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Searching for "Read Real Chinese"


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Yesterday I picked up a copy of Read Real Japanese (ISBN: 4770030584). This reader is the best intermediate reader I've seen for any language. I am just dying for a "Read Real Chinese" to be published. Does anyone know of something like this?

To clarify, Read Real Japanese has the following:

1) Six real Japanese short stories. These are modern, serious, adult-intended works.

2) Furigana for each kanji the first time that reading appears.

3) A sentence-by sentence English translation on the facing page.

4) A notes section in the back of the book with detailed grammatical and cultural notes for the non-obvious sentences.

5) A dictionary covering exactly those senses of the words used in the six stories. (i.e., no extraneous information)

6) An audio CD containing all the stories recorded at native speed by a professional actress.

Over four years ago, there was a discussion here in which Atitarev lamented the non-existance of such readers. But what about today? Does anyone know of such a reader?



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I've been looking for something like this as well. I have Read Real Japanese, and even though I just started Chinese, I'm already searching for such books. It turns out TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling--I just learned this term) books are what you're looking for.

Since I just started Chinese, I just ordered Anna Mei Banfa, but that may be a little too easy for.

I also discovered Capturing Chinese, which may be more your speed. They are also available on Amazon if you're in the US.

Lastly, Parallel Texts Short Stories in Chinese will be released in late May, but it looks like it can be good.

I hope you find some of that useful.

If anyone can think of any other books like Read Real Japanese (for Chinese), I'd like to know as well!

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Hey, thanks for suggesting Capturing Chinese (CC). These readers look very helpful. From what I see of the free sample, this is (almost) exactly what I am looking for!

There are just a few things that I would have different in Capturing Chinese:

Firstly, the paragraph-by-paragraph pinyin is distracting. This is worlds better than character-by-character or line-by-line, but it still bugs me. I would rather have pinyin for only those items which are in the footnotes. In the preface, Nadolny argues that the full pinyin facilitates using a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words that he has not footnoted. However, if you use an electronic dictionary that has handwriting or OCR input, the full paragraph pinyin is obsolete. (Now, if you were to take a DeFrancis position here, arguing for a transition away from characters to pinyin-only writing, then I say at least put the pinyin on the facing page so as not to interrupt the flow of the text.)

Secondly, so far as I can tell, CC gives only word- and chengyu- level glosses. I am not looking for a full English translation, but it would be very helpful to have English glosses for sentences that use more advanced grammatical patterns or litterary senses of words (cf. sentence-based theories of language learning). If you contrast with Read Real Japanese (RRJ), you will lament the lack of insightful grammatical and stylistic explanations that Emmerich provides in RRJ.

Lastly, and most importantly, the superscripted numbers indicating footnotes (indexes) interfere with chunking and destroy the fluency of the text. I would prefer to have the footnotes as is, but without the indexes. That way, you are encouraged to try to understand the text rather than being interrupted by an index saying "hey, you probably don't understand this word". Furthermore, it would actually be easier to find the unknown word in the footnotes without the indexes. This is because when you search by index, your brain must switch over to roman numeral recognition mode, find the corresponding index in the footnotes, and then read the corresponding characters. When you search for the word by hanzi, you never leave the hanzi-recognition mode. And, he sorts the footnotes by order of appearence in the page anyway.

One thing I love is the audio feature. The somewhat lower quality of the recordings is made up for by recordings by both a male and a female reader!


This gets me thinking... maybe I could (1) apply the full-page OCR of Pleco to some real Chinese books of mine, then (2) run the OCR'd text into a custom annotation and LaTeX-generating program that implements the type of annotation I am looking for. (Of course, these books are copyrighted work, and I would only be able to share the software, not the content.) The main challenge here is that not everything can be automated: Although dictionaries can be used for word-segmentation and pinyin-lookup, this is imperfect and requires manual intervention to fix the mistakes. Moreover, word-sense disambiguation is hard enough in English, and I think it would be a nightmare in Chinese.

This last issue of choosing the most helpful English gloss could be overcome automatically by taking a parallel english translation (or original if the Chinese is actually a translation), doing word-alignment, and extracting the corresponding English phrase for the footnoted Chinese. Now, at this point, one might ask "why not just put the English translation on the facing page." This is a possibility, although it would be distracting and a bit of a waste of space if the reader already comprehends most of the structure anyways.

Thanks again suggesting CC!


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I'm glad you found the information useful. I believe the author is a member on this forum and is always taking suggestions. Looks like his user name is "knadolny". Check out this comment he made to his first book on Amazon. The pinyin follows the text in the first book, but it looks like he's moved the pinyin to the end of the chapters for his following books. I think I could also do without the superscripted numbers. And, I agree, a translation would be great. You should try messaging him about those things.

Yeah, I've looked into creating my own parallel texts via an automated process, but you're right. It would require too much manual intervention.

I've only just started Chinese, so maybe when I'm more advanced, I'll try something like that.

Be sure to post back here if you find out anything else.

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