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The 2022 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic


alantin
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On 1/26/2022 at 8:28 PM, Woodford said:

One dilemma I have is that I'm more interested in educational, "infotainment" type stuff on Youtube than I am in TV shows. Oh, well! I'll make it work.

 

Train what interests you. If you are more likely to discuss science stuff with Chinese folks online or in real life, I would not worry about the conversational fluff. If you ever really need it, surely you will pick it up in a week or two.

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On 1/26/2022 at 9:28 PM, Woodford said:

I actually think he was referring to the fact that Li's presentation is more formal and structured than regular everyday conversation. He told me, "If you want to learn about science and math and technology, you can listen to Li Yongle. If you want to learn how to talk with Chinese friends, you might want to watch other things."

 

One thing I've noticed is that proper word order often flies out the window when just talking.

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On 1/26/2022 at 7:12 PM, Moshen said:

English/American literary novels

I think there are three things here: 1. conversational language 2. written language 3. literary language.

 

A bestseller novel in English will be (2). Henry James or Virginia Woolf will be (3).

 

My hunch is that the gap between (1) and (2) is quite a bit bigger in Chinese than in English.

 

I also think that 书面 in Chinese tends to refer to both (2) and (3). But we can sometimes wrongly (I think) assume it applies only to (3).

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On 1/26/2022 at 1:37 PM, realmayo said:

I think there are three things here: 1. conversational language 2. written language 3. literary language.

 

A bestseller novel in English will be (2). Henry James or Virginia Woolf will be (3).

 

I think this perfectly encapsulates what I was trying (but failing) to say. It seems that so much written Chinese, even modern, mainstream, non-literary, informal, etc., is different from the spoken language.

I also think I was falling prey to a bit of the "Dunning-Kruger effect." I casually mentioned "the past 150 years of English literature," but have I actually read it? Do I know what I'm talking about? No, not really. :) I think what I likely had in mind was the more popular/accessible stuff.

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Yes, I used to see (书) next to a word in the dictionary and assume that it meant 'this is a super-formal, literary word that you don't need to bother learning if your goal is to read newspapers', but actually I think here 书 just means not-口.

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On 1/26/2022 at 11:37 AM, realmayo said:

My hunch is that the gap between (1) and (2) is quite a bit bigger in Chinese than in English.

 

This reminds me of a question I have not been able to find the answer to. Does anyone have an estimate of approximately how many words #1 is?

 

There are tons of Chinese Text Analyser files out there that give good estimates of #2 and #3, but I haven't been able to ascertain how many words a typical native speaker uses in a day.

 

It is also hard to judge this from real life because most native speakers (at least the ones I converse with) tend to hedge their vocabulary closer to what they think I will know, so it's possible that I don't encounter as many new words there as another native speaker would.

 

I guess one way to estimate this would be the number of unique words in a 60 minute TV show. Has anyone ever tried to transcribe then process a TV drama or something similar?

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I have but not for this kind of purpose. There are plugins that allow you to pull the subtitles from a ntflix movie for example.

 

there are word frequency lists based on subtitles for example here. Maybe that can be used to extrapolate.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2880003/#!po=0.769231

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@Woodford There are many registers in a language. It's not a spoken-written dichotomy. Any competent linguist can tell you that. Textbooks usually cover the middle ground, not too slangy, nor too contrived. What your tutor meant was probably just you talk like a book and should loosen yourself up a bit. For two millenia there existed a phenomenon called diglossia, namely people spoke a different language in daily life than the language they were taught in school to read and write. But that ended with 白话文运动 a century ago.

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Quote

Point taken! It just shows how little I know about English fiction.

 

After I wrote yesterday's post, I looked in my Kindle to see what the story was with best-seller type, non-literary fiction, and I was surprised to find this as the opening paragraph of a Stephen Hunter just-published thriller - showing that it's not just Henry James/Virginia Woolf tier literary stuff or older novels that are so unconversational:

 

Quote

It was just July, and Northern Jersey was crudluscious. Petroleum by-products in the form of iridescent goo accrued on all surfaces, leaving them slippery and gleaming. Vegetation of no species or color known to earth rioted and crept everywhere. Three-foot-long bull crickets, albino and pink-eyed, chirped in the marshes as if meat was on the menu for tonight. It sounded like saws on radiators. Brooks burbled, rivers gurgled, sewers clotted, algae mutated. Superheated sea zephyrs floated in over the swamps and townships, bearing the fragrance of small, dead mammals or large, dead Italians.

 

This is mainstream commercial fiction, not literary fiction.  Not just the words but also the syntax is different from English conversation. 

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My native language has very large differences between the spoken language and the literary language, so I was surprised to see this suggestion that written English is just like spoken English. But it seems it isn't that different after all.

 

If U wanted to write English like U spoke it, it'd prolly look more somethin' like this. But would y'all really read Stephen Hunter if the whole book was like this?

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On 1/27/2022 at 11:12 AM, Moshen said:

It was just July, and Northern Jersey was crudluscious. Petroleum by-products in the form of iridescent goo accrued on all surfaces, leaving them slippery and gleaming. Vegetation of no species or color known to earth rioted and crept everywhere.

I think this is just really bad writing!

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I've lasted just a few days doing this "listening to more informal TV shows" sort of thing to learn more "conversational" Chinese, and....you know, I think I'll take @Jan Finster's advice. I'm interested in substantive monologues about more abstract topics, like science, technology, math, economics, politics, philosophy, current events, etc.

I wonder if I listen to the more complex stuff, the "fluffier" stuff will take care of itself. For instance, I'm working my way through a very long Chinese book right now, which uses a lot of formal, complex language. It's manageable (and even enjoyable), but it's definitely a drain on my energy. However, when I put the book down and go read an article on Chinese social media (like Zhihu), it feels extremely easy and breezy (more than ever before). I'm hoping that listening practice can look like that, too.

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@Woodford I'm sure I'm falling in that trap too.  But it's better to do stuff you're interested in, cause you'll do more of it.

 

Fortunately, I like Chinese drama TV shows too (at least with a right selection), so I'll just top it off with a few TV shows at some point.  Also, when you talk to people long enough, you'll slowly switch to their register, so that and talk to people.

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@Jan Finster and @Woodford, I too think that the solution is not to listen to talk shows that you hate, but rather just talk more with people. Especially since the tutors will correct you all the time, talking with them will slowly teach you a more appropriate way to chat with people. @Woodford has now spent a little over a month taking those tutoring lessons (Something between 15 and 30 lessons?) and it is still quite a short time. Give it a year and I'm sure you're going to get a lot less of those "that's 书面" corrections.

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On 1/29/2022 at 12:25 AM, alantin said:

(Something between 15 and 30 lessons?)

 

Well, how I wish that were true! I'm starting slowly, with a single 1-hour session each week, and I think I'll build up to 2 times, then 3, then maybe even 4 (probably with different teachers, just to get some variety). 

As for more casual/conversational speaking styles, I've also found some talented Chinese YouTubers who make more comedic content where they unbox strange items, eat weird food, and do otherwise silly things for entertainment (like 贤宝宝). I think I'm a Millennial person with GenZ viewing habits. I just find YouTube content creators to be far more interesting than the regular network TV my parents and grandparents grew up with.

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On 1/26/2022 at 4:33 PM, dakonglong said:

but I haven't been able to ascertain how many words a typical native speaker uses in a day.

 

I don't have a particularly scientific way to answer this question, but I would say that once I actively memorized unknown words that I learned from about 12-15 books (somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 words), I got to a place where I stopped regularly encountering tons of new words in Chinese YouTube videos (so vocabulary is no longer my problem, as much as listening comprehension is). Of course, I still encounter new words, but they're few and far between, and I often don't even bother to look them up anymore. I'm not in that place with books yet. I imagine as I approach 25-30 books (approaching 25,000 actively memorized words), I might be. Unless it's a really difficult book.

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