? Obviously I understand that some knowledge of 文言文 would be required. About how much longer might I need to study at the rate I'm going?

多謝!

Simon

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Lu

It's said you need about 3000 characters (and know the words they combine into) to read the newspaper, so for the Sanguo Yanyi, I'd estimate at least 4-5000 characters. More important, as you know, are the words that are formed with these characters. And, as you have understood, some knowledge of wenyanwen.

I'd say that it would take you at least 3 years of intensive study, but quite possibly a lot longer. Not sure how hard the SGYY is, but after three years I still had trouble with Shanghai Baby.

Good luck.

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wushijiao

Funny that you ask, that's the book I'm reading right now. I'm up to the 26th chapter.

三国演义 is a great book: a mixture of history, strategy, and war. The thing is, the plot is never dull, and the book feels a lot like a Hollywood action movie.

As far as language, I agree with Lu that it would probably take a few years to get to the point where you could read it without too many troubles. Although, it sounds like you are making good pace, it would still take a lot of studying. The book is a mix of 文言文 and modern 白话, epecially in the dialogues. That means you need to have (at least a little) base in classical Chinese, and you should more or less understand modern Mandarin. For the former requirement, you probably need to work through a classical Chinese book (maybe in college or something). For the latter requirement, it is best to have book textbook knowledge, mixed with a lot of listening practice and speaking practice. It would also be best if you had the experience of reading some other easier books first.

On the other hand, you can buy simplified forms of the book (usually made for young kids, maybe ages 6-9) that capture the essence of the original. These books use a simplified vocabulary, and they abridge the story and the amount of characters. They might be 200 pages or so.

Also, certain editions of the real book are much better than others. The first time I tried to read the book, I just bought a normal edition that only had story, no value added features. Then, a few months later, I was looking around in the bookstore and found a much better edition. The one I have now (新课标语文必读书: 三国演义,长春出版社) will often give the pinyin and tones for rare characters, and will often give the meaning for certain words, or the meaning of a strange refrence or something like that. So, you can read through it with a lot less problems. There are dozens and dozens of editions out there, so it is worth the time to find one that helps you understand the novel in a more comprhensive way.

Anyway, keep working at it!

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in_lab

There's also an edition of the book with a parallel English translation. I think it is done by Robert Moss. That should help a lot.

Edit: Make the Moss Roberts.

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skylee

Before you reach the proficiency level to read the Chinese original, perhaps you could try this English version (online, full translation, free of charge) -> http://www.threekingdoms.com/

I've never managed to finish more than 11 chapters of the book (I read the original). Language is not a problem, but the story is ... I think I simply don't like the story enough to finish it ... :oops:

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wushijiao
've never managed to finish more than 11 chapters of the book (I read the original).

But, skylee, that's right about where the plot gets going! :D

The first few chapters, with the whole Dong Zhuo thing, really isn't that interesting. But once the chaos starts and they all have to make alliances and war a lot, I think it gets a lot better. You also start to see the personalities of the characters a lot better, compared to the first part, in which it feels like you have to remember 100 characters that all seem interchangable.

Anyway, I think the book is generally more popular with males, if I had to generalize. So far, there aren't really any characters that women could relate to, except for maybe Diao Chan, but her role is also fairly limited. I don't know.

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lylestyle

I've been reading San Guo for the past 6 months, haven't even gotten 1/3 of the way into it. Granted that has not been consistent reading, and like Skylee says, it is heavy reading that sometimes seems to plod on. In regards to reading the 四大名著...

I hate to burst everyone's bubble about reading books like San Guo Yan Yi, Hong Lou Meng, etc, but if someone says they studied Chinese for two years and then read one of those books they are either a) spectacularly gifted in Chinese and have spent a significant amount of time on classical Chinese or B) pulling the wool over your eyes. I would say more like 3 to 4 years, at a minimum, of intensive Chinese study including classical Chinese to begin to tackle the "Big 4" of Chinese literature. This isn't to discourage someone who might want to set their sights on reading on of those books, its just to say people almost always underestimate the proficiency and stamina it takes to finish one of those books. I know few foreigners who have finished those books, and even fewer who have grasped all its subtleties. My advice would be to start with a good foundation in classical Chinese after studying modern Chinese for a few years, then try tackling it.

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82riceballs

there's also an audio version of sanguo yanyi. i have it on three mp3 cd's (which means around 40 regular audio cd's). i've only heard random excerpts so far, but i can tell you it's fairly interesting since it's meant to captivate the attention of young children. however, it's supposed to be quite expensive and i have no clue as to what the company is called. :oops::cry:

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in_lab

I checked out one of those CDs from the library before. The one I heard was told by 蔡康永 and 侯文詠, called 歡樂三國志. It is pretty popular, but I didn't really enjoy it. I think I would need to get more familiar with the names and the stories before listening to it.

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LiYuanXi

Perhaps you can get a simplified version with less rare words? There are lots of versions around.

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82riceballs

yeah, i agree w/ lixuan yi- get an abridged version...

english-learners don't start out with the full version of The Count of Monte Cristo, with many vocabulary words that even native english speakers don't understand... english learners (and native speakers included) would start out with the abridged version or just not read it at all...

my point is... start out simple!!! sometimes challenging urself w/ something too hard isn't good- even if ur a fast learner (cuz i'm one too, and i'm still reading chinese newspapers as opposed to the four classics)... read books like harry potter translated into chinese, or something

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Lu

I agree, start simple. But I would suggest starting with simple books rather than simplified difficult books. I also read some of the Big Books in simplified edition when I was a kid, but almost invariably felt cheated when I found out it was simplified. I prefer waiting until I can read the real thing (or find a good translation if I have no hopes of ever reading the real thing).

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rob07

I started learning Chinese for similar reasons, being inspired by a Dream of Red Mansions and to a lesser extent Outlaws of the Marsh. My goal was to able to read a Dream of Red Mansions in Chinese one day.

Before I was able to read normal full length novels, I did read an abridged version of A Dream of Red Mansions, but enjoyed it a lot less than a similarly abridged version of Mao Dun's Midnight, because the story in Midnight was fresh and new.

So by the time I was able to read the average novel in Chinese I found that my horizons had been considerably broadened and I was aware of a lot of other great stuff out there. I found that I had lost interest in spending the considerable time required to read something I had already read in translation several times when there was so many other exciting books I hadn't read at all.

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lilongyue

There is a comic book version of 三国演义. A friend of mine just picked it up. This version is 4 graphic novels, each volume being a few hundred pages. The art isn't very special, but it might be more accessible than the original.

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文言訓開班
There is a comic book version of 三国演义. A friend of mine just picked it up. This version is 4 graphic novels, each volume being a few hundred pages. The art isn't very special, but it might be more accessible than the original

is it 霸-Lord, a Japanese comic book, perchance?

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