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MadamKatherineV

No vocal Chinese contact, and bad memory.

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wushijiao
Well, on the aspect of my original post, I had not studied Chinese in like a year, and wanted to keep learning but was feeling a bit out of touch. So I began learning from my Practical Chinese Reader everyday, and as I no longer have internet or television, and am yet to gain employment, I certainly have plenty of time to study. So my Chinese knowlege is going up by the day. I have attained a quite well handwriting, as I only write Chinese by hand (no internet). I signed up for Chinese Pod, and I did like it, as I like the Pimsleur CD's. However I wish to learn to read and write as I learn a langugage, rather than knowing words, without being able to read street signs, Et Cetera.

What I would suggest is something like the following:

1) Buy 2-3 beginners/intermediate Chinese books that come with CDs, and that are based around dialogues, stories...etc.

2) Find the one you like the most, and start working on that doing a new dialogue per every few days.

3) By "doing a dialogue", I mean try to listen to the audio dozens, if not hundreds of times.

(One tip: when doing a new dialogue, read the English first for meaning. Then listen to the dialogue. Then maybe take two or three new words, listen to the dialogue only focusing on the specific two or three words, and when the audio of the dialogue "hits" the word notice it, and think of its meaning, and don't worry about the other words. Then, listen again, but change to a different two or three words. Do this until you've listened for all the different words individually, or in groups of two or three. Then listen to the whole dialogue in full, trying to catch all the meaning. Repeat, repeat, repeat...after repeated listenings over a few days, move on. But every now and again, re-listen to old materials. Personally, I like to take long hikes, all over 1-3 hours, I'll re-review and the listening materials I've been working on over the past few months).

4) If you want, make flash cards of the characters and pinyin of that dialogue, do so. This way, you can match your reading and listening abilities.

5) Try to make progress in one book with (doing lots of repetitive audio/combined with reading, flashcards), but at the same time, combine it with another book of a similar level. That way you will find that there is a decent amount of overlap, and you might hear a word in one context in one book, and then again in another book.

6) I would concentrate on lot of repetitive audio and flashcards until you finish a few good textbooks series, and roughly learn about 2,000-3,000 words or so. this whole process might take 6 months to a year, depending on how much time you want to put into it. But I'd suggest you aim for an hour a day.

7) Then start some intermediate/advanced textbooks, and start to slowly work in more and more "authentic materials" (TV shows, books, newspaper articles, comics, novels. I'd suggest increasing the percentage of authentic materials compared to materials designed for learners a bit every few weeks). At this point, it pays to read extensively, listen extensively, but also to do listening where you listen to one segment of authentic materials (a 2-5 minute snippet of a movie/TV show/radio) over and over and over. Also, try to become obsessed with learning new words. After a few years, basically all your studying should be with authentic materials, but with a few other things thrown in to help even out your weaknesses (pronunciation drills, grammar exercises...etc)

So, in a nutshell, I think it pays to do a ton of repeated listening until you gain a solid base. Then it pays to do a lot of extensive readings and listening, and there needs to be some bridge work in the intermediate stages. To be honest, I don't think you'll get too much out of TV/movies/ or even conversations until you've put down a base of listening skills and have a vocabulary of a few thousand words. (Of course, it's always a good idea to speak whenever possible, regardless of level).

Also, I really don't think anyone has a "bad memory". If you know your own language (English), or if you can remember some song lyrics when a song comes on the radio, then you can learn a foreign language. Anyone can do it. It's important to keep in mind that you can do it.

Anyway, hope this helps! :mrgreen:

Edited by wushijiao

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Shi Tong

In reply to the couple of questions about Zhu yin.

Most of you seem to think that Ping yin is just as good as Zhu yin.

I strongly disagree, and here's why:

1) Zhuyin has no relation to Roman characters- this means that there are as many characters as there are sounds in Chinese. This means you dont get confused with things which appear to maybe start with the same Roman character, but have a totally different sound (see Zi and Zhi)

2) Sounds in Zhuyin are not misleading like they are in Ping Yin- in Zhuyin a Zi is a Zi, and a Zhi is a Zhi, and they dont make you think both start with a "Z" noise. The same counts for other Ping Yin sounds like C.

3) The same counts for the way that people stick certain characters together in Ping Yin. Ping Yin would suggest sometimes that one word is one word when it's made up of two words (like Beijing for example), actually, it's much more constructive to your learning to know that it's two words (Bei (north) and Jing (capital)).

4) There are also vowel problems with Ping Yin.. I find for instance, you can easily misread Zhou for Zhuo and vice versa, meaning that you could easily think that something was pronounced Zhou and not Zhuo.

5) There are problems where some characters are way too long for Ping Yin and silly rules apply- like Chuan.. does this word mean "Chuan" as one single sound, or could it be "Chu'an" meaning that it's two seperate words? It's simple, IMO, to confuse this and find yourself saying or thinking Chuan instead of Chu an. In Zhu yin, both words are spelled seperately.

What Zhu yin cant do for you though is to help you read or write Chinese, just to pronounce it, and if you think you know exactly how Ping Yin works and you're totally happy with that system, then it's probably just another loop to go through which will not necessarily help you.

Oh, and just because you know Zhu yin wont help you at all in Taiwan, even if you wanted to have anything to do with Taiwan, because they dont write Zhuyin around any cities or anything like that- it's either in Chinese or just Taiwanese style wierd English.. which is probably even worse than Zhuyin!! :D

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chrix

We should probably discuss zhuyin here: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/11360-how-useful-is-zhuyin-bopomofo-how-to-use-it

I like zhuyin a lot myself, BUT:

let's face it, in the realm of Chinese studies, hanyu pinyin reigns supreme. So there's nothing we can do about that. And for learners whose mother tongues already use the Latin script, having a transcription system that uses Latin script also is quite advantageous, because otherwise your text recognition would be seriously impeded for something that is supposed to aid your reading...

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renzhe

The most important distinction is that Pinyin is a romanization method as well as a phonetic transcription, and Zhuyin is a phonetic transcription only. If you can use/type Zhuyin, you can also type Chinese characters, and anybody who knows Zhuyin will likely read Chinese characters too, so there is a huge area where Pinyin (or a similar romanization method) is useful. Like writing your name on a German driving license.

As a purely learning tool for Chinese pronunciation, you might have a point, but then the most important thing is to be consistent and accurate -- and Pinyin is both.

I think that the confusion due to a few "misused" graphemes (q, j, z, etc) is an issue, but a very minor one. After all, English speaking people find it much easier to learn to read German or Spanish than Hindi or Arabic. It's only confusing for a couple of weeks, then you forget about it.

does this word mean "Chuan" as one single sound, or could it be "Chu'an" meaning that it's two seperate words?

This is quite simple. "Chuan" is one character, "Chu'an" are two. "Xian" is one character, "Xi'an" are two.

"Beat" is one word, "be at" are two :)

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Shi Tong

We will have to move this over to the Zhuyin thread, but while I'm here.. :)

Quote:

let's face it, in the realm of Chinese studies, hanyu pinyin reigns supreme. So there's nothing we can do about that.

I agree with this, after all, most people use Ping yin, which, actually is why it's "better" in some respects.

If everyone used Zhuyin and only Taiwan used Ping yin, I'm sure we'd all be praising Zhuyin because everyone is used to it.

Quote:

And for learners whose mother tongues already use the Latin script, having a transcription system that uses Latin script also is quite advantageous, because otherwise your text recognition would be seriously impeded for something that is supposed to aid your reading...

Which is exactly why I DONT like Ping yin- it leads you up the garden path with confusing usage such as C for Ci sounds or Zh and Zi for Zhi and Zi sounds- two different sounds with the same Roman character starting it.

With Zhuyin I am NEVER confused as to the pronunciation of a word, whereas, (though I'm now used to Ping yin as well), I think Ping yin is much more confusing.

Therefore I dont think Ping Yin aids your reading at all- it hinders it and makes you think some things are pronounced a certain way when they're not!

Quote:

The most important distinction is that Pinyin is a romanization method as well as a phonetic transcription, and Zhuyin is a phonetic transcription only.

Well, here's where we disagree, Pingyin, though it words as a transcription to Romanised characters, it doesn't work phonetically at all.

A phonetic transcription should mean that when you read the phoneme, you can pronounce the sound, and you cant- you can read Zi and Zhi all you want as a foreigner without any Chinese learning and you would never be able to pronounce it just from the script, so it's not really a phonetic transcription is it?

Zhuyin, granted is a phonetic transcription only, as in, if you looked at a Zhuyin character, you would never think you could pronounce it without teaching, but where do these methods differ as phonetic transcriptions if BOTH methods require prior teaching pronounce?

Like writing your name on a German driving license.

Yeah, but they do that in Taiwan anyway.. though granted their romanisation method is rubbish!

the most important thing is to be consistent and accurate -- and Pinyin is both.

I agree that pingyin is consistant and accurate, I have no argument with that, but it's complex and confusing as well.

Once you know the rules, granted, it's useful.

Does this also mean that you think that Zhuyin is NOT consistant or accurate, because, unless you know better than I do, Zhuyin is always consistant and accurate!

I think that the confusion due to a few "misused" graphemes (q, j, z, etc) is an issue, but a very minor one. After all, English speaking people find it much easier to learn to read German or Spanish than Hindi or Arabic. It's only confusing for a couple of weeks, then you forget about it.

I do agree that it's more of an issue for some than others, though I think it's pretty confusing really, coming from an outside perpective.. after all, why do we now teach phonics at school in England if the Roman alphabet (which is short a good 10 sounds), is so great?

This is quite simple. "Chuan" is one character, "Chu'an" are two. "Xian" is one character, "Xi'an" are two.

"Beat" is one word, "be at" are two

Yeah, I know that, (now) though I'm worried that someone else would not, and as a student, I always got confused with the Ping yin writings, so I used the Zhuyin instead.

I think what is really bad is when you get a really long word like "Shuang".. I remember there was a character in Three Kingdoms called "Cao Shuang", and I spent a long time trying to figure out if he was "Shu Ang" or "Shuang", and found out later he was indeed shuang.

Yep, simple rule, but I think that Ping yin is confusing.

I suppose what I really think is that people should be able to choose- Zhuyin is great for some people, Ping yin works for others! :)

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taylor04

After learning Chinese for three years, I first heard of zhu yin two weeks ago. I don't know why Taiwan likes to be such a rebel:mrgreen: They stick to traditional characters AND zhuyin...

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renzhe
Well, here's where we disagree, Pingyin, though it words as a transcription to Romanised characters, it doesn't work phonetically at all.

A phonetic transcription should mean that when you read the phoneme, you can pronounce the sound, and you cant- you can read Zi and Zhi all you want as a foreigner without any Chinese learning and you would never be able to pronounce it just from the script, so it's not really a phonetic transcription is it?

But this is true for all phonetically written languages -- every single one.

You can read c and ch in German, or co and ci in Spanish, and they are read differently.

Using more than one letter to represent one sound (like z and zh) is used by almost every phonetic script based on the Roman alphabet in existence.

"Phonetic" doesn't mean that you can read without learning anything -- this doesn't work with any language. It simply means that the sounds are represented in writing.

Therefore I dont think Ping Yin aids your reading at all- it hinders it and makes you think some things are pronounced a certain way when they're not!

Do you have the same problem when reading French or German? They also use the same letters to represent different sounds, and native English speakers also mispronounce them in the first weeks of starting to learn them. But as soon as they get used to the new convention, it's not a problem, like it's not a problem with pinyin IMHO.

Does this also mean that you think that Zhuyin is NOT consistant or accurate, because, unless you know better than I do, Zhuyin is always consistant and accurate!

Absolutely. Zhuyin is consistent and accurate. I have nothing against zhuyin. I only think that pinyin is more useful in this day because it has more uses.

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Shi Tong

After learning Chinese for three years, I first heard of zhu yin two weeks ago. I don't know why Taiwan likes to be such a rebel They stick to traditional characters AND zhuyin...

I dont think Taiwan invented Zhu yin to be rebellious, in fact, I dont know where it was invented. Why is sticking to traditional characters rebellious? I would have thought that Qin Shi Huang would have thought changing to simplified characters as more rebellious and put down the rebel Mao! :lol:

But this is true for all phonetically written languages -- every single one.

I agree and it's why I think the Roman alphabet doesn't work, I think it sucks in almost every language it's used! :wink:

Phonetic" doesn't mean that you can read without learning anything -- this doesn't work with any language. It simply means that the sounds are represented in writing.

So explain how it's different from Zhuyin? If it doesn't represent the sounds in the language, then how is it different?

Zhuyin also offers a reprensetation of the sounds which is more connected with the language you're learning, making it, IMHO, a better system.

Absolutely. Zhuyin is consistent and accurate. I have nothing against zhuyin. I only think that pinyin is more useful in this day because it has more uses.

I didn't say you said anything against it, I just thought you might be implying that Zhuyin wasn't consistant or accurate.

I dont see how pingyin has more uses??

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renzhe

Zhuyin was not invented in Taiwan, it is much older than the civil war. This is the way kids used to learn pronunciation before pinyin took over on the Mainland.

I agree and it's why I think the Roman alphabet doesn't work, I think it sucks in almost every language it's used!

Roman alphabet works perfectly -- for Latin. For almost all other languages, it had to be adapted to fit to the new language.

Also, there is the factor of languages evolving and the written language no longer perfectly reflects the spoken language. So things get pronounced differently than originally written.

This second part applies to all phonetic scripts. Many of them were perfect once upon a time, then the spoken language diverged.

So explain how it's different from Zhuyin? If it doesn't represent the sounds in the language, then how is it different?

It uses the Roman alphabet, which means it can be written using a typewriter, or using a computer, or spelled over the phone, or put into an English-language newspaper, or on a German driving license.

Plus, it is very close to how most people familiar with the Roman alphabet would pronounce things.

I dont see how pingyin has more uses??

Because it can be used for transliteration into the most widespread script in existence.

Even if you used Zhuyin for learning/transcribing, you would STILL need pinyin (or Wade-Giles or something similar) to write Mao Zedong into a French history textbook. Or a German driving license. Or a marriage certificate. Or write Beijing at a London Heathrow departure terminal. Or a million other times when you need to use the Roman alphabet.

So, if pinyin didn't exist, it would need to be invented.

And it's pinyin, not pingyin. 拼音

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Shi Tong

Yeah, of course it's useful to write when you're writing something in English or German, say for instance, but this doesn't mean that in Taiwan, when you write something using a Roman alphabet, there is no such transliterration- my wife's name has an English equivalent, it's just not in pin yin, as do all my other Taiwanese friends.

It doesn't make it more or less useful when you're trying to explain to someone how to pronounce someone's name though- Shi doesn't sound like Shi it sounds like "She", so it doesn't help a total stranger to the language. Zi doesn't sound like Zi.

So why isn't Zhu yin as useful as pin yin? It helps the total stranger to realise that there are NO equivalents in the Roman alphabet instead of making them or tricking them into thinking that there is some kind of equivalent.

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Don_Horhe

Yes, pinyin is just a convention, and it's something all learners are (or, at least, should be) told. Everyone that has studied Chinese for more than 2 minutes knows that qing is not pronounced 'kwing', or with whatever sound 'q', if at all present in the alphabet, might stand for in their native tongue.

The drawings we call 'writing' have no natural connection to the sounds that come out of our mouths and it's a matter of tacit agreement that, for example, 'p' in the Roman alphabet represents the sound /p/. The arbitrariness of this manifests itself in the fact that the absolute same 'drawing' stands for the sound /r/ in the Cyrillic alphabet.

So when deciding upon what the convention will be, why not just go ahead and use the one which will be most intuitive, as is the case with the Roman alphabet? It makes life easier for everybody.

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renzhe

Sorry, but the total chaos that marks Taiwanese romanisation schemes is the best argument FOR a standardised romanisation such as Hanyu Pinyin. Because there is nothing more confusing than writing the same thing (city names, family names, etc.) in 50 different incompatible ways.

There is a famous Taiwanese singer whose name is romanised as Chen Chi Chen. Each "ch" stands for a completely different sound. This is ridiculous and not helpful to anyone.

Why have a totally random transliteration when you can have a standardised one?

So why isn't Zhu yin as useful as pin yin?

Because you can't write ㄒㄧㄠㄇㄚ on a UK immigration card but you can write xiaoma.

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imron
Shi doesn't sound like Shi it sounds like "She"
It sounds like shi to me because I spend the few minutes required to learn that in pinyin, shi is pronounced shi.

Just like for example, if I have a Spanish friend called José, I don't call him "Joes", I call him "Hosay" because I know that in Spanish different sounds are associated with different letters.

It doesn't make it more or less useful when you're trying to explain to someone how to pronounce someone's name though

No romanisation will, because no matter what you say or write, for 90% of names, a non-Chinese speaker is going to mangle the pronunciation anyway.

And, incidentally, it's pinyin rather than pin yin. Pinyin works on words, not syllables.

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Shi Tong

There's no such thing as a Chinese syllable- another reason that I personally find pin yin a pain in the arse.

Erm.... why cant we agree here?

Pin yin to me, doesn't work very well.

Of course, pin yin is useful for people when they have to Romanise their names or street names for foreigners, but I dont see English or American people pandering to the Chinese language by writing some kind of make shift "phonetic" version of English for them, do you?

For me, and a LOT of other Mandarin learners, Zhu yin gives the learner something which I think Pin yin does not- that is a seperation and clarity between a Roman character based system and language, like English or German etc, and Chinese.

I wouldn't suggest that shorthand is the best system for writing because it's faster than typing full characters on a keyboard, therefore we should move completely to shorthand, but shorthand as a system works perfectly for representing each sound that a learner needs, meaning that they can always write in shorthand and be able to type it down aferwards for everyone else.

Why not simply teach each Chinese learner Zhu yin if they want to learn it, since it's very clear for many a user? I remember in my Chinese text book, (shi ting hua yu), it had both Zhu yin and Pin yin, both of which I ended up learning, but one system I personally didn't like.

Just because YOU are used to using pin yin, and know that bei3 jing1 is two words, doesn't mean that someone else reading beijing will know automatically that it's actually two words, or how to pronounce it.

I'm not suggesting that learners of pin yin automatically find it harder to use than zhu yin, I'm suggesting that zhu yin is an equally good system with it's over merits, some of which I think are better than pin yin.

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renzhe

I'll reiterate -- there is nothing wrong with Zhuyin.

And you're quite mistaken. The vast majority of people learning Chinese use pinyin. I've never met a person who wasn't from Taiwan who knew how to use it. I've never met a Mainland Chinese who knew how to use it either.

Where did you meet all these learners who preferred Zhuyin?

Of course, pin yin is useful for people when they have to Romanise their names or street names for foreigners, but I dont see English or American people pandering to the Chinese language by writing some kind of make shift "phonetic" version of English for them, do you?

Pinyin was designed for Chinese people, not Americans or Englishmen.

There's no such thing as a Chinese syllable

That's just wrong. A syllable is a basic building block of the Chinese language.

Just because YOU are used to using pin yin, and know that bei3 jing1 is two words,

No, it's one word.

Why not simply teach each Chinese learner Zhu yin if they want to learn it

No reason why not! As long as they do want to learn it -- and most learners do not, as it doesn't do anything that pinyin doesn't.

If you find pinyin confusing because it reminds you of English, you can learn Zhuyin and use that instead. In fact, if it makes learning easier for you, you should do it.

But you will still need to learn pinyin because that's what the rest of the world uses to romanise Mandarin (including the UN).

So, those of us who don't find pinyin confusing have no need to learn Zhuyin.

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jbradfor
Just because YOU are used to using pin yin, and know that bei3 jing1 is two words, doesn't mean that someone else reading beijing will know automatically that it's actually two words, or how to pronounce it.

As opposed to someone reading ㄅㄟ ㄐㄧㄥ, who will have absolutely NO idea how to pronounce it. To the average English (or French or German) speaker, upon seeing Beijing for the first time, will pronounce it much closer to the correct pronunciation than upon seeing ㄅㄟ ㄐㄧㄥ for the first time.

It's true that to correctly pronounce Chinese, you can't treat pinyin as if it were pronounced the same as in your native language. But that's true for any language, and why it's called "Romanization", not "Transliteration".

Shi Tong, you may have had a valid point some 20 posts back, but at this point your unrelenting "pinyin always bad, zhuyin always good" stance is not holding up well.

So, those of us who don't find pinyin confusing have no need to learn Zhuyin.

Or even those of us that find some parts of pinyin confusing find our time better spent getting unconfused rather than learning zhuyin.

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chrix

I'm not sure what you mean by "there is no such thing as a Chinese syllable"....

I like Zhuyin myself, but I don't think it can replace pinyin, for a variety of reasons. Also, don't underestimate that you can process anything written in your native script far more quickly than any other script, including Zhuyin...

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Shi Tong

I think I'm going to faint if anyone actually thinks that I suggest using Zhuyin instead of Pinyin when presented to a non learner of Chinese.

Anyone reading Beijing or Taipei will at least have an idea of pronunciation, and beijing is a better translitteration (in this case), in Romanisation than Taipei.

That said, Cao Cao looks much better in Wade Giles as T'sao T'sao.

I do understand that Pinyin is not a translitteration tool where anyone from anywhere can read it and pronounce it correctly, I'm not insane, but my point is only connected for people who are learning Chinese as a serious exercise, not for someone reading your name on a passport.

That's just wrong. A syllable is a basic building block of the Chinese language.

Well, there's Zi and Ci, Zi is a single character and Ci are characters which are put together to make another meaning word, as you well know- so, Bei (north), and Jing (capital), are two seperate words, but everyone knows that Beijing is a city, the capital of China.

It's presented in the Chinese language as two seperate words, they're not drawn together as a single word with a joined up bit, so, I personally know it's a Ci, but I also know it's two seperated Zi to mean one thing.

A better example is probably something like Dian Shi, where "electric vision" doesn't necessarily mean that you would assume this means TV. However, they are still written as two seperate words.

No, it's one word.

No, it's one Ci because it's two words which mean one thing.

No reason why not! As long as they do want to learn it -- and most learners do not, as it doesn't do anything that pinyin doesn't.

No, they dont "not want" to learn Zhuyin, they just dont know about it because it's the Taiwanese system, which is drowned by pinyin. Fair enough, most people use pinyin and dont have a problem with it, but some people might benefit from Zhuyin where they never heard of it before.

And you're quite mistaken. The vast majority of people learning Chinese use pinyin. I've never met a person who wasn't from Taiwan who knew how to use it. I've never met a Mainland Chinese who knew how to use it either.

No, I'm not mistaken, I'm not even suggesting that MORE people use Zhuyin, not at all, I know for a fact that more people use Pinyin. That said, lots more people use PC's rather than Apple Macs, but that doesn't mean to say that the PC is better because there are more of them.

The reason that Pinyin is used more is because the Chinese use it.

As opposed to someone reading ㄅㄟ ㄐㄧㄥ, who will have absolutely NO idea how to pronounce it. To the average English (or French or German) speaker, upon seeing Beijing for the first time, will pronounce it much closer to the correct pronunciation than upon seeing ㄅㄟ ㄐㄧㄥ for the first time.

Did I ever say that someone reading Zhuyin would have any idea how to pronounce it if they'd never learned it?

Shi Tong, you may have had a valid point some 20 posts back, but at this point your unrelenting "pinyin always bad, zhuyin always good" stance is not holding up well.

This is also nonesense.

Pinyin is just as good as zhuyin in terms that, if you learn it completely, you cant make a mistake. However, I think that as soon as you get to double barreled letters to describe sounds, I find it confusing, like ou and uo- these can be easily mistyped, misread and then mispronounced.

My point is that some people might benefit from Zhuyin if they find pinyin confusing, which I did. I learned Zhuyin in about 3 days and was totally fluent in it, and Chinese pronunciation within about a month at most. I still find myself re-reading pinyin words sometimes, even though I have been reading it for ages.

I never said that pinyin is always bad and Zhuyin is always good- my point is that Zhuyin is never wrong, and pinyin can be confusing because it creates huge long words.

Just because you dont find it confusing, doesn't mean that some people dont, also, just because you find pinyin easier (or, because you started with it, you're more used to it and prefer it to learning something new), doesn't mean to say that other people do.

I like Zhuyin myself, but I don't think it can replace pinyin, for a variety of reasons. Also, don't underestimate that you can process anything written in your native script far more quickly than any other script, including Zhuyin...

I dont think it can replace pinyin, and I dont think it should, in terms that when people need to present their name in writing somewhere, pinyin is better than zhuyin because anyone can read it as Roman characters.

Of course you can read quicker in your own language, and I dont think that reading Zhuyin is particularly fast, but I do think it's faultless, and easier for ME.

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chrix
Well, there's Zi and Ci, Zi is a single character and Ci are characters which are put together to make another meaning word, as you well know- so, Bei (north), and Jing (capital), are two seperate words, but everyone knows that Beijing is a city, the capital of China.

It's presented in the Chinese language as two seperate words, they're not drawn together as a single word with a joined up bit, so, I personally know it's a Ci, but I also know it's two seperated Zi to mean one thing.

A better example is probably something like Dian Shi, where "electric vision" doesn't necessarily mean that you would assume this means TV. However, they are still written as two seperate words.

I'm sorry but this is just nonsense. Questions of orthography are not relevant to whether a given combination of characters is a word or not. From a linguistic p.o.v., Beijing and dianshi are words, as they fulfill several tests for wordhood...

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