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  2. Lu

    Mandarin School for foreigners?

    The only 'bot' I am aware of (and which is probably the one that prompts Shelley) is the system we have that assigns every newly registered member to an established member for the new member's first few posts. The established member is then responsible for saying hi to the new member and making sure their question is not ignored and snowed under. This is to make sure that a first, tentative quesion by a new member is not, well, ignored and snowed under, so that the new member feels welcome and hopefully in time turns into an established member. A lot of new members are tattoo-searchers, so yah, one tends to repeat oneself. I do it too. (Most of the tattoo-searchers don't turn into long-term members, and that is fine too.) If you (general you) notice another member using a snarky or mean tone, please call them out politely instead of getting snarky or mean yourself. If that fails, feel free to flag the issue for one of us moderators. You can use the 'Report' button, which can be found on every post. Nothing nefarious happens when you do that, people don't get automatically banned or anything, it just brings the post to the attention of the moderators. Here ends my public service announcement. Please continue your discussion.
  3. 889

    北京还是上海?

    I have no idea what words like "register" or "topolect" mean. I've studied several languages but have no training at all in linguistics. As for books, everything I have on my own shelves is old and you won't find the exact same books in a bookstore today. But you will find textbooks to teach Chinese people Putonghua. Perhaps there's some old government standard laying out what is and is not proper Putonghua, but you don't want something official and unreadable. You want a textbook for Chinese people. Tell a clerk you're interested in the development of Putonghua as a linguistic concept, what should you read. And don't forget a dictionary or two of Beijinghua. (Bookstores can be fun. Explore!)
  4. mungouk

    北京还是上海?

    @889 Hmm. What you're describing sounds to me (in English context) as "Register", rather than dialect/topolect or whatever linguists argue about. Is that right? I'm not being deliberately awkward, but a more actionable response than "read some books" would be helpful. Which books? Where is the authority on this, or isn't there any? Thanks!
  5. Flickserve

    北京还是上海?

    @mungouk As far as I can make out, there is: standard mandarin Beijing erhuayin (which I call accent) Beijing hua (which Is Beijing dialect) damm, forgot to mention the Beijing roast duck which I absolutely adore.
  6. 889

    北京还是上海?

    A hundred words or two answering a question in quick and simple terms here is no substitute for the sort of real answer you'll find in books. Just ask for the nearest 书城. And plan to spend a good afternoon or evening there browsing. Not to mention that you'll learn more in a couple hours reading DeFrancis than you will in years posting here. My impression is that people know instinctively what's Putonghua and what's Beijinghua. Rather like you automatically adjust your English -- in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary and such -- when you're talking to a native Chinese speaker. It's just not the same English as when you're talking with your parents or old schoolmates.
  7. mungouk

    北京还是上海?

    "bookstore"... qu'est-ce que c'est? (Better run run run run run run run away) 🤔 No, I remember those. In the good old days (before the interwebs) I had to get on a train to London to buy books about/in "Foreign" languages. It felt very exotic but was a PITA. I think one of the reasons for posting questions on the forums is so we can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of our more experienced peers. btw as far as I'm concerned "Basic English" is some kind of small subset (1000 words?) that can be understood by a majority of English-learners around the world. Is that the sense in which you meant it? Cheers!
  8. Yes. A tattoo artist who doesn't have a clue about Chinese characters will often make them wonky, with a stroke just a little bit too high or too low or with the wrong flourish at the end. Or you may inadvertedly pick an ugly or unsuitable font which the tattooist then copies. The tattooist won't see the difference, you won't see the difference (because you don't know anything about Chinese characters either), but people who know about Chinese characters will know and it will hurt their eyes. And don't underestimate how many Chinese-reading people you will see in your life. Likely hundreds at least, not just one errant Chinese tourist. And all those hundreds of people will 1) be able to read your personal message to yourself; 2) be able to judge the quality of the tattoo. If you don't want just anyone to be able to read it, perhaps get a tattoo in a place that other people rarely see uncovered. Alternatively, get your phrase of choice as a nice calligraphy scroll. You'll be more sure of good calligraphy (since people who have no clue about Chinese characters usually don't go around writing them in the first place), and as long as you don't invite Chinese people to your home, nobody will be able to read it.
  9. @vellocet First of all, I'd like to say thanks for piping in. But, since this is a public forum and since our livelihood quite literally depends on public opinion of our competency, I'd like to address the term "enthusiastic amateurs." You seem to be referring to our business sense (in which case, it may be a fair assessment), but for anyone else who may be reading this thread, I'd like to clarify a bit. I left a pretty cushy job as an electrical engineer to go to Taiwan to spend a year (and no small amount of money) at ICLP in order to get my Chinese up to a level that I could survive in a Chinese academic environment. After that, I spent 6 years in a PhD program for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCSL) at National Taiwan Normal University and was the first westerner to pass the PhD qualifying exams (two 6-hour exams, all in handwritten Chinese with nothing but pen and paper -- I memorized 15 books over a 4.5 month period to do this. It was over 20,000 supermemo flashcards. I had to be able to answer any question about linguistics (first exam) and any question about Chinese language pedagogy (second exam). The linguistic areas I studied for the first exam include topology and universals, semantics, transformational grammar, case grammar, functional grammar, contrastive analysis, Chinese syntax, pragmatics, phonology and Chinese morphology. During my time in the TCSL department, I became interested in Chinese paleography and Old Chinese phonology. I took 18 hours of classes in the Chinese department on paleography and historical linguistics, including classes by paleographers 季旭昇 and 杜忠誥. I had the good fortune to do two 2-week courses with Dr. William Baxter (specialist in Old Chinese phonology) and 陳劍 (one of China's top paleographers), one in 2007 and one in 2009. After talking with 季旭昇, Dr. Baxter and Dr. Dirk Meyer (of Oxford University), I left TCSL and move over to the Chinese department to pursue more academically rigorous studies in paleography. I was only allowed to transfer 9 credit hours, so had to do another year plus of courses including more historical phonology, paleography and excavated texts. I also participated in 季旭昇's weekly study group on excavated texts for over 2 years. To summarize: not including the time I spent learning Chinese and classical Chinese to a level that I could even start preparing for this project, I've spent at least 7 years full-time preparing to do this project. My PhD proposal (i.e., for my dissertation) was accepted 22 Oct 2015. I put off writing it up until a month ago, because I was spending 6 days a week on this project. I'm now only putting 1 day a week toward my dissertation, which has to be written entirely in Chinese, also so I can put time into this project. John lived in Taiwan for 3 years before moving to Japan. He learned Mandarin really quickly. Within two years of being in Taiwan, he applied to and was accepted into the masters program in the Chinese department, also at NTNU. He did a year in that program, focusing on paleography and Chinese calligraphy and was very successful. He has a real solid basis in paleography. Better than any of the popular books available in English (and Chinese for that matter). The two of us earn our living from Outlier and have done so for years now. So, if we have a say in this, we prefer the term "underfunded professionals."
  10. 889

    北京还是上海?

    Roughly speaking, Putonghua takes Chinese as spoken in Beijing as its reference, but doesn't use words and phrases particular to the Beijing dialect. It also simplifies the language somewhat. Think of Putonghua as like Basic English and you'll start to get the idea. As for Beijing accent, there's not just 儿化 but 鼻音 too. There are standard textbooks out there which more or less establish what is Putonghua. As I said, visiting a bookstore in Beijing is very instructional. I seem to recall that DeFrancis wrote one or two essays on what is Putonghua you might want to dig up. (Hangzhou people speak Hangzhouhua amongst themselves, but it really is a separate language apart from Putonghua, not a dialect linguistically speaking.)
  11. mungouk

    北京还是上海?

    I've been living here in Beijing for 6 months... can't say I've interacted much with locals though. I think I'm getting confused with Putonghua (common speech?) with Beijinghua (common speech in BJ?) I've noticed there's a lot more 儿 in the air here than what I might hear elsewhere, but other than that... I'm not sure of the difference. Who decides what counts as standard Mandarin then?
  12. abcdefg

    The many faces of Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁

    Those sound like good reasons to make it at home, at least when time permits. You can buy good quality ingredients and vary the contents according to personal taste.
  13. 889

    北京还是上海?

    Have you been to Beijing? There's Putonghua (standard Mandarin) and there's Beijinghua. Not the same! There are Beijinghua dictionaries out there which make fun reading -- much grandma talk about babies and little kids. Just one example. "Tomorrow" in Putonghua of course is 明天. But in Beijinghua you can get by with 明儿. You'll never hear a TV news reader use 明儿: they speak Putonghua and use 明天. Beijing people -- except cab drivers -- will speak Putonghua with you, but among family and friends will drop into Beijinghua. EDIT: Sorry, I see you're in Beijing. Just ask folks to give you some words in Beijinghua. Then head to a bookstore and get one of those dictionaries I mentioned. Or take taxis everywhere and chat with the drivers. If we're going to get fussy, the rural areas on the outskirts of Beijing are said to be a stronghold of dialect, but maybe a bit different than urban Beijinghua.
  14. mungouk

    北京还是上海?

    @anonymoose would you care to elaborate on this thing about Standard Mandarin and Beijing dialect not being the same? Maybe this is common mis-information (?) but somehow I had assumed that standard Mandarin was based on what's spoken in Beijing in the same way that standard French is defined more or less by the Académie Française in Paris.
  15. mungouk

    北京还是上海?

    I've been in Beijing for 6 months, but I'm spending a couple of days in Hangzhou just now. I'm actually considering a job here... how should I expect Mandarin accents to vary in Hangzhou? I haven't had any trouble communicating with taxi drivers and hotel receptionists so far, but that's obviously a limited domain of people who are expecting a variety of people and accents. It's kind of refreshing not to be answered in English everywhere when I speak my flawed Mandarin though. Unlike in Beijing. Wow, it's still summer here — 24 C today. I just got bitten by a mosquito in October! Last week in BJ it got down to 2 degrees overnight.
  16. mungouk

    Mandarin School for foreigners?

    @道艺黄帝 you don't have to be here for long before you notice that certain senior members have automated bots running... @abcdefg has one to tell people to search the forums when they ask basic questions, @Shelley has one that monitors for people asking about tattoos and tells them to "think before you ink", etc. It frees up a lot of time to answer more sensible questions...
  17. I suppose we should add a warning here that 宫保鸡丁 is a standard item on the menu of the cheap chain fast food places, where it seems to be prepared in a vast factory months before then somehow re-heated in the back of the store that masquerades as a kitchen before arriving at your table, often as a soggy tasteless 宫保鸡丁盖饭. Sad to say, even some places that resemble a real restaurant will put re-heated junk on your table these days. In 10 or 20 years, getting food hot out of the wok in a Chinese restaurant may well become a very expensive treat, so enjoy eating out in China while you can.
  18. Thanks for the lesson on managing expectations, but I think Pleco (advertising etc) needs it more than me LOL. Shall we leave it at that?
  19. Generally cheaper restaurants will add carrot and cucumber. Especially if it’s 盖饭. On the one hand, less chicken is needed and, on the other, turns it into a bit more of a meal. If you go to a better restaurant, especially Beijing or Sichuan style, they’ll just have chicken scallion and peanuts. Personally the worst 宫保鸡丁 I had was in Chengdu. My friend who lived there also didn’t find any great home style stuff while he lived there. He guessed perhaps because they all cook that stuff at home a lot more. Who knows ... The best I’ve ever had in 9 years is from a small Sichuan restaurant in Yinchuan. The owner and chef was from Sichuan and his son was second-chef. Whole family lived above the restaurant.
  20. 889

    Regional Language Question

    I don't know whether it's a question of disliking Mandarin, but Cantonese people certainly prefer to speak Cantonese with other Cantonese people. It is the mother tongue of the Cantonese people (small pockets apart) and anchors the Cantonese identity. Understanding the significance of regionalism is important in understanding China.
  21. 道艺黄帝

    Mandarin School for foreigners?

    Maybe it was just me misjudging the tone.
  22. 道艺黄帝

    北京还是上海?

    I've been in SH for about a year and a quarter. I've found the Shanghainese accent pretty cool and that there's a clear distinction between the local Shanghainese and standard Chinese, as someone said earlier. Just one thing to note-I know from your previous posts you don't really learn in the environment, but if someone does come here to seriously learn Chinese and not live in the foreign bubble, try to get a few km away from the 'city center'. I'm about 8km away from the populated 静安寺,which is only about 5 subway stops, but I am far removrd from Chinese ppl who regularly encounter foreigners. I am often the only non-Chinese I enounter for days on end. I never have to speak English if I don't want to. I get immersion and convenience all in one.
  23. The work of narrow interest created by enthusiastic amateurs. Thinking otherwise is at the root of the frustration you feel.
  24. I don't do that because my reading speed is too slow.
  25. Aw c'mon Roddy, implementing tech stuff is obviously very time-consuming work, so it'd be churlish to demand any stupid money back. I just need to have more patience and faith is all.
  26. Indeed - it doesn't work at all! Dude, you're overegging it. Outlier may one day be feature-laden heavenly convenience itself and indeed quite reasonable value, but for now one has to often "fall back" on other resources, which usually provide pretty much the same information in most cases. I appreciated learning that the sheep was really a headdress though, that really was mindblowing. Hmm, and which one applies to Outlier by way of Pleco?
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