Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Reading Yu Hua's "To Live"


daofeishi
 Share

Recommended Posts

Although this is rather above my level, I picked up a copy last week at the library. This is my new bedside table book, so I am not looking up any words: I understand just enough to roughly follow the story... (well I did look up 爹 and 娘 but that's it).

This is not a book that I would choose to read in a language that I am fluent in... even in Chinese, simpler sentences like 这么好的女人,我又打又踢 tend to get stuck in my head. Young 福贵 is a nasty piece of work. The wife preventing her daughter from getting on the vehicle because her father said sowas also pretty awful :(

I am not sure I will finish the book, but I too wanted to mention that it is rather on the easy side, and (in my case, despite the drama) it is a rather enjoyable read even if you (...probably because I) don't understand every detail.

Thanks for starting the thread :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

This is not a book that I would choose to read in a language that I am fluent in

Not sure if the reason is because of this

Young 福贵 is a nasty piece of work.

but I think the thing to realise is that the older 福贵 recognises that too, and when you hear him talking about this, it carries the tone of how stupid he was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I passed by a bookstore full of books published in Taiwan and saw my first 繁體字 books! Anyway I bought a very nice version of 活著 published by 麥田出版 and have started reading it but it is written vertically which is giving me a very bad headache. Don't know how 古代 people could read things like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@imron: it's more about drama in general. But yes, even though I don't understand all the details and nuances, I did notice that the general tone is remorse.

@rezaf: I remember someone mentionning that reading their first textbook in simplified characters was headache-inducing, but the next one was easier... perhaps you'll get used to it really quickly :mrgreen:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my new bedside table book, so I am not looking up any words: I understand just enough to roughly follow the story... (well I did look up 爹 and 娘 but that's it).

If you had to look up 爹 and 娘, I suspect there are probably a lot of other characters/words you should be looking up as well. Have you tried reading this online with the help of Perapera-kun or some other dictionary software? The reason I mention this it is avoid incorrectly guessing the meaning or pronunciation of a character / word / phrase and having that be learned into memory. I know for me, I tend to unconsciously guess the meaning or pronunciation (if a character looks similar to another character) of characters / words I don't know. Doing this for the whole length of the book without realizing the correct meaning / pronunciation is probably not a good idea in my opinion. Just my 2 cents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice.

Currently I do not intend to use a pop-up dictionary, reading (aloud every character) on the computer feels too much like hard work - since my life is a bit err complicated right now, I don't want to crash this night-time reading habit by making it too much of a chore.

(I have read using a pop-up dictionary before, and I intend to do that again at a later date, just not right now.)

Yes, there are many characters that I don't know, and somehow I've fallen into a strange reading method - if a sentence contains too many unknown characters I only skim it for known characters and words to get a hint about its theme, but if it contains enough known characters then I take the time to subvocalize and try to understand the sentence... (actually, is this what xuefang is supposed to do in the yuedu class??)

(and I knew that 爹 was a family term, and that 娘 is the same as in guniang, but they came up often enough in easier sentences that it made sense to check their exact meaning and pronunciation...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(actually, is this what xuefang is supposed to do in the yuedu class??)

Right, I think everyone does this to some extent and it's an important skill to be able extract the meaning from a sentence / passage without knowing all the words. I do this all the time when I'm searching for stuff in Chinese and reading through the Chinese search results. In that yuedu class link, you'll notice that imron suggested looking up the unknown words afterwards. I actually don't think it's that critical to look up all the words you don't know if you are just practicing this skill and doing this with random text. However in the context of "To Live", I see a lot of high frequency words that I don't know and I just want to avoid having incorrect guesses ingrained in my long term memory if I can help it. That's just been my experience.

But, I have to say, if I had to choose between not reading at all vs. reading but potentially learning some "incorrect guesses", I'd choose the latter. I think it's more important to read what you know and get more exposure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and have started reading it but it is written vertically which is giving me a very bad headache.

The last book I read was also written vertically, and I found at the beginning it was a real struggle to be able to flick my eyes back up to the start of the next line like I would do if reading horizontally. When I finished reading a line, I would look across to the next line and then follow that all the way back up to the top in order to get to the correct place. It got better towards the end of the book, but it was still nowhere near as comfortable as I would have liked it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also had headaches when I first tried to read books printed horizontally in simplified Chinese. So you see one can really get headaches because of these things.
</div>

I don't have any difficulty reading 繁體字 because I write it everyday but the vertical writing is very hard to read. As imron mentioned it's difficult to find the next line. The only solution that I can think of is to put my finger on top of the line I'm reading so that I can find the next one more easily.

Are books still written vertically in Hong Kong?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

all right, I got to the point where

they are boiling rubber shoes (!? or something) for food,

and the language seems globally harder than in the first part, I am barely following the story beyond the fact that

Laoquan tried to escape several times and was caught by another company each time, and the situation is so scary that they are beyond fear.

Guess I have to use either a computer or a paper dictionary now...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't think there's any need for spoiler tags to discuss this point so:

they are boiling rubber shoes (!? or something) for food,

Relevants quotes with page numbers from my book are:

煮米饭的柴越来越少,米倒是越来越多

So, they have plenty of rice, but they have no wood to cook it with. Then

过了一会,我们看到春生怀里抱着一堆胶鞋猎着腰跑来了,这孩子高兴得满脸通红,他一翻身滚了进来,指着满地的胶鞋问我们:

“多不多?”

老全望望我,问春生:

“这能吃吗?”

春生说:“可以煮米饭啊。”

So 春生 comes back with a load of rubber boots and when 老全 asks him if they can eat boots, he replies, "we can use them to cook rice". From that point, rather than trying to fight for the others to get 饼, these three go out to get rubber boots to use as fuel for the fire with which they can cook rice.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

new questions:

when they give away 凤霞, is money involved? edit: I mean I understand they want to send the boy to school, but do they receive some money from the family they send 凤霞 to, or is it just to save money by having one mouth less to feed?

and, are some of you still reading or have you all finished the book already :mrgreen:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

when they give away 凤霞, is money involved? edit: I mean I understand they want to send the boy to school, but do they receive some money from the family they send 凤霞 to, or is it just to save money by having one mouth less to feed?

From what I've read, it seems like the latter. They just wanted to give her away so that they could save money for 有庆 to go to school. Here's the sentence from the book:

我就和家珍商量是不是把凤霞送给别人算了,好省下些钱供有庆念书

Also, that part about giving her away was just really sad; definitely the saddest part for me so far up to that point (since I haven't finished yet).

I've slowed down a bit on my reading but I'm glad this thread is around to give us all encouragement to continue on!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

are some of you still reading or have you all finished the book already icon_mrgreen.gif

Actually I dropped out. Have been struggling and rereading a lot. The level is just to high for me to such an extent that I noticed it was effecting the amount I was reading. This week I received the reading material I had ordered so I'm going to give priority to that.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...