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Showing content with the highest reputation on 02/22/2011 in all areas

  1. 4 points
    Just my two cents...but when it comes to speaking English/Chinese at a native level, one shouldn't focus too much efforts on accent and the like. Of course, it'd be great to speak like Dashan or Julien Gaudfroy...they both speak very well indeed. But I'm not sure if the pure ability to speak well is necessarily a great indicator of being "well educated" in another language, although the two probably go hand in hand in many cases. For example, I have met one or two people who have great spoken Chinese (as far as accurate pronunciation and tones) but weren't exactly well educated in all spheres of usage. However, when talking about getting to a "well-educated" level, the thing that trips up people, in my observations, comes down to a few main factors: 1) wide range of vocab knowledge (especially rare, or technical words) 2) long sentences with many, many clauses 3) historical/cultural references If you've ever been to an academic conference in Chinese, you might know what I'm talking about: some guys speak a whole paragraph, laden with clauses and qualifiers to the point where you can mentally see the numerous commas and semicolons popping up in the air, and they're speaking at light speed, with a gigantic vocabulary, often with traces of accents. This is the type of thing that many good foreign-learners struggle with. Surprisingly enough, a good example of this sort of English is the Daily Show. I've watched that with fluent non-native speakers of English, and sometimes it's amazing how often the show uses many long sentences, culture allusions, puns, not to mention current affairs topics. Non-natives struggle with understanding that. Anyway, I think it would be a big stretch to assume that a non-native speaker could acquire that knowledge in just two years. Educated Chinese people get to that level in roughly twenty years. As an adult learner, you could probably cut that time in half or more if you study hard, but then it's still a long process. You have to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary, history, and discourse over a considerable period of time.
  2. 2 points
    One must prioritize. My main current goal is conversational fluency. Number two is being able to read. Number 874 is being able to write characters nicely. I allocate my study time accordingly. My priorities may change as time goes by, and if so, I will adjust my study methods and time allocation.
  3. 1 point
    How did you get to be married in the first place if you don't speak Chinese and (presumably, judging from your post) she doesn't speak English?
  4. 1 point
    He's going to annoy the heck out of his wife if he keeps asking her questions about grammar.
  5. 1 point
    Old thread, but here is my "trick" simply put. Know about Chinese characters. Just learn them. If you can't just learn them, examine them. If that fails, examine them more closely, such as looking up why they were composed that way (i.e. the etymology). Make up mnemonics.
  6. 1 point
    Agreed. By the way, there is no single universal "native Chinese accent". Even native Mandarin speakers from Beijing sound quite different from the newscasters on CCTV. I'm guessing the "newscaster" accent is what some folks here aspire to, but if one should fall short of that, you'd probably be in the same boat as 90% of native speakers. Don't ask me to back up that number. An anecdote... when my father-in-law found out that our sitter is from Beijing, he said, "你叫她把口里的橄榄吐出来吧": a reference to how Southerners can sometimes find the Beijing speech odd-sounding, like she's speaking with an olive in the mouth.
  7. 1 point
    Surprisingly enough, this has come up once or twice before. Merging with one of the more recent examples. Also appreciated if quoting can be kept to a minimum - a link and commentary is more likely to get a discussion going.
  8. 1 point
    just some minor spoilers, guess the director assumed that anyone watching the show would have read or at least know some of the story of 神雕侠侣,, which is almost true in china,, anyway, if you do have read it , you would know that Guangu completely misunderstood it,, in a most hilarious way,, ;) in Episode 8 of II, Guangu suddenly became able to speak chinese in a native way fluently after his accidental intaking of some self-made liquor. comparing the tone before and after would make it more obvious
  9. 1 point
    no trick la, only hardworking practice a lot is only trick ;(
  10. 1 point
    First off, you're in a great position. But you've got to start out with a framework. Start with a textbook or an online course (there are plenty mentioned on this site -- find one that suits you). You will learn things that you'll think are completely useless and you'll feel like you're not learning anything -- this will be a recurring theme in your language study. Just keep studying. The beauty of living in Taiwan is that as you study, you'll start hearing things and saying to yourself, "Hey, that grammar structure is something I've been studying this week." The combination of "academic" study and re-enforcement in a real-life situations is really invaluable. You'll begin learning and retaining quickly. A serious study would be any consistent one. Don't overdo it if you'll risk burning out. An hour or so every day -- but i really mean every day -- will do wonders over a year's time. Choose lots of different learning activities -- watching TV, listening to radio/podcasts, textbook vocab and grammar, speaking with your wife... The most beautiful thing about learning a new language is suddenly realizing that you can think and speak in that language with little effort and no translation in your head. That just comes through constant and consistent study an use. But you can't just study. And you can't just use. It's got to be together. I've also learned that while you're learning, a smile and some clever pantomiming can go a long way toward making yourself understood. If you're really serious, there's a really good blog I like - http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com. Check it out. Best of luck!
  11. 1 point
    In the CCTV CNY segment, I think the little kid's accent is better than Dashan's. They're both better than I'll ever be.
  12. 1 point
    I finished of season 1. I enjoyed the whole thing. I will probably take a little break, but I liked it enough that I will definitely be back for season two. I loved the fixation the writers had with Transformers. I got a big kick out of 小贤's performance of 擎天柱之死 in episode 18。 Minor point, but episode 19 has some 神雕侠侣 spoilers. I've never read or watched it, so I don't know if minor or major, but it was interesting to be basically in the same shoes as 关谷。
  13. 1 point
    You're not considering Harbin? Standard-as-heck mandarin, warm and DRY in the summer, nice (OK, kinda polluted but still nice) river to walk along, beer gardens everywhere, difficult to fall into the foreigner crowd because there isn't much of one.... If you want bang, look at CET Harbin. I did the summer program there a few years ago and it was by far the best thing I ever did for my Chinese. It ain't cheap, though, so you may need to find some scholarships.
  14. 1 point
    I haven't really put much effort into writing characters, and I'm doing fine in terms of reading. This a controversial topic, though, and people will disagree vehemently. I'm missing an important skill, but I find that I've spent the time on things that are more important to me, like reading and listening. Personally, I think that you can learn to read without learning to write, but it will take more active exposure to the written language (i.e. much more reading). Personally, I think that time spent reading is time well spent, so I went this road. It doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. I'd just warn you about cutting corners in general. Cutting corners is OK, leaving some stuff for later is ok. But you should be aware of two things. The first one is that there are many skills required for Chinese proficiency (listening, speaking, tones, reading, grammar patterns, writing, vocabulary, chengyu, etc.) and they often complement each other. Which means that being very bad at one of these will slow you down a lot. Aiming towards a well-rounded set of skills will actually help you learn faster overall -- listening will reinforce reading, reading will reinforce speaking, etc. The list of things you need to tackle is daunting, but it's not a problem to leave some of them out for the time being, and pick them up after you notice that you are missing them (keep running into chengyu all the time, can't remember tones to save your life, etc.) You will naturally concentrate on different things at different stages of learning, just don't leave any important parts completely out. The second thing is that you will need a considerable time investment for Chinese, whether you learn to write or not. Plan on an hour a day on average. Learning Chinese as an adult NEEDS time and repetition. Picking priorities is OK, but if you cut too many corners and invest too little time, you will most likely fail. My advice to you is to aim at 2000 characters as an absolute minimum. Without that, you won't be able to read anything, and then it's better not to bother learning characters at all. 2000 characters (and the corresponding words) can be done in 2 years spare time, with some flashcard software and lots of reading. Once you reach that, you will find completely new materials, and fantastic learning resources you cannot imagine at this moment. That's when learning Chinese becomes fun and you don't want to stop it.
  15. 1 point
    The stuff teaching you about radicals might seem very abstract and unnecessary now but in a lots of cases they do help with the meaning: this means you can i) remember & distinguish a character you've already learned ("this character 苹, I know that main part is 平 <ping> and I know the grass radical often indicates a plant, and yeah, the character 'apple' is pronounced ping and is a plant, aha, 苹 is 'apple'..." and ii) guess the kind-of meaning of a new character you see for the first time ("狮 has a radical that's usually used for animals, so I guess it's an animal we're talking about here..."). The more words and characters you learn to recognise, and the more you read, the more this stuff will start to slot into place naturally, but if you make additional effort to work out if the radical for a new character you've encountered will help you remember the character the future, I think you can speed up that process and speed up the mini-eureka moments as parts of the puzzle start fitting together.
  16. 1 point
    Actually the missionaries have 3 months of "formal" language learning, typically in the United States. It used to be only 2 months. Before, not sure about now, most of the Mandarin teachers in the United States were Americans who were returned missionaries. No special language training or degrees for most of them. Their schedule is full. They get up at 6:30 or so for study religious and language. Then from about 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM they are out talking to people, teaching in Mandarin, meeting new people etc. This is 6+ days a week. So they are constantly exposed to the language and have to learn it. They, many times, even speak Chinese to each other. Many of them also have native companions (missionaries work in twos) which helps a lot especially if the local doesn't speak much English. An example of this exposure is that immediately upon getting to Taiwan they are assigned to an area for a short period of time then they are transferred to another area. Upon arriving in a new area, the first Sunday they attend church they have to stand up and introduce themselves and give a short talk in Mandarin. Sometimes there are only 25 people listening and sometimes hundreds so this type of exposure is something many students don't get. They use Pinyin materials in the beginning - can't start studying characters until they can teach with some understanding 5 lessons. I don't see natural ability here at all. There are thousands of these who do this in many languages around the world. They are just regular people who volunteer to share their beliefs and from there are assigned to a place to go - could be English speaking or foreign speaking. They are on their mission a total of 2 years for men and 1 1/2 years for women. So a total of 21 months and 15 months on island. And yes you are right about Huntsman. Mark
  17. 1 point
    The dictionary Pulleyblank mentions was never published. His Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin is not so much a dictionary as a list of reconstructed readings. John Cikoski's Notes for a Lexicon of Classical Chinese might fit the bill, but as far as I'm aware has not been finished yet. In his introduction, he writes: You can download the current draft at http://gkarin.com/cikoski/. I've never used it much myself, preferring to use Classical Chinese - Mandarin dictionaries, so let me know how you get on. By the way, I think 光啟文化 (http://kcg.org.tw) may be able to sell you a reprint of Couvreur's Dictionnaire classique de la langue chinoise. I seem to recall they had them last year, for about 1500 TWD (roughly US$ 50). You may have to ask for the Chinese title, 中國古文大辭典(法文注釋)(精). Again, let me know how you get on!
  18. 1 point
    Agree. I bought the professional bundle of Pleco 1.0 for Palm several years ago for $100, followed by the Chinese-Chinese dictionary for $60 when it came out for Pleco 2.0. Besides that extra dictionary, every other upgrade has been free (including the move from Palm to iPhone - with almost all features included), and I consider it $160 well spent. For me, hands down the best feature is the Chinese-Chinese dictionary. I would recommend people get started using Chinese-Chinese dictionaries as soon as they are able. It takes a bit of effort to get used to initially, but the payoff is definitely worth it. I've found Guifan to be a really good dictionary, especially when it comes to pointing out differences between similar words and for pointing out incorrect pronunciations of certain characters. Second best feature is the flashcards. I don't really use the SRS function, but I do like to keep track of words I've looked up for manual revision at a later stage, and single-click to create a card with the word, definition, pronunciation, audio etc (plus any combinations thereof), can't be beat. One of the thing that annoyed me about Anki when I tried using that a while back was the amount of time and effort required just to enter cards (not interested in pre-built decks as I usually only like to learn words that I've come across in some other context). With Pleco, you avoid this problem entirely - although the tradeoff is you don't have quite as much freedom and flexibility in creating the cards, but I don't need to create anything too complex and the options Pleco offers are more than enough for me in this regard. The other features I only use here and there, but are nice to have on the odd occasion that I find I want to use them.
  19. 1 point
    Finished it today... This more or less became my book of the month for January - in December I only started by reading first four or five chapters... I ended up practicing my listening skills instead of reading, as I went with the audio version for the most part. The first book was adapted to 小说剧, which was just too 精彩 to pass up - they hired a bunch of voice actors, both male and female (who did a nice job), added some sounds and background music here and there, all to good effect - some of the dramatic parts even made my hair raise :ph34r: I noticed that some parts were left out, but those probably weren't all that important for the story in my opinion (like the scene with Jackie on the Hong Kong airport). Well, it is a 改编 version after all... The other two parts of the trilogy are only available as ordinary audio-books, with only one person reading the whole thing out loud, so I will probably go with the printed version - my reading speed still needs a lot of work and I have a lot of other materials to listen to...
  20. 1 point
    Hello Yuen, I studied at 中大 back in the mid 1990s (when GZ was still 98% Cantonese speaking) for a year, and although things have changed since then and I didn't go there to study Mandarin, I can probably answer some of your questions until someone with more recent info comes along. The people I knew were very happy with their classes and the quality of teaching. Many of the lecturers came from native Mandarin speaking areas, although not so many from Beijing or the Northeast. Their Mandarin certainly improved, although not as much as I noticed when I with foreign students in Beijing. In addition to hearing much Mandarin outside the campus at the time, in my experience there is a tendency for Western/Japanese/Korean/SE Asian students in GZ to not take their study quite as seriously as their counterparts in northern China. (This situation may have changed though, given the development of the north and greater opportunities to party there now!) 4 hours a day (8am - 12pm), then optional classes on two afternoons a week (for 2hrs, I think). I think Cantonese was one of the options, but I'm not entirely sure. However, given that you'll be in GZ, it should be easy to find someone (one of the university lecturers) to teach you Cantonese. Yes, I took history and linguistics classes with the 本科生. No, and frankly at 8 per room, I wouldn't have wanted to. As I mentioned above, I think Cantonese was offered as an option for the limited afternoon "culture" classes. It was definitely an option during the summer vacation period. The university used to offer a full-time Cantonese course (which is what I was studying), but the classes were held at the same time as the Mandarin classes, from 8-12 each day. You also had to have a reasonably high level of Mandarin before you could take the full-time Cantonese course. If you already speak some Cantonese though, you might be able to talk the powers that be into letting you take some of the classes instead of Mandarin. If you don't manage to get any more detailed info here, write to the university directly. The 外办 should be able to answer most of your questions.
  21. 1 point
    It was the case in Taipei by 2002, when I did an MA there -- I did not need to write. I *was* required to type in Chinese regularly, including on the entrance examination for interpreting school. And, as I said, I did an actual survey of about 150 people chosen at random from in front of a train station, asking them what they actually write by hand. (And if I hadn't had my laptop computer to play with during some of those long boring lectures on Saturday afternoons...I hate to think of the results. Erm, I mean, I surely wouldn't have taken notes so efficiently.) Think about foreigners -- we mostly have disposable income compared to the Chinese. How many foreigners who study Chinese to the point where they are going to China do not have an iPod/iPhone/iPad/iWhatever, for instance? With the apps available these days, no one has to write by hand if they choose not to, and it's more efficient to search and organize, greener and easier to share notes as well. The thing is -- outside of education, I haven't heard any extensive examples of the need to handwrite. Okay, let's assume education requires handwriting. Why? So graduates can then go out into the real world and -- erm, not handwrite anymore? Seems like it's the educational system that needs to re-think the importance of handwriting in Chinese for foreigners. Just because something is required, or "has always been required" doesn't mean it's sensible to require it. Usually it's just people doing things the same way because it's easier than changing.
  22. 1 point
    @anonymoose Yes, and that is precisely what the results of a survey I did in 2009 indicated: handwriting is used today only for filling out forms (which is a very limited amount of characters and idiosyncratic to the individual in many cases, such as names and addresses), writing notes (shopping lists, food orders, etc. -- which again is idiosyncratic and very limited) and writing greeting cards (which in Chinese can be extremely formulaic -- and anyway, if you are ever writing a greeting card, you would have the luxury of taking your time and using any references you wanted to.) People do not do major compositional writing (essays, letters, statements of purpose, reports, etc.) in handwriting for the most part these days. Yet those are the types of characters that are being tested on the HSK for writing. So, I say there is a major logical disconnect going on. If someone can live in a Chinese-speaking place for a decade, work in a language-related industry (T&I) and not need to handwrite the whole time other than filling out forms -- that is another piece of evidence in support of my conclusion. Handwriting obscure Chinese characters is a great parlor trick, but I would prefer to spend my limited class time helping my students to recognize (and/therefore correctly use in compositional writing done by machine) perhaps three times as many characters, or even more if extensive reading is part of the offerings and the computer being used for the writing is equipped with what native speakers actually use to write ("intelligent" selection systems and suggestions in prioritized order based on context). If Confucius is rolling over in his grave, so be it. Things change. The biggest thing we need to address as a greater group ("foreigners learning or teaching Chinese") is, IMHO, the failure of the majority of those who begin the task to ever achieve utilitarian fluency or proficiency, not how many characters the handful who are so inclined can memorize for production by hand.
  23. 1 point
    I don't think you'll get much of a response here - it seems like the kind of place that not many foreigners go to. I guess it will be very "Chinese" there.
  24. 1 point
    I finished it! Overall, this is quality stuff, and if you can handle the language I wholeheartedly recommend all forty hours of it. Absolutely epic, with some fantastic performances - any scene where you've got any two of 慈禧,袁世凯,李鸿章 and 孙中山 is guaranteed to sizzle. I felt it fell off slightly once we had the republic - the court scenes were fantastic, and while there was still plenty of politicking it didn't have the same weight. Also, once 袁世凯 is actually in power I think a lot of the fun goes out of the character - before that he's got a brilliant devil-may-care, 'lets bring down the Qing, it'll be a laugh' atttitude, which I think gets lost. But it still has more than enough momentum, and there's so much of import going on, that it rides over any potholes and ends up in a barnstormer of a speech by 孙中山 - I presume this is what was cut on the mainland. If I ever have time this is one of those shows I'd sit down and rewatch - partially as I know I wasn't paying full attention right the way through, and couldn't place many of the minor characters in their rightful places - who is who's 弟子 and so on. But there's also some really nice touches I spotted, and many I probably didn't - one being 孙中山 taking a moment out from fleeing an assassination attempt to shake a pesky pebble out of his shoe - that I think it would hold up to rewatching. Worth learning Chinese for.
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