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david387

Poor grammar and people's response to it

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david387

I don't know how others feel. I study a lot, but I still make lots of mistakes in my grammar and word usage. Sometimes people will give me some very helpful suggestions on ways I can improve. ButI believe I should not worry about whether or not someone likes the fact that I am using Chinese in a way that's a little bit broken. Obviously it is important that I have a learning process that involves Improvement, not just repeating mistakes over and over again. But I think maybe more the problem can be sometimes that a person feels uncomfortable using broken Chinese, and that is maybe more detrimental.

 

So I look forward to participating in these forums, and definitely my mistakes will spring forth! I'll see if I can relate some of this in Chinese without using a dictionary, just trying to express this idea now.

 

我不知道如何别人感觉,我学习很多,但是我的语法还有很多错误。有时有人发给我回复推荐什么办法我可以使用,让我提高我的中文一点。但是我认为我不应该担心是否别人喜欢不喜欢我的中文,因为我写得不清楚,不表征。当然我的学习的过程应该让我提高我的汉语水平,不应该就重复一样的错误。但是我觉得有时有人不舒服写中文,因为他们担心别人的意思,我觉得这样更不好。

 

so I think you will be able to see that I was able to express my ID are reasonably well. There is a pretty good chance you will get the overall just a what I'm trying to say. More than likely I will have committed at least three or four mistakes, but maybe after some corrections I'll be able to do a little bit better in the future.

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陳德聰
1 hour ago, david387 said:

我不知道如何别人感觉如何,我学习很多,但是我的语法还有很多错误。有时有人给我回复推荐什么办法我可以使用的一些办法,让我提高我的中文水平提高一点。但是我认为我不应该担心是否别人是否喜欢不喜欢我的中文,因为我写得不清楚,不表征标准。当然我学习的过程应该让我提高我的汉语水平,不应该重复一样的错误。但是我觉得有时有人不舒服写中文不舒适因为他们担心别人的意思意见,我觉得这样更不好。

I always try to tell people that as long as you're not complacent, making mistakes is great because it means you're trying.

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david387
16 minutes ago, 陳德聰 said:

I always try to tell people that as long as you're not complacent, making mistakes is great because it means you're trying.

 

Thanks for taking the time to make the corrections. They all make sense, and hopefully I'll do better in the future.

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Xiao Kui

If anything, I find the problem is that Chinese rarely take issue (at least out loud) with foreign speakers' poor grammar. They will seldom point out your mistakes or give you feedback unless you insist on it. They think of their language as nearly impossible for foreigners to master and are thrilled you are even trying. There are phrases/words I used incorrectly for 10+ years due to this factor.  I am now in Thailand and studying Thai. Thai is also a difficult language, but I find I am making faster progress with grammar because Thai are quick to correct my mistakes.  (my vocabulary acquisition is a bit slower than it was for Chinese, probably more due to my age and diminished memory rather than the language itself.)

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abcdefg
18 hours ago, Xiao Kui said:

If anything, I find the problem is that Chinese rarely take issue (at least out loud) with foreign speakers' poor grammar. They will seldom point out your mistakes or give you feedback unless you insist on it.

 

I realize this is the accepted wisdom on the subject and I'm not doubting that it was what you found. Not saying you are wrong. But my experience has been different from this. People, even strangers, correct me quite often, even today. But the way they do it is very casual, not pedagogic or "teachy," and it's without apology or explanation.  It has happened more, instead of less, as my Chinese has improved.  

 

What happens is that if I say something wrong, either wrong grammar, wrong word choice, or wrong pronunciation, the person I'm talking with just repeats what I have said back to me, except he or she does it the right way, the native way. It happens immediately and without any fanfare. It's easy to miss sometimes. I try to be alert for such feedback, and then I will say the "problem passage" right back to them incorporating the corrections or changes. That's all, just quickly 1, 2, 3. Then immediately move on to continue the conversation. 

 

I frankly believe this "parental-type" correction is automatic, not premeditated at all. It's the way a Mom corrects her 5 year old a hundred times each day as he is struggling with becoming understandable. 

 

I never make a big deal of it. Never apologize or try to parse out the relevant rules or reasons. Just mimic when my interlocutor shows me the "right way" to say the thing, whatever it was, and then try to remember for next time. I don't divert the conversation or interrupt it. I don't go, "Oh so the predicate and the adverbial modifier must follow the the conjunction unless the particle is plural or indirectly joined to a proper noun when..." And I don't go, "Why do you say it that way? I'm pretty sure my textbook said the rule was to..." And I don't say, "Oh, thank you for correcting my. My Chinese is still so awful." 

 

I accept the correction like a child and continue the conversation as though nothing has happened. That's the only way you are likely to get future similar corrections. These corrections are nearly invisible. 

 

This doesn't fit the case of the original poster, who has made way too many mistakes to qualify for this kind of treatment. Not many casual people on the street would want to tackle the job of unscrambling such a mess. They would just pretend it's fine. 

 

(Sorry @david387-- I'm not trying to be harsh with you or joke about your efforts. I was responding to the more general observations that @Xiao Kuai made.) 

 

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abcdefg

I worry about being misunderstood on this and coming across as unfairly critical of your efforts, @david387. Like 陈德聪, I admire your struggle and would encourage you to persevere. 

 

At the risk of being tedious, let me give one concrete example of the kind of "quick correction process" I'm referring to. Day before yesterday I watched the re-run of a cooking/travel show that plays on CCTV Channel 2 and features a young British chef going into remote back-country locations and learning from the locals how to cook regional specialty dishes. Lately it has been set in Yunnan.

 

In this particular segment they killed a pig and roasted it very quickly so as to have its skin be only about half cooked. It was sold just like that later in the market as a local delicacy. Half-cooked skin was served along with thin slices of raw pork muscle meat to be consumed with a spicy dipping sauce. A local health officer inspected specimens from the pig under a microscope to check for parasites. Finding none, he gave it his blessing. 

 

The young British chef speaks excellent Chinese, nearly native-level. He uses vernacular and slang well and even has the ability to joke. Truly impressive; he's fast, with proper rhythm and phrasing, proper inflections, no hesitations. The local guy who prepared the pig along with the young English chef took their pig to market.  The English guy was clowning around, trying to drum up business, playfully bragging about how their pig was the best one in the market, way superior to that of their competitors across the aisle. 

 

A local man arrived and purchased a big bag of the half-raw pig skin. English chef said to his mentor, "哦,他应该是个老客人,他知道你做的猪皮是最好吃。” (Or something pretty close to that -- this is from memory.) His mentor said, "对了,他是老顾客" and went on to talk more about the pig and other things. This "on the fly" correction was because "老顾客" is a more appropriate way to express the concept of a frequent repeat customer than "老客人." But the distinction is not a big deal, he wasn't trying to be "teacherly" -- he just said it automatically and moved on to something else. 

 

That's the kind of corrections I get literally all the time, by which I mean several times a day.   

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Xiao Kui
Quote

That's the kind of corrections I get literally all the time, by which I mean several times a day. 

I do get some usage corrections like this, not usually grammar/sentence structure corrections.  I get lots of tone corrections from speakers whose dialects used tones different from putonghua, and have learned to ignore these.  😂

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imron
18 hours ago, abcdefg said:

the person I'm talking with just repeats what I have said back to me, except he or she does it the right way, the native way.

I was going to make this exact same point.  It's the best way to get corrections.

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Flickserve

The difficulty I have faced is how to remember these corrections when coming from spontaneous conversations.

 

I literally forget these new words/expressions within a minute unless it comes with some significant event....such as being knocked over by some marching soldiers in tiannamen square saying something I couldnt understand. A few seconds later it dawned on me they were shouting 请让一下

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abcdefg
19 hours ago, Flickserve said:

The difficulty I have faced is how to remember these corrections when coming from spontaneous conversations.

 

Agree with that. I have the same problem. One thing I do is repeat the corrected version back to them immediately to be sure I've now got it right. Then as soon as I can, I write it down. I make it a point to never be without a small notebook/scratchpad and pencil or ballpoint pen. If new vocabulary was involved, instead of just a new sentence structure, I enter it in Pleco on my phone. 

 

Most evenings I review new Pleco words. I try to remember to review new things in my pocket notebook then as well. Some days are busier than others, so this project may actually have to wait a day or two. 

 

I console myself with the belief that if something is really important it will probably show up over and over. That will give me more than one chance to learn it. I try not to be too hard on myself about things like this. I try to remember that improving my Chinese is a long-term project not a crash, must-meet-a-deadline task. 

 

 

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imron

The other thing to do (and what I do) is just periodically repeat it to myself throughout the day - sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud and/or with different voices (for Seinfeld fans, think of the 'this pretzel is making me thirsty' scene), all the while being mindful that this is the correct way to say that thing and thinking that the original way I said it was not correct/not ideal. 

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david387
23 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Agree with that. I have the same problem. One thing I do is repeat the corrected version back to them immediately to be sure I've now got it right. Then as soon as I can, I write it down. I make it a point to never be without a small notebook/scratchpad and pencil or ballpoint pen. If new vocabulary was involved, instead of just a new sentence structure, I enter it in Pleco on my phone. 

 

Most evenings I review new Pleco words. I try to remember to review new things in my pocket notebook then as well. Some days are busier than others, so this project may actually have to wait a day or two. 

 

I console myself with the belief that if something is really important it will probably show up over and over. That will give me more than one chance to learn it. I try not to be too hard on myself about things like this. I try to remember that improving my Chinese is a long-term project not a crash, must-meet-a-deadline task. 

 

I am very comfortable with the idea that I'm going to forget something. But I know that through study over 3 years I am getting better and better.

 

I definitely believe in reputation. I started with memorizing words. Then I went on to memorize sentences. Then I sang songs. And now I find myself copying books, and reading books.

 

There is one child's book I have read maybe five or six times now. 

绒兔子找耳朵

When I bought it, the first page was impossible to understand. I took private Skype lessons, and I wasn't that much better off. But now a couple of years since I bought it, I can read the whole thing and understand nearly every word.

 

I got a copy of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea in Chinese last week and I have been reading through it. It includes the pinyin so it makes it easier to look up words. But I can definitely read it without looking upwards and get the overall meaning and guess what some of the words mean pretty well.

 

I am also reading a Chinese version a Percy Jackson novel that is more for teenagers. I have the English version too. For this one there is no pinyin and I have to look up more words, but it is fun and I just do a few pages per day.

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david387
6 minutes ago, imron said:

The other thing to do (and what I do) is just periodically repeat it to myself throughout the day - sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud and/or with different voices (for Seinfeld fans, think of the 'this pretzel is making me thirsty' scene), all the while being mindful that this is the correct way to say that thing and thinking that the original way I said it was not correct/not ideal. 

 

I am also very comfortable with the idea that sometimes I will say things in a weird way, but I have increasing confidence that I can convey my idea just the same. I often go around talking to myself in Chinese as well. For me it is more just an exercise and expressing whatever it is that I want to think about at the moment, and a little less toward trying to say everything perfectly, grammatically correct. That will have to come later.

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