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Showing most liked content since 09/19/2017 in all areas

  1. 9 points
    Grandmother's spicy tofu is an essential Sichuan dish, and graces the menu of every Sichuan restaurant I've ever seen, anywhere in the world. It is quintessential Sichuan food, bursting with flavor and chock full of bold spices. The Chinese name refers to its historical inventor, a grandma with a pockmarked 麻子 face. Yunnan, where I live, has fondly adopted this dish and has made it our own. Not surprising, since we appreciate spicy food here just about as much as they do in Sichuan. After enjoying it for years in restaurants, I've been making it at home these last several months. A major advantage of doing it yourself is that you can adjust the heat of the dish, adapting it somewhat to your likes and dislikes, while still retaining its essential character. But I don't want to mislead you: no matter how you tweak it, this is food for an adventurous palate. It's not white toast or mashed potatoes. Let me show you how I made it yesterday. Like many good things here, it begins with a trip to the market to pick up the best fresh ingredients. I almost always approach these projects by telling the vendor what I intend to make and asking for specific ingredient recommendations. My usual tofu seller reluctantly turned me away. He specializes in tofu from Shiping Town and he told me what I needed for this recipe could be had for half as much money just across the alley. (As always, click the photos to enlarge them.) What I needed was "soft" 嫩 tofu, and that's what I got. Neither the silky "flower" tofu 豆花 that falls apart immediately or the "firm" tofu 老豆腐 that is best for sautéing. Will show it to you closer in a minute. I also bought long, tender green garlic greens, plucked before they start to form the characteristic root bulb. These go by the name 蒜苗 or 青蒜 and Sichuan cooks love them. They impart a mild garlic flavor, with some crunch and a fresh note missing from dried cloves of garlic. They are "brighter" as well as more subtle. To the right of the garlic greens in the photo above you see fresh cilantro, complete with roots, stems, and leaves. I bought a handful of these. They have so much more flavor than dried coriander seeds. On to the spice lady now, master of pickled foods and slow-preserved sauces, some of which you see just above. I always get a thrill out of entering her kingdom, and linger as long as I possibly can. She shows me new arrivals and tells me of alternatives to my tried and true selections, tempting me to expand my horizons. My shopping list from her only called for two items, but both were crucial to the success of the venture and neither would admit of any compromise. First was 豆豉, salty fermented black soybeans. These are in the left foreground of the picture above left. The beans are discrete, not mashed into a paste; but note that they aren't black "turtle beans" such as are used in Mexican cooking; they are a special soybean variety. And the star of the seasoning lineup, and one of her specialties, was the rightly famous Pixian douban jiang 郫县豆瓣酱。It is shown in the photo above right, in the big bowl on the left-hand side. This magnificent seasoning has often been described as "the soul of Sichuan cuisine." It is made from fermented broad beans and chilies, plus an assortment of auxiliary spices. The best of it takes months or even years to ferment and has so much punch you can smell it across the room. Let me show you now how all this came together in my Kunming kitchen yesterday afternoon. Important side-note: Before anything else, as in most Chinese home cooking, start soaking the rice. It needs a 15 minute pre-soak, and then requires about 30 minutes to boil and steam in my electric rice cooker. I do ingredient prep while the rice gets a head start, but never actually fire up the wok until the rice is completely ready. One prep item was a little out of the ordinary, and that was the essential Sichuan peppercorns 花椒。For this dish they need to be toasted and ground. I used a non-stick skillet with no oil and a marble mortar and pestle. You toast them until they begin releasing their aroma. When you smell them at that moment, it's a reminder that they aren't really peppers at all, they are unusual members of the citrus family. They have a distinct citrus aroma. I used two teaspoons of them. The tofu needs to be cut into cubes and soaked for 20 minutes or so in lightly-salted warm water. This does two things: first it removes any "off" flavors and second, it firms it up a bit so that is easier to handle during cooking. Less likely to fall apart or crumble. Finely sliver or mince some fresh ginger 生姜,enough to make two or three teaspoons. Do the same with two cloves of dry garlic 大蒜 and roughly tear apart three or four dried red chilies 干红辣椒。This is an important juncture because it's where you can easily alter how fiery you want the dish to be. To crank up the heat, use fresh chilies instead of dry ones. Selecting more potent chilies will allow you to earn admission to the "forehead drenched in sweat club" when you eat the finished product. 出汗 Finely cut the garlic greens 蒜苗, fresh cilantro 香菜, and the white of a large spring onion 大葱。I hold back a few of the chopped garlic greens and coriander so I can sprinkle them on the top of the finished dish as a garnish. I do the same with some of the crushed 花椒 toasted and ground Sichuan peppers. The rice just now announced that it was ready. I checked it, gave it a quick stir with a pair of chopsticks, unplugged the cooker and cracked the lid. Gently drain the tofu and set it aside. Everything is now ready to go, including the ground pork. One could use beef instead. I bought about 400 grams of tofu and abut 50 grams of meat. (I buy them by eye and then weigh them afterwards at home.) A ratio of six or eight to one is about right. This is mainly a tofu dish, not a meat dish. Mushrooms can be substituted for the meat if you are vegetarian. I've laid out two heaping tablespoons of douban jiang 郫县豆瓣酱 (on the left) and one heaping tablespoon of fermented black beans 豆豉 (on the right.) Used my big knife 菜刀 to finely chop the black beans so they will cook a bit quicker. Add some oil to a hot wok, quickly stir-fry the minced ginger, and add the garlic and dry red peppers when it begins to change color. Taking care not to burn the garlic, next add the ground meat and fry it until it looses it's pink color. Add the chopped garlic greens, cilantro, and spring onion, stirring quickly 翻炒 over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of light soy sauce 生抽, two tablespoons of Shaoxing cooking wine 料酒, and about a cup of chicken stock or water. This is the point at which to add a teaspoon or so of sugar if you think it is getting too spicy. Sugar seems to slightly moderate the heat. Mix everything well and then gently add the tofu, turning the fire to low. Let the tofu cook 2 or 3 minutes with minimal stirring. When you do stir it, do so with the back of your wok tool 锅铲 or ladle 大汤勺, only pushing slowly away from yourself, moving it in one direction only. No vigorous swirling, flipping or back and forth movements that night cause the tofu to fall apart and sort of just disappear. When the tofu has taken on the colors of the sauce in which it is cooking, you can thicken the juices with a mixture of cornstarch 淀粉 and water 水淀粉, prepared ahead of time by mixing one teaspoon of corn starch with two or three teaspoons of water. Don't add too much. The pan juices should just barely coat the back of your spatula or ladle. Don't turn it into a paste. I usually don't put in any extra salt because the beans, bean paste and soy sauce all are salty. Sprinkle on the remainder of the freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns, scoop it all out into a bowl and garnish with some of the reserved greens. This is a dish that is best served right away, while it is hot, straight from the stove. Diners, myself included, often heap some of it directly on top of a bowl of steamed rice and eat it that way. Might mention that some recipes call for adding additional vegetables to turn it into a one-dish meal. Though that's an approach I sometimes take with other Chinese food, I prefer not to risk messing up this classic. After all, it's one of China's "top ten" signature dishes, famous throughout the Middle Kingdom as well as all corners of the "outside world." Give it a try if you are in the mood for something spicy and delicious. It will make your day!
  2. 8 points
    This cornerstone condiment is somewhat unusual in that it's not only found in every Southwest China kitchen for daily use in cooking, but it is found on nearly every restaurant table as well, in an open-top jar or small ceramic pot. You won't find a salt shaker on cafe tables in Kunming, but even the simplest 小吃店 snack shop has some of this 红油 readily available so you can easily add it to your noodles 米线, fried rice 炒饭 or wonton 红油馄钝。 Let me show you how to make it at home. Sure you can buy it ready-made, and that's better than going without. But when you make it by hand in your own kitchen you will know what goes in it. No artificial coloring or flavoring, no MSG, no unpronounceable stabilizers and preservatives. First and foremost you need some dried chilies 干辣椒。I made a small batch yesterday afternoon and it required two large handfuls, on my small kitchen scale this was 50 grams. Rinse them quickly to remove any dust, and spread them out to dry thoroughly in the sun. Smash a thumb-sized piece of ginger 老姜, two large cloves of garlic 大蒜。Coarsely cut the white part of one large spring onion 大葱。Set these aside and turn your attention to the dry spices. Cinnamon bark 桂皮 at 12 o'clock, followed by a smashed cardamom pod 草果,a piece of dried orange peel 橙皮,two or three star anise 八角,two bay leaves 香叶,four or five cloves 丁香,a teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns 花椒,most of a tablespoon of white sesame seeds 白芝麻,and finishing up at 11o'clock with a teaspoon of fennel seeds 小茴香。Toast these quickly over medium-low heat in a dry skillet, shaking it constantly so they don't burn. Take them out and then toast the dry red peppers the same way, again being careful not to let them get too hot. This slight caramelization of the peppers really boosts the flavor of the finished sauce. (But I must caution you that this step is where it's easy to go wrong; it's easy to scorch them if your attention wanders.) Now grind the peppers fine either using a mortar and pestle or a blender 搅拌机。You want a coarse powder, not chunks and flakes. Might mention that if you want to tone down the Scoville heat a little, you can remove some of the seeds now, before you do the grinding. On the other hand, if you want to soup it up and give it more kick, this is the place to add a small amount of some other smaller, more pungent dry chilies, chopped fine. Plenty of options exist. Your 50 grams of dry peppers should yield about half a cup when ground. Pour this into a heat-proof bowl (I use metal) and scoop out a hole in the middle like the crater of a volcano. Now pour a little more than one cup of rape seed oil 菜籽油 into the skillet 平底锅 with the toasted dry spices and the ginger, scallion and garlic. Use medium heat to gently fry these flavor ingredients for three to five minutes. Don't let the oil get hot enough to smoke. When you can smell the aroma of the spices and can see the white scallions and garlic beginning to get golden brown 金黄,take it off the flame and strain the oil. Discard the solids and return the oil to the heat. When the oil reaches the point of just barely beginning to smoke, turn off the flame. Pour about a third of it into the dry peppers and stir quickly with chopsticks as it boils, fizzes and bubbles. Let the oil stand for another few seconds, most of a minute, and then pour another third into the peppers and stir, just like before. After a few more seconds, half a minute or so, add the sesame seeds and pour in the remaining hot oil, stirring it some more. It is said that pouring the oil in stages like this lets the hottest oil develops the fragrance (增香) of the ground chilies, while the second develops the red color (颜色变红) and the third balances their heat (会辣)。 The old Chinese kitchen saying that deals with this is 一香二红三辣。 Let it cool overnight to let the flavors blend before using. It also gets more red as it stands. Some of it can be stored in a small ceramic pot on the table and the rest can be put away in a screw-top jar in the fridge, where it will last 3 or 4 months. Of course if you live in Sichuan or Yunnan, you will use it all up long before then. In the photos below, I've poured some in a plate so you can see it better. This red chili oil 红油 is good stuff! Versatile and tasty. It's fragrant, rounded and balanced; pungent, yet without any sharp bite. Much more to it than simple liquid fire. Makes a great dipping sauce for 饺子 jiaozi, combined with equal parts soy sauce 酱油 and black vinegar 黑醋。
  3. 8 points
    Blcup website is frequently dead from time to time, especially on weekends or holidays, don't know why. Maybe it’s a 国营单位 problem. PM me the picture of the qr code from the book, I’ll scan it and email you the audio. Peking University Press website: www.pup.cn, is also down currently, strange. @Roddy Glad to help, long time no see, hope everything is fine around you
  4. 7 points
    Dim sum 点心 is one of the glories of the South China Cantonese food world 粤菜。It is the fine art of leisurely early-day munching on an assortment bite-sized delicacies served in bamboo steamer baskets or on small plates. This kind of feast sometimes goes by the name of yum cha 饮茶 because these small tasty morsels are typically washed down by endless small cups of hot tea. I was fortunate enough to have had several memorable dim sum brunches last week during a trip to Macau and Hong Kong. Let me give you a look at how it works in the hope that this will help induce you give it a try, or if you are already an aficionado, to go back for another dim sum adventure real soon. Three days in a row I just walked across the street from my Macau Hotel (十六浦酒店) to an unpretentious dim sum joint that's always busy and popular with locals. Their name sign boasts 御龙海鲜火锅 but their operating hours are only from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. so nobody really goes there for that. Instead 茶市点心 is clearly their principal draw. You always have to wait a few minutes for the busy waitresses to clear you a spot at one of their long communal tables, each of which seats 6 to 8 people. (Upstairs the tables are round.) Reminder: You can click the photos to enlarge them. She brings you a pencil and a check-box menu. You order your big pot of tea (mine was Tieguanyin 铁观音) and study the options, taking time out to do the ritual washing of your eating utensils. It's something I thought a bit strange initially, but by now I wash my own dishes right along with the meticulous elderly grannies. You use the scalding hot tea water from your big pot, emptying the waste into a bowl provided temporarily for that purpose. In a few minutes the waitress returns with a receipt to show that your items have been entered into their ordering system. Sometimes these dim sum menus can be really forbidding, providing only the names of the dishes in Traditional Hanzi, with no pictures or descriptions and of course no English. I always try to grab an extra menu to study back in my room in preparation for the next visit. Dim Sum works best if you go with several family members or friends so you can order lots of different items and taste each other's selections. This time I was alone, so I just planned on having some leftovers. Not ideal, but still workable. The dishes arrive in no fixed order. As they are delivered, the waitress scratches them off your receipt with her thumbnail. I always struggle with whether to order my favorites, or to try out new options that might not be as much to my liking. Shrimp dumplings 虾饺, made with fresh shrimp, is one of those things I find irresistible. I'm also a sucker for well made Cantonese turnip cake 萝卜糕, shown just below the shrimp. This time I accompanied those two with an order of plain cooked caixin 白灼菜心。It's the small tender heart of a member of the cabbage family, immensely popular in the south. I had some of these left over for a late-night snack in my room, heated together with a container of instant noodles. Lingered at table about an hour, enjoying many cups of tea and even some conversation with two neighbors. Set me back under 100 MOP. This unit of currency is the Macanese Pataca, roughly equivalent to the HKD (Hong Kong Dollar.) Time and money well spent. Returned the next morning, intent on variety. Had rolled out early, hit the gym, gone for a swim, and worked up a good appetite. Decided on shao mai 烧卖 as my most expensive item. These are made with dumpling wrappers squeezed around a filling of lean pork and shrimp combined, leaving the top open, sprinkled with crab roe. (Many recipes exist, using other ingredients.) Accompanied the shao mai with griddle cakes made with whole kernels of sweet corn 香煎玉米饼 and some plain-cooked Cantonese lettuce 白灼生菜。 The menu designates items as belonging to one of several price categories. For example, today's shao mai and the shrimp dumplings that I had yesterday are both in the 特 category, costing 28 MOP. 大点 dishes, such as the luobo gao, sell for 22 MOP, and so on down to 中点 and 小点 items. Pot of basic tea costs 8 MOP, including endless refills of hot water. Some places offer gong fu tea 功夫茶 made in small pots, but not here. Today's expedition once again did not break the bank, coming out well under 100 MOP. If I'm with others, which I prefer, we always order a bowl of porridge 粥。It is offered in many varieties and goes very well with all of these other dishes. My personal favorites are the fish slice porridge 鱼片粥 and the century egg porridge 皮蛋瘦肉粥。These bowls are just right for 2 or 3 people. Sometimes, in a group, we will add a plate of fried noodles 炒面 or fried rice 炒饭。Sometimes a plate of sliced roast pork 叉烧 or goose 烤鹅。Cantonese roast pork, in particular, is a recommended specialty item, slow cooked and glazed with honey. Here was day three. No fear of monotony. One could come here lots of times without it becoming boring. On weekends, one usually sees extended family groups from grandparents to toddlers, making a real project out of it. Cousins and nieces coming to join the big round table as others are leaving, maybe one withdrawn uncle reading the newspaper, an auntie with her knitting, empty bamboo steamer baskets piled high. Merry conversation is the order of the day. They also love to praise and show off the babes in arms. How can a restaurant handle the logistics of putting a large variety of food on all these tables, given such close quarters? They don't use magic, but they utilize available space extremely well. Food is prepared in a remote kitchen upstairs and then sent to the waitresses by means of a "dumb waiter" on the guest levels. One cashier handles all the checks, guarded by a red-faced, bearded kitchen god and and equally iconic "Hello Kitty." (Could he be 关羽, General of Shu and blood brother of Liu Bei 刘备?) Here's what I enjoyed this time around. More Cantonese specialties. No trip is complete without at least one batch of 肠粉,which are a type soft steamed rice noodle rolls, built with an interesting stuffing. Mine were 韭王鲜虾 fragrant garlic chives and fresh shrimp, served with a brown sauce. Nicely balanced, while still following the 清淡 (bland, non-spicy) dictates of Cantonese cooking. Lots of these dishes probably would not sell well in Kunming, where seasoning is more "forward." Had them with an order of plain-cooked 芥菜,usually translated as "leaf mustard." I like that it has a slightly bitter note, even though it's not very aggressive,does not entirely take over the mouth. These steamed dumplings are something I saw my neighbors eating the day before. So darned pretty I had to try them. Made with translucent rice skins and stuffed with a mix of lean pork and a vegetable I don't know how to translate (Latin name Rubia cordifolia.) The Chinese name of the dish is figurative more than it is descriptive. 瑶柱茜草。You dip them in dark aged vinegar 老陈醋。 It's borderline bad manners to ask your neighbors too many questions about their food. OK to maybe just inquire, "What is that called?" 这是什么菜?You enter a troubled zone if you add, "Does it taste good?" 好吃吗?because then they will usually smile and offer you one of their three or four bit-sized pieces whether they really want to or not. So it was another great meal for under 100 MOP, rough actual cost about 70 Chinese Yuan or $11 US Dollars. And being a "tea nut" you probably guessed I would have to play with the leaves at least once. (Tieguanyin again. 铁观音) If you go to Guangzhou, Hong Kong or Macau, be sure to make time for at least one Cantonese dim sum meal. It's a regional specialty and culinary treat not to be missed. It is now copied all over the world, but this is the source, the original mother lode.
  5. 7 points
    OK, I see. Then does the OP need to worry about it? Probably not. After drinking it about ten years, one of my six legs got slightly bent so I crawl with a slight limp, and one of my antennae fell off, though that may have been co-incidental. Other than that, I've noticed no ill effects.
  6. 6 points
    I'm a Chinese teacher and not good at English. I'll try my best to explain your question. You're right. "要……了、快……了、就要……了" mean almost the same - almost, just about to . For example: (S.+要/快/就要+Verb Phrases+了) 我们要走了;我们快走了;我们就要走了。(We are about to go.) 他要毕业了;他快毕业了;他就要毕业了。(He's about to graduate.) And the slight difference is: 1. Time In the structure Time+S.+___+Verb phrases, you can only use “就要……了”. For example: 明天我们就要回家了。(We going home tomorrow.) *明天我们要回家了。× *明天我们快回家了。× 晚上他就要来了。(He's about to come here tonight.) *晚上他要来了。× *晚上他快来了。× 2. Urgency The urgency degree of these three structures: 就要>快>要。 When you say “他就要来了”, it means he'll come right away/at once. “他快来了/他要来了”means he'll come soon, but maybe not immediately. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Hope my answer will help you.
  7. 5 points
    Was just thinking about this, prompted by the Tones over characters discussion. Is there a term in linguistics for the 'tone-free' pronunciation of a word or syllable in a tonal language. On here people use the 'base pronunciation' - ie, "I've learned all the HSK 1 words, but quite often I forget the tone. I always get the base pronunciation right though" This is slightly unsatisfactory as it continues the idea that the tone is somehow not basic, when it is. But is there a correct adjective. Atonal? Tone-free? Is this a term that might be used in linguistics, perhaps in a sentence like "To test the importance of tone in comprehension of fluent speech, we exposed native speakers to various _______ sentences". I did some in-depth research by scanning the Wiki article, but to no avail. I did learn the following facts though: It is now widely held that Old Chinese did not have phonemically contrastive tone.[citation needed] Very often, tone arises as an effect of the loss or merger of consonants. (Such trace effects of disappeared tones or other sounds have been nicknamed Cheshirisation, after the lingering smile of the disappearing Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.)
  8. 5 points
    Youzi 柚子,sometimes translated as pomelo or shaddock, is one of the foods typically associated with Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节, which arrives tomorrow. The formal name for this luxurious fruit is "citrus maximus" and that's a good fit because it's much larger than a grapefruit, nearly the size of a bowling ball or cantaloupe. In fact, it's the biggest member of the citrus family. When I went to the market yesterday, they were everywhere I looked, fresh and cheap. Now is the start of their season (they aren't available in summer.) I bought one and wanted to show you how it worked out. The youzi lady helped me pick out a good one: heavy for its size and firm all over with no soft spots. Hers were from Fujian 福建, though we also get them brought up from Hainan 海南。This fruit is actually popular all over SE Asia, but is not found much in the West. She asked if I wanted it peeled or not, and I asked her to do the honors and save me some work. She scored it with a large knife, cutting through the tough rind barely into the white pith. Then she separated the center with a large flat plastic spoon and lifted it out. Often a "cooked rice scoop" is used for this, the kind that came free in the same box as your rice steamer. If I had been a bit more ambitious, I would have asked her to give me the rind. It can be turned into fantastic marmalade, or dried and candied as a sweet snack. I usually have a large jar of the marmalade in the fridge year round. The best of it comes from Korea and is made with honey instead of white sugar. It goes by the name of "youzi cha" 柚子茶 here, and stirring a spoon or two of it into hot water makes a refreshing warm drink. Here's the center of the youzi as it looked when I got it home. I tore it in half and removed the bitter white pith from several sections. The chopsticks are just for size, they aren't necessarily needed when eating it. Fingers or a fork are just fine. I had also purchased a bag of fresh Mandarin oranges, since they are at their best now also. Even though I usually just eat yozi plain, today I decided to make a pretty salad because my ladyfriend was coming over to bring me a gift of some Mooncake 月饼。Peeled a couple oranges and pulled them apart into sections. Dug out some youzi in a similar manner, freeing it up from the tough segmental membranes. Tossed it together with some fresh mint 薄荷 and a sprinkle of gouqi berries 枸杞 (aka "wolfberry.") Set it out with some toothpicks 牙签 to use as utensils. Youzi has a mild taste, with less tang and bite than grapefruit. It's a mellow companion for orange slices with enough taste contrast between the two to make the combination interesting. I've also seen it served with cucumber slices and a vinaigrette dressing. That was fine enough for us just as shown above, and we enjoyed nibbling it together at the living room table. Hard to go wrong with something that is this pretty as well as tasty. But I'll go ahead and show you how to "gild the lily" if you want to take it a step or two further sometime just for fun. Mix two tablespoons of citrus jam, here I'm using one made from lemon, with one tablespoon of Cointreau. This makes an unparalleled tangy-sweet dipping sauce. Shake some ground red pepper and salt into another shallow dish beside it. First dip a piece of fruit into the sauce, then barely touch it to the salt and hot pepper. The contrasting flavors make your mouth oddly happy, although admittedly this treatment is not going to please everyone. Regardless of how you use it, youzi is a very worthwhile addition to your citrus fruit repertory. And now is the perfect time to enjoy it. Not only is it part of this holiday season, it's something that can stand on its own admirably all through the cooler part of the year.
  9. 5 points
    So lately my boyfriend started watching “奇葩说” and one of the videos caught my attention because of the presence of 李銀河, perhaps the only Chinese sociologist I readily recognise the name of. I guess I am one of her fans or something. But on the forum often everyone seems to talk a lot more about 王小波 and his books than they do about his surviving wife. If you have read many of 王小波's work but aren't very acquainted with 李銀河, just take a few moments to imagine the type of person who would be married to him. 李銀河 is everything and more. I think this is what's called being a "stan" (a rabid fan?) This is the retired professor who has been calling every year since 2001 for gay marriage legalisation in China. With all my preconceived notions of China, something about someone (who has well-known research on sadomasochist subculture) trying to use whatever pull she has to bring up gay marriage (the year right after the Netherlands passed their gay marriage bill) in spite of receiving death threats is just so mind-bogglingly badass. Recently, she went on the show “奇葩说” to talk about the five reasons marriage will "die out", but specified that she doesn't believe it will completely disappear, just that what many might call 'traditional marriage' will become a much less core type of union. I think this is what some fear as the 'destruction of traditional marriage' or whatever the rhetoric is that is going on in Singapore and Australia right now. For those who have access to YouTube, you can watch her on “奇葩说” at this link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vxF_KgWa3Mc and I've transcribed her little monologue below with the heading《婚姻終將消亡》"Marriage Gon' Die Out". But I find her comments about retiring and turning to writing SM novels "like 50 Shades of Grey" probably the most amusing. Does anyone have any recommended readings? Favourite interviews?
  10. 4 points
    Thanks to Roddy's suggestion about this topic. As you know, I'm a Chinese teacher in a university. Since we are learning Chinese now, I'd like to know your interesting answers written in Chinese. So, if you want, please tell me your story (in 100 Chinese characters or fewer). And if you make mistakes, I'll correct them. I believe it's a good way to practice your Chinese.
  11. 4 points
    I don't think you really understood Publius there. He(?)'s saying the phonetic component in 极 /kɪk˨/ doesn't make sense in Cantonese, because 及 is /kɐp˨/, and characters that contain it as a phonetic component, like 級 /kʰɐp˥/, usually retain the /p/ final plosive. 極 makes more sense because the phonetic component is 亟 /kɪk˥/. Your examples are a different sort. 后 and 後 were homophones in Old Chinese, and 后 was rebused for 後 early on. 云 originally meant "cloud," and 雨 was added later to differentiate this meaning from "say" after it was borrowed to mean "say."
  12. 4 points
    Not just meanings. When I was learning Cantonese, I thought 极 must be 'kap'. Because, after all, 及、级、吸 all read 'kap', right? But no, it's 'gik'. Then it occurred to me that the traditional form is 極. Switched to traditional. Never looked back.
  13. 4 points
    No. Just because "I am running as fast as I can" and "I am doing the best I can" effectively mean the same thing, doesn't mean they have the same structure. "The best" is a superlative, whose scope needs to be qualified, either by a relative clause as in this case "that I can", or by a prepositional phrase such as "among us" or "in my life". "As fast as I can" is a comparison of equality. It has the same structure as "as fast as a snail" or "as fast as you can imagine". The fist "as" being a degree adverb, the second "as" a conjunction. Moreover, "do one's best" is idiomatic, which means the syntax and semantics are more or less fixed. "I am running the fastest I can" is a bit awkward, while "I am doing as well as I can" is just confusing. Conclusion: your two English expressions use different mechanisms. You're applying apple rules to orange (or android). In the Chinese sentence 他跑得能有多快就有多快, the logic is similar. The notion is superlative, but the syntax involves a comparison. Only the Chinese grammar requires that the modifying phrase ("as is possible" or "as he can") precedes the modified ("快/fast"), so it becomes "as-is-possible-ly fast". The modifier-modified rule has an exception: certain adverbial phrases can follow the verb they modify. It's called a complement. In your sample sentence, 得 marks the phrase that follows it as a complement (of degree or result) to the verb 跑. The lack of a complement marker makes your self-made sentence ungrammatical. Somethingfunny's literal glossing is quite good. I just want to add one point. Note the red parts: 他跑得很快。(very fast) 他跑得有多快?(how fast) 他跑得能有多快就有多快。(as fast as fast can be) Since "I am doing the best I can" is a different idiom, we express it differently. There is a chengyu, 尽力而为: 我已经尽力而为了/我正在尽力而为。 Or more wordily: 我已经尽我最大的努力了/正在尽我最大的努力。
  14. 4 points
    I don't think there's any "personalized SRS" stuff going on, at the end of a session you can mark whether the sentences were too hard, easy, or just right, and that influences the next sets of sentences you will receive, so if you are consistently marking sentences as too easy you should theoretically start getting more difficult sentences more quickly. I'm not sure if it's a general thing or if there are specific data tags added to each sentence so that you will see fewer similar sentences when marking it as too easy. I used my mp3 player, not my phone, for the old Glossika course. It's much easier to pause on my mp3 player (i can actually feel the button and don't have to pull it out of my pocket). But the new web app is fine, it's just a web app, it'd be better as a native app, more responsive, quicker, and we would've probably had an offline mode by now. The app as it is now is a bit pricey (well, way pricey), but there are quite a few languages which are now 100% free, including many Chinese dialects (not Mandarin or Cantonese, but Taiwanese Hokkien, Wenzhounese, and the two Hakka courses are though). I like having the audio and the text matched together, that's really great. What i don't like is having to be connected to the internet all the time to use it. Having the web browser open all the time also seems to drain my battery super quickly. If you want to support the project and can spare the cash, it's definitely a nice system. Overall i imagine it's gonna cost more per course than before and you won't actually own anything, so not really sure what happens when your subscription runs out. I imagine you just get kicked out and can't review anything anymore. If you aren't really passionate about the method/goals (like getting more regional languages out for free and i believe being able to put out community courses which if i understand correctly will also be free) it's probably not worth the money, at least not now. It's very bare bones, all you can really do is start your session and that's about it. There are still a few small issues to iron out as well (there are usually a couple posts about it on the Facebook group) but that's getting much better.
  15. 4 points
    You applied for a tourist visa! Don't bring the school into it! Refunds are simply not part of Hong Kong business practice. Maybe you'll be lucky, but all you can do is ask. Don't make a scene or a fuss or invent excuses! Just say your plans have changed. In any event, staying in Hong Kong is expensive, and the conditions in a place like CKM are dreadful. If you're stuck with the visa -- and you probably will be -- then go up to Shenzhen for a few days. You'll get a decent room for less than you're paying in a CKM hovel, as well as good food at good prices. Plus, if you haven't been to the Mainland before you'll see what you're in for if you decide to teach there.
  16. 4 points
    I have been outside of China for two years so I always feel grateful that I get to experience the rapid changes more fully, seeing them in a kind of time lapse. Unfortunately this time I've mainly been recording video. While I believe video captures a much better view of things it obviously isn't that great for sharing on a forum! Nonetheless I still have a few photos that I think are pretty cool. One of the most obvious things I have noticed this time is the massive 文明 campaign that's being rolled out. More houses than ever before have been marked for destruction and whole villages have been converted into new government districts and 文明区's. This often creates interesting juxtapositions between the original village and the new districts. The prices of food and basic goods in these new districts are outrageous as many villagers have been handsomely compensated to have their houses torn down and the new found wealth seems to have flowed into prices. A few years ago many villagers were building their houses where the new bullet trains were going to be built. They even have a name 拆二代. Now it seems that the big bucks are made in the villages that surround small rural towns. Even some of the relative newer villages have been marked for destruction. I've commented before about the differences between the new housing and the traditional. At the time I thought the villagers were happy to move into new houses or apartments. This time however I got a different story. Many people complained that the new houses had poor heating and cooling. Something about the construction of the new houses means they become super hot in summer and icey cold in winter. I even met some people who have a new house or apartment but sleep in their traditional houses, only moving into the new house when guests are coming. Walking around another village I saw a sign that wasn't for 打井 or 建筑文明 or 收大狗. Instead it was the first church I've ever seen in China. It seemed even more bizarre that it was located in the back alleys of small town. I followed the road for 50 metres and when I turned the corner there was a gigantic 3 story church, almost bigger than a government building. After I went inside I started speaking to a lay member of the church. Their Mandarin was very standard so it was quite easy for me to talk them. They were very keen to get me to convert. I have no interest. But it was strangely refreshing to hear someone so sincere and earnest in what can be a pretty cynical and materialistic country. I couldn't work out how the church was getting so much money to fund its large operation. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was foreign money. Lastly, I discovered 板栗, which I think is a type of chestnut. The countryside in the south is filled with these trees at the moment. When they're ripe they fall off the tree with a thud. When kids hear this noise they all run out to try and find the fallen chestnut. It's almost like an Easter Egg hunt. Eventually however the adults come and you basically beat the tree to death with a large piece of bamboo and collect all the fallen 板栗. The shell is incredible sharp and can even pierce your shoes. Having them fall on your head is incredibly painful too. You start off by banging off the low hanging nuts, then climb up the tree to get the rest off. I left the second part to the professionals. I was told that it sells for about 7 yuan per jin. It took us 4 adults about 3 hours of banging the tree then pry open about 8 jin of chestnuts. About 4-5 yuan per person per hour, not even counting the time it would take to drive to the market and sell them. Nasty. But not as bad as doing rice. The pay is much lower. And the conditions are gruelling. It's always 35C with near 100% humidity, the grass gets stuck in your clothes, there are leeches in the water, and you make much less money in terms of effort-to-reward than doing something like chestnuts. It is for this reason that many people are transitioning into growing more meat.
  17. 4 points
    spotted in a corner of the cbd on the way home from dinner. positive taken: got my new word for the day, 違著
  18. 4 points
    @Lwd -- I went to Carrefour and WalMart yesterday. Looked at laundry soap on your behalf. Talked it over with the ladies who work in that department. Both said your best bet was to buy laundry soap designed for young children since it is more gentle. Here are some possibilities that I found. (They all cost more than ordinary laundry soap for normal adults.) None are completely unscented. This one is popular. Less-convenient bulk packaging (right) costs a little less. The last one, white container above right, "Elsker" brand, was advertised as being "herbal" and "organic" though I'm not sure what that actually means.
  19. 4 points
    A large number of compound verbs in Modern Standard Mandarin take the form of "verb + default object": 吃饭 eat meal 睡觉 sleep a sleep 走路 walk road 摔跤 fall a fall 做梦 make dream 洗澡 bathe a bath 唱歌 sing song 跳舞 dance a dance 数数 count numbers 教书 teach book The nouns in these cases are better viewed as abstract placeholders. Basically, an extra syllable is tacked onto a monosyllabic verb to make it disyllabic, which is the preferred rhythmic structure of the modern language. 教英语 = to teach English, 教化学 = to teach chemistry. But 'teaching' in general, without specifying the subject, is 教书 (teach book) or 教课 (teach lesson) where 书 or 课 has little concrete meaning. 教书 is one word, but its two elements are separable when a modifier is present, in this case, the amount or duration: 教两个钟头的书. 我每天教两个钟头 is okay if "教 what" is deducible from the context. For example: 甲:我在网上教外国人学汉语。 乙:你每天教多长时间? 甲:我每天教两个钟头。 In the original sentence 我每天教两个钟头的书, the reason why 两个钟头 is modifying 书 is because although "I teach two hours everyday" is perfectly fine in English, in Chinese it is not. In Chinese, all modifiers must precede the modified, and "verb + object + another modifier" is ungrammatical (the underlying structure of 教书 is "verb + object"). There is another way to rephrase the sentence: 我每天教书教两个钟头。 The underlined part is being topicalized, and 两个钟头 can follow the verb 教 as a complement (both V+O and V+C are allowed, but generally not V+O+C).
  20. 4 points
    Since I am fortunate enough to be able to easily put my hands on some of China's best tofu and some of China's best ham, it would be a pity not to combine them into a simple main dish from time to time. The premium Yunnan tofu I'm bragging about is from Shiping Town 石屏县城 in Honghe Prefecture 红河州 to the south of Kunming, and this fine Yunnan ham is from Xuanwei 宣威 in Qujing Prefecture 曲靖 to the northeast. I buy them both fresh by weight at my local wet market. Bear in mind that wherever you are, it's easy enough to substitute a local tofu and a local ham for these particular specialty items. The results can still be tasty and the cooking technique is the same. Here's how I did it today. Assemble the ingredients. Only used about half of this small block of dark-cured ham. Three or four dried chili peppers 干辣椒 for a little heat. This isn't a fussy recipe with critical weights or measures; a little more or less of any single item won't much matter. You can adjust it to taste. I've made it many times and never had it fail. Smash the big spring onion 大葱 with the edge of your knife 菜刀 to partially flatten it out and release more of the aroma and flavor. Then slice it thin on a bias, with the knife blade almost parallel with the cutting board. Slice a little bit of ham into very thin slivers. Use a just-sharpened knife and try to make them nearly transparent. Roughly dice one fresh tomato. The one I used here is from a batch that I knew to have slightly tough skin, so I quickly dunked it in boiling water and slipped the skin off before cutting it up. Put one large tablespoon of oyster sauce 耗油 together with one large tablespoon of catsup 番茄酱 in a small bowl and mix in two or three tablespoons of water, making a slurry. Cut the tofu sheets into rectangles of a size that will later be easy to grasp with chopsticks at the table. Brown them slightly over low to medium heat in a non-stick pan with a little bit of oil. When they are golden on both sides, take them out and reserve them nearby. Now add the ham, roughly-torn chili pods, and spring onions into the pan and lightly saute them. Add the tomatoes and the sauce, stir it up, and then add back the tofu. Heat through to combine flavors and serve. Since the ham, the oyster sauce and the catsup all have some salt, you won't need to add any extra. This tasty dish only takes 10 or 15 minutes from start to finish and doesn't require much in the way of special equipment or cleanup. Give it a try one day when you aren't sure what to cook for supper. Your expedition into the flavors of Yunnan will be amply rewarded.
  21. 4 points
    Definitely less embarrassing than 林蛋大.
  22. 4 points
  23. 4 points
    I agree with the English translator and your colleague. 行程 usually means the whole trip, therefore unlikely to be measured in seconds. If I wanted to express the other meaning, I would use 原本只需十餘秒的過程 + 被 or 把 construction. Make sense?
  24. 3 points
    Pretty sure this trio is one of the standard examples where Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China have completely different terms for the same thing. I seem to recall we have a thread full of different words for the same thing... Edit: Found it! @Christa I suspect you would enjoy it https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/25133-same-thing-different-names/
  25. 3 points
    Just a bump to say how delighted I am the Princess Remy archives are still online. Can't remember what brought her to mind, but just spent a happy 15 minutes reacquainting myself with the back catalogue.
  26. 3 points
    I had to pop to the international student center at uni to sort some visa stuff, and couldn't resist getting some snaps of this sign. I haven't even attempted to decipher anything that's on there, but there's plenty on there to keep one busy, especially if you are looking to perfect your 'reading handwriting' skills! I'd love to hear feedback on what people have written (there's not a lot on there I can read, other than the middle hah)!
  27. 3 points
    Hi all, I came across this sentence which construction I cannot really understand: 他跑得能有多快就有多快。 tā pǎo de néng yǒu duō kuài jiù yǒu duō kuài . He ran as fast as he could. What is the logic behind it? Should I just accept and memorize it? If I want to say, for instance, "I am doing the best I can", could I say: 我在做能有多好就有多好 Wǒ zài zuò néng yǒu duō hǎo jiù yǒu duō hǎo Thanks!
  28. 3 points
  29. 3 points
    @889 -- A died in the wool chili head puts in his morning coffee and on his breakfast cereal as well! "Where is my chili tooth paste, where is my chili after shave?" But seriously, the blender was not at all difficult to clean. The whole kitchen did have a very chili smell while manufacturing was in process, but the air in the rest of my apartment never ceased to be dominated by the hugely aromatic lilies 百合 in the living room!
  30. 3 points
    Well I guess I mistook which week we are in, because apparently this is week 7! I didn't update the blog last week as we had the week off, which was actually really nice and relaxing. Anyway, things are continuing to go well as we start back up after our week off. Still a fair amount of students not coming to class. Week 9/10 is our mid terms, and it is doubtful whether or not some of the students will be able to sit the exams, as they may not have been to enough classes. If they aren't allowed to sit their mid terms, they automatically get disqualified from taking the final exams too, so I wouldn't want to be in their shoes! Yesterday our comprehensive teacher told us that we have a big dictation deal on Friday, covering all the hanzi we have learned so far. Then today he dropped a 22 word dictation test on us out of the blue, said there will be another one tomorrow, but the one on Friday will be much bigger. It was nice to be able to see where I am at with no prior preparation or knowledge of what words were going to come up. Along with 2 other students, I got 100%, so needless to say I was pretty happy with that. We also had homework for that class which was to talk about our room and what it contains, but for me I had to do my whole house as I live off campus. This was also really good because it meant looking up new words and their measure words, as well as putting into practice the location words we've learned. Some of my new words were cactus, scales, drawer, punching bag, and a fair few measure words for those and other items. We also had homework for our speaking class. We just finished up a chapter on time, and so we had to describe a typical day. I tried to make it interesting and add more than just 'I get up at x o'clock. I have breakfast at x o'clock. Class is from x-x o'clock.' I'm sure there were mistakes in there, but I want to get things wrong in order to learn more. I definitely feel like I am improving across the board, but still find listening to be the hardest by far. I am usually there early so I chat with the teachers, but compared to regular people I meet in daily life, they are so easy to understand! I also find that I can usually do fairly well in the comprehension type listening exercises, but when it comes to the ones where we are given a sentence in pinyin and there are 3 words or so for which we have to mark the tones, I struggle a bit. I guess it's just practice, practice, practice!
  31. 3 points
    的士 is 粵語音譯 of Taxi and is used in Hong Kong and southern China. 出租車 is used in mainland China. 計程車 is used in Taiwan. The Wikipedia article has all these and more.
  32. 3 points
    I've started on a new language recently and came across some advice I thought was very interesting: when you're listening to material in the target language, for example a sentence from a textbook mp3: intentionally listen to the sounds, rather than listen for the meaning. If you're trying to work out the meaning, you're not really listening to the sounds. That means you'll be slow at learning how to distinguish sounds in the language. But that's the key listening skill that you really want to prioritise. By telling myself to focus on the sounds, I really do hear them better in the sentence. But it has to be a conscious effort: if I forget to remind myself, I end up 'listening for the meaning' again, which is no good. Of course you do also want to understand, or at least work out the meaning of, the sentence, but it's better to: a) listen to the sounds, distinguish them clearly, remember what words they represent, and finally work out the meaning of the sentence, rather than b) listen for the meaning, figure out roughly what's going on, realise what the meaning of the sentence is, but remain unsure of precisely how some of the words are pronounced. The phrases and sentences I'm listening to are in flashcards so I'm hearing them repeatedly over time. That means that their meaning will be in my brain somewhere, because I've heard them several times before. Or they are formed of words and grammar patterns I already know. And so, focusing on the sounds not the meaning, when I get to the end of the sentence, the meaning does indeed 'pop into my head', or rather, my understanding is prompted in large part because I've clearly recognised many of the individual words in the sentence -- and I'm much better able to recognise those individual words because I'm listening for sounds, not meaning. Good advice for beginners, I think. And quite possibly suggested elsewhere here on these forums too?
  33. 3 points
    An amazing linguist (and university professor of mine) calls them in Spanish "sílabas átonas" (atonic syllables). Quote in Spanish and rough translation: The tone forms one unit with the syllable, a consubstantial part of it, although there are atonic syllables that lose their tone in specific combinations with other syllables.
  34. 3 points
    Back to the question at hand: Yes, you can absolutely grow basil in Shanghai. It grows much better here in Hangzhou (less than an hour away from Shanghai) than it did back in New York, which has relatively similar weather to parts of Germany (we're a few degrees colder and warmer than Bavaria in winter/summer respectively). I planted mine rather late (May) and in August had two pots absolutely overflowing in basil. My classmates both have their pots still going. As to seed sources, there are many. Last year, my mother mailed me a small packet of seeds [oregano, thyme and basil] all of which flourished - they fit in a letter envelope and got here no problem. Second, I went away for a month in August and my plants sadly perished, so I bought a whole plant off Taobao which I just received a week ago. Taobao plants do not arrive in great condition having spent the past 2 days in a cardboard box, and the soil always sucks, so I don't really have any hope for it, but it has lasted a week (the mint I bought off taobao died off right away). If you were to follow this route, I would recommend buying another pot and replanting the basil. Third source is Taobao seeds. There are plenty of options, though they don't seem to be labeled quite as well as seeds tend to be in the US (i.e. you might end up growing Thai basil, or lemon thyme, when you thought you were getting sweet basil or normal thyme) I don't know if you could plant them in November - that's quite late in the growing season and basil really thrives on warm summer weather. If you were to try, it would almost certainly not grow enough to harvest - Shanghai apartments almost never come with heating so the nights will drop below ten degrees often, and not go that much higher during the day. You could buy a grow light and stick the basil in a closet, but space is at such a premium that I doubt you'd be able to follow that method. Wait till spring to sow. If you really want to start in November, buy a rosemary or mint plant off Taobao - they handle cold weather better. Something to note: you can almost certainly find basil leaves in Shanghai. There is a farm in @abcdefg 's hometown that grows western herbs, the "Metro" and "Ole" supermarket chains both seem to have them once in awhile. You can also easily buy dried basil online; believe they also have fresh basil. Fresh herbs cost a fortune in China. I only bought them once and it was really more for fun than anything - the chain supermarkets don't really compare to your local 农业市场 for most stuff and I've never found any reason to go except to buy a chunk of Parmesan. Vegetables cost twice as much and aren't as fresh, but come wrapped in enough plastic to make you feel guilty about even looking at them.
  35. 3 points
    One fairly random photo of Chinese characters in action, per week, until sometime in 2018. And perhaps longer if I'm encouraged. Those who want to contribute their own random photos of Chinese characters are welcome, just get in touch and I'll add you to the contributor list so you can post directly, from computer or phone. Now is it just me, or is that a nicely written sign?
  36. 3 points
    DeFrancis Chinese Readers: Almost done with the Intermediate Volumes Usually I read one chapter and at the same time do flashcards for the next chapter, works pretty well so far Highly recommended, starts from zero and provides best value for money Audio is not that easy to understand, I plan to listen to the whole series at some point but that would reduce the time I can spend on reading... Mandarin Companion: Especially Level 1 was too easy for me, but it's a nice feeling to be able to read a Chinese book without much effort One book of Level 1 took me around 1.5h to read The conversion to traditional characters was wrong for a few characters, no big deal and I think it's fixed by now but conversion from simplified to traditional always requires proofreading so I am not sure why this wasn't caught. To avoid DRM I bought the printed editions and unfortunately it was really too expensive, I paid between 18€ and 20€ for each volume, the price printed on the book is 12.95$ (11€) which would be more reasonable The books were printed by a print on demand company here in Germany in full color which makes it more expensive I would prefer an ebook without DRM or a cheaper printed edition in grayscale, with reduced line spacing and smaller pictures I like the content, the stories and the concept, so I would recommend them if you don't mind DRM on your ebooks or if you can get a cheaper printed edition. Personally I will probably not buy another one since a) the level is a bit too low for me, b) the price of the printed edition here is too high and c) I still have a few other readers waiting on my bookshelf.
  37. 3 points
  38. 3 points
    Chinese text is read top to bottom, right to left. But these lines seem to be arranged around the center 公盛老金鋪 (Gongsheng is the shop name). 金葉 = gold leaf, 首飾 = jewelry, 珠石 = pearls and precious stones, 玉器 = jade ware 安南西貢舊街市 門牌第四十七號 is the address. 安南 (Annam) is the old name for Vietnam, 西貢 (Saigon) the old name for Ho Chi Minh City.
  39. 3 points
    I spent some time looking around for an adequate substitute for 《锵锵三人行》, and I think I found something that will work for my purposes (transcription practice). If you've looked into Chinese podcasts you may have come across 《逻辑思维》, a show where the host discusses various topics from history, science, etc. It looks like this podcast has full transcripts for each of its daily (Mon-Fri) 10 minute long episodes. As of March 2017, 《逻辑思维》 is free but officially only available on the 得到 app. It looks like people are putting the episodes up on Youtube too, if you are having trouble installing the app.
  40. 3 points
    Thanks! I like good questions, will use that button whenever I see one.
  41. 3 points
    Picture of 钟馗 (a traditional Chinese god) subduing a tiger. The text: 钟馗 (name of the god) 诚既勇兮又以武 终刚强兮不可凌 身既死兮神以灵 魂魄毅兮为鬼雄 (Part of a poem 《九歌·国殇》 by Qu Yuan 屈原(~300 BC), mourning the fallen soldiers of his nation). 丙辰年之秋德元写于成都之西郊 (Written by Deyuan in the fall of 1976 (or 1916) in the western countryside of Chengdu).
  42. 3 points
    I first learned to write (not read) the Japanese Kanji using Heisig's method back in 2004-2005. I used Stackz!, a Leitner-based flashcard software, for reviews. Years later I learned a lot of pronunciations, not thanks to RTK2, but thanks to copying JLPT3 vocabulary lists to Anki. Forward to 2012: I never became fluent in Japanese (lost motivation shortly after 2005), but in this year I took a 60-hour introductory course to Chinese. Since I was already familiar with many characters, I didn't bother to actually learn the Hanzi at this time. I just winged it. Forward to mid 2015: I haven't really made a lot of progress in Chinese, and I rely heavily on pinyin. I meet, for the first time, a westerner who can read Chinese perfectly, and this prompts me to order both volumes of Remembering Simplified Hanzi and start studying like crazy, at a pace of 40 characters per day (later lowered to 20), using 3, 4, or sometimes even 5 hours every day in this task. By the end of the year, I had learned to write (from Spanish keywords + pinyin) all 3,000 characters, with Anki's help, plus I was able to pronounce most of them thanks to a steadily growing Pleco flashcard deck. I had also added HSK 1-3 and part of 4 cards to the deck. I already was able to read aloud in front of an audience, but only with several weeks of "chorusing" preparation with slowed-down native reading recordings chopped into ~6-second Anki flashcards. But I didn't do any writing practice beyond writing individual characters from Heisig's keywords. Forward to 2017: Following the recommendations in this forum, I started transcription exercises by hand. This has been the first time I have been writing so much by hand since elementary school, and the first time I actually write by hand full sentences in Chinese. This has helped a lot both with writing confidence and with reading. I'm also tackling my Pleco SRS overdue backlog, and to make it more interesting, I'm using a fill-in-the-blanks test mode alternating between reading and writing. This has also helped a lot. My current level is: I can read Chinese Breeze and Mandarin Companion levels 1-2 with almost no help. I can read materials written by my organization (with lots of recurring vocabulary) with a little bit or some Pleco's help (depending on difficulty). For everything else, including news, manhuas, dramas, etc, I still rely heavily on Pleco and can't really read fluently.
  43. 3 points
    So I am going to add a few photos of the campus to this post as was requested, and then hopefully (if I can move my fingers enough to take a picture!), I will grab some of the same shots in mid winter so people can compare. I should probably update my blog at the end of each week rather than the start, so I might change that once I start back. This is our last week before we have a week off. Things are continuing to go well. Yesterday one of my teachers lost it at some of the Korean guys at the back. They were talking all the way through class and it was very distracting for those of us who actually want to learn, or paid our own money to come and study, rather than coming on mummy and daddy's money. I was speaking to the teacher about it today and she said they won't be here much longer - they are being given one more chance. But at the rate most of them are missing class they won't be allowed to sit their final exams in January anyway. The highlight of last week was a really good method (or at least I thought it was) of learning vocab given by one of our teachers, after we covered some in class. We hit nouns, firstly what we could see around us in the classroom and all of our stationary, then then things that we have in our rooms. He said this is a great way for us to learn the names of new things, but then he said don't just leave it at that, learn the measure word for each item, and verbs commonly associated with it, so we did that too. I have also started doing this in my own room and it has been really helpful. For example I looked at my scales and learned 体重器 and 称量,although I still need to learn the measure word for scales! The method I use for my own learning is pretty much rote memorization (which fits really well with the education system here) until I feel I know the word and hanzi (including tones of course), and then after 2 or 3 days of getting the words (5-7 at a time, as many time as needed/possible per day), at which point I put it into one of my anki decks. I try and go through my decks every day, although there are the odd days that I miss for various reasons. If I run out of words to learn then I go through the books I have and look for things I don't know, although with this new way of learning household items etc, I don't think I will struggle to find new vocabulary for the foreseeable future! It looks like a couple of the photos failed to upload, but these ones will do for now. The building with all of the flags outside it is where I study. This is just a snippet of the campus, it's really big. There is also another campus, possible even two, although I have never been to them.
  44. 3 points
    斯女 could mean 'this female' or 'thus thou' (女 being an archaic variant of 汝). The last character looks like 兮, an empty word for poetic emotions and rhythmic modification. But the omission of a dot in 斯 indicates the tattoo artist hardly knew any Chinese let alone classical literature. And since 艹 is usually used only as a radical (for a character, 艸 is more appropriate), I venture to say that what looks like 兮 is the lower part of 芬 in cursive script, and the whole thing could be a rather miserable attempt at 斯蒂芬, a transliteration of 'Stephan'. Anyways, it's misshaped and illegible. If the bearer of the tattoo can't tell what it's supposed to mean, nobody can.
  45. 3 points
    That right-hand sidebar on the threads page is just clutter. Best to keep the forum looking clean.
  46. 3 points
    There are 2 very good Chinese TV series currently running on Netflix, though not in all countries, see below. Both are subtitled in English (unfortunately no option to see the Chinese subtitles). Both are recommended. King's War (2012), 楚汉传奇, is an 80 episodes series based on the Chu-Han Contention at the end of the Qin Dynasty. It seems to follow Sima Qian's accounts quite closely, acting is good and the sets are impressively good. Qin Empire: Alliance (2013) is actually the 2nd series in an ongoing set of dramas charting the rise of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period and the creating of the Qin Empire. Unfortunately, the real Series 1 (2009) has been omitted for no known reason, though IMO it is the most interesting so far since it comprises Lord Shang Yang's reforms that created the conditions for the rise of Qin. Series 1 also has a great music score These series are based on 大秦帝国 an 18-volumes historical novel by Sun Haohui (孙皓晖) , in parts, apparently, modified for more historical accuracy. I tried to read the book but it was heavy going for me, too many technical/military terms! This page shows in what countries it is available: https://whatsnewonnetflix.com/uk/m/qin-empire-alliance-season-1
  47. 3 points
    What are we actually describing?
  48. 3 points
    To me this is a permutation of: (他)拖慢行程拖慢了十餘秒 我看了一天的書 <- this book doesn't take a day to read, I just read a whole day's worth of it. Since I think this is an analogous case, I'd say: "he dawdled away 10+ seconds of (precious) travel time". I think saying it was "extra" is not accurate, unless the speaker did not realise there was a toll there at all. Presumably even if the speaker had gotten a fast toll-booth person, they would have had to spend at least some of the seconds contained in the 10+ seconds to effect the transaction. Edit: Sorry I find I always have extra thoughts after hitting enter... I didn't mention that I translate 拖慢 as dawdle or to just drag something out, but I think I was trying to imply that the complement is of duration not of result/degree or whatever. But in theory it should be able to also do what 耽誤 does if you set up whatever right conditions necessary.
  49. 3 points
    Where is the classifier in that sentence? If 枝 is a classifier, what is 條? It is more empty than 枝. The meaning is so diluted that in Modern Standard Mandarin it cannot be used alone as a noun. 枝上結滿麻雀 ✔ 條上結滿麻雀 ✘ No, 枝條 is one word, formed by juxtaposing two morphemes that are synonymous or near-synonymous: 枝,木别生條也 + 條,小枝也. There is a special use of classifiers, namely reduplication, that does convey the meaning of "every", or "down to the last one" if you prefer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_classifier#Specialized_uses https://baike.baidu.com/item/量词#5_1 In which case, the noun is often omitted. 條條大路通羅馬 人人奮勇,個個爭先 綻放的花兒,朵朵嬌豔欲滴 I don't think a bare classifier + noun is even grammatical in Mandarin. (Though it is in Cantonese, e.g. 枝筆幾錢/條女好正/塊面黑晒)
  50. 2 points
    I am using the forums on my iPad, and I feel a bit cramped. I am not sure what the benefit of the sidebar is? One less click to get to new content? I find I hit the homepage button when I'm ready to get to the recent posts/blog entries, and it doesn't seem cumbersome to do so, whereas the sidebar doesn't even seem to reach all the way to the bottom of the page, so I'd only be using it if I got bored/distracted in the middle of reading a thread and wanted to navigate away.
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