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Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/16/2018 in Blog Entries

  1. 15 points
    As promised, here is the second installment of my blog following the second term of teaching in a one year Masters program in interpreting and translation at Bath University in the UK. The structure and content of teaching in the second term has been very different to the first term, so if you are interested in comparing, please take a look at my first blog entry. The second term put A LOT more emphasis on live interpreting practice, pressure has been a lot higher, and the requirements for specialized vocabulary has been noticeably greater than the first term. I will break down the different classes over a few blog entries, in the hope its more palatable for reading. I will assess my own performance vs my Chinese classmates, as well as reflect on Chinese-English interpreting from a native English speakers perspective whenever it might be useful. Firstly I’ll start with Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous Interpreting and using Glossaries So, our SI (Simultaneous Interpreting) class has been every Monday at 11:15. The course works both directions C-E and E-C, and we have alternated direction from week to week. We mostly work inside professional interpreting booths for the first hour, doing live interpreting of videos that vary from 10 mins in length to half an hour using headphones and microphones that record live. The second hour is largely dedicated to feedback and guidance for improvement. We are told the broad topic of the class via email around Thursday the week before, for example, “next weeks SI will be on ‘fracking’” and that’s it. We are then expected to prepare a glossary of specialized terms, usually that can fit on one A4 page, which we can then bring to class and place next to our microphones as we interpret, for reference. The point of this is not to actually collect huge lists of words (although this inevitably happens), but rather, read widely and educate ourselves on different subjects in both English and Chinese, as well as learn how to ‘prep’ for real life interpreting jobs. Many students seemed to have no issue with this set up, as many already have rich active vocabularies and encyclopedic knowledge. (side note: Seriously, I have never met such widely read people in my life. And that really goes for every single one of my classmates; they can talk through macro and microeconomics with ease, go to a doctors ward and discuss the treatment regimen for obscure diseases, explain in depth how neural networking is changing media reporting; all in both Chinese AND English. Quite amazing and very motivating for study). One downside of this set up for me has been that I have spent almost all my free time building glossaries and learning vocabulary, whereas my classmates have had time to practice the actual skill of interpreting in out-of-class hours. That being said, if I had known this before starting the course I probably would have been scared away and never even started. It is an inevitability for many of us coming from a background of only starting learning Chinese at university, there is simply not enough time to consolidate the vast amounts of knowledge required for professional level interpreting. Getting back on topic: everyone seemed to have their own method to putting together specialized glossaries, for SI classes some even came with entire prepared folders with concise glossaries on pretty much every entry to an encyclopedia (I later learnt that in some cases these glossaries had already been used for many years and were very familiar to their users). I have spent the better part of every week this year picking out key terminology for Monday’s SI class (and Thursday’s Consecutive Interpreting class), that is, terms that would require thinking time over and above the constraints of simultaneous interpreting. The reaction time to a speaker usually needs to be kept within 2 seconds; if terminology comes up that is not in your active vocabulary, it will almost certainly stretch you to around 5-10 seconds before you get it out in the target language, by which time the entire thread of the speakers argument has been missed. Evidently, glossaries are incredibly important to successful simultaneous interpreting. In almost all cases I short-term memorised every item on each glossary; heres a look at my anki: Vocabulary requirements In the last 3 months alone I have accumulated 1610 specialised vocabulary terms in my anki. This in fact EXCLUDES my cards from Supermemo (another well-know srs system which I both love and hate at the same time) which has another 2733 cards added since early March (see attached images). I use Supermemo for reading, so many of these cards aren’t vocabulary items, but clozed passages from Wikipedia/academic articles. Nonetheless, the mental strain for getting up to the standard required for SI is frankly unhealthy: it is simply not doable in the time frame that the course allows. Many of my classmates have already taken courses in interpreting prior to this course, and so managed to keep up with the pace, but lets just say there were tears in class from some a number of times. Left: Anki deck specifically for interpreting glossaries. Right: excel files for glossaries Regarding the workload and how I coped. I estimate (stressing estimate, based on a pleco deck I have added to over the last five years to track my vocab progress) my passive vocabulary is now around 15-20,000, but active is to be honest probably only around 10-15,000 (again, hard to really know). Which is certainly not good enough to do professional interpreting with. For anyone considering doing a course like this, you should know that you are aiming for ‘near-native’ level size of active vocabulary, what I have been working with seemed like an impressive vocabulary size when I started the course, but now it seems laughable. Some of my classmates are far better read than me in English, 30k+ I reckon. a deck I have added any word I think 'useful' to over the years. I review these words in anki. an example of what my supermemo decks for reading Chinese/English articles looks like. As you can see, the requirements for vocabulary appear very scary. That being said, to someone that has learnt Chinese or English seriously for 10+ years, this is quite reasonable and achievable. I first went to China in 2008, and didn’t properly start learning until 2013/14, so I still have many years to go! I’m sure some of the longer-standing members of these forums must be nodding with a wry smile right now - been there done that! That’s it for now, next entry I’ll go through my thoughts on the CI class. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, very hard to try and structure all that has happened over the last few months.
  2. 14 points
    This is my last entry for this blog now that my course has finished (for those asking how the second year is going, it is only a one-year MA at Bath). I’ve been meaning to update for a while, just not had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, here it is: last thoughts on exams, dissertation, outcomes and achievements and of course what the future holds: Final exams As said in previous blog entries, translation and interpretation are totally different in terms of the skillset and workload requirements, and the same was true during exams. I got fairly good marks in my translation exams, which took the form of two unseen English articles to be translated into Chinese, and vice versa. The content for the E-C was fairly technical stuff on windfarms and medicine, the C-E was a clinical trial and an art exhibition (I’m working on some pretty hazy memory tbh, it might have been slightly different, but roughly in these areas). In E-C the biggest challenge was trying to keep up pace with the writing speed of my Chinese classmates. I didn’t finish the exam as a result, I translated the first article in full, but only 80% of the second (bad exam tactic: I drafted my translation in Chinese then wrote out in full in clear kaishu…then ran out of time…yeah). The C-E was a different story, I finished the paper with an hour to spare and walked out just after the amazing Taiwanese/American guy, which was a massive feeling of accomplishment for me. The mark I got was better than I had hoped for too, so that was a big plus. Interpretation was of course another story. Consecutive exams went okayish, I scraped through and got mediocre marks. My simultaneous exams all went terrible, I got so nervous I just froze up and stopped speaking in some of them, it really was awful. My marks were naturally very bad, surely the worst in the class I would imagine. Thankfully my average dragged me up overall, and all that really came of the experience was a harsh reminder that I am not able (nor do I ever hope to) do interpreting professionally. My own personal opinion is that interpreting really is for people who have lived in a bilingual environment for at least 10 years from a young age (starting from teen years at the very latest). I first started dabbling in Chinese when I was 20, and I think I am borderline. I believe I would be able to get to a professional level if I put in another 5-10 years from now (I am 31 as of writing). And I don’t really think I’m willing or able to give that time unfortunately. Dissertation I managed to make contact with a famous Taiwanese author and got the translation copyright for a final dissertation translation of a book on the history of Chinese calligraphy. It was an amazing project to work on, I learned a lot of in depth specialist knowledge, and has given me a lot of ideas for the future. I am very happy to say I got a distinction for the translation, and hope to get an English translation of the full book published at some point in the future. The future If I learned from my exams that interpreting wasn’t for me, I learned from my dissertation that translation…is! That being said, while the money is fairly decent, the way in which projects come at you randomly as a freelancer is not so much fun (sure many here can relate). As a result, I’m hoping to now go into education as a Chinese teacher here in the UK, with translation as a supporting income. The dissertation project has also thrown me in a new direction, with a current cooperative currently being set up with a group of fantastic artists and calligraphers I know from Hubei. I’m sure there will be more to come from this in the coming years too. Final thoughts For me – this was the hardest, most challenging year of my life. Regarding the change in my Chinese abilities over the last year: Pros - Speaking has become a lot more formal and adult like, less ‘cute’ and childlike. - Writing has become a lot quicker and again more formal in style, less ‘wechatty’ - Reading is rapid, I can now do sentence reading in 2-3 chunks rather than word by word now, and reading out loud with proper emphasis is much, much better now. Cons - Listening has become more difficult, as my brain gets frustrated when I am not 100% about every single word, tone, sentence level implication, etc. Although this might be a good thing in the long run. - I hesitate and stutter a lot more when speaking, as I am so much more aware of when word order/grammar/word choice is slightly off during the mental preparation of a sentence. I have learned too many new words over the last year, and not absorbed deep enough – as a result it causes me to stop for recall quite a lot now. If you are a native English speaker interested in doing a Chinese/English interpreting-translation qualification, I say be sure you know why you want to do the course. I was very clear that I wanted to do the course to see whether or not becoming an ‘English’ Chinese interpreter was possible for me or not. I found out it was not. But I met a few people along the way for whom it was, and that’s great! However, some people were doing the course to improve their language skills, and this kind of course will not necessarily do that – in fact it will require you to sacrifice language ability for codeswitching ability, particularly in the case of interpreting. Codeswitching is a skill that requires you to rewire the way in which your brain wants to access information – great for being ‘in the booth’, but not so much for playing mah-jong and general chitchat over some baijiu. I think quite a few students struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being outperformed by students with worse English but better T/I skills. But as long as you are clear what your goals are before you start, a course like this can only be an asset to your Chinese in the long term. It will weed out every single one of your weaknesses and cracks in your knowledge and remind you of them all day every day until you tackle them. Its been a painful medicine to take, but I certainly don't regret it at all. Good luck to future translators and interpreters reading this!
  3. 14 points
    A few days ago, I finished reading the short story collection 《樱海集》 by 老舍. This brought my reading total above one million characters, completing my goal for the year. 《樱海集》 was first published in 1935. The collection contains a funny and self-effacing preface plus ten short stories of varying lengths (from six to forty-two pages). The stories deal with classical human failings—hypocrisy, pride, envy, bitterness, cowardice, lust, revenge, greed, anger—and the consequences that arise from such failings. Though the stories are thematically related, they differ considerably in their characters, plots, point of views, and settings. Below is a brief synopsis of each story, along with some amplifying details and concluding thoughts. The first story in the collection, 《上任》, is about a recently promoted government official named 尤老二 and the opium-smoking thugs he employs. Much of the story is concerned with 尤老二’s inability to pay for his thugs, who show up at odd times asking for money for travel and other expenses. This story was difficult for me to get into. I found the details of the plot hard to follow and the language more challenging than any other story in the collection. 《牺牲》 is a character sketch of 毛博士, a bizarre 崇洋媚外 teacher educated in the United States. 《柳屯的》 is about a small village, a powerful Christian family, and an unrestrained woman who tries to take over them both. 《末一块钱》 is about a young dissatisfied college student who yearns for the kind of life enjoyed by his more affluent classmates. 《老年的浪漫》 is about an old man who, cursed with greedy former colleagues and a foolish son, decides to settle old scores. 《毛毛虫》 is a very short story that asks the question: What does a community think about that unenviable husband and wife who live down the street, and that husband’s former wife, and their new children? 《善人》 is about a well-to-do woman who sees herself as generous but is oblivious to the suffering of those around her. This story was my favorite story of the collection. 《邻居们》 is about the tensions that flare up between two neighboring families after one receives the other’s mail by mistake. The 明 family and the 杨 family are neighbors. 明家 is selfish and uncivilized. 杨家 is altruistic and lettered. The husband and father in the 杨 family, 杨先生, is described as a “最新式的中国人.” One day, 杨先生 receives a letter addressed to 明先生. 杨太太 attempts to deliver the letter, but 明太太 misunderstands her neighbor’s intentions and rebuffs her. 杨先生 then writes his own letter explaining the situation. 明太太 refuses this letter, too. Tensions between the two families escalate. 杨先生 believes that he and 明先生 can resolve their differences like rational gentlemen, and continues to write his neighbor letters. 明先生 sees 杨先生 as a weak man and despises him for his bookishness and inaction. Eventually… 《月牙儿》 is a longer story about a girl and her hard life after her father dies and her mother is forced out of exigence into prostitution. 《阳光》 is about the life of a beautiful, proud, and dissolute woman from a rich family. Her eventual arranged marriage to a prominent morality-promoting Daoist is comfortable, but stifling. 《樱海集》 is the second work I’ve read by 老舍; the first was his delightful science fiction satire 《猫城记》. There is something irreverent about 老舍’s style in these two works. 老舍’s stories foreground the character defects of early 20th-century Chinese people, whatever their station in life. Opioid-addicted menial laborers, wives of rich businessmen, the orphaned, the educated, the religious and the ideologically possessed—none are spared. By pointing out character defects in such a wide-ranging way, 老舍 advances a kind of criticism of the Chinese society of his day. But 《樱海集》 is not a “critical” work, at least not in the sense that modern people use the term. It isn’t a systematic, theory-driven critique of Chinese society; nor is it especially tragic or concerned with issues of justice. Rather, 《樱海集》 is a moral work. The stories in 《樱海集》 are cautionary tales filled with negative moral examples. They are the modern literary equivalents of fables. The stories paint a pessimistic and probably unbalanced picture of Chinese life. Readers interested in positive moral examples—the righteous government official or revolutionary, the loving and longsuffering mother, the diligent young student who succeeds in life despite enormous opposition—will not find them here. Some of 老舍’s negative moral examples are also offensive to contemporary Western sensibilities. His portraits of women are pretty unflattering. 老舍’s women are ostentatious, stubborn, and quick to anger. (To be fair, the men don’t come off much better. Most of 老舍’s male protagonists are feckless hypocrites.) Others will find 老舍’s portrayal of poor people unsympathetic. The peasants in 《樱海集》 are lazy and spend what little money they find on drugs: It is interesting to consider 老舍’s portrayals of Chinese people in 《樱海集》 in light of then-upcoming theories about politics and art in China. In his lectures at Yan'an in 1942, Mao advocated a new pro-proletariat literature and denounced “petit bourgeois writers” that write “pessimistic literature” and “harm the people.” Were 老舍’s mid-1930’s stories compatible with the new Chinese literature Mao would soon advocate? Was 老舍’s literature “pessimistic”? [For the curious, I blogged about Mao’s Yan'an literature lectures in an earlier post on this blog.] The Chinese language in 《樱海集》 is not especially difficult. The vocabulary is more challenging than contemporary Chinese fiction writers like 余华 and 韩寒, but far easier than writers like 张爱玲 and 莫言. 老舍’s word choices are frequently different from those found in contemporary fiction. This may confuse language learners unfamiliar with early 20th-century Chinese literature. For the uninitiated, try reading other authors from the same period. (I read short stories by 丁玲, 沈从文, and 施蛰存 before. That helped.) My new year’s resolution was to read one million characters in books and articles in 2019. I have now reached that goal with a little over a month to spare. This year I read mostly fiction. I also read Mao’s literature lectures, an article by IBM, a undergraduate thesis on the music of American saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and a third of the Bible. It’s been a great and rewarding experience. From time to time, people ask about the value of studying Chinese language given recent political and economic changes in China. It’s a fair question; there are many reasons to study Chinese and people differ in their motivations and goals. For me, the desire to engage in the cultural and literary traditions of a large and important foreign world was and is a main driver of my Chinese study. This desire was sustained and strengthened this year. I intend to keep reading in Chinese, both fiction and non-fiction. For literature, my near-term goals for the next couple years are to continue with works at or slightly above my current reading level; to move on to major works by 张爱玲, 莫言, and 阎连科; and to tackle tougher early 20th-century works by authors like 鲁迅. I’d like to wade into 文言 someday too, though that day is still a long way off. I had a lot of fun writing these posts and interacting with all of you. In the future, I may continue writing posts here. For now, however, because of many pressing demands on my time, I will put this blog on hiatus and return to posting intermittently in the excellent and underutilized “What are you reading?” thread. Thank you to everyone who read or commented on this blog this year. Link to《樱海集》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117466/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 1,000,931 Characters left to read this year: 0 Percent of goal completed: 100% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters) 《圣经》 (新译本) (1,055,606 characters; 315,144 read in 2019) 《樱海集》 by 老舍 (83,649 characters)
  4. 14 points
    Here is the first installment of my blog on doing a Masters course in Translation and Interpretation (Chinese) at Bath University in the UK. Seeing as it is reading week, I've found I finally have time to do an update on how things are going, I guess I will probably do the next update when we break up for Christmas in December. There's really no time to do anything else except study and class prep in normal term time. Well I've been on the course for six weeks now, and it has been as intense as expected. Despite being at a UK university, I am the only westerner on the course, with 23 students, mainly mainland, but also a few Taiwanese and HK too. There is actually a Taiwanese American student who has taken English as his mother tongue (with all due right), but having been bilingual and living in Taiwan for the last 20 or so years, I feel like we're not really in the same boat. I am clearly bottom of the class in terms of relative language ability, as expected. Being surrounded by people who have studied English for decades, my 5/6 years of Mandarin stands out as particularly bad. I am so used to speaking Chinese colloquially, I am frequently lost for words when asked to interpret English speeches into Chinese using the right register. Anyway, onto the course content. All parts of the course have a two hour class slot that meets once a week: Simultaneous interpreting: we have a dedicated lab with fully equiped professional booths that all face into a bigger room with a conference table in the middle. The set up accurately mimics a real simultaneous interpreting situation, and the tech available is fantastic. Classes are very active, with every student having a chance to practice every class at least twice (practicing skills taught by the teacher in the lesson). I was placed on an internship at a UN week-long environmental protection meeting two weeks ago in London, to get in some valuable practice time. We used the real booths used by the pros for a week (with our mics switched off of course). We did shadowing and interpreting (almost exclusively from English into Chinese) for around 8 hours a day for a week. After this week something clicked in my brain, and now I can keep up with my peers in this class now. Not only that, but my professional Chinese has improved a lot as a result of the E-C direction. I have also discovered that in many cases working from English into Chinese is more often than not EASIER than Chinese to English. Why? I personally feel like the sparsity of phrases 'like' 成語 in English, plus the terseness of professional Chinese means you've always got enough time to think and interpret. Chinese to English is so much harder than I expected, to put it lightly. For example, 授人以魚不如授人以漁 was said in a speech during class a few weeks ago; not only had I not heard the phrase before, but I had no time to guess the meaning (多音字嘛 I thought the person had said the same thing twice by a mistake...), and by the time it was already too late the interpreting student had already interpreted it into "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish". I mean, that makes more sense than what I was able to offer (which was just silence). So, simultaneous as a skill, I can do. But the sheer amount of knowledge you need at your fingertips is insane, and I am still far from being at a professional level yet. Consecutive interpreting: This class is largely centred around memory skills and note taking. Most of my peers have already studied interpreting in some form or another before starting this course, and many are already able to acurately remember speeches of five or more minutes long using some quite fantastic symbol-based systems. The teacher does not teach us a system, but rather teaches us how to build our own personal system effectively. I have found that using English keywords and acronyms has helped a lot, but really don't get too much of a kick out of arrows going everywhere and houses with dollar signs on them etc. As a little side hobby, I've taken up learning Pitman shorthand (new era) mainly for fun, but also with the hope that /some/ of it may come in handy with consec. note taking at some point in the future. This class is by far the hardest, and the teacher seems to enjoy choosing incredibly difficult speeches from people with non-standard accents. Very difficult, very embarassing for me, as most students have no issues in this class. What can you do when you didn't understand, or have forgotten what was said, and have no way to ask the speaker to repeat/clarify? This class makes me so nervous. Liaison interpreting: We have a mock conference/meeting every friday and are expected to prepare for it in the preceding week. The class is split into two groups: Chinese side, English side, and interpreters. The two sides discuss a topic for 2-3 hours whilst the interpreters take it in turns to sit one-by-one in between the two groups and act as a liaison interpreter. The pressure is noticeable, as the whole course is there watching you, and everyone is able to discern how good or bad your interpreting ability is (unlike when you're in the sim. interpreting booths, secluded and safe). Again, note taking is a skill that many of the students here employ. I would say to any westerner thinking about taking on a course like this, aside from having a very, very strong and well-rounded ability in Chinese, you should almost certainly also be practicing note-taking on speeches both in English and Chinese BEFORE starting a course (evidently with Chinese students in particular it would seem). I regret being under the impression I was going to learn note taking skills ON this course; I now know this of course is not the case, as pretty much everyone is already able to do this. Translation: We have both 'Chinese to English' and 'English to Chinese' classes. This needs no real explanation, its pretty much exactly what you would expect: teacher teaches theory, sets translation piece for homework, you translate it, get feedback, rinse and repeat. C-E very relaxing, the teacher seems to enjoy literary translation (lately lots of 紅樓夢 talk), E-C also ok but a much slower translation process for me. The translation process is private, however, so there's no real embarrassment to be had on this part of the course (so far...) All in all? I am loving the course, my classmates are fantastic people, very intelligent, hard working, inclusive, not 'immaturely' competitive if you understand what I mean, and importantly, very supportive as a community. Nobody treats me like a foreigner at all, I'm just another student. In that respect, theres not much leeway given, and as a result I feel like I'm ALWAYS being pushed to get up to their standard rather than being forgiven for being a 'foreigner'. Teaching is top notch, facilities are fantastic. And the fact that the course DOES have English-Chinese direction (as well as C-E) is a massive bonus if you ask me. My Chinese has improved rapidly, I can now read news probably 2-3 times faster than when I started the course. Why? Because I now read (mostly outloud, under my breath) for about 4-5 hours a day (as opposed to about 1 hour before the course). As you may be able to tell, I now live, breath and sleep in a world of studying speeches. I would not recommend this course for anyone who 'wants a life'. I feel obliged to say "sorry for the wall of text" - see you all in December.
  5. 12 points
    This entry has been delayed a bit for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of time, as I've got so much to say on this topic, but also because this is my most dreaded class. For more context on what I'm talking about, skip back and check earlier entries. For clarity, I am a native English speaker that is on the Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating masters course at Bath University, UK. We work in both directions, and I am the only 'foreigner' on the course. This last point is of crucial importance, as it has naturally set me apart from everyone else on the course. Just not always in the ways I was expecting before beginning this process. One of the most noticeable areas in which my background, different from my Chinese peers, impacted my performance was in the consecutive interpreting class. Unlike translating, which can be done at the safety of your own home, or simultaneous interpreting (aka 'SI') where mistakes can be forgiven due to time constraints and the high-pressure environment, consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most unforgiving and most difficult part of the job, as it requires high quality intepreting of complex topics. This of course runs counter to what most people believe, and when one of the course instructors said this at the beginning of the course, I found it difficult to believe him. But he was right. And there are two main reasons: 1. You must understand everything. 1-2% non-comprehension is natural, 3-5% is acceptable, 5-10% is just about workable, but anything more and you lose the ability to accurately infer (yes these are arbritrary numbers, but I'm basing such estimates off my own experience this year). If you don't understand, you can ask the speaker. But 9/10 they will just repeat the phrase you didnt understand word for word, or if they are kind enough to rephrase, the chance you will still not understand a concept you don't even know in your native tongue is 'too damn high'. And I'm the kind of person that goes red in the face when they dont get it. The speaker will also think that your job is easy, as they have to stop for you and 'wait' for you to catch up. As a result, the speaker often speaks much quicker than normal, use more complex terms, and will sometimes even forget to stop for you in the bits they consider 'easy'. 2. You must use a notetaking system. If someone says you dont need symbols or shorthand, just write down the main details and youll be fine...you know they are almost certainly a bad consecutive interpreter. There are simply too many details to remember in a live speech. You must find a way to take down more information than you can possibly remember. In our final exam this was 8 minutes of speech without any break. We then had to deliver the speech in the target language, hoping to also reach an ideal length of 7-8 minutes in our own delivery. This skill was the largest hurdle for me to get over (and I still havent to be honest), and it was the biggest difference between me and my peers. Nearly all the other students were coming into the course with a knowledge of a notetaking system, having taken courses in it back in China in order to prepare for the MA in Bath, or having previous undergrad experience in interpreting. Either way, from day one the teachers were calling us up to the whiteboard to 'show off' our own personalised notetaking (with each student having their own unique ways of taking down 5 solid minutes of statistics speeches, or symbols for taking notes on sustainable energy sources...). Consequently, I never had the chance to formally study this skill on the course, and this is the only area where I felt short-changed in my training on this MA. The first point was manageable, I just had to improve my listening comprehension. I have watched A LOT of news and public speeches in the last year to improve this. While I am watching, I actively ask my brain at the end of each sentence 'can you repeat that sentence back in Chinese? Are you hypothetically able to tell the person next to you what it means in English?' If the answer was 'yes' or 'pretty much' then I keep watching, keep listening. If the answer is no, I pause, search and take down all the words, listen again, add the words to a 'new words' deck in anki, then continue. Rinse and repeat for the rest of eternity. But the second point has been so difficult to deal with. While I was able to understand 99% of an English speech, there was too much information and too little time to write everything down. And yet, the person next to me was drawing pictures of little people and arrows everywhere, intermixed with shorthand chinese characters all over the place, then would stand up and deliver a near identical speech in English, far better than my own English! What do you do in a situation like that? Well I sat down with a friend and we ran through a basic set of maybe 150 or so 'concepts' that could be given symbols (see below), and began to learn them by heart. Gradually my notetaking did get better. But then I came across an additional third reason for why CI is so difficult: 3. Our course is bidirectional, so I was not only required to interpret from Chinese into English (based on scruffy, incomplete notes), but also from English into Chinese. It was at this point where I realised why symbols were so useful. They sit in between the solid words and grammar of language, they represent the ideas and concepts that have yet to be given body by a particular language. So you can use one system to take notes from two (or more) different source languages. For example, if I write the words 'your country' down, when it comes to referring to my notes during speech delivery, I will naturally look down at this and blurt out '你的國家‘. But what if it should have been '貴國'? What if the original English sentence was 'the development of your country is important for the global economy' and thus the use of 'your' in the Chinese is totally redundant? Using notetaking, you dont need to worry about the difference between expression in different languages. You can take the concept of 國/country and write it as 囗 (a commonly used shorthand symbol in notetaking). Once conceptualised, you can look at it and express the idea naturally and uninhibited in either language. A symbol's usage can be expanded across your whole system, eg. I can write the phrase "the development of your country" as "囗'dev". By extension, the whole sentence becomes something like: "囗'dev=!>O" (where ! is important, > is 'to, affect, influence' and O represents global, all over the world). 囗 can be used not just for country, but also - 囗° =...國人(°=person), 囗al (national), 囗ty (nationality), 囗z (nationalize). etc. To get a real flavour of what CI notetaking looks like, I've posted some pics of my own (bad examples) below. In this way, you can write down more information at higher speeds, with higher clarity and accuracy, all while avoiding 'Chinglish' (or 'Englese'...?) pitfalls. So, now we know that notetaking systems can dramatically increase the amount and the accuracy of information one can take down at the speed of natural speech delivery. And we also know that it can reduce the amount of Chinglish one might otherwise say when reading notes written in longhand in the source language. And so that leads me to my last area I wanted to mention. The required quality of output in the target language. Unlike SI, the quality of CI sits closer to written translation in terms of quality. One must be able to understand the original speakers intentions, 'translate' it into notes, then produce a coherent stream of thoughts and ideas based on the notes, where the original speech is often reordered and reworded (like in written translation) in order to better mimick the ways of speaking in the target language. Some students were AMAZING at this. In fact I was in awe on an almost daily basis. That being said, I don't believe the ability to do this is something 'innate'. It obviously requires significant cognizant ability, but these skills have clearly been trained for years and years...and years. Although I am still yet to be able to perform at a professional ability in this area, I have seen myself make positive progress and believe if I really dedicated maybe another 5 years to this I could reach a very high standard. That being said. As it stands, my ability in notetaking is still rudimentary. In the end, it didnt matter how good my comprehension was, or even how good my actual oral language abilities were, the notation 'filter' in the middle of the CI process consistently stopped me from producing good output language. I mean, I've never heard myself speak such strange English before! We're talking saying things like 'this food good eat' if I wasnt paying 100% attention to the notes I was reading. And at this point I would like to say, I strongly, strongly recommend the course at Bath, as the course instructors are fantastic, and surely among the highest qualified in the world to teach such skills. A caveat should be noted for native English speakers: a prerequisite for the course should be a prep course in notetaking for native English speakers, and this should be explicitly stated on all interpreting course details (as all the Chinese speakers had all done this in China, without me knowning until after the course had started...). The course instructor of the MATBI course, Miguel Fialho, has absolutely blown everyone on the course away. His 普通話 is phenomenal, perfect tones, better spoken than any of the Chinese students in the class, and most importantly he is incredibly humble and understanding. You will see him on CCTV whenever there are meetings between the Chinese and Portuguese governments (he is half British, half Portuguese, and also does Chinese-Portuguese interpreting......). He. Knows. Everything. Pretty sure he has learnt an entire encyclopedia off by heart in three different languages. Jane is his equivalent for the Chinese students, and her English is far more eloquent than my, often ending up in me taking notes on how to speak better English after listening to her speeches! Dr Kumar is highly knowledgeable in economics and politics, is ultimately responsible for the excellent course structure and content, and most importantly, is really funny, so that really made things a lot easier when you're in high stress environments. what my notes at the beginning of the year looked like. I was using a pencil, writing everything down longhand, and getting totally confused. I often ended up giving up and just trying to recite everything I'd just heard in one language in the other. What my notes looked like by the end. You can see that for complex terminology, you can write down the word, assign it a number, then just write the number when the term is used. The red is for marking mistakes when going back and comparing notes to the original speech. Practicing symbols. good god. OK I'm done for today, next blog entry will probably be more geared towards some thoughts on written translation. I'm just beginning to write my dissertation, which is a written translation, so will share anything interesting I come across.
  6. 11 points
    I will get round to writing part 2 of my write up of the university course: in the meantime heres a brief thought I ended up writing out in full. Would be interested to hear others thoughts: Recently I have noticed I am stuttering a lot more when just regularly chatting to friends in Chinese; my brain appears to constantly be asking itself, 'is this really the most appropriate word?' Perhaps this is a result of moving back to the UK and being away from the total immersion of China, but I feel like its more likely a result of learning how to work between two languages when on the mic in interpreting situations... Take the various concepts of 'collapse' in Chinese as an example. There's 垮, it denotes the idea of collapsing inwards on itself. then there's 崩潰, the idea of something or someone collapsing from the cause of not being able to bear a load. what about 瓦解, collapse due to internal disintegration, figuratively as well as literally, or even 塌縮, the idea of, say, a star collapsing inwards on itself to eventually become a black hole. All these different concepts of collapsing will almost always be translated into English simply as 'collapse'. Whilst this makes for very easy interpreting, it actually makes your Chinese worse, as you are constantly drawing together these distinct meanings into one basket named 'collapse', not allowing your brain to understand the finesse in their differences. What one is constantly striving towards in learning another language is to rewire the brain in order to divide and distinguish concepts that are different from one's mother tongue. Not only does learning the skill of interpreting not tolerate such rewiring, it actually bundles all the wires together in a big tangled mess. The brain is told to forget the small but important differences between words and instead group words into easy to manage target language categories. As a result, I find I question my word choice a lot more often than I once did. I find I can no longer simply rely on feeling, or make choices as easily simply based on a gut feeling. So it would seem, while my Chinese has improved a lot in the last year, learning to interpret has perhaps had a negative effect on my "語感", or my ability to simply 'feel' what the right word should be. Hopefully this is just temporary.
  7. 11 points
    Haven't really had a chance to update since the new term began, I had my thesis proposal in early September which felt like more of a defense than a proposal. Out of my panel only one of the professors could really ask me questions because the other two didn't have a background in cognitive linguistics and didn't really understand my topic. So I spent 20 minutes of defending my topic with this one professor (Actually my old Consecutive interpreting professor) who began with "honestly this just feels like an idea on paper" ... ummm.... yes.. thats what a proposal is lmfao. but I continued to humor her and stand by my topic. It was rough, actually the entire classroom went through this slurry of vicious attacks toward our topics that if you were unable to defend yourself you would just be stuck standing there listening to them shit on you for 20 minutes. The hardest part was that everyone had to stay in the room so it was roughly 4 hours of listening to each student present and defend themselves. But I survived and my proposal passed somehow even though one of the panel told me that she felt that my topic was really interesting but just not for me. This term I only have 4 classes. Written translation on Mondays, And 2 simultaneous interpreting courses on Friday. Our Tuesday classes (4 hours) began sometime after the holidays and every week since then has been a mental torture. The original teacher for the class "cross-cultural communications" was supposed to be an interesting guy from Australia. Unfortunately this guy is under Confucius scholarship studying his Phd and cant continue his teaching so we got stuck with the same guy who taught us last semester in 4 hour brackets. Yes... that professor. I don't like to judge but this class should just be renamed "My musings" because every class has just been about him rambling off things from his mind for four hours. Nothing he says has anything to do with the class or to anything even remotely useful. It actually feels like he's just trolling the class, because I don't understand how someone can talk about an ant and tiger analogy for four hours straight. I think the worst part of this class is that his musings always lead to something totally inappropriate. So something extremely racist or sexist, or homophobic crosses his mind and he just goes on and on and it really hurts me to hear that so many of my classmates find this "PHD" so interesting, when he would literally be crucified in my country for the things hes said. I don't know how someone like him has studied in America. I've been bringing my study materials and books to read in class so that I don't have to listen to that garbage that he says, but you know its really hard to block out something so completely inappropriate. But other than his inappropriateness his classes are just a waste of time. I'm not even kidding when I say that I had to listen to him talk about colors yesterday. He started from Red and ended on Gray and then looked at the time and we had about 20 minutes left of class and he mused "what other colors have i missed? Oh yeah Brown!". The Monday translation professor is a close second to a professor I have no respect for this term. This lady prepares nothing for class. Her classes are prepared by a different classmate each week. And I'm not talking about just a short presentation. No. I'm talking about a full class, including creating group work exercises etc. She does nothing. What she does is sit there and when shes given the remainder of the class to add anything (roughly 20 minutes) her response is "well what am I supposed to do?" ...... um. Teach. That's what you get paid for . That's your job. In the very beginning of the term the professor wasn't clear she wanted us to basically teach the class every week so in week 2 when we came to class this lady had some nerve to criticize us all for being irresponsible and unprepared for class. She does this from time to time when people are late. I'm legit rolling my eyes in that class every week. The only class worth mentioning is our simultaneous interpreting classes held on Fridays. The classes have been really difficult but really good for exercise. The only qualm I have is that I have my recordings played every class for both sections, so every week I have to hear my lousy interpretations twice in the same day (from E-C and C-E) its rough but I've gotten so used to it that Its kind of like meh whatever to me. Though its kind of irritating that its always the same people played every week. I haven't heard half of my classmates in that class even once. So other than classes what have I been up to? Its a semester that leaves a lot open. I've been trying to work on honing my interpreting skills, especially in simultaneous interpreting which I find to be quite challenging. My professor suggested shadowing for about 10-15 minutes a day to get used to keeping up with the pace. A problem that many of us have with simultaneous is waiting too long to begin, and only speaking in 3 word clusters instead of having a fluid sentence. I've been shadowing with this program 《绝密档案》 from the app 蜻蜓。 The app itself has a lot of different podcasts to choose from to listen. I just find this program particularly interesting so after 15 mins of shadowing I just continue listening to the rest of the story. I've also made use of going over some of my old resources that we had from past classes so Ive been going over speeches that have Chinese and English to work on a more formal register and also to get a feel for collocations. I wanted to work this semester but I think that with the thesis and everything I'd rather just focus on my studies this term. Its sad to be without the extra cash but I have my whole life to make money but just this year to really work on my studies. I've still been keeping my eyes on jobs because I'd like to find a job after my studies and stay here for another year. As much as China kills me at times, I'm not ready to leave. That's it. Our first draft of our thesis is expected to be ready by December for our pre-defense. The date hasn't been confirmed yet but we've been told already we should have a minimum of 19,000 written. I still need to set my study up and get a move on it. I'll try and keep this blog up to date!
  8. 9 points
    In most of the world's languages, you can turn a word into its respective occupation by adding affixes to it. However, as Chinese doesn't conjugate, we attach an additional character to a word instead to form that corresponding job. One aspect in which Chinese differs from English when forming occupation words is that in English, what suffix is used depends mainly on the origins of words, but in Chinese people choose occupation particles based on the properties and characteristics of that job. Here're some practically and frequently used occupation particles in Chinese. 1.家 家, with its original meaning of a family or a clan, can be extended to refer to a particular philosophy, theory or ideology. Hence, when it's used to form an occupation word, that occupation would be usually related to a professional skill, interest or talent. For example: -文学家: a person who has been educated on literature — a litterateur. -画家: a person who is professional in drawing — a painter. -科学家: a person who has professional knowledge about science — a scientist. -音乐家: a person who is well-educated and professional in music — a musician. -美食家: a person who is passionate and authoritative in appraising foods — a gourmet. It's good to note that when two different occupation words are derived from the same origin, the one with 家 added often has a higher level of profession, authority or recognisation. For instance, 歌手 and 歌唱家 are both people who take singing as their jobs, but 歌唱家 is definitely regarded as an artist while 歌手 is probably just a public performer or a pop song singer. Another interesting fact is that when we come to players for specific musical instruments, the only two that are conventionally named with 家 are 钢琴家, a pianist and 小提琴家, a violinist. 2.师 师 originally means a teacher or an adviser. When a job is named with 师 attached, it refers to people who are well-trained or experienced in a particular area. The difference between it and 家 is that a 师 may not necessarily have the profession or talent. Here're some examples: -教师: a person who is trained to teach others — a teacher. -厨师: a person who is trained to work in a kitchen — a cook. -理发师: a person who is trained to manage people's hair — a barber. -会计师: a person who is trained to account money — an accountant. 3.手 手 means hands, thus referring to people who have high skills or talents, but only in a small area. Unlike 家, a XX手 usually doesn't have an overall profession in a general field, but in a much more specific section. It is very often seen in players of a particular instrument. For example: -鼓手: a person whose task is to play the drums — a drummer. -吉他手: a person who plays the guitar — a guitarist. -小号手: a person who plays the trumpet — a trumpeter. -舵手: a person who is responsible for managing and controlling the helm — a helmsman. 4.工 工 means originally work or labour. Hence it is usually used to name those jobs that need hard labour or manual processes. For example: -技工: a person hired to manage technical issues — a technician. -水管工: a person paid to repair waterpipes — plumber. -电工: a person paid to check and fix electrical devices — an electrician. -油漆工: a person who paints buildings — a painter. 5.匠 匠 basically means a craftsman, so it is used for any job related to crafting and designing. Though it also involves laborious processes often, it's different from 工 as the labour is done in order to craft or make a certain object or artefact. For example: -木匠: a person who uses woods to do handicrafts — a carpenter. -铁匠: a person who crafts metal objects — a blacksmith.
  9. 8 points
    In “The 2019 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic” thread, I recently resolved to read one million Chinese characters in books and articles this year. Our esteemed forum administrator @roddy reached out to ask if I would chronicle my attempt to do this through posts on this website. And here I am. My goal is to read one million characters in 2019. To accomplish this will require reading 2,750 characters per day, or three to seven pages of text per day, on average. That is a manageable amount of reading. However, it could quickly become unmanageable if I am not diligent. 2019 will be a very busy year. To meet my goal, I will need to stay disciplined while facing many demands on my time. So far, I have finished《三八节有感》, a short 1942 article by 丁玲 about the treatment of CPC women at Yan'an. That article contains 2,370 Chinese characters. I am currently reading a second article by 丁玲, as well as a far longer thing I started last year that will take several more months to complete. It is hard to overstate how helpful this website and its denizens have been to my Chinese language learning. In twelve years of studying Chinese, I have found conversation, motivation, tools, tips, and answers to many questions here. Hopefully this series of posts will be helpful to other Chinese language learners like other Chinese language learners’ posts have been helpful to me. Some statistics: Characters read this year: 2,370 Characters left to read this year: 997,630 Percent of goal completed: 0.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2370 characters)
  10. 7 points
    Hello everyone, It has been a while since I last updated my blog. There were a couple of reasons for this - My eyes My vision was deteriorating quite a lot and last November the decision was taken to under go cataract surgery. As this was in the UK and on the NHS the wheels grind (no complaints it just the way it is) and eventually I now have 2 new lenses and can see better than I have been able to for many years. I found it was becoming increasingly frustrating trying to read characters with bad eyes and magnifying glasses are a pain, hard to scan pages with one. I am still in recovery, it is only the third day after my second eye so slowly slowly does it. My intention is to return and update my blog with my new learning schedule and updates as to my successes and failures and hopefully help myself and others to progress with learning Chinese. Just wanted to update anyone who was interested that my hiatus from learning is now turning slowly into a return to learning.
  11. 7 points
    I am now two weeks into year 2 of my 4 year degree program. The level has increased notably! The content of each class is considerably more than it was, and we now have 7 subjects instead of the 4 we had last year. We now have speaking, listening, reading, comprehensive, writing, general survey of China, and character study. Our class has also increased in size to 44 students, so it's absolutely massive. These are students who have studied at HIT for a year, switched major etc. We now have more Russians, one student from Turkmenistan, and lots more Thai and Korean students. I'm not sure how I feel about the number of students. Obviously it's way too many, and although it won't impact listening much, I think it will affect how much I get to speak to some degree. The flip side of this is that interaction is generally by choice, and some people just seem to scared to say anything, and so I've been speaking/reading in class just as much, if not more than last year. The China survey class is quite interesting, and I am definitely looking forward to learning more about the history, geography and culture of China. Character study is fun, but probably the hardest class of them all. This is because we are looking at stuff like myths regarding the origin of Hanzi, and so of course there are lots of new words, a large portion of which appear to be fairly specialist, and probably not all that useful to us at this point in time. Along with writing and listening, we only have one class per week of these subjects. Speaking is great, as we now have our comp teacher from last year, and he is all about us speaking all the time. He's already had us up the front talking which is great practice. Our teacher last year was terrible, and we hardly ever talked in class, so this is really refreshing, and I feel like it is only going to help my speaking. I'm still not a fan of listening, but at least we only have one class a week now. Comprehensive is awesome, and I love the new teacher that we have for it, her teaching style is excellent. Nothing too specific for this first update, just a general overview. I will give more details on what I am learning in the following updates.
  12. 6 points
    I finished up the spring semester of my second year yesterday with my final of 7 exams. Next week we start a 4 week summer semester, which consists of a week of class, followed by some outings and then a final exam. This semester has been great, and I feel like I have made a ton of progress. I still struggle with my tones, but thanks to lots of speaking practice I feel much more aware of the mistakes I am making, and am being much more conscious in my efforts to correct and avoid mistakes. I really enjoyed speaking class this semester, as we had a lot of opportunities to be up the front giving presentations and such. This was definitely the highlight for me. Of course I would do massive amounts of preparation beforehand, but the fact that our teacher won't let us take notes up to the front to read from meant that I was forced to go with the flow much more. This in turn has led me to feel much more comfortable speaking in front of others. Final exams seemed to go ok. In general they were similar in structure to previous exams. I made a couple of silly mistakes here and there, but nothing major. I find myself losing interest somewhat in exams and results, as I want the focus to be actually being able to converse fluently in Chinese, read books, write articles etc, rather than comparing myself to others, or getting great marks on an exam. I have already bought most of my books for third year, and have begun looking through them. My reading book is the same series as this year, and so the jump isn't too intimidating. However, for some reason we are now using a 高级 book for writing (I mentioned this to the teacher as I thought he had made a mistake, we are only 准高级 in third year, but he said this is the book). There is a marked increase in difficulty here, and aside from pinyin for a few words, there is no English whatsoever. This may not be a huge deal, but it's a cool little milestone for me hah! I finished watching 男人帮 ages ago, and I'm now 20 episodes in to 一仆二主, and loving it! The first was set in Shanghai, but seemed to use very standard putonghua, and so I didn't find it too hard to understand. The latter is set in Beijing, and for some reason I am finding it far harder to understand! If it wasn't for the subtitles there are whole sections that would just sound like one, long, slurred 儿 sound! I am understanding enough to know what's going on for the most part though, and I am picking up lots of new vocabulary and characters, as well as working on my 听力! I also bought a book. I foolishly bought a copy of 三国演义,being as it was at a great price. It took me half an hour to get through the first paragraph, at which point I realized this wasn't a productive undertaking. Still wanting to be able to have a crack at such a Chinese classic, I bought a 青少年版。 As expected, it is much more manageable, yet still far beyond my level. This is a challenge for me to accomplish over the course of the next two years. Until then, I will stick with my textbooks, and of course with my great friend 淘气包马小跳! In August my family is heading out to China, and we will be traveling to Xian, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. I'm really excited to finally get to visit some other Chinese cities, as so far I have only been to 3. Shanghai is mainly to get passports done for my sons (not to say I am not excited to visit, just that it wasn't at the top of my list of places to go). I can't wait to check out the terracotta army in Xian, especially after spending some time learning about it in my 文化 class this semester. Finally, I have just applied for a scholarship for next year. This is from the university rather than CSC, and there are 4 grades, ranging from fully covered with 1000RMB a month for living expenses, to 20% off. My grades are probably good enough to get me something, but I have basically done no competitions or activities with the university, which is something they highly value. Getting any money off would be amazing, so here's hoping!
  13. 6 points
    https://youtu.be/OB5bL3Ow4-c 卡特家庭 5: 在超市) | Level 3 | Chinese Methodology recap : listened a few times not looking at subtitles. Watched the video to help context. guessed meaning, characters known 放进 put in 过道 aisle 汽水 fizzy drink Couldn't guess meaning, characters known. 放进去 to put inside 放回去 to put back Guessed the meaning pretty well, didn't know words before 架子 shelf 薯片 crisps 收银台 cashier's counter Previously completely unknown 叹了口气 皱了一下眉头 wrinkled eyebrows (frowned) 耸肩 shrug shoulders 曲奇饼干 - apparently usually it's 曲奇 for cookie and 饼干 for biscuit. The two words (four characters) are rarely used together.
  14. 6 points
    I just got home from my final exam of third semester, and so my first year is over! The exam today was quite difficult. It consisted of 5 questions which had long answers, basically like essay questions but much shorter. They were based on what we have covered this semester in our week of class, and the places we went to visit. I am feeling really good about how this first year has gone. I have a very long way to go, but I can feel that there has been a big improvement since I started, and that I have a good foundation for the next 3 years. I'm not sure that there is one stand out area that I need to improve a lot more than anything else, but rather just that I need to keep continuing right across the board. I was at a little show thing yesterday that my kids' kindergarten put on, and one of the teachers was speaking at the front and I understand almost everything she said. Then when we ate together later on she was talking and I understood next to nothing! This may have been because slower, more 'formal' type Chinese is easier for me to understand than dialect laced chit-chat, but it was both a great encouragement at being able to do something I never could have a year ago, and a reminder that there is so much more I need to learn, and so much more time I need to spend practicing. The same rings true of my speaking, reading and writing. I'll express myself really clearly, and then be misunderstood when I try to tell someone I'm from England. I'll write something my teacher says is great, and then forget how to write 年 or 唱歌 in an exam! I'll find a sentence out and about that I can read and understand, and then find one where I don't know a single character. Over the break I want to try and keep up with study, but I haven't yet thought out exactly what I am going to do. I think I will try reading texts from a text book that I haven't used yet, in order to keep my reading up, and also to pick up new vocab. I will try my best to speak Chinese at home (not just out and about), and try to do things where I can increase how much I am listening. I think this might be my last post until September when we start back up again, although I may drop a mid-break post if I remember.
  15. 5 points
    I recently finished “Art in China” by Professor Craig Clunas. The book organizes the art of China in different contexts, and then describes the history chronologically within that context. This way of learning about history is rather interesting. The discussions are much clearer because the items being compared are discussed right before, and reduces flipping through the book to remember other facts. It also provides a better overall view of the history and development of art in these contexts. I typically read books in Chinese about topics related to Chinese culture because I’m more familiar with names and terms in Chinese. With books in English, I typically have problems with translated or romanized names and terms. (I never learned Chinese romanization). I had no problems with this book. I think it’s a good introductory book for anyone interested in the history of art of China. The book also has a timeline, bibliography, and lists of websites for reference.
  16. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the novel 《第七天》 by 余华. The story centers around protagonist 杨飞 and his experiences before and after his sudden untimely death. Unlike other 余华 novels, 《第七天》 is a work of surrealist fiction. The narrative present is set in the afterlife; all major characters in the novel are dead. Like 余华’s other novels, 《第七天》 is at turns tragic, funny, morbid, and sweet. It is not his best novel, but it might be my favorite. The Chinese in 《第七天》 is not difficult to understand. The novel is easier to read than 《活着》 and 《在细雨中呼喊》, though probably harder than the dialogue-heavy 《许三观卖血记》. Demands on my time prevent me from writing a longer review. In August, I moved to Shanghai and started a new and exciting job, which keeps me very busy. I continue to read Chinese nearly every day and am confident I will meet my 1,000,000 character goal this year. Link to 《第七天》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117754/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 602,138 Characters left to read this year: 397,862 Percent of goal completed: 60.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters)
  17. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the novel 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒. The novel is about the lives of two people: the unnamed male narrator, a john and former journalist driving across China’s National Highway 318; and his passenger 娜娜, a pregnant prostitute looking for someone from her past. The narrative alternates between road chapters and flashback chapters. The road chapters are set in the present. These chapters contain conversations between the two protagonists and focus on 娜娜’s backstory. The flashback chapters are set in the past. They move chronologically through the narrator’s life, beginning with his childhood and jumping forward until they converge with the road chapters at the end of the book. 《1988》 is a funny novel. This is mainly because of the witty dialogue. While reading 《1988》, I frequently smiled and occasionally laughed out loud. Unfortunately, much of the humor comes at the expense of 娜娜, the down-on-her-luck sex worker. At its best, the humor arises through character-driven storytelling. 娜娜 is a quixotic figure, a woman whose life is full of misfortune but who clings to unrealistic and grandiose hopes for her and her unborn child. At its worst, the humor is meanspirited and cheap, consisting of sarcastic quips from the narrator insulting 娜娜’s intelligence. The plot of 《1988》 is above average; the execution of the plot is unexceptional. While the protagonists’ stories intersect in interesting ways, these intersections would have a greater effect if the storytelling were more patient. The emotional power of the most moving events in the story is undercut by 韩寒’s light, breezy narration and the meanspiritedness noted above. Near the end of the novel, a multi-chapter narrative thread involving a childhood sweetheart is wrapped up in a single paragraph. No doubt this was intentional. But the resolution lacks pathos, as though 韩寒 was not willing to give a personal and moral tragedy the emotional weight it deserved. 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 is not a difficult book to read, vocabulary-wise. I found the language about as easy as 棉棉’s 《熊猫》, perhaps a bit easier. As with 《熊猫》, most of the main text is dialogue. This means fewer low-frequency words, which makes for an easier read. I chose to read this book after seeing @ouyangjun and @Lu mention it in the evergreen and ever-useful “What are you reading?” thread. Link to 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/116/116559/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 497,065 Characters left to read this year: 502,935 Percent of goal completed: 49.7% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters)
  18. 5 points
    I recently finished reading 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华. It is the third novel by 余华 I have read, following the perennial Chinese Forums favorites 《活着》 and 《许三观卖血记》. 《在细雨中呼喊》 is about a young boy and the events that happen to the people around him in two villages over a seven-year period. The novel has a fascinating structure and contains some great storytelling. It is also an uneven book. Its opening and closing sections are fantastic. The middle chapters are overlong and not well executed. I lost interest in the novel halfway. I continued reading to the end, though, and am glad I did. The narrative core of story is this: a six-year-old boy, the middle of three brothers, is growing up with his biological family in the village 南门. Unwanted by his father, he is sold to a couple from another village, 孙荡. The boy goes to 孙荡 and lives there for six years. Following a series of colorful and improbable events, the boy returns to 南门. In some ways, 《在细雨中呼喊》 is less of a novel and more of a novel skeleton. It is not a single overarching story. It is a collection of anecdotes. The novel lacks a clearly defined protagonist. Except for the surreal beginning and ending of the book and a few other sections, the boy-narrator is not a central character. His name, 孙光林, appears only three times in the entire novel. Many of the anecdotes do not involve him. The anecdotes are about other people: his family members, classmates, friends, teachers. The story is told out of chronological order. The beginning of the book describes the narrator’s return to 南门 after six years in 孙荡; the ending does, too. A long middle section describes events that occur before the narrator is born. The narrative is told from a first-person perspective throughout, which is confusing in places. Certain anecdotes contain details the narrator would not have had access to, e.g., the precise movements of his adopted father during a violent post-coital hand grenade rampage. The most powerful aspect of 《在细雨中呼喊》 is its death stories. These are stories that culminate in the mortal or narrative end of established characters. 余华 has this uncommon ability to bring about and describe the deaths of characters the reader is invested in in plain terms, without pathos, to great emotional or comic effect. (The deaths of 福贵’s daughter 凤霞 in 《活着》 and 许三观’s cuckolding nemesis 何小勇 in 《许三观卖血记》are two other examples of this.) At times, 余华 chains multiple deaths together, revealing them with a preternatural timing that shocks the reader. In a ten-page section called 《婚礼》, a woman who was humiliated by her cowardly ex-lover commits suicide at the man’s wedding reception. Two pages later: the bride, humiliated by the same coward, commits suicide too. 《婚礼》 is a modest masterpiece. I was haunted by it when I first read it and have thought about it several times since. (The absurd deaths of 二喜 and 苦根 in 《活着》 are two other examples of 余华’s death chaining. Near the end of the book, 福贵’s sole remaining family members are killed off in ridiculous ways: crushed to a non-identifiable pulp in a construction accident; and choked to death on string beans. Unlike the sad slow rhythm of the rest of the novel, 二喜 and 苦根 are offed quickly, as though their deaths were required by some cruel inexorable narrative logic. After their deaths, 福贵 is old and alone except for an old ox that represents the memories of his deceased family. In the space of a few pages, the novel transforms from historical tragedy to existential meta-story.) According to @imron’s Chinese Text Analyser, 《在细雨中呼喊》 contains about 600 more unique characters and about 3000 more unique words than both 《活着》 and 《许三观卖血记》. For me, this difference made for a noticeable increase in difficulty, particularly in the middle part of the novel. 《活着》 1910 unique characters 4426 unique words 《许三观卖血记》 2035 unique characters 4640 unique words 《在细雨中呼喊》 2602 unique characters 7521 unique words 《在细雨中呼喊》 has a bad reputation on Chinese Forums. @Geiko wrote that the “book was very disappointing”; @wushijiao “got bored with it midway”; @zander1 found it “totally impenetrable”; and @imron added it to a list of books to “avoid entirely.” I don’t think the book is as bad as they say, and recommend it despite its problems. In some parts the storytelling is excellent. Link to 《在细雨中呼喊》: http://yuedu.163.com/source/0b6b9c159cd0455ea90729a756a1ca0c_4 Some statistics: Characters read this year: 362,389 Characters left to read this year: 637,611 Percent of goal completed: 36.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters)
  19. 5 points
    The 2nd in the series of public adverts encouraging intelligent of smartphones on the Chongqing subway, this one takes its inspiration from 红楼梦 (Dreams of the Red Chamber). It asks whether the protagonists would have met if they had had phones to play with. The second sentence is a play on a traditional Chinese saying: "有缘千里来相会, 无缘对面不相逢" (if it is fated to be then it will happen even if separated by one thousand miles, if it's not fated to be then it won't happen even if you are face to face). Instead, the second part in the adverts reads "面对面来玩手机" (side by side but playing on their phones). The first half of the third sentence is also a traditional Chinese saying: 有情人终成眷属 (if there is love between them then they will eventually become husband and wife). The second part is new and says that if they play on their mobile phones then they will remain strangers (玩手机终成陌路). It ends by exhorting the readers to use their phone responsibly (合理正确使用手机) for the sake of their loved ones (为了自己的亲人和爱人).
  20. 5 points
    This blog appears to be turning into a showerthoughts for interpreting. Its late at night and I'm nearly done with studying today. Just thought I'd share a quick thought from my cursive practice just now. I have recently begun using the john defrancis intermediate chinese textbook to practice my 草書. This is because the entire textbook is written in pinyin, in a repetitive, cumulative style, so that I get lots of practice writing 草書 compounds that frequently appear together, without seeing the 楷書 equivalent. Its been great practice, but I've noticed something interesting lately in my attitude towards this textbook, which I once considered 'ridiculous' in its no-character approach. In reading and analysing the written-down sounds without the comfort of characters, I've become aware of how the brain really can effectively compartmentalize sounds separate from characters, enabling better and quicker listening comprehension. Without the character there to remind me, I immediately claw for meaning by honing in on the tone in a way that I have never done before. I can understand a single character (ie no compound to help out) because of the tone, and then the context. If I am writing, looking at a single character written in pinyin appears to effectively mimic the process I go through when listening to rapid speeches in Chinese, constantly bumping into single character words that can only be understood by correct tone comprehension, then context. For example, hearing the single character word 'xì' in a speech may be difficult, as you cannot see it is, say, 戲, and thus realise it is not 係. The job is actually harder in listening than in reading; you must be 100% confident it is a fourth tone xi, eliminate all non fourth characters, then decide from context. Looking at the pinyin is the same, except it is made a step easier; you are given the all important tone. In this way you can cut out all the 希洗西喜席息習 etc. with certainty and focus on just 係戯細, allowing context to take care of the rest. So the pinyin is like an intermediate step between reading comprehension and listening comprehension. I find that if I cant fully comprehend every word in a full speech written out in pinyin, theres a good chance I am not going to be able to do so when I listen to it. While the speaker brings emphasis and rhythm to facilitate better listening comprehension in the audience, reading the same speech in pinyin brings accurate tones and space dividers, enabling one to test their potential listening comprehension ability of a speech at a controlled pace. More importantly, this condition effectively simulates listening, as there are no characters, no subtitles, nothing! When listening to those all-important rare characters as they crop up in a formal speech at high speed, hearing the tone is in fact so, so much more useful than seeing the character. I think this is the first time I have actually thought that reading through a pinyin text really quickly is a useful task for developing other skills...any thoughts from others? edit: note this use of pinyin is effective as my target speeches are only in standard mandarin; if you go out on the streets and want to rely on tones to understand the locals, you're gonna have a hard time...
  21. 5 points
    Earlier this week I finished reading the novella 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文. 《一个女剧院的生活》 is a story about several men of different ages and stations in life all vying for the love of a beautiful and talented young actress. While the men contend for her love, the actress, 萝, rejects their advances. The opening chapters of the novella establish a love triangle, which later turns into a love quadrilateral, which later turns into a love pentagon. Much of the novella consists of drawn out conversations about love in the abstract; of men having trying to convince 萝 to be with them; and of 萝 criticizing the men’s behavior and mannerisms and words. Here is an example of one such conversation. The conversation is between 萝 and her uncle(舅父), who criticizes 萝 for her capricious treatment toward one her suitors. While 沈从文 is a talented storyteller, I didn’t much like this novella. I found the story boring and didn’t care about its characters. I also found the dialogue tiresome. In over half the conversations in this story, characters lecture each other, chastise each other, and engage in overlong detached disputations on love and freedom. That is not what people in love do. 沈从文 made his female lead character unlikeable. 萝 has this tremendous power to make any man around her want to marry her. But rather than be gracious, wise, or even shrewd, 萝 is haughty, hectoring any man who would presume to compete for her affections. In the real world, this kind of behavior would lead to gossip, resentment, and reputational damage. In 《一个女剧院的生活》, no one seems bothered by her badgering. The men in this novella don’t come off much better than 萝. They are desperate, neurotic, feckless, vain. This story would be more believable if it had contained a strong supporting female character. There are a female student actress and an 阿姨 (who works for 舅父), but these characters don’t have much to say. Also, the dialogue is sometimes cheesy. An example: Yech. At 61,154 characters, this novella is the longest work I have completed so far this year. The language wasn’t too hard and should be accessible to any advanced Chinese-language learner. (The quotes above are fairly representative, difficulty-wise.) 《一个女剧院的生活》 is the third work of 沈从文’s I have read. The first was his short story 《牛》, which I loved. The second was the short story collection 《虎雏》, which was pretty good. My reading list contains many other works by 沈从文, including his classic novels. I plan to read some other authors, then come back to him. Link to 沈从文’s 《一个女剧院的生活》: https://m.ixdzs.com/d/116894 Some statistics: Characters read this year: 211,905 Characters left to read this year: 788,095 Percent of goal completed: 21.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters)
  22. 5 points
    From the publicity for Edinburgh's Chinese New Year celebrations. I snipped this from the Internet, but the same poster is adorning bus stops city-wide.
  23. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the short story《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲. Like《三八节有感》, 《我在霞村的时候》was written by 丁玲 during her Yan'an period, and addresses the indignities Chinese women of the time faced from their countrymen. The story is told from the perspective of a writer who travels to Xia village from Yan'an to write and recuperate. Soon after the writer arrives, a commotion breaks out in the village. The commotion is due to the return of 贞贞, a young female villager who has been working as a Chinese spy and was abused by Japanese soldiers. 《我在霞村的时候》is not long; the story has about 10,750 Chinese characters. The language is not difficult either. 丁玲 writes in an undecorated prose style. She leaves many questions relevant to the story unexplored or unanswered. The result is an obviously moral tale that is nonetheless open to differing interpretations. Here is a link to the story: www.millionbook.com/mj/d/dingling/dlzp/003.htm Up next for me is an article by 毛泽东. I will also continue with that far longer work I read parts of last year. Some statistics: Characters read this year: 13,124 Characters left to read this year: 986,876 Percent of goal completed: 1.3% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters)
  24. 4 points
    A reply to a recent comment from @murrayjames spawned into something perhaps more worthy of an additional entry. The comment reads, This is correct - there is frequent public failure, unrealistic deadlines and demands, and non-specialists taking on specialist jobs. Here are my thoughts on why the industry is like the way it is at present in the West. There is an obvious disconnect between client and interpreter, which, already so wide as it is, is only exacerbated by the fact the market is unregulated and rife with interpretation agencies offering specialists for every field, which they couldn't possibly afford at the rates the real specialists work at. Of course, clients don't know this and don't care - they just want someone in the booth who is 'fluent' to interpret their conference on a niche topic. Most interpreters rely on a good reputation to build a specialism in a certain field - eg. 'life sciences', 'renewables', and gain repeat clients in this way. It is this which results in the growth of confidence and ability. But such a trial and error approach to finding and building up good interpreters is clearly the wrong way to go about raising great interpreters in the field. The same is of course true for translation, but generally translators have the time and space to do the necessary research during the project, whereas interpreters can only guesstimate what might come up in their next job based on a description from the arranging party who is hopefully well-enough informed themselves. On specialist interpretation: IMO, Interpreters should be in-house specialists in specific fields whenever possible. They should be an integral part of the planning process for any event they will be interpreting at. However organisations these days are always looking to cut costs, and when there are cheaper rates from a general agency rather than employing a specialist freelancer, too often it seems the former is opted for, usually by someone who does not understanding what interpreters do. The latest high profile example of this which caused quite a lot of embarrassment was the interpreter for Sun Yang at his WADA doping hearing (watch here). The interpreter clearly was not a specialist in the field of swimming, drug testing, etc. and the result was quite shocking. On non-specialist interpretation: Non-specialists are a necessity, but will never be able to do a good job. I specialise in arts translation, specifically exhibitions and books on Chinese art. This is too narrow a specialism to build a career in, with science, medicine, law etc. being the best paid routes. But even the 'narrow' field of Chinese art is obviously not narrow at all - you could study a lifetime and still not be finished. But there are people that need the job done in narrow, underfunded areas, and 'non-specialist' is better than nothing in their eyes. The result is, all non-high-paying fields get bunched together and given to 'non-specialist' interpreters. People need the job done, and there are those willing to do the job, but the job will almost never be done to a high standard. Conclusions: 1) While there is money to employ and support specialists as full time interpreters, cost-cutting leads to non-specialists occasionally taking on (or being pushed into) jobs they are unable to do. Result: quality interpretation cannot be guaranteed due to organisations cost cutting at the expense of interpreters. 2) Niche fields need interpreters, but there is no money for specialists in these areas. Non-specialists end up taking on a wide-range of jobs they are not specialist in. The result is bad interpretation, but better than nothing. Ultimately, the problem lies with the misunderstanding of clients as to what ‘interpreting’ and ‘translating’ actually is, as well as an abundance of people willing to take on jobs when they’re not actually qualified. Contrary to popular belief, being ‘bilingual’ does not qualify you as an interpreter, but so many organisations think and hope it is the same thing, and to top it off (and who can blame them) there are bilingual speakers who reinforce this hope, because there is money to be made. A fairly hopeless situation, and I’m sure the market is very different in China, where many people are by virtue of the education system are to a certain degree bilingual (speaking not just of English, but other forms of Chinese beyond Putonghua) and understand at the very least what this means (ie. ≠ able to interpret).
  25. 4 points
    I hand an off hand compliment last night. I was at a 湖南饭馆 last night. I was sitting around a corner kind of out of the way. at one point, I called out 服务员, the waitress instantly stopped and looked around for who was calling her. She turned to the guy sitting at the table behind her and asked him what he needed, he said he hadn't called her. She did the same with another customer. I then called her again and she made eye contact with me. This was a small victory, because when I first started, I could never seem to get a response from saying 服务员, last night the waitress thought it could have come from a native speaker😃
  26. 4 points
    Yesterday I finished reading a series of articles by IBM, in Chinese translation. The articles pertain to a commercial service called Personality Insights. The service helps companies find the right customers by analyzing text posted on Twitter and other social media platforms. IBM claims it can predict human behavior by looking at Tweets. The Personality Insights service creates psychological profiles of Twitter users based on the words they use on the platform. According to the research that underlies Personality Insights, the words that people choose reveal aspects of their personality. By studying a person’s words, IBM can predict if that person is altruistic, trusting, orderly, self-disciplined, assertive, excitement-seeking, prone to worry or anger, artistic, intellectual, and more. The words people choose also reveal their needs and values. IBM claims it can predict if a person is likely to use credit cards when making a purchase, is susceptible to impulse buying, is likely to buy environmentally-friendly products or eat organic foods, is likely to start their own business, is likely to invest in a start-up, what kind of books and movies the person likes, etc. Here is the sales pitch, in IBM’s own words: The IBM Cloud website contains a demo of the Personality Insights service. I tried out the demo using some Tweets and other texts I wrote. I was unnerved but not surprised at how accurately the service predicted my personality. Maybe IBM predicted that, too. Here’s a link to the demo: https://personality-insights-demo.ng.bluemix.net Since my last blog post I have also read three short works by 丁玲. The first work is《彭德怀速写》. It is a brief 1936 paean to celebrated CCP general Peng Dehuai. The second work is 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》. It is a 1946 autobiographical essay. In the essay, 丁玲 writes on a number of topics: the May Fourth Movement, two feminist comrades that inspired her, her relationship with her mother, and her literary beginnings. The third work I read is 《夜》. It is a 1941 short story about a husband and a wife and their relationship in trying times. The Personality Insights articles can be found on the IBM Cloud website. The website contains numerous articles; I read those describing and marketing the service, and explaining the personality research that undergirds it. Those articles are titled《关于》,《个性模型》,《大五类人格 - 随和性》,《大五类人格 - 尽责性》,《大五类人格 - 外倾性》,《大五类人格 - 情绪程度》,《大五类人格 - 开放性》,《需求》,《价值观》,《消费偏好》,《用例》,《使用指南》,《服务实战》,《服务背后的科学》, and《研究参考资料》. Here is a link: https://cloud.ibm.com/docs/services/personality-insights/index.html?locale=zh-cn#about Text of 《彭德怀速写》: http://www.millionbook.com/mj/d/dingling/000/002.htm Text of 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》: http://www.millionbook.com/mj/d/dingling/000/004.htm Text of 《夜》: http://www.millionbook.com/mj/d/dingling/dlzp/004.htm Some statistics: Characters read this year: 92,142 Characters left to read this year: 907,858 Percent of goal completed: 9.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters)
  27. 4 points
    We have just completed the first week of third year! I can't believe I am now half way through this degree, perhaps even over half way as 4th year finishes earlier than the previous 3 years. We have a new teacher for 综合 this year, and so far I think she might be the best teacher we've had. She has a great way of teaching, and explains things really well. In both 综合 and 口语 our teachers have said that the major focus this year is going to be 近义词。 This is because our vocabulary is growing, and as it does a common problem we will face is misusing words that have a similar translation in the dictionary, but can't be used in the same way in Chinese. A good example from this first week was 保存/储存,or 职业/行业。 Our other subjects are 中国历史,写作,修辞和阅读。I was really excited about history, and the book is great, but the class so far was uninspiring. It was all focused on getting through the material and prepping for what will be on the exam, so we covered right up until 秦始皇 in one class, which was way too fast. We also did some on 孔子,which ironically we have covered in more detail last year (twice). Our 写作书 is actually 高级 instead of 准高级,so it's quite challenging, but the first class was laughable. Unfortunately our teacher seems to think we are retarded, and so spent most of the lesson explaining what a sentence is, what a question is, how a question mark/comma works etc. She also calls us 'babies', which perhaps should offend me, but when a 36 year old woman refers to me, a 31 year old man, as a baby, it grinds my gears a bit! Anyway, hopefully this class will improve, and the material in the book looks great. 修辞 was fun, and I am also looking forward to this. We looked at 比喻句 which are pretty straight forward, being as we use them in English all the time. But it's interesting to see how Chinese metaphors differ from English ones! All in all this was a great first week, and I am excited for this semester! Other good news is that I got a scholarship which knocked my fees down 20%! My teacher said if I had done more with the university then I would have gotten a higher one, so maybe next year!
  28. 4 points
    Car Park at Yu Long River 遇龙河 near Yangshuo 阳朔, Guangxi.
  29. 4 points
    Today I finished reading the novella 《偶然事件》 by 余华. The story is about a mysterious murder. In what appears to be a crime of passion, a man suddenly stabs another man to death in a coffeeshop, then hands himself over to the police. Much of the story consists of letters written between two witnesses to the murder. Following the coffeeshop murder, the witnesses become inadvertent pen pals, writing letters back-and-forth in which they opine and argue over the murderer’s motives, revealing much about themselves in the process. There are also narrative sections that provide a backstory for the characters involved in the murder. 《偶然事件》 is an easy read, easier than 《活着》. There is plenty of dialogue, and even the letter-writing sections have a breezy, conversational style to them. The story is OK. Link to 《偶然事件》: https://www.kanunu8.com/book3/7199/159328.html Some statistics: Characters read this year: 517,291 Characters left to read this year: 482,709 Percent of goal completed: 51.7% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters)
  30. 4 points
    Despite learning Chinese Mandarin, I don't get the chance to use it very often. I get the feeling of minimal progress. I haven't really been watching many intermediate learning materials since my last post. A bit boring for my liking... I wasted a lot of time on the hellotalk app. Being a native English speaker is a big advantage when learning Chinese. Eventually, I decided to tell people I am only interested in talking verbally and real time conversation. This proved helpful in screening out quite a number of people who just wanted a friendly text chat with a foreigner. I tend to screen out people who have a strong 南方 accent though Taiwanese are fine. In the end HT is just an area for practice and I cut down my time on it. For learning, I have been using Glossika. 25% through the A1 course. It's a bit boring but I stick with it. I don't like that it only gives two reps of a sentence. I prefer 3 or 4 at one time. Does it have an effect? I think it is hard to say for me - maybe a longer duration of practice would help. I recently dug out some old ankicards that I made long ago. These were made from the Growing up in China series. I remember I had tremendous difficulty in following the speech at time of making them. Well, amazingly, I found my listening comprehension is definitely much better. There are words which I forgot but definitely relearn much better and it's much less frustrating. I recently went to Qingdao for business and badminton. Initially a bit apprehensive yet looking forward to trying out the field experience. Last time I was by myself in China was two years ago in Guangzhou and I fell back to using Cantonese much of the time. Pleased to say I didnt really have any major problems using the language for day to day life. Of course there were the trip-ups. What I particularly liked was I had to use the language for some simple problem solving which sharpens the mind considerably. Although there is still a lot to learn in terms of extending conversations, the initial handling of issues went quite smoothly. I had a couple of nice conversations with taxi drivers and made a large number of wechat contacts from playing badminton. I played a lot of amateur competitions in the past and when I played my trickshots on this trip, they were really well received. Of course, there was also the novelty factor of being an overseas Chinese. So a great morale booster that there is some progression and I got a lot of extensive listening experience even though I didn't understand all of it.
  31. 4 points
    This machine at Shanghai Pudong was having a bad day. But at least management offered a clear explanation. (Please click the photo to enlarge it.) 设备故障 -- 暂停使用
  32. 4 points
    I recently finished reading the 1928 short story《自杀日记》by 丁玲. This story has much in common with the novella《莎菲女士的日记》, a better-known work that 丁玲 published the same year. Both stories are about troubled young women in large Chinese cities who record their thoughts in diary form. 丁玲 gives both young women transliterated western names: 莎菲 and 伊萨. In some ways the women have similar temperaments. They are angsty, reclusive, and uninterested in the young men who fall in love with them. While both women are deeply unhappy—to the point of wanting to end their lives—their unhappiness manifests differently. 莎菲 is brooding, impetuous, judgmental, misanthropic. 伊萨 is apathetic. Finding no meaning in life, she resigns herself to a nihilistic suicide: 她只觉得这生活很无意思,很不必有,她固执的屡次向自己说:“顶好是死去算了!” Like other works by 丁玲 from this period, the language is not difficult for a Chinese language learner to understand. The story is short, just over 4,500 characters long. Here is a link: https://www.kanunu8.com/book3/8372/186036.html Below are some statistics and a list of the works I have finished reading this year. Despite showing only 3.6% my goal complete, I am ahead of my reading schedule, because these numbers do not include works currently in progress. Next up to finish is the 余华 short story《我没有自己的名字》. Some statistics: Characters read this year: 35,967 Characters left to read this year: 964,033 Percent of goal completed: 3.6% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters)
  33. 4 points
    ....is a favourite song of mine by Nik Kershaw. Wouldn’t it be good to just get a bit of time to oneself just to study without life getting in the way. It’s been very busy. At at least I have glossika to fall back on. It’s now very convenient - connect up my earphones, go into the browser on my phone and start the course. If I don’t finish, then do some reps later at another time. So far I have managed about five days out of seven for the last three weeks. Nice.
  34. 4 points
    I was quite shocked when I saw this poster last week. It can't be, can it? Do I have a particularly dirty mind, I asked myself. Well, dirty maybe, particularly definitely not, I concluded. This is a well-known wordplay. So well-known that whoever made this poster had to use quotation marks to eliminate ambiguity. But the quotation marks only serve to remind the reader that there is another reading. So the shock was calculated. Which leaves me wondering how low can you go in advertising these days. (For anyone who doesn't get it, 下面 = the nether regions.)
  35. 4 points
    Earlier this year, I decided to step down as organizer of the Chicago Mandarin Conversation meetup. As for why, I've been hosting Mandarin conversation meetups in some form or another since fall 2013, and I've simply lost interest (but I will continue to host the Chinese study group for a while). Fortunately, Kenneth has decided to take my place, starting in January of next year. We had a nice WeChat call just now about how to run the meetup, and these are my notes from that meeting. Should we merge the two groups? (Chicago Mandarin Conversation and Chicago Chinese Study) I'm slightly against this idea. One is for all levels and the other is for advanced speakers. It does make some things easier, but the problem is that with a mixed membership the advanced group will almost certainly get more beginners showing up. Remember that people don't read event descriptions! Members I fairly strict about membership requests, requiring applicants to write a coherent introduction in Chinese. You can decide to be more lax on this front, and just accept any applicant that completes the profile (which is what I used to do). You have to accept that some beginners might slip through, and when they show up, you can refer them to the all-levels group if it's clear they don't belong in the advanced group. Try to keep a good record of no-shows. If someone with a history of no-shows signs up, you'll know that they likely won't attend, and they can be automatically kicked off a waiting list if there is one. There have been rare occasions when a member brings their child to a conversation event. I think this is OK if the parent is taking part in the conversation themselves, and the child is just hanging out. But if the parent tries to leave their child there, kick them both out! Meetup is not free babysitting. Co-hosts When I started out, it was just me and my friend Aaron, and it was weeks before we got a third attendee. Even though it was a very small gathering, it was easy to host because I had a co-host and friend who I could count on to be there more-or-less on time every week. Definitely try to recruit your friends and coworkers to come, and keep a mental list of people who can step in for you when you're absent or running late. There are a lot of people who claim that they would like to host a event. Do not believe them! If they actually name a place and time and show up at that place and time, that's when you can believe them. Marketing Big announcements should be published on these platforms (in order of priority): Meetup mailing list WeChat group Blog FB page Twitter Normal announcements should just go on the mailing list. Posting pictures to meetup.com helps a lot with promotion. It's better to have the picture taken on your own phone so you can just upload it yourself. Another good way of promoting the meetup is to encourage people to write positive reviews. You should send out a message to the mailing list introducing yourself and explaining that you will be organizing the group from now on. There are probably some members who still believe that this meetup group is dead. Remember to change your profile to indicate that you're now an organizer! Scheduling Having a recurring event helps convince people that this is a stable, active meetup. I recommend having at least one event that always occurs on the same relative day of the month at the same location and same time. You can schedule additional events at different places and times to spice things up. Expect that about 50% of the RSVPs will actually show up. If the event is at a restaurant, make sure to schedule the meetup 30 minutes in advance of when you want to take a seat. This avoids a lot of problems, like having to be reseated because the expected number of people didn't show up. If at all possible try to schedule at the edge of busy periods. For example, instead of scheduling for noon, choose 11:00 am or 1:00 pm. If you can avoid it, don't make reservations ahead of time since it's hard to estimate the number of attendees. You don't need to announce it, but you should always have a backup plan. For restaurant events, you might show up to find that the restaurant is full or it's suddenly closed down for renovation or failed health inspection. Backup restaurant should be one that you're familiar with and which is generally not busy. For Chinatown, I think the underground cafeteria is a decent backup venue. Try to avoid cancelling events if at all possible, even if the number of RSVPs is really low. Sometimes people will show up even if they didn't RSVP. If you do need to cancel an event, announce it the day before, especially if there are guests who would be coming from out of town to attend. The best backup plans account for the event where no one shows up (hopefully that never happens to you). Topics Since the average level of attendees is likely to be lower from now on, you should consider announcing discussion topics ahead of the event. Intermediate speakers tend to be more passive conversationalists and need more prodding. When you encounter an awkward silence, that's your cue to introduce a topic. Restaurants Prefer venues that are quieter, less crowded, and have lazy susans on their tables. When ordering at a restaurant, the host(s) should always order for the group. Always remember to ask about dietary restrictions. Do not allow more than 20% of the dishes to be "adventurous" (e.g. chicken feet, jellyfish, duck's blood, etc). Do not let every attendee order one dish. Instead, ask every attendee what kind of food they're most looking forward to eating, and take everyone's wishes into consideration. If an attendee has special knowledge of a restaurant's cuisine, let them order. When dishes are brought to the table, ask the server which dish it is and what ingredients are in it. This is useful for people who aren't very familiar with the cuisine. Make sure to take a picture of the receipt so that people know what you ordered. Better yet, take pictures of the dishes and post them to meetup.com. If I'm the host, I prefer to pay the whole bill and ask everyone to pay me via Venmo or cash. Sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior If a member reports another meetup.com user (not necessarily a member) for abusive messages, report them to meetup.com. The admins can see the messages on their side and hopefully they'll take the appropriate action. Keep in mind that for every abusive message you hear about, there are many more that aren't reported. Women receive a crazy amount of creepy messages online. Kick spammers out and block them from rejoining. IRL abusive behavior should be shut down immediately. Kick the offender out of the meetup group right away. If they want to rejoin the group, they'll have to talk to you before their membership request can be approved. Things I have kicked people out for: homophobia, trying to use the group to sell pot, and trying to recruit members into one of those Chinese pyramid schemes. You cannot kick someone out for looking like a creep. You can, however, pull female members aside and advise them not to accept free car rides from creepy-looking men. We used to have a code of conduct. We should bring it back as a blog post and put a link to it on the meetup.com description page. WeChat It's good to maintain a WeChat group so that it's easier for attendees to add each other. Just scan the group instead of scanning each other. The group is also useful for announcing events to existing members. Any person who is spamming the group should be kicked out immediately. They can rejoin if they agree to stop spamming. Currently, the requirement on the WeChat group is that no English is allowed. In practice, the group is really low traffic so I don't think that this is a necessary rule. I will transfer ownership of the existing group to you. You should periodically clean out the WeChat group of members who haven't shown up in a long time. It's harder to find the people you want to add if the group has a lot of members. We used to have a Facebook Group, but I don't think it's a viable option anymore now that the FB Groups app has been pulled. Using FB Groups from the main Facebook app is a way worse experience than just using WeChat. Also, I don't think FB Groups has the translate feature. Recruiters You will eventually be contacted by a recruiter who wants to post job ads to the group. It's your call whether to allow it, but I sent out a survey to ask the members if they want to see job ads through the meetup, and the response was mostly negative. In truth, only a few members have the language skills that qualify for the jobs I've seen. I think the best way to handle this is to ask the recruiter for the Chinese version of the job ad and post it in the WeChat group. Or just ignore recruiters entirely. Events at your home On occasion, you might want to host an event at your own home, like a potluck, game night, or movie-watching party. This is a great idea, and a wonderful opportunity to torment your friends with your indie music collection (ahem). Do not post the event with your exact address, the street corner or closest El station is good enough. You can message your phone number and address to confirmed attendees the day before the event. You may want to enable a waiting list whose size corresponds to the size of your apartment. Exclude inveterate no-showers from RSVP'ing. You may also want to limit the number of guests that you haven't personally met before. It is not a big deal if your place doesn't have enough chairs for everyone. In practice, people are happy to stand for 2 hours if they're having a good time. If it really bothers you, then clean your floor and people can sit on that. If you invite a total stranger to your home, you don't have to give your phone number and address to them right away. Remember that this person might not even show up! You can add them on WeChat/Facebook, and tell them to send their location to you when they get within a mile of your location. Once you've confirmed that they're actually coming, you can send them the relevant information. Other types of events Here are some events I've hosted or attended, and what I think of them. Exhibition of Ai Weiwei's photos: It was really nice to chat while browsing the exhibition. I don't think this type of event needs to be limited to exhibitions of Chinese artists. Mandarin Mingle in SF: This was held inside a hotel bar and everyone stood the whole time because there was no seating in that area. An absurd number of attendees, RSVPs were capped at 70 and maybe half showed up. I enjoyed it, but I wonder how long it would take to set up in Chicago. Chinese chess and conversation in Montreal: People really seemed to like the vibe of chatting while playing a board game. After the meetup proper they went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Experience was marred by the organizer being a really creepy guy who didn't speak a lick of Chinese and who threatened to expel a female member who wouldn't give him her number (he was only there briefly since he had nothing to contribute beyond being creepy). Mahjong and hotpot: I thought this was an interesting combination. Worth the effort if you have the equipment and some people willing to help you out with chopping and cleanup. Watch a Chinese movie at a film festival: I don't really recommend this as a meetup event. It's fine to watch a movie with friends, but watching a movie with other meetup members is pretty much the same as watching it with random strangers. In practice, no one stays around after the movie to discuss it. Language exchange: Maybe I'm bad at managing this type of event but I've never seen it go well. After the switchover from Chinese to English, the conversation tends to just stay in English. Picnic in a park: This was fun, and we got some exercise to boot. We chatted while eating unhealthy snacks. We spent most of the time playing that game where you draw a card and put it on your forehead, and you lose if you say the number on your head. Loser has to do a challenge (usually something physical, like running to the library and back or getting a photo taken with a passing dog). Friendsgiving at Sun Wah BBQ: Kind of an annual tradition that we skipped this year. I don't usually like hosting events at restaurants but this is somewhat of an exception. It's interesting how this event tends to attract people who show up just for this and never come back.
  36. 4 points
    Well, the second semester is over! I really can't believe how quickly 18 weeks has gone by, it seems like just yesterday that I was heading in to register for the new semester! All I have now is 4 weeks for a third semester, and then on to the summer break. So, exams... 口语 - It's really strange to me that we sit a speaking exam which is completely written. I have a general complaint about language exams anyway, as I just don't think a two hour exam can really be indicative of how well you grasp a language, but I feel that this is even more true in a speaking exam with no speaking! All that to say, I find writing far easier than speaking, and I think the exam went fairly well. I only have my comprehensive grade at the moment, so I'm not sure how I did, but I think I passed without too many issues. This exam had a section where we had to look at the character and write the pinyin, then vice versa. There was a section of correcting incorrect sentences. Then a section of completing a dialogue. I think also one more but I can't remember what it was. The hardest part for me was the sentences - most of them were fine, but there were a couple where I wasn't entirely sure what the mistake was, and so I might have inadvertently corrected something that didn't need to be corrected. An example (as best as I can remember) - ...介绍得热情。 I figured the mistake must either be an incorrect use of 热情, or an incorrect use of 得。 So I had to choose whether to go with 热情地介绍,or 介绍得很清楚。I went with the latter, and still don't know which I should have gone with, or if neither of those was correct! 阅读 - No significant problems here. I know I made some small mistakes here and there but I don't think there was anything huge. Some of the questions were linking characters together to form words, writing the pinyin for characters and then making our own words (I messed up a tone or two here), various comprehension questions, and then a true/false set of questions based on a longer text. 听力 - Absolute nightmare. I hate listening. Not listening to Chinese in general, but listening classes, books and audio! For this exam we were in a big lecture hall with rows that increase in height as you walk up steps towards the back. I was near the back and the audio reverberated around the whole room, making it very unclear. Other students I spoke to from various places around the room had the same complaint. There was a little bit of guesswork here, and being as the questions all came from the book we had studied, a few that I know I got correct from memory! As usual the 'mark the tones on the pinyin' section was the worst. Pretty sure I passed, but not expecting a particularly good score! 综合 - Surprisingly hard this time, but I managed to get a 91.5 and remain at the top of the class, so I am thrilled! First section was 20 words that we had to expand on (given something like 礼仪,and you have to think up something that fits - 外交礼仪),write the opposite to the given word (given 清楚,need to write 模糊), measure words (hardest was 心意,which thankfully a classmate reminded me right before the exam was 片), say whether various sentences are correct or not, organize sentences (given a load of words and you have to put them in the correct order), few comprehension questions, then finally write 120+ characters on your first birthday in China. Hardest here by a mile was organizing the sentences. They were really, really difficult for some reason. I told my teacher I was quite disappointed at how I handled that section. I knew I had a couple wrong, but as all the words are given to you, I should have sat there trying different combinations until I got it or there was no time left. Anyway, all in all exams went pretty well. As this has been a long post I'm not going to write an end of semester report, but I will do at the end of the next semester (a first year report).
  37. 4 points
    The second semester of my first year is now over, and I have final exams over this next two weeks. Following that is a short final semester of 4 weeks. The first week is a full week of class, and then each of the following 3 weeks consists of going out somewhere on one day, and then having some sort of exam about the place we went to on another day. So all in all we only have to go in twice a week, which makes it sound like a very laid back semester. I've really enjoyed this semester, and feel like it has gone by incredibly quickly. I think there has been a noticeable improvement in my Chinese across the board, and I say this mainly from an outside of the classroom perspective. I feel more confident in talking to people, and more able to communicate effectively. Of course there is still a very long way to go, but it really does feel good to have made at least a little headway. My biggest area of struggle is still listening, and realistically I think time is going to be key here. I'm going to keep working on this by trying to increase the amount of Chinese listening input I get. I will try and hit this hard over my summer break, but I'd like to find something to watch/listen to a little bit every day, to get some focused/concentrated input. Perhaps a podcast, news segment or Youtube clip. While I realize the news is far beyond me, I still thinking slowing it down and repeatedly listening to/processing a short clip could be beneficial (I read a thread about it somewhere on here)! I'd also like to try and build my known character base over the break. I have some textbooks which are still above my level (and not ones that we will study next year), and so I think I will try and read at least one text each day from any given book, and then familiarize myself with the new hanzi. This will be helpful for many reasons, not least of which is that it will give me a head start for next year, and ultimately for third/fourth year where we deal with a lot more native content. Speaking is much the same as listening I think, in that the only way to get better is to simply spend more time doing it! Following my last post I realized that I have been, in a sense, 'trying too hard'. What I mean is that I have been trying to make my speaking better by using more conjunctions and whatnot, only to discover that they are basically all only used in written Chinese. Thankfully they will still be useful to me for my writing, but I am now trying my best to adopt the 'normal' way of saying these things. As was suggested to me, lots of imitation is the key right now! That's all for now, there will be a post following my exams in two weeks!
  38. 3 points
  39. 3 points
    FOUR REASONS WHY CHINESE 成语 PUZZLE YOU I have asked people learning Chinese as their foreign language what will be something puzzling them beside Pinyin, and 60% of them have idiom (成语) as answer. Backed up by story and historical quotation, idioms frequently come in the form of four characters combination, based on the meaning of ancient Chinese, or extended meaning and metaphorical meaning of Chinese. It is a hard-to-crack case even for Chinese native speaks, let alone to mention the challenge they present to foreign friends. I still remember the first material guiding me to Chinese idiom. It is not the dictionary but a picture book with cartoons vividly showing the background story of idiom. And that's probably the most frequently applied resource that open up a Chinese child's door to this special kind of wording culture-related. There will be many reasons why a certain idiom fails your comprehension, but most of them fall into the four mainly listed below. Elaboration is given based on 狼狈为奸 for example. 1. Not knowing the story behind it Almost right behind each idiom lies a story, and some of them sound like a fable(寓言), containing the truth you need to know the idiom better. 狼 and 狈 pass a sheepfold and the sheep are attractive to them but out of reach. The fence is high for both of them. An idea occurs to狈, and he asks狼 to stand onto his shoulders so that狼could lay his hands to the sheep. And they get their meal by carrying out this plan. 狼狈为奸gives a description of this situation in brief wording. Both characters 狼&狈 appear at the beginning of the idiom, while 为奸means doing something evilly bad. So you know why it is stated as" act in collusion with each other "in the dictionary. 2. No comprehension based on classical Chinese Idioms come from traditional Chinese culture, so ancient Chinese is involved beside modern Chinese. If you cannot figure it out based on the literal meaning applied nowadays, try the corresponding meaning in ancient Chinese. I bet you may wonder why 狼狈, describing an embarrassing and awkward situation, as it is shown in Pleco, would have something to do with 为奸. It may take you less time to see what 狼狈不堪 means, since the word狼狈here is consistent with what you are familiar with. That's it. 狼狈in 狼狈为奸means something different in ancient Chinese. 狼is wolf and 狈is a wolf-like animal. They refer to bad guys alike. Words in modern Chinese come in two-character form, so you may take为奸here as a unit instead of breaking it into two parts, 为and奸. Take a check in Pleco you may find the meanings are given respectively, which suggests that this is a combination of two parts, representing two separate meaning in ancient Chinese. 为=做=实施=do, 奸=奸邪之事=坏事=bad thing. The meaning could be around the corner if you take the words from the perspective of ancient Chinese, even if you don't know the story behind. 3. Things hardly existent in modern daily life Something involved in the idiom could be rarely seen in daily life, and something is not even existent. It makes idioms more strange to non native speakers. 狈is the animal in tale only, so you would hardly know that it refers to someone next to the wolf in this idiomatic story,not a clue that it will be an executor 故事中的执行者 and subject 主语/主角 of the story. 4. Extended meaning and metaphor contained Idioms act like a fable telling something more than the story itself. It involves meaning extended or implied. 狼狈为奸tells more than the story of how two evil animals snatch the sheep. 狼狈indicates the bad guys while stealing sheep could be extended to anything evil or illegal. Idioms are formed in detailed story but they are highly summerized and logically inducted, from the concrete to the abstract, from the particular case to the universal phenomena, available for analogy based on individual case arising from daily life. 成语是故事的高度概括与浓缩,归纳成一个道理,而我们对成语的运用则是基于日常个案的类比,借用成语形容类似的情况。The meaning implied or extended to fit in the summary universally applicable in daily circumstances makes idiom not straightforward enough to understand.
  40. 3 points
    While travelling on the Chongqing subway last summer, I noticed a series of public adverts designed to encourage healthy use of smartphones, all based on the 四大名著 (four great works of Chinese literature). Being both a lover of the 四大名著 and a hater of smartphones, these humourous ads caught my attention enough for me to want to take a photo of each. This first one is based on 西游记 (Journey to the West). It asks if the monk (贫僧/圣僧) is travelling all the way to the west just to recharge and play with his phone ("去往西天充电玩手机"). Has he forgotten his original aim (初心) of bringing back the scriptures (取经)? It ends by encouraging people to use their phones in moderation ("合理正确使用手机") in order not to be distracted from achieving their goals and dreams ("为了自身的梦想与目标").
  41. 3 points
    When the yellow light lighting the door dooring. Simple! Surprising (or not) that the Beijing subway still has these kinds of errors.
  42. 3 points
    We know the names of dishes don't translate well, but I wondered what these dishes actually are... (From an eatery on 平江路 in 苏州, by the old canal.)
  43. 3 points
    Anyone who has spent any time in China will have noticed the often nonsensical, and sometimes funny, things written in English on young peoples' clothes. To be fair, at least Chinese people have the sense to just have it printed on their clothes, rather than permanently tattooed on their bodies, as many westerners do with Chinese characters. After 2 years in China, I thought I could no longer be shocked by any crazy English T-shirts or jackets, but then I saw this: There was just something about the choice of words and the big, red lettering that stunned me for a moment. I personally would be down with 1.5 of the 3 things the club stands for, and was tempted to ask for more info but, well, you know the rules...
  44. 3 points
    Since my last post, I read a collection of four short stories by 沈从文. The short stories are titled 《虎雏》, 《黔小景》, 《三三》, and 《医生》. The stories were written in 1931. They are easy to read and understand. The stories contain a diverse cast of characters from different parts of China: The Shanghai-based author and his military brother stationed in Hunan. Merchants traveling a public road in Guizhou. The mother and daughter with a grain mill and their visitors from a nearby city. The itinerant doctor and the crazy man in the mountains of Sichuan. Each of the four stories has a different setting and tone. The plots are quite different, though there is a thematic connection between them: in each of the four stories, a person dies in a peculiar way. The stories range from pretty good to very good. One story is engaging but anticlimactic. Another story is boring. Yet another story has touching characters but no plot. 沈从文 is a gifted storyteller. Certain parts of 《虎雏》 and 《医生》are exciting and hard to put down. 《医生》is also funny. A doctor goes missing for several weeks. He returns to find his co-workers waiting for him inside his home. The doctor thinks they have gathered to welcome him, but actually they gathered to divide up his possessions. The titular young woman 三三 is strong-willed and sweet and is probably my favorite character from these stories. The stories are an enjoyable read, but none of them are as good or as powerful as the author’s《牛》. This is the longest text I have read in 2019 so far (about 47,000 Chinese characters total). Link to the short story collection: https://www.ixdzs.com/d/117/117016/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 139,087 Characters left to read this year: 860,913 Percent of goal completed: 13.9% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters)
  45. 3 points
    Thanks to @roddy for inviting me to join in here... most of what I post will probably be quite simple due to my level. What's going on here? Taken in a hotel dining room in Nanjing.
  46. 3 points
    Do you know why I'm pretty sure it's a fake?
  47. 3 points
    Attendees: 3 Not enough members showed up for me to do the original activity, so I did a mishmash of things I've been thinking about for future sessions. I've rescheduled the GIF poem activity to January. We went over how to use the text-to-speech feature of your smart phone. In most cases, the quality of the voices is pretty good, and you can set the rate at which it reads. On iOS, you can turn on the Speak option in the text selection context menu by toggling Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Speak Selection. On that same screen, there are many interesting options, including Typing Feedback, Voices, and Speaking Rate. For voice, I'm using Ting-Ting, but perhaps Siri Female is better? In general, female voices are easier to understand than male ones. We also covered the dictation feature of smartphones. If you already set up international keywords on your phone, then tapping the microphone icon on your keyboard should activate it. You may need to tap the globe icon to set the language to Mandarin. In order to input punctuation, you must actually say the name of punctuation words. 逗号 - comma 句号 - period 叹号 - exclamation mark Challenge 1: Write or copy a piece of Chinese text into your text editor, then try to get your phone to speak it. Challenge 2: Try to reproduce the piece of text by using dictation. Challenge 3: Write a simple self-introduction in Chinese and then read it out loud to Google Translate. See how close the translation comes to your intended meaning. Challenge 4: Write a daily journal for a week, using only dictation. I introduced a few simple Chinese webcomics: Pepper & Carrot Has the advantage of being a multilingual comic, available in both English and simplified Chinese (and many other languages). One possible approach: 1. Read Chinese version (not bothering to look up new words on first pass) 2. Read English version 3. Re-read Chinese version (to fill in the gaps from your first reading) 我的panda男友 Short episodes. Most episodes aren't dialogue-heavy. 酷MA萌 Four panel comic, probably for kids. Very easy language, but font is a bit cartoony so less legible I plan to start a thread about this later, but I made a public spreadsheet for bilingual Chinese and English webcomics: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ymZMPPfccv0dfnkvUfmQ99_OsjLQwPzktcOgQjwAF8c/edit#gid=0 How to ask the for the bill: 结账,买单
  48. 3 points
    I think I am going to put longer spaces between each update, as when I write them only 2 weeks apart, I don't really have all that much to say. These last two weeks have been good, and my reading and general survey midterms seemed to go pretty well. General survey was open book, and so it was very straight forward. Class last week was tough, as we moved into some general history. Apparently next semester we have a dedicated history class which will go into much more detail. I am looking forward to that, but the content is difficult because of our Chinese level. Both our general survey and character study classes have a lot of content that is way above our level, but have to be taught to us by law. The highlight from this week was my character study class. This class started out quite difficult (but very interesting) with mythology about where characters came from. But these last two classes have gotten incredibly helpful, as we have been looking at the different types of characters. I had read people saying that it's best to start out by learning all the radicals when learning characters, and I don't know whether I agree with that or not (I didn't do it that way). But at this point, understanding the composition of 形声字, 会意字 etc., is so helpful for me. Whereas I would previously look at a 形声字 and try to understand where the meaning came from, it now makes total sense that part of the character is relating the meaning, while the other part is the sound. My method of trying to understand a character was completely misinformed, as I had no understanding of the ways in which characters are formed!
  49. 3 points
    今天我参加HSK四考试了。 最近我发现我写作的水平很低, 所以我决定了开始写日记。 我的句子很简单可是还让我提高写作的水平。 我想开始看漫画可是所有的都太难了。 在另一件事上, 昨天我不舒服了。 这让我生气因为我睡觉不好而且我有一个考试。 考试之前,我担心这会影响我的考试的成绩。 我写这篇文章需要太多时间。我很慢。 1) Need noun before the 的, not verb. 2) 所有 needs the 的。
  50. 3 points
    Spotted in an Edinburgh doorway.
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