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The Third First Episode: 武林外传, My Own Swordsman.


roddy
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Imron posted a link to a clip from this show elsewhere, and that's inspired me to bump this topic. It really is a fantastic show, and a challenging but achievable watch for high-intermediate / advanced learners who are willing to spend a bit of time with their dictionaries, or just accepting that they're going to miss bits.

 

I've updated the Youtube / Youku links. 

 

Who's up for it. Go on, just watch a little...

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  • 4 years later...

I just watched the first two episodes of this - I did enjoy them, but unsure if I will continue for all 80 episodes. Given you guys' glowing recommendations, maybe I should keep going.

 

I found it pretty comprehensible and while I am definitely relying on subtitles there (hopefully!) isn't too much that is going over my head. An obvious exception came in episode 2 when I had to look up why writing an essay against Confucius would have been warmly received by someone of the 老庄 school, which to be honest is probably something I should know...

 

It really confirms what Imron is always saying about words you studied else where coming up in the most random places. For example in this episode the phrase “死马当活马医" came up when treating 郭芙蓉, which I had previously studied in a high school drama haha.

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9 hours ago, zander1 said:

maybe I should keep going.

Definitely keep going.

 

Unlike other series there isn't really an overaching storyline running across all episodes, which means there isn't really a reliance on cliffhangers and other plot devices to keep you coming back to the next episode.  The only reason to keep watching is because you like the characters and find the situations they get in to be humourous and interesting.

 

9 hours ago, zander1 said:

It really confirms what Imron is always saying about words you studied else where coming up in the most random places.

As we say in the software world, one in a million is next Tuesday.  If you're consuming enough content, rare words will still pop up a few times a year.

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Okay, 7 episodes in and I'm really enjoying it. I was actually laughing at loud at some points which doesn't happen often with Chinese TV that's for sure.

 

In terms of understanding, I actually think the first 20 minutes or so of the first episode is by far the hardest bit to understand, mainly because of all the 武侠 vocab. Once that's under your belt I don't think this show is really much harder than any of the empress dramas for example, and I think watching 延禧宫略 in full and lots of 甄嬛传 has helped a lot because much of the formalised or specialised vocab overlaps between them. It's very motivating to see how my comprehension has really improved leaps and bounds.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I've got to episode 20, it's pretty enjoyable so far. I do think it has a real problem with tone and pacing generally, sometimes it'll be joke after joke and then suddenly it'll get serious without much foreshadowing or warning and we're just supposed to accept that. Often it's quite jarring. On that note, lots of the episodes seem to have a 'Very Special Episode' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_special_episode) feeling where everything is building up to a moral lesson at the end about the perils of gambling or lying etc. I know this is a feature of comedy in lots of cultures (I haven't watched enough to know whether its common in China) but personally I feel it can get a bit much.

 

But enough complaining! The characters are good, well acted and like others have mentioned the show is quite layered with small references to things that happened before or will happen later scattered around all over the place. The stories are interesting and I am rarely actually bored with what is happening. The comedy is funny and sometimes quite clever. As a show goes it's really pretty good.

 

I am in two minds about whether to continue watching much further. I am enjoying it, but from a very pragmatic point of view I'm not sure how useful I am actually finding it for studying. Like with all these things there is a nice flow of of new vocabulary when you first start, but that slows into a drip once you get used to their favorite words and patterns of speaking. If I really wanted to make things difficult for me I could cover the subtitles but I'm not sure how useful that would be as the stuff that would be a challenge is mainly formal language that is rarely spoken, so I'm less concerned that I'm relying on reading it as in practice that is likely going to be where I will encounter it.

 

Changing shows means I can expose myself to more things, and 20 episodes would be a full series of a webshow (or indeed 2 for a Western show) and I'm not sure whether I want to continue all the way to 80+ as like us all I have limited time and watching TV is a very useful but very time consuming commitment.

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I'm only at ep 6, also really enjoying it, but all the variety of different dialect accents that seem to still be coming and going mean I go from casual watching to short bursts of rapid subtitle reading, which is slightly annoying; did you or any of the others that have watched the show find this an issue? I think I'm gonna stick it the whole way, there have been some 周星馳 esque fourth wall breaking scenes which has already had me in tears, good stuff if that's your cup of tea (although still not up there with 鹿鼎記(陳小春版本) for me, man I loved that show)

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19 minutes ago, Tomsima said:

did you or any of the others that have watched the show find this an issue? 

 

Yeah for sure , 掌柜的 for instance often speaks in a dialect which is definitely not Mandarin, this usually requires close subtitle watching! It sounds like sichuanese to my untrained ear (sh and s sounds blurring together and some dialect terms I think I recognize) but not entirely sure!

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1 hour ago, zander1 said:

掌柜的 for instance often speaks in a dialect which is definitely not Mandarin

陕西话 is definitely one variety of Mandarin (Zhongyuan Mandarin, Guanzhong dialect).

The four tones of Shannxihua are 阴平21[˨˩], 阳平24[˨˦], 上声53[˥˧], 去声44[˦]. So 大哥大嫂 would be like dāgě dāsào. And the most distinctive word is probably 我 ngè.

Sichuanese is also Mandarin by the way. Basically, If it has four tones, it is Mandarin, no matter how they are realized.

 

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