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

Knee Howdy: Challenge Chinese Vocabulary to a Duel and Bury it 'Six Feet Under' inside your Brain!


webmagnets
 Share

Recommended Posts

Gharial, I can't speak for others but when I used mnemonics I accelerated super-fast and never felt that they took any more time; as for space (you mean in the brain?) I think it's been said several times elsewhere that after a while you forget the mnemonic and just remember the word/character itself.

Oh, I don't doubt that mnemonics can be a boon*, Realmayo, but only when they're consistent (as in the Matthewses' book), right? As for space, I meant in a book LOL.

*That being said, I don't recall it being too slow or my having too many problems learning appreciably more characters, sentences and sentence patterns, grammar etc in "rote" materials than appear for example in Chapter 1 of Knee Howdy.

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.

As a first language speaker of French and a reasonably competent speaker of Chinese, I am baffled by this.

Character: 我

Pinyin: wǒ

Sounds like: moi? (french)

They sound nowhere near alike.

But I'm delighted that you responded to my comment on receiving your spam, by sending me even more.

( BTW. Names of languages are usually initially capitalised.)

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although my French is atrocious, I agree with Liuzhou. The -oi of moi sounds to me more like the Mandarin final -ua (or the stand-alone syllable wa) than wo/-uo. So, "close" (and perhaps even "close enough", for those who really "like" and "need" these 'sounds-like' mnemonics), but no cigar. Anyway, here are some links with audio of English speakers pronouncing 'moi':

http://www.macmillan...on/american/moi

http://www.macmillan...ion/british/moi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They sound nowhere near alike.

Cheers for pointing this out. It was bothering me but my French is practically non-existent so I assumed it was my mistake. In any case, using another foreign language for "sounds like" is an obviously bad idea, even when the comparison is accurate. On a similar note, even using English for "sounds like" comparisons is risky because of how divergent pronunciation is between native populations.

As for mnemonics, I've learned words by rote and using mnemonics, and found that mnemonics offer a small but appreciable improvement in the initial recall of a word. I wouldn't argue that the book has no value in that respect. That said, looking at the contents page of this book, I can't imagine it has more than a few hundred words, which would take only a few hours to memorise, mnemonics or not. Additionally, there are already free mnemonic resources on the web covering 1000s of words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

In my experience a sound mnemonic does not need to imitate the correct pronunciation well. It is enough that it helps to recall the Pinyin syllable.

I started out learning Chinese characters with the Matthews book which I finished after exactly 80 days. It was very strenuous but it worked very well. For the character 确 (que4) e.g., I used the following (somewhat strange) phrase: "Why do you question if I am certain that there is a stone at the corner, dwarf!" (With a menacing voice.) ( Matthews actually used a different phrase.)

stone, corner --> character components

certain --> meaning of the character

dwarf --> 4th tone

question --> reminder that the Pinyin is que4

It is (IMHO but of course not only IMHO) absolutely mandatory that one properly learns Pinyin separately. I used NPCR 1 and web resources for that. I also use Plecodict flashcards for drilling characters and words and every time I encounter the que4 card (or any card), I listen both to the male and female pronunciation. After a while one automatically associates the written Pinyin with the correct pronunciation. Therefore the sound word "question" just helps to recall that the Pinyin is que4, but is not necessary that it imitates the pronunciation. Pinyin syllables rarely have a really good Western language word equivalent anyway. Any beginner book MUST stress hat the student should learn the pronuncation of new characters or words using sound files or with a teacher. It is impossible to learn the pronunciation by using sound words or the written Pinyin. (This is obvious and mentioned often in the forum.)

Once one is familiar with the character 确, the mnemonic is no longer needed. Also, after finishing the Matthews book I only occasionly used mnemonics when learning new characters. I then knew Pinyin, many character components, their stroke order and their pronunciation. Therefore learning characters became more easy anyway. Mnemonics are particularly helpful as a crutch in the beginning when one is simply overwhelmed by neither knowing the meaning of character components nor their stroke order nor their pronunciation. The Matthews book is great in systematically introducing first the character components and only then the full character and teaching pronuncation hints at the same time. (Use plecodict or an online resource to listen to the correct pronuncation.)

If "moi" happens to help to recall "wo3", it is an acceptable sound word IMHO, as long one learns to correctly pronounce wo3 at the same time. In this case "L'Europe c'est moi" - oops I meant to write "L'etat c'est moi" may be a helpful phrase. ;-) The Matthews book uses the sound word "woke" like in woke up.

The present text may help if someone wants to learn a limited vocabulary with mnemonics. It is good that sound for all words is available at KneeHowdy.com. I would change the sentence from "In case you are not sure how to pronounce a word .. visit KneeHowdy.com." to "It is imperative that you listen to every word on KneeHowdy.com". It may be helpful to also mention free online dictionaries with sound and other free resources helpful for learners.

Cheers

hackinger

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps you could also do some for Chinese people to learn English eg 爱阿么吃爱你子 (that's how you might teach them to say 'I am Chinese') or 好二鱼 (how are you?)

I've done that in my more quick n dirty ELT moments, thechamp. It was great - I felt like a collaborator in that plot that DeFrancis unearthed called "The Singlish Affair". :D:lol:

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about this some more, and I do like your approach. It was just the "sounds like" term that was bugging me. If you change "sounds like" to "mnemonic" or "memory aid" (as well as stressing that the mnemonic/memory aid should NOT be used as a pronunciation helper), then I would not have gone off on my long tirade about accurate pronunciation :lol:

PS. I just learned the word for "siji" by reading the sidebar in your website and I do like the method.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had just had lunch with an old friend. She is Chinese and graduated from 北大 as a French major. She then spent several years in France. Her French is near faultless and her English damn good.

In passing I mentioned the supposed similarity of the pronunciation of the Chinese 我 and the French 'moi' as mentioned here. She thought the very suggestion as ridiculous as I do.

Then she looked pensive for a few minutes before announcing:

"Shakespeare. Olivia!

Woe is me!*"

That is a mnemonic.

*Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1

P.S. She did go on to say that anyone who needs a mnemonic for such a basic word, should perhaps try studying something else. And pointed out my mantra - language isn't just remembering words - it's putting them together.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although my French is atrocious, I agree with Liuzhou. The -oi of moi sounds to me more like the Mandarin final -ua (or the stand-alone syllable wa) than wo/-uo.

As a native FR speaker I can confirm this. Case in point, the new president's name is: 弗朗索瓦·奥朗德. 瓦 wa3 is the exact equivalent of "oi" in François.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My goal is to show the beginning Chinese learner that it is possible to come up with a mnemonic for any word. I don't know which words will be difficult to remember for a given person. I suppose it will be different for everyone. Sometimes a new word sticks instantly and sometimes it is difficult to remember.

If a word is easy for you to remember then it would be kind of stupid to make a mnemonic for it. But if you are having difficulty remembering a word, it would be unwise to not try to use some sort of mnemonic device.

If you don't like mnemonic devices, then don't buy the book. But there are many people out there who are scared of learning Chinese and just need a jump start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My goal is to show the beginning Chinese learner that it is possible to come up with a mnemonic for any word.

1. I doubt that many learners wouldn't know that. However:

2.

I suppose it will be different for everyone.

Good morning! Welcome to the real world. You might have thought about that before you wrote your "book". Mnemonics are generally individual creations which work for that person alone. I would no more buy a book of someone else's mnemonics than I would buy a book of nicknames for my friends.

3. Their usefulness is highly debatable beyond the first few lessons.

4. Language is not just vocabulary.

5. The use of "sounds like" is nothing to do with mnemonics, but to do with pronunciation and your examples are often wide of the mark.

6. If I were a learner, I would prefer to read a text book written by someone who knows the both the source and target languages and the basics of current language teaching methodology. You seem to struggle in all three.

7. If your book is for English learners of Chinese, why are you using French examples for the pronunciation? Especially when you clearly don't know French either.

8. Never, ever send spam. Ever.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8. I really don't know what you are talking about regarding spam. If sending a direct message to one person is spam then I must be guilty.

5. It is important that any mnemonic that teaches pronunciation (as opposed to how to write a character) have an sound element or at least a spelling element, otherwise it wouldn't be teaching you how to say the word.

7. Most English speakers have heard someone say "moi" in English. Here is an example from youtube:

2. Not everyone is as creative as you are. I am glad that you don't need much help learning vocabulary.

6. If one knows the basics very well, then he is qualified to teach the basics. I shouldn't be teaching intermediate or advanced users to speak Chinese. But I can teach them to come up with mnemonics, since this is a skill all its own.

Thank you for all of your kind advice. I know that there are better things that you could be doing with your time and I really appreciate all the attention you have given me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a friendly forum. As we say in German "Hart aber herzlich" (hard but affectionate).

However getting some strong criticism early on is better than being strongly disappointed later.

Cheers

hackinger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

However getting some strong criticism early on is better than being strongly disappointed later.

That is very true. And that is why I am trying to learn from even the rude sounding comments, though it hurts sometimes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see you have a really organised mind. To put your points back into order.

2. Not everyone is as creative as you are. I am glad that you don't need much help learning vocabulary.

How patronising can you get? I suspect most learners are just as creative.

5. It is important that any mnemonic that teaches pronunciation (as opposed to how to write a character) have an sound element or at least a spelling element, otherwise it wouldn't be teaching you how to say the word.

Agreed. But the pronunciation guide should be somewhere close to accurate or it is worthless.

6. If one knows the basics very well, then he is qualified to teach the basics. I shouldn't be teaching intermediate or advanced users to speak Chinese. But I can teach them to come up with mnemonics, since this is a skill all its own.

I totally disagree - but anyway, it seems you don't know the basics going by your examples. Anyone who thinks that 我 sounds like the French word 'moi' clearly hasn't a clue.

7. Most English speakers have heard someone say "moi" in English.

You are taking the piss now. The frigging Muppets is your style guide to French and/or Chinese?

8. I am really don't know what you are talking about regarding spam. If sending a direct message to one person is spam then I must be guilty.

Oh really? You admitted in your unsolicited DM that you had been experimenting with sending out spam, partly through YouTube and Twitter. I received several emails about this before you ever posted it here. Please be honest. It is more polite.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it's not often an interesting discussion aka opportunity for a feeding frenzy comes along (and mnemonics certainly provide quite meaty morsels), so please excuse us if we aren't as willing to bow out quite yet, Webmagnets! Just bring a shark suit, hell, a shark cage too, the next time you post anything in the way of attachments (sense 1: Files. 2: Things you have grown very fond of). I've posted stuff myself a few times, with reactions ranging from very positive (re. my 'Guide to Simplified Radicals') to decidedly mixed/"hostile" (my 'Dictionary look-up skills: a crash course!'). Tough crowd sometimes! That you can heed or ignore as you like.

My definition of spam would contain the word 'unsolicited' LOL. I just know I personally am quite circumspect about contacting people, even after I've had some actual interaction with them on these very forums.

P.S. She did go on to say that anyone who needs a mnemonic for such a basic word, should perhaps try studying something else.

Totally agree with what Liuzhou's said there. (In fact, that could pretty much substitute for almost my entire post on the first page!).

My goal is to show the beginning Chinese learner that it is possible to come up with a mnemonic for any word. I don't know which words will be difficult to remember for a given person. I suppose it will be different for everyone. Sometimes a new word sticks instantly and sometimes it is difficult to remember.

The problem though with the blanket coverage, Webmagnets, with providing mnemonics for every word, is that it can start to slow things down too much (as the student has to wade not only through the Chinese, but also, or should I say rather, your possibly quite extraneous explanations of it), and it could even give the impression that learning without mnemonics is impossible ("This is such a hard language!").

Generally, I'd save the mnemonics for the time when one is commencing studying hanzi in earnest, and limit them before that to only the occasional "keyword" technique (just so students realize such techniques exist and can be used, IFF necessary).

5. The use of "sounds like" is nothing to do with mnemonics, but to do with pronunciation and your examples are often wide of the mark.

But surely it's better if two birds can be killed with one stone, regardless of whether this quite matches your and/or a strict definition of mnemonics, Liuzhou? (I've not looked such a definition up...yet! :P ). The main difficulty is that it is actually very hard to think up such "killer" examples (that will differ in nature if not format from the more one-bird-one-stone type), and they usually need a bit of (arguably permissible) fudging with the pronunciation to make them "fit". I'd have to agree however that the Muppets aren't exactly the best guide to pronunciation to be had (something like those Macmillan dictionary links I provided are more the thing, I imagine). Lastly, regarding a few other points you made, namely

Mnemonics are generally individual creations which work for that person alone. I would no more buy a book of someone else's mnemonics than I would buy a book of nicknames for my friends.

3. Their usefulness is highly debatable beyond the first few lessons.

I'd say it isn't always easy to come up with stuff of your own (that, or it's just interesting to see what others have come up with!), and again that mnemonics probably only pay the greatest dividends when memorizing (lots of) hanzi, particularly their tones.

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...