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A Compendium of the Usage of Complex Chinese Words - Review


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I've figured out why the explanatory notes are in both languages: the Chinese is for teachers. This would be a good book for someone teaching Chinese, just as Swan's Practical English Usage is invaluable for native English speakers teaching English. We know when to use 'say' and when to use 'tell', but we don't know how to explain it to our students who keep saying "Please say me how you tell 'machine for making holes in wood' in English".


Each of these 101 entries could be the basis of a lesson, or part of one, complete with exercises. So that's one market for the book, the other is the student at the beginner-intermediate level or higher, who may or may not want to wade through technical linguistic Chinese to get to the answer to his question. A glossary of technical terms in the front of the book, for things like 'adverbial', 'predicate', etc. would have been helpful.


Also, for some reason, the example sentences within the explanatory notes are not glossed the same way as the exercises and common mistake sentences.


From what I've read, I would say that the explanations are neither too long nor too short, and while sometimes you have to read them again carefully, they are quite accurate and useful. There is some basic stuff in here, like an entry on the differences between 不 and  没 that you'd think would be sorted out already, but there's also stuff that's new to me. I may be untypical, but I've got quite far without realising that there are two different bìxū's that mean almost the same thing but are different parts of speech. I will enjoy reading through this book from end to end, but then also keeping it around as a reference. It's a sort of hybrid between a synonym dictionary and a supplementary grammar book.

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