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

  1. 29 points
    We got back to the UK And it was a crazy journey. First off, massive respect to the UK foreign office and local constituents for representing us, they managed to get a coach arranged only one day before the last flight out of Wuhan, which drove around 700km to pick up 4 British nationals in the far reaches of Hubei province and take us to the airport in time for the flight. I had completely given up hope, but was amazed to receive a phonecall only days ago saying there was a chance they had found a government driver that would be able to come find us. And he did. sort of. as is always the case in China, the smaller the town, the less contact with state and central government there is, and this was no different. when the coach arrived at the exit to come into our town, the police refused the driver entry point blank, saying he didn't have the right papers to enter the town. If we wanted to get on the coach, we had to come to them and walk across the ETC area by foot. okay. how do we get to him? there were three police checkpoints to get through, and the only thing the police would accept was their 枝江通行證 (turned out to be a torn in half A4 sheet with the above characters on it and a stamp…). I showed them all the embassy papers, the official notices from the provincial and city governments, but they just weren't good enough. I even called the foreign office, and was again told 'don't you have any guanxi?' In the end, it took over 2 hours, 5 pages of forms, 9 official stamps, a visit to the hospital and two government bureaus and a long argument between a yichang official and a zhijiang official who refused to stamp the final form (even though zhijiang falls under the jurisdiction of yichang). Seemed like noone wanted to be held responsible for letting us go... But more interestingly, this ordeal required us to run all across town to different departments, and it was our first time out of the house in three weeks. Cant really describe how eerie and quite frankly scary the place looked: familiar busy streets completely deserted, police cars driving around slowly, blaring messages to cover your face and stay indoors at all times, the hospital had people screaming hysterically at the entrances and (not even joking) doctors running inside with boxes with blood slopping down the side (i can only hope it was emergency blood transfusions). Nobody about except police and military, and the occasional government car. No word of a lie, it looked and felt like something straight out of I Am Legend or 28 Days Later. I really wanted to take pictures and videos, but all the police were not looking like they were in the mood for such antics. Once we finally left the city it was as expected: completely empty motorway for 3 hours. Only one month ago I day on the very same stretch of road in gridlock. Empty fields too. The whole province really is a ghost town. And it was so sad to see, because for me, Hubei is China. We made it to the airport after many police checkpoints and temperature checks, to find hundreds of passengers from a number of countries all trying to get onto three different flights leaving at the same time. It was one massive queue that lead into a single health check area. If your temperature didn't make the cut you couldn't get on the plane - found out later two of the Brits on our flight weren't allowed on and were sent back to Wuhan because their temperatures were checked five times and 1/5 times their readings were slightly above average. Terrible feeling. All in all, queued in a room full of facemasks and hazmats for about 7 hours. But thankfully for us we made it out, through the storm in the uk at the moment and landed in galeforce headwinds at a military base in the uk (scariest landing of my life). We are now in quarantine. Phew, cant believe it. As for family back in Zhijiang, we are happy we managed to get out for our own sakes, but also as it is two less mouths to feed over the next few weeks, which will make things a bit easier for the rest (still six mouths to feed all in one house now we've gone). The hoarding has already begun in many cities, and I know rations-style food distribution started in some of the 小區 near us started today. The local university has been converted into a quarantine centre, where student bunks are now hospital beds. Online classes also began today. A friend can't return home, as while they were outing buying food, someone in their building got diagnosed with the virus and now the whole block has been quarantined. People are saying infection rates are dropping, but at street level, I can say from first hand witness, the state of things near the centre of the outbreak is pretty dire to say the least… Cant believe I'm in the UK writing this right now, surreal. Just been swabbed for the virus, have to wait 48 hours for the result. Wish me luck!
  2. 22 points
    Over the last two years I have been at East China Normal University in Shanghai studying International Chinese Education. A lot of people on these forums recently have started coming with questions regarding whether or not it is worthwhile to get a master’s degree in China and what are the pros/cons. If there are any topics that you wish I'd have included, please let me know and I'll add it. I hope others will also follow suite and share their experiences of getting a master’s degree from Chinese universities. Two years is a lot of time and I’ve experienced a lot while I’ve been here. It’s not all been good but I’ve also achieve the goals I had originally set out to achieve. Before starting my degree I had one primary goal: improve my Chinese language ability. Next to that, and the reason I decided on the degree I did (汉语国际教育) is it meant staying in the field of education. I was hoping that even if I didn’t end up teaching Chinese, the knowledge I learned and the skills I gained would stick with me in teaching English. OVERVIEW The degree itself is interesting. It is not Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, but rather aims to prepare Chinese students to go to Confucius institutes and teach Chinese. As such, all of my Chinese classmates are currently working at CI’s all around the world teaching Chinese. The course work is a hybrid of language teaching and culture classes, with the idea that “International Chinese Education” (as opposed to TECL/TECL/TCSOL) has culture as a more core component. For non-Chinese people, it is a two-year (专术) degree. The first year is classes, while the second year is internship, research, and thesis writing. Chinese students and non-Chinese students are divided into separate classes, while a few (think 2 or 3) of the classes are taken together. This is in large part because the needs are very different. Many of the Chinese student’s classes focus on English language learning and understanding the process of learning Chinese whereas the non-Chinese students’ classes focus on Chinese language learning as much as language teaching. Chinese students are expected to already have a solid foundation of linguistics and Chinese language and culture knowledge before beginning. This degree is not focused on research or academics. It is a degree specifically geared toward preparing students to enter the classroom and teach Chinese. COURSEWORK Courses are all condensed into the first year. There were roughly 10 classes per semester. Each class had its homework and the whole year was very intense. The full list of courses is: 1. 论文写作 (focused on how to format a Chinese thesis as well as how to decide on a research topic) 2. 汉语国际教育导论 (nothing worthwhile to say about this one) 3. 当代中国 (Chinese language class focusing on Chinese history and news) 4. 教学设计 (how to plan a class) 5. 跨文化交际与文化传播 (how culture is disseminated) 6. 文化项目 (how to plan a cultural event and assess its success) 7. 汉语语言学 (basic linguistics with a focus on Chinese) 8. 课堂管理 (classroom management which involved a lot of case studies) 9. 跨文化交际 (theories behind cultural communication) 10. 高级汉语 (two semesters, normal Chinese class) 11. 中国民俗 (Chinese traditions and holidays and things like that) 12. 口才艺术 (pronunciation class taught by a 播音员) 13. 教学技术 (teaching skills which broke up the process of teaching a class into very clear segments and talked about how to plan a class to account for all components) 14. 汉语教学教材与资源 (how to design your own textbooks) 15. 教学要素 (looked at commonly taught things like how to teach 把字句 or stroke order) 16. 汉字文化 (the history of Chinese characters) 17. 文化课(太极拳、油画、书法、民族舞)(two semesters) Overall, I felt that a lot of the content was redundant or not well covered. The earlier problems were discussed with the teachers and they made a very strong effort to better communicate with each other and make sure classes didn’t repeat the same information. It got better and props to the department for taking the constructive criticism so well. The latter problem, with material not being covered very well, was largely a consequence of how little basic knowledge most students in the class had about teaching methodology or grammar or etc. The bar to get in was just too low in my opinion, and as a result, it felt more like a year of undergrad coursework. This was utterly disappointing to me. If you are considering this degree to better prepare you to teach Chinese, I would recommend going someplace else. At the very least, do not do this degree at ECNU but rather do the linguistics degree which will not separate out Chinese and non-Chinese students, and as a result demand much more from the students. TEACHING As for the teachers themselves. It was a mixed bag. There were no teachers that everyone was agreement as a bad teacher. So it is important to recognize the below as my opinion. Some teachers knew there content extremely well and were able to pair it up with successful teaching methods. In other words, they practiced what they preached. Unfortunately, this was the minority. I found most teachers taught in stark contrast to the dos and don’ts being taught. Some of the classes had great content but it was delivered very poorly, and I got far more from just ignoring the teaching and reading on my own. Still yet other classes were an utter waste of time. Classes were mostly taught in the teacher-speaks-you-listen way, despite a constant drilling from various classes that teaching this way is ineffective. This was paired with many homework assignments that seems to do little from an education standpoint. What I did like was that few classes used paper tests and most all required papers. This was good practice for writing a thesis and altogether I wrote something like 10 papers, each in excess of 2000 characters, some longer that 5000 characters. THESIS The most fruitful part of this whole process was writing my own thesis in Chinese. The thesis has a 30000-character requirement. Mine ended up at 35,000 which, included the appendix, graphs and everything, amounted to 80 pages. The process was: During the first semester all students determine which direction they want to study (culture or language) and were randomly assigned a thesis advisor (Not according to your area of interest, which meant even if your area of interest was exactly what one teacher is researching, you were still very unlikely to get paired. Very frustrating.). During the second semester, most thesis advisors had some way of encouraging students to deepen their understanding of their chosen direction. Some had bi-weekly study groups in which students choose papers to read and analyze together, while others require you to collect a list of all relevant papers to your topic. Each advisor had their own method, while some were completely hands-off. Those students all struggled. Some students, despite immense effort, only managed to get a few phrases of feedback during the whole one-and-a-half-year process from their “advisor.” My personal experience was that when I asked another advisor a question since a paper they wrote was part of my thesis, my thesis advisor at the time got furious (apparently she had beef with the other advisor) and demanded I change thesis advisors. It was all a very childish affair. Once your topic was clarified and before the end of the second semester, all students had to present their topic to a panel that would decide whether or not it was do-able. This involved explaining how you would go about your research and why it was of value to pursue. If your idea passed the panel, the next step was to begin research. All students were expected to find an internship for their third semester (no formal help was provided from the school in finding these internships) during which all were expected to do their research. My research focused on vocabulary acquisition and several motivational factors and their effect on vocabulary retention over several time periods. It’s worth noting that at this point, we still had no idea what the precise timeline was for when we turned in our thesis. In, roughly, late December, it was announced we needed to turn in our first full draft by the end of January. This was in stark contrast to the estimated early-March deadline. Many students resorted to less-than-kosher methods (directly paying someone to write their whole thesis, plagiarism, and what-not) to deal with the short deadline as many could not begin writing until they had collected their data from their internship or were too busy with the internship to have any time to write. I literally spent one month at my apartment writing and adopted a cat to cope with the stress. Great decision. My orange tabby Charlie is an angel. After turning in the first draft, each new deadline was announced in bit by bit: second draft with all parts completed, then a final draft which was used for the pre-defense in early March, and a week after the pre-defense all were to turn in their final draft. The final draft went through a “复制比检测” to check to make sure <10% of all content was similar to any other document in their system. It seems to work as at least one student who succumbed to easier options had a copy rate in excess of 30%. That student now has three months to re-write their thesis. Lastly, student draw lots for 盲审 in which papers are given to a blind-panel for review (though your status as an overseas student is noted). The last part, and the part I have not yet taken part in, is the proper defense of the thesis in May. However, I have been told that should the department let you pass the pre-defense, you are most likely going to pass the actual defense. My understanding is also that since our thesis is not uploaded to 知网, which is to say it is not to be seen by any outside of the school, standards are much lower than for, say, a student in the linguistics program. MISC Students in the master’s degree program stay with the other international students in the same dorms which have two students per dorm with a shared bathroom on each floor. The rooms are simple though quite big as they are designed for Chinese-style dorms with two sets of bunks per room. The services provided from the International Student Services office were top notch. Every step of the way, from registering to moving of campus, was well explained. They provided plenty of help and were always available to answer questions of WeChat. Big props to that whole team. If you like taking part in school events like fashion shows and singing competitions, they organize plenty of these as well. University life is great since ECNU is next to the biggest shopping mall in Shanghai as well as a massive park with a large pond (though many call it a lake). There is no shortage of food options with plenty of restaurants and three separate canteens on campus, which also include halal areas, western-style areas, and a slightly fancier area outside of the normal Chinese canteens. The campus itself is also comfortable (Zhongshan campus) with plenty of nature and a little steam running through the middle. CONCLUSION Simply put, if your goal is to improve your Chinese language ability, this is a really good degree to go for at ECNU. Your coursework will demand reading increasing amounts of Chinese content and climax in writing 30,000 Chinese characters. However, the burden of improving your Chinese is on you (be prepared to include 300 RMB/week for a tutor in your budget). On the other hand, if you sincerely want to become a great Chinese teacher, this program is not for you. It falls short it two major ways: 1) bar of entry is too low and as such content difficult is reduced to match the needs of most students. 2) Academic rigor is desperately lacking. Students often get away with plagiarism and very low-quality work. The result is a degree that doesn’t hold much credibility. If you are looking to teach Chinese, make sure to enroll in a program that does not separate out the international students and applies the same standards to all students. Chinese students were all held to a much high standard and I think that is better. If you do this, then make sure you are already at a “strong” HSK 6 before entering the program, otherwise you’ll be spending too much time on language learning and not enough time on mastering the content that will enable you to become a great Chinese teacher.
  3. 18 points
    Hey ABC, if you don't know yet, there is a chance of snow in Dallas for the next couple of days. The TV weather report is saying travel is not recommended. (Just what you want to hear...) Yes, you are right, that's not what I was hoping to hear. Got to DFW (Dallas) last night from Los Angeles. Good flight. But this pilgrim is weary. Feels like I've been on the road forever. Lost my large checked suitcase somewhere along the way. Filed a "lost baggage" report. Chances are it's back in Hong Kong. Have rented a car, and in a couple hours will drive home. Should be able to lay my head on my own pillow tonight. A big thank you to all of you here on the forum who have been pulling for me to make it!
  4. 16 points
    Also see here for Aims and Objectives topics of years past. Its already December 31st, and we haven't got this thread going yet, so I thought I'd get the ball rolling. Looking forward to hearing what others have got planned. As for me, last year I went for small daily goals, such as 30 mins of shadowing every day. I then bought a year calendar and crossed off every day as a kind of motivating reward, don't break the chain style. I got a 9 month long chain going before it broke (fell asleep early and slept for about 17 hours by a mistake after seeing the terracotta warriors in Xian). But the drive to keep the chain going kept me plowing through some depressing, frustrating times. So I'm gonna go for a similar style small daily goal for 2019: Goal 1: Watch 新聞聯播 every single day of 2019. This is related to my interpreting course, but its great for practicing listening to official talks and understanding Chinese politics, if you're that way inclined. I'm going for the whole year, not just any time I feel like I can 'take it'. Goal 2: 30 mins Chinese cursive practice every day. As in, be able to write confidently and fluently using 草書, both with a hard-nibbed pen for note taking, and with a brush, for 書法 purposes. Other more abstract goals include, doing more interpreting practice, interpreting speeches live etc., and to keep studying Pitman shorthand. I will post my crossed out 2019 diary here in a years time, hopefully this time I can make it all the way to very end.
  5. 15 points
    It was all because I, out of curiosity, downloaded @imron's Chinese Text Analyzer. I just wanted to get a rough idea on how different Chinese writers compare with each other in terms of accessibility for foreign language learners. As a native speaker, I'm not in a good position to assess the relative ease or difficulty of a book. Of course I know 《道德经》 is more difficult than 《小布头奇遇记》. But what about normal books that normal people read? I wanted a more objective criterion. And I think I've found one – the number of unique characters in a book. (Total characters and unique words are also useful – Chinese word segmentation is not a perfect science but the number still means something when comparing different texts.) After running a dozen of .txt files through CTA, I have some interesting findings: 1) 余华 really is easy. He is like the Chinese Hemingway. You can't get any easier, really. 余华's 《活着》 is a favorite among Chinese learners for good reason. It has 1865 unique characters, significantly lower than 2619, the number of unique characters in 曹文轩's 《草房子》, a children's novel suitable for 4-6th graders. 2) For advanced readers like imron, who knows 4400 characters and has quite a few 金庸s under his belt, the Four Classic Novels or 四大名著 should be theoretically within reach. (《水浒传》 was among the first novels I read. I was in 初一 and I don't think I knew that many characters. I didn't understand everything of course, but understanding everything isn't the point.) So it was a dark and stormy night. I ran a dozen of .txt files through CTA. And the perfectionist in me wasn't happy. As anyone who has used these "free" e-books knows, they're a very mixed bag. Typos, OCR errors, bad formatting, and no way to know which version/edition they are based on. When all the texts you pull from the internet give you 身后“”的马蹄声, you know something is missing. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I bought some 300 yuan's worth of books and was proofreading e-books... That's when it struck me: We have a First Episode Project, why not a First Chapter Project? Thus here I am, presenting you with 第一弹 of the First Chapter Project! biu~biu~ The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. The reason I chose it is because: 1) It's popular. It's one of the bestselling books on JD.com, Dangdang, and Amazon.cn. 2) It's a contemporary work, not too easy, not too difficult, and rather heavy on dialogue. A major obstacle may be technical vocabulary. But the Chinese technical words are mostly compounds and relatively transparent compared to English. And you don't need to be a scientist to read science fictions. From what I gathered from JD.com reviews, children as young as 10 are able to enjoy this book. How much do you reckon they know about particle physics or radio cosmology? Not much. It's just a fun escapist adventure. Don't take it too seriously. 3) It has two different versions of the first chapter. The novel was first serialized in Science Fiction World in 2006, because the opening scene (China at the height of the Cultural Revolution) was deemed too sensitive for the year 2006 – the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the said revolution. In the book version published in 2008, the story begins instead in present-day Beijing – the original Chapter 1 was tone down a bit and became Chapter 7. The English translation from 2014, which went on to win the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, was based on the serialized version. Personally, I like the book narrative better. Science fiction with no sign of science in the first 30 pages is, frustrating. Although admittedly, had it not been for the Cultural Revolution theme, it wouldn't have won the Hugo Award and I wouldn't have read it in the first place. All right, enough third conditionals. Let's get to the main course. 《三体》,刘慈欣,重庆出版社,2008年1月第1版,2017年8月第7次印刷,ISBN 978-7-5366-9293-0 Difficulty: medium; Total characters: 162,680; Unique characters: 2,817; Unique words: 10,228 (not counting preface, epilogue and the like) First chapter (6,897 characters): (I made two corrections: 不、不→不,不 and 看去很小很小→看上去很小很小) Characters: 汪淼 Wāng Miǎo – Nanomaterials researcher (淼,大水也。 Personal names are the best opportunity to get acquainted with some rare characters, e.g., 金鑫, 牛犇, 朴文垚.) 史强 Shǐ Qiáng – Police detective and counter-terrorism specialist, nicknamed 大史 Dà Shǐ 常伟思 Cháng Wěisī – Major general of the People's Liberation Army 杨冬 Yáng Dōng – String theorist, recently committed suicide 丁仪 Dīng Yí – Theoretical physicist, Yang Dong's boyfriend 申玉菲 Shēn Yùfēi – Chinese-Japanese physicist and member of the Frontiers of Science Other names: 科学边界 Kēxué Biānjiè – Frontiers of Science, a fictional international academic group 吉普赛人 Jípǔsàirén – Gypsy 北约 Běiyuē (abbr. for 北大西洋公约组织) – NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) 中央情报局 Zhōngyāng Qíngbào Jú (中情局) – Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 罗非鱼 Luófēiyú – tilapia 良湘 Liángxiāng – Fictional place name, site of China's new high-energy particle accelerator 钱钟书 Qián Zhōngshū (1910.11.21–1998.12.19) – Chinese literary scholar and writer 白桦树 Báihuàshù – Siberian silver birch (Betula platyphylla) 联合国教科文组织 Liánhéguó Jiào Kē Wén Zǔzhī – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 三菱电机 Sānlíng Diànjī – Mitsubishi Electric 石器时代 Shíqì Shídài – Stone Age Vocabulary (explanations in Chinese, taken from 《现代汉语词典》第7版 and 教育部《重編國語辭典修訂本》): (A bit long, so I'll just fold it into a spoiler tag) ==================== P.S. If you're planning to buy the book, don't buy the hard copy, at least not until there's a revision. They made 200+ changes to the original text, ranging from unnecessary (它几乎完全被野草埋没/它几乎被野草完全埋没) to awkward (扩大搜索目标、频率及范围/扩大搜索目标和频率和范围) to stupid (夕阳、晚霞/朝阳、朝霞). The handling of 了 and measure words makes one wonder whether the editors are native speakers. And I'm not even talking about typographical errors that can throw a reader completely off the planet (一颗恒星/一个颗状星). The electronic version restored most of the original text while keeping the rearranged chapter order. It is the version I recommend.
  6. 15 points
    I've spent a lot of time looking into this and I think it is very clear that broadly speaking it is a mix of local aesthetic values that manifest as a kind of Afro-Phobia e.g. aversion to dark skin, thinking we're dirty, over the top reaction to body odour (something which is actually a real "racial" difference ); as well as a product of originally Western but now essentially global racial stereotypes that can legitimately be called racist in the strong sense of the word. Personally, I don't think there's any removal of agency in attributing certain aspects of this to Western influence, particularly when it comes the fact that Blacks and Chinese have very little shared history, so when Chinese point out that "Blacks have never had a great civilization" or "Blacks have never contributed anything to American society" they are doing so based off second hand accounts. Because of the huge influence of Western culture on "global culture," many of these "facts" go unchallenged even in places like the US and UK that have taken a great many steps to redress the imbalances of the past. It's no surprise that without any reason to stop and rethink these things, the general trend towards anti-racism has not extended (far in) to China. I did some work on this recently so I'll give you an overview of what I found (I won't bother with working out how we define "Black" and "Chinese" because I never got that far myself, but it's worth thinking about). If anyone is interested I can share more sources. (I'm doing this off the top of my head as, unfortunately, I just returned all my relevant books to the library and just finished a dissertation so I'm not up to going all out for this, please excuse any inaccuracies. On the other hand, please excuse the fact that I’m basically posting a mini essay complete with in-line citations. Its pretentious, I know, but please indulge me.) Part 1 - Early Period and Nation Building I'm going to speed over the pre-modern period because, personally, I don't think stories of magical slaves etc. have all that great an influence on what we see today. Suffice to say that southern China has certainly had contact with Black Africans for many centuries via the Indian Ocean Slave Trade. Bear in mind that "racial" categories were different back then and African Blacks were often lumped in with other dark-skinned peoples like South Indians, and Indonesians. As Europeans, particularly the Portuguese, became more common in the Indian ocean and eventually settled in Macau, Chinese became more familiar with Black Slaves drawn from their African colonies. With no other specimens except these slaves they were often looked down on, but a certain number did escape their masters and were, if not welcomed, were not turned away. At this time any sense that Africans were a magical people was largely dispelled at least among the educated. They were slave barbarians and not much more (Snow, 1988) After the Opium Wars and around the turn of the century 20th century, the Chinese were rapidly absorbing as much European or Western learning as they could, first via Japan, and then through Chinese students who went to study in the West. They began to model themselves on Western institutions and scientific practices. This is when terms such as 民族 (ethnie/nation) and 种族 (race) first came into use via Japanese. It's worth noting that in China, Korea, and Japan, 民族 or ethnic group is often treated as synonymous with nation and race. I'm not saying this is wrong, in fact that was probably the popular understanding at the time, and it's only recently that ethnonationalism has fallen out of favour in the West, the difference is that this understanding has persisted to this day. Now when I say they were modelling themselves on the West, it doesn't mean that they were copying everything wholesale. They were attempting to change their empire into a nation-state along Western lines, but there were always parts of the process where they compromised or, for some scholars, flipped things on their head. In the case of racial theory, social Darwinism and eugenics, they compromised. Thus we get from prominent nationalist scholars such as Liang Qichao gems like this: "All the black, red, and brown races, by the microbes in their blood vessels and their cerebral angle, are inferior to the whites. Only the yellows are not very dissimilar to the whites" (in Dikotter, 1990, p.425). Or this by Tang Caichang, "Yellow and white are wise, red and black are stupid; yellow and white are rulers, red and black are slaves; yellow and white are united, red and black are scattered" (in Dikötter, 1990, p425). Dikotter argues that these intellectuals were denigrating other races in order to boost the collective prestige of themselves and China which had been brought low by foreign invasions. Still other intellectuals sought an amalgamation of the White and Yellow races for the good of both. Kang Youwei, a prominent intellectual and reformer, laid out a vision for the eugenic improvement of the human race in which the Yellows and Whites interbred to produce glorious Eurasian hybrids, while the Blacks and Browns were gradually purged from the gene pool and bred out of existence. It sounds awful but his solution was actually probably kinder than the race wars and outright extermination that was implied by some of his contemporaries (Teng, 2006). What one needs to realise is that they co-opted the European racial hierarchy and put themselves on an equal footing with Whites, while simultaneously shitting on most everyone else. Although this is the opinion of the elites, it percolated down to common people through textbooks, encyclopaedias and pamphlets. It's important to realise that people often don't question this kind of information when it comes at them in dribs and drabs and has no bearing on their everyday experiences - they're less likely to challenge them. The fact is these views of Black people were largely a by-product of the need to educate and forge a nation from the disparate groups that were the Qing empire. In creating a racial or ethnonationalist state they had to define themselves against others and part of that self-definition included defining what they were not. Based on the information they had at the time they defined themselves as part of the Yellow race (this took persuading as they historically considered themselves "White", there's a good book on this by Keevak (2011)), but even though they accepted the Western labels they rejected the framing and redefined the racial hierarchy to suit themselves. I think the seeds of a lot of racial thinking in China today were set around this time, as they were elsewhere. Part 2 - Anti-black Racism in the mid to late 20th century The fact that Chinese intellectuals already had a set racial view of Africans and Blacks is very important because it almost certainly played a key role in the difficulties African students had in China during and just after the Mao era. Despite claiming that racism only existed in the capitalist imperial West, the CCP never did follow through with a proper anti-racist education, leaving much of the "knowledge" of the previous era untouched, merely overlaid with the language of class warfare. During the Mao era the CCP reached out to newly decolonised African nations in the spirit of third world brotherhood. The official propaganda was somewhat paternalistic, but there was nevertheless real effort to assist with money and infrastructure projects, as well as educational opportunities. Between 1959 and 1961, China admitted 125 African scholarship students. After this date numbers fell sharply as the Africans protested their unequal treatment when compared with Europeans; they complained of small dormitories, low stipends, and discrimination when off campus. Bear in mind that this was under high communism, the Africans were inundated with politics to the exclusion of everything else. Despite the fact that most had come on scholarships to receive technical educations, they found themselves asking how to say “water” in Chinese after 3 months of language courses because all they learned was political jargon. It's no surprise that they showed little aptitude for such "studies" but unfortunately this may have appeared to confirm stereotypes of their low intelligence. Furthermore, they complained of discrimination, some fights broke out, especially when they were accused of dating Chinese women. Most of the students were male and naturally relationships flourished, but they were strongly discouraged by the regime and the women were often carted off to the countryside or imprisoned for having relations with foreigners. At the time the regime claimed that unrest was caused by discontent about the lavish stipends foreign students received, but Europeans actually received more than Africans and were not targeted. (Liu, 2013) The situation only worsened in the reform period with multiple instances of public riots where African students were attacked. Anti-black racism would meld with nationalist discontent and the desire for the Chinese government to raise the profile of the nation. The spark for such violence was almost always incidents of African men dating Chinese women – although there were often multiple grievances. It is important to bear in mind that at this time there were foreign students of all kinds, including whites, but it was Africans who drew the most ire (Sautman, 1994, p416-417). Beginning with an incident at the Shanghai Textile Engineering Institute in 1979, the period ended with the 1988-89 Nanjing Anti-African protests that fed directly into the pro-democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Lufrano (1994) argues that these events cannot be separated and the racial violence and nationalist fervour are closely linked. The takeaway from the student violence is that all of the allegations levelled at Africans could be said of White students as well, but it was blacks who were deported for having relationships with Chinese women, and it was Blacks who received insulting messages about their "jungle manners." In the following period polling data about attitudes towards foreign groups was conducted and African's were consistently rated lowest on almost all categories (Sautman, 1994). Of the groups polled, students in particular had a very dim view of Africans. I think this is important because I would say that the strongest vein of racism in Chinese society is actually among the educated classes who - in the stark absence of personal experience - have greater access to the "evidence" of black inferiority both foreign and domestic. The middle classes and intellectuals have a bigger stake in defining the nation and Chineseness in a way that excludes Blacks, just as nationalist intellectuals did in the late 19th century. Part 3 - African Traders, International Students, and "Cyber-racism" In the third and most recent period, from the millennium onwards, there are two big differences from the previous two. The first is the big increase in reciprocal migration between China and Africa on a large scale, places like Guangzhou and Yiwu have become hubs for African traders and Chinese infrastructure projects in Africa have brought thousands of Chinese to Africa's shores. For the first time there is a large number of Chinese and Blacks interacting in daily life within China itself, and this has changed the racial dynamics there. Chinese are developing their own stereotypes of Blacks, but these are coloured by historical western stereotypes that exist as part of global culture. The second, is the advent of the internet and the opportunity for Chinese people to access huge amounts of information, this includes news about racial problems and racial conflict around the world. For example, when many Chinese see the racial problems in America, such as the Baltimore protests a few years ago, they don't see the result of hundreds of years of oppression that went well beyond lynching, but included systematic exclusion from political, economic and cultural life; all they see is a group of Black people causing trouble again. When they see the news about the failure of African countries to develop they don't see the aftermath of colonialism coupled with a broken system of international institutions that force them into development plans that have basically never worked, they just see the consummate failure of all Black countries to develop. So, blacks are and always have been failures. It's a very neat narrative and plenty of Chinese people have joined these dots, just like others have. When one combines Afro-phobia with global racism, Chinese have very few reasons to like black people, but nevertheless I think these things come together in different people and in different ways. For example, Shanshan Lan (2017) conducted a study of African migrants in China and found what she called "uneven racialization." I won't bore you with the academic jargon, but she found that African traders in Guangzhou made many connections to their Chinese business partners, and there was a much more nuanced understanding on both sides. In particular, rural to urban Chinese migrants had a lot in common with illegal immigrants because they're both marginalised communities that operate outside state control. The African men often hire young Chinese to work in their shops or as their translators, providing young rural workers with an unlooked-for connection to a different culture and chances to improve their foreign language and business skills. Because the Africans are relatively well off, more than a few migrant women consider marrying an African trader to be a step up in the world, and nothing cements a business relationship like marriage. There are tensions of course, Chinese traders say the Africans are unreliable, and the Africans say Chinese are too inflexible at times, sometimes Chinese women are taken aback by how forward some African men are in their courtship, but overall, Lan didn’t find any serious ethnic conflict. This is important and supports a very commonly used and well supported hypothesis, the contact hypothesis which suggests that prejudice can be reduced with contact. Unsurprisingly, the most prejudiced group was not the people who had a lot of contact with Africans, but middle- and upper-class keyboard warriors who couldn’t stand the sight of Africans using the metro in their city, or worse, dating Chinese women. The connections made between those on the bottom of Guangzhou society, stand in contrast to the rather toxic situation online. If you've spent any time paying attention to what gets said about Blacks online in China, you'll know what I'm talking about. Lan also did an analysis of many of the biggest online platforms like 天涯, looking at how people discussed Africans and Black people – the users of such platforms are usually students or the moderately well off. She concluded that overall the online discourse was very negative, full of what she called the "Black Threat narrative" and Afro-phobia. As I mentioned above, Afrophobia seems to stem mostly from more straight-forwardly Chinese beliefs about size, skin colour, and body odour. People find the sight of Africans scary, and they find some of them to be smelly. The Black threat narrative is much more insidious and it was the focus on my dissertation. The black threat narrative represents the fusion of Western and local beliefs about black people. Those who fully subscribe to this view often call themselves 反黑 (anti-Black) and are extremely afraid of African immigration. A lot of their rhetoric mirrors that of white nationalist hate groups: they believe that Africans are genetically inferior; that each race should keep to its own; that Africans have the ability to outbreed other races and will do so in China as they are doing elsewhere; they believe that Black men are prone to violence and rape and that they are a threat to Chinese women. They focus heavily on instances of Black crime in China and abroad, with frequent references to the US, France, Haiti, and South Africa, all places that they believe have been or are being ruined by Black people. They take particular exception to any instances of Chinese women dating black men, and make a point of exposing and harassing them online. They say their actions are driven by the epidemic of Black men sleeping with Chinese girls and giving them HIV or leaving them holding the baby (Lan found that strict immigration controls and deportations were often the reasons why African fathers “abandoned” their families – they were physically prevented from reuniting). There have also been multiple scares about African international students raping Chinese girls and precipitating their suicides, all these rumours appear to be false. I’ve yet to see anything beyond anecdotal evidence of all these crimes, but unfortunately the lack of official statistics makes fertile ground for such rumour-mongers. I don't have anything close to an accurate estimate of the numbers of these hardcore anti-Blacks, but having done a simple search for 黑人 on the top three Chinese search engines one of the top anti-black forums (黑人吧) is on the first page of every one, suggesting that the online discourse is strongly influenced by these people. Bearing in mind the strict control of social movements in China, I’d say they’re rapidly approaching the size and significance of what would be called a hate group round our way. To my mind, this online phenomenon is closely linked to the historical background which I've already laid out, as well as the press coverage and government handling of African immigrants in Guangzhou. (A lot of the people on the forums said the beginning of their anti-black sentiment began through seeing news stories.) There have been some good studies on this, especially the work by Huang (2018) in which he had a close informant in the police force exposing how the Guangzhou police were blatantly racially profiling and discriminating against Africans, as well as how the Guangzhou media linked the concept of 三非外国人 (those who illegally enter, live, and work in China) with Africans. In his media analysis he broke down how the papers linked Africans to crime by overusing their photographs in discussions on foreign crime, and running sensationalist pictures of the African's protesting. His media analysis is corroborated by Dang (2016), who did a media analysis comparing Guangzhou papers to others in the region. She found that Guangzhou papers focused much more on crime and negative stories when reporting on Africans, and Lan (2015) found that the immigration laws put in place to restrict immigrants in the region had a disproportionately negative effect on Africans because of their high visibility. Not only that, but these laws were then used as a template for nation-wide changes. Despite the central government’s push for Sino-African friendship, local government and media often view African immigrants as a social problem. Unfortunately, the recent waves of new immigrants to the West have not always helped to bring nuance to these issues. International migrants often have a keen eye for noting and adapting to the racial situation of the countries they live in. Ritter (2013) found this to be the case with East Asian international students in the US, who were quick to notice the lack of Blacks on campus when compared to other groups, and the prevalence of Latinos in service roles. They often chalked this up to these groups being naturally uninterested in education. Kaiser Kuo, whom some of you may know of, wrote a good little piece that touched on the racial conservatism of recent Chinese immigrants in the US. A big factor is the tendency to focus on immediate safety and to ignore history. The fact that Blacks have the highest crime rate is enough for most upwardly mobile class-conscious immigrants to know that they're bad news, they don't want to hear excuses for it. If you’re British you may be familiar with the case of the Chinese airline that advised passengers to avoid areas of London populated by Pakistanis, Indians, and Black people. In my personal life many Chinese students, friends of friends, won’t go to certain places in London because there are too many Blacks or Indians. In one way it’s not incorrect, those places tend to have more petty crime, but by using race as the key signifier for high crime areas it openly reinforces the local racial politics that put those people there in the first place (黑人区 is the ubiquitous translation of American ghettos, some may argue that they’re functionally the same, but I think the thin veneer of the term ghetto at least allows for the potential use of the word in other contexts, whereas 黑人区 inescapably racialises the issue as a problem of the people and not the place). I haven’t touched on the portrayal of Africa and how that plays into things, but suffice to say that as the “veritable heart of darkness/blackness,” the state of African nations stands as a big piece of evidence to the casual Chinese observer. There’s a strong tendency in Chinese media to link Africa and Africans with all kinds of extremes, this has been well documented by Johanna Hood (2011) in her study of HIV/AIDS and the Chinese media. Here are two illustrative examples from her book. In Wang Jian and Xu Lianzhi’s Clinical Illness AIDS Pictorial, a book used to teach Chinese doctors how to treat AIDS in China, 224 of the 249 images were of black sufferers, this at a time when there was no shortage of AIDS patients in China. In the 1991 publication, Sexually Transmitted Disease, AIDS, and Drug Use, there are no images of unhealthy Chinese at all. Overall, Hood found that advanced or horrific states of disease were always depicted on foreign, especially Black bodies. Han Chinese were shown sparingly, most often in the early stages, or after recovery. The thrust of the book is that the disease is framed as so foreign that it actually makes many Chinese complacent because they think it’s not something Chinese can really get, but for our purposes it’s clear that such framing will affect their racial outlook. The Chinese media and even medical profession are doing a good job of associating Africa and blackness with disease and decay, even as the government trumpets all the good China does there. It’s no wonder the online racists are constantly fear-mongering about Africans causing an HIV epidemic. Conclusion The point of this little essay was to give a background to OP and those who are interested, and to clarify the part that historical racism has in creating other kinds of racism, as well as to point out how Chinese have built on these concepts in recent years. There are now a great many sites for Chinese to develop prejudice against Black people. In particular, the internet is a key site where anti-black racism is flourishing thanks to the efforts of a small number of hardcore racists poisoning the already biased media landscape. Unfortunately, there are few Black people with the Chinese ability to adequately combat these smears, and appropriately qualified Chinese allies are thin on the ground. These problems are exacerbated by a lack of personal contact with Black people, as well as long standing colourism that draws a very strong association between skin colour, class, and even morality. One certainly cannot go too far by saying that Black people in China have things stacked against them. In contemporary times we can be thankful that actual violence hasn’t broken out as it did in the past, yet this does not mean that anti-black racism is no longer a problem in China. There’s still discrimination in employment, in social life, in the media, and even a degree of institutional discrimination albeit on a small scale. Some of the backlash is related to the fact that the Chinese have been building a race-nation for the past century, and so expanding the definition of Chineseness to fit Afro-Asians is going to take time, Eurasians have it easier because of the historical dominance of Caucasians and phenotypic similarities, but there is still very much a taken for granted belief in the unity and antiquity of the Chinese race-nation. I didn’t go into it as much as I’d have liked as this is already over long, but there’s a lot of evidence for this when you see the myths about Peking man, or the myth of the Yellow emperor, descendants of the dragon, all that jazz. But I digress. When it comes to one on one interaction you’ll find a hundred different reasons behind any Chinese person’s view of Black people. Some will talk about GDP differences between China and African nations, others will talk about skin tone, or crime rates, or historical civilizations. The case has often been made that Chinese are unfairly judged for being open with their shallow prejudices, while Westerners have simply learned to hide their much more serious prejudice better. While I am partial to this viewpoint, I do think it is sometimes overstated, and my investigations into the long history of this stuff makes me think that, at a broader scale, anti-black racism is more entrenched in China than most people think. It doesn’t help when certain people imply that Black people are crying wolf or have been somehow coddled by Western PC culture. Contrary to what these people think, the majority of black people, and minorities of all sorts, women included, tend to avoid making a fuss wherever possible, and if they’re complaining about a certain incident, chances are there are many more they aren’t talking about. Anyway, this has been a bit negative so I’d like to finish on a more positive note. Linking back to what Lan called “uneven racialisation” there is still room for Black people and Chinese to get along productively, I think this is shown in the increasing numbers of African Chinese intermarriages, both in China and in Africa. Among her African informants, Lan found people who thought that Chinese pragmatism tended to supersede racial considerations, they found doing business much easier in China than in Europe or America, where they have almost no credibility. Among the traders in Guangzhou, and presumably Yiwu, Black Africans are associated with foreign money and the international community, sometimes being reflexively addressed as 老板, a term of respect (can’t remember if this was Lan or Bodomo, 2012). In my more optimistic moments, and I am a huge pessimist, I think there’s definitely hope for the future. Sources Bodomo, A., 2012. Africans in China : a sociocultural study and its implications for Africa-China relations. Cambria Press, Amherst, NY  Dang, F., 2016. 全球化时代中国地方媒体对在华非洲人的媒体报道研究——以广州报刊为例 (Study of Chinese Local Media Reports on Africans in China during the Globalization Era - A case Study of Guangzhou Press). 西安文理学院学报(社会科学版) 78–83. Dikötter, F., 1990. Group definition and the idea of ‘race’ in modern China (1793–1949). Ethn. Racial Stud. 13, 420–432. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.1990.9993681 Hood, J., 2011. HIV/AIDS, health, and the media in China : imagined immunity through racialized disease /, Media, culture, and social change in Asia series ; Routledge, London ; New York : Huang, G., 2018. Sanfei Clean-ups: African Traders and Guangzhou’s Urban Development from a Global Perspective (Ph.D.). State University of New York at Buffalo, United States -- New York. Keevak, M., 2011. Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. Lan, S., 2017. Mapping the New African Diaspora in China: Race and the Cultural Politics of Belonging, 1st ed. Routledge, New York ; London. Lan, S., 2015. State regulation of undocumented African migrants in China: A multi-scalar analysis. J. Asian Afr. Stud. 50, 289–304. Liu, P.H., 2013. Petty Annoyances?: Revisiting John Emmanuel Hevi’s An African Student in China after 50 Years. China Int. J. 11, 131–145. Lufrano, R., 1994. The 1988 Nanjing Incident-Notes On Race And Politics In Contemporary China. Bull. Concerned Asian Sch. 26, 83–92. Ritter, Z.S., 2013. Making and Breaking Stereotypes: East Asian International Students’ Experiences with Cross-cultural/racial Interactions. University of California, Los Angeles. Sautman, B., 1994. Anti-Black Racism in Post-Mao China. China Q. 138, 413–437. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305741000035827 Snow, P., 1988. Star Raft: China’s Encounter with Africa. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London. Teng, E., 2006. Eurasian Hybridity in Chinese Utopian Visions: From “One World” to “A Society Based on Beauty” and Beyond. Positions East Asia Cult. Crit. 14, 131–163.
  7. 14 points
    update from quarantine here: - first lab test results are back, and the whole group has tested negative, which is obviously great news. - were going to be tested again this saturday, then again two days before the 14 day period is up, because apparently some symptomless carriers don't show up on early tests. - i am closing in on completing my written memorisation of 千字文, I have written it out so much now I am starting to really hate it…which is always a good sign, shows I'm definitely reciting it enough - hit the 30 mark for classical poems learnt by heart… - so bored ive ordered a neo geo to the quarantine centre so i can play metal slug. I literally never get bored of studying, but damnit if my brain doesn't need to unwind sometimes
  8. 14 points
    Im certainly no expert, but seeing as the title reads "what do you believe", I will share my opinion based on what I saw in Hubei in the last few days. Ive never seen anything like the level to which the cities have been locked down before, it was very extreme to the point where I was wondering, why are there so many roadblocks everywhere, when nobody even wants to go outside? People have been saying a lot about how the amount of flu deaths far exceeds this virus, even if it is super contagious, no need to panic blah blah. But we all know the Chinese govt puts economic development before pretty much everything, so shutting down a whole province all the way down to the movement of people out of their neighbourhood streets onto the main streets, which will inevitably have a deep impact on the economy long term, surely indicates that this is not only a serious problem, but the govt knows just how much more serious it might become if it doesn't put measures in place. But they can't really state this outright, otherwise the whole place will go into panic mode. So yes, I personally think numbers are being underreported and downplayed, judging from the actions bring taken at street level, and to me it makes logical sense as to why.
  9. 14 points
    I’m bailing out. Bought a ticket late last night that has me leaving this Friday, 31 Jan. Will fly via Hong Kong. Flights via Beijing and Shanghai are subject to long delays or cancellations. "Hub" traffic jammed up, especially in Beijing, where they are “breaking in” a new airport. In Hong Kong I will remain air-side if possible. I will have completed exit formalities at passport control prior to boarding in Kunming. I should be in Dallas by the afternoon of Saturday 1 Feb. Lock-downs and travel bans are becoming more widespread. Inter-city bus routes have been suspended, as has all group holiday touring. Most points of interest all over China are closed. The government has officially extended the holiday, so people don't need to be in a panic to get back home to their place of employment. Once people reach their actual homes, where they have jobs, I wouldn't be surprised if all (or most) domestic travel is halted. When no one is sure how much is enough, official over-reaction becomes the norm. Schools are suspended, all gathering places are sealed. Even the movie theaters have shut down. People are stockpiling groceries, especially non-perishables like rice and cooking oil. Canned goods were flying off the shelves when I was at WalMart this morning. If I were not to act now, I would face a real risk of being stranded here 3 or 4 more months before being allowed to exit the country. At least that is my main concern. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. A second concern is that even though I am healthy, were I to get a benign ten-cent winter cold, the cough, runny nose, and slight fever from that would wind me up in some mandatory locked isolation ward, shoulder to shoulder with people who are "really" sick. I see that as a recipe for disaster; my policy is to stay far away from hospitals at times like this unless I’m on the caregiver end of the equation. So it's bye bye Kunming. I will definitely miss you. Promise to return as soon as it's safe.
  10. 14 points
    It is with some trepidation that I will try to give you a little background on how tofu is made and consumed here in my part of China (Yunnan, Kunming.) Since it is such a vast topic and I lack expertise, what I did was just walk around my neighborhood wet market and take snapshots of the tofu that was readily available. I'll simply show you the photos and tell you what I can about what they show. (Remember, you can click the photos to enlarge them.) It goes without saying that other types can be found in supermarkets, the result of rigidly standardized large-scale industrial processes. These are nicely wrapped and have ingredients and expiration dates listed on the package. But they often come with flavor enhancers, preservatives, stabilizers, and coloring agents to make them sell better. My 老百姓 neighbors eschew them as "factory food," and find their way to the wet market to buy the "real stuff" instead. It also goes without saying that tofu differs from place to place within China, and even more so when talking about those from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma and so on. These often represent the taste preferences of members of the Chinese diaspora who landed and settled there many years ago. These "foreign tofu's" also often reflect changes made to incorporate local ingredients: coconut milk on such and such island, fish sauce in such and such port, and so on. All tofu starts out as soy milk, extracted with heat from soybeans, that has been acidulated to produce curdling or coagulation into a solid form. That basic raw tofu is then strained and pressed into blocks. It can be pressed a little or a lot, making it thin enough to need to be kept in a pot, or a little thicker, sort of like jello, or a lot thicker and firmer like cheese. (I have oversimplified grievously.) Here's a look at some of that basic raw tofu. In the two photos above, you can see a color difference between the tofu in the foreground and that in the background. The "whiter" tofu in back is softer; it is called 嫩豆腐 (nen doufu) or "tender" tofu. That in the front is slightly firmer and is called 老豆腐 (lao doufu) or "tough" tofu, though it isn't very tough at all. Some recipes work best with one, some with the other. Tofu vendors frequently sell other things as well, things that are often paired with tofu or things that can easily be made with the same raw materials. Photo on the left shows soy bean sprouts and mung bean sprouts next to the nice lady who sells them. Bottom left in this photo is a non-tofu item that is often eaten instead of tofu; it's made from bean sprouts that have been processed differently, often with addition of some natural gelatin. Goes by the name 凉粉 (liang fen) around here; in the west, when it can be found, it gets the odd name "grass jelly." In these parts it's usually cut in strips and served cold with a sauce of chilies and scallions. Sometimes the tofu is barely solidified at all, being described as "silken." This extremely soft style is known here as "tofu flowers" 豆花 and is used in making several delicious dishes such as 豆花米线 (tofu flower rice noodles) which is one of Kunming's signature snacks 小吃。Douhua mixian 豆花米线 is shown below right. The food stall offers a meatless version or a version with seasoned ground pork. I'm not vegetarian and I enjoy the kind that has meat, as you see here. It is sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and includes pickled chopped greens 泡菜 and several kinds of herbs to achieve a result that is just this side of Heaven. Often tofu is processed instead of being consumed in it's raw, unadulterated state. One of the most common things that is done to it is to press it, removing some moisture and allowing a concentration of flavors. This process is particularly prized when the water with which the tofu has been made tastes good on its own. This is true of the deep Artesian well water of Jianshui 建水 and Shiping 石屏, both ancient cities in SE Yunnan's Honghe Prefecture 红河州。 Here is some of that on display at the stall where I usually buy it: Not surprisingly, these rectangular sheets of pressed Shiping tofu come in different tastes and textures. You can buy firmer or softer; milder or more flavorful varieties, tailored to your preference or cooking application. Some of this tofu has been allowed to ferment slightly and is formed into small "packets" shown at the rear of both photos above. This tofu is "mildly stinky" 臭豆腐 -- a far cry from the hugely pungent product popular in Taiwan. In the far left of the photo just above, in a white basket, is the notorious "hairy tofu" 毛豆腐, that has a very distinctive look, aroma, and taste. The photo below left shows another vendor's hairy tofu. Some days it's more photogenic than others. Below right you see a snack stall on the edge of the market where the guy is grilling the small briquettes of stinky tofu to serve hot with a spicy dipping sauce. You belly up to the bar facing him, sit on a low stool, and eat your fill. He keeps track of your consumption with small colored beans and and the sharp eye of an experienced casino croupier; you settle your account after eating your fill. Once tofu has been pressed it can be brined and then smoked, as discussed in the recipe posted here yesterday. As you can well imagine, the finished product is affected by the kind of tofu one pressed to start with and then how it was soaked, in what and for how long. Finally, the flavor and texture are further dictated by how it is smoked, over what wood or twigs and for how long. It comes in several shapes, analogous to the way smoked cheese varies: a smoked Edam is not the same as a smoked Provolone. One from this maker may not be exactly like that from his neighbor. Sometimes tofu is deep fried, puffing it up and giving it a golden color. It can then be eaten with a sauce, or served together with dishes that contain lots of gravy, such as red cooked pork 红烧肉。Here below left is some of it coming out fresh from the wok. That's a good time to buy it, instead of later the same day after it has sat around in a plastic bag getting stale. Sometimes tofu-making byproducts are for sale, such as tofu skin that has risen to the top of the pot during processing. It can be air dried or fried, and is usually sold as tofu skin 豆腐皮。(Below right.) Numerous special local wrinkles exist, such as this vendor who only sells tofu made with the water of a prized mountain spring in NE Yunnan's Xuanwei County 宣威县。It sells for a small premium but there is always a line outside his stall, telling me that it's in high demand. I've tried it, but honestly can't tell the difference. One part of my neighborhood wet market is "tofu row" with about 25 vendors near each other. Some have the usual fare, and others have exotica. Some make it completely on the premises and others have workrooms nearby where the rent is cheaper. They resupply throughout the day by motorbike or electric scooter 电动车。 This vendor makes his on the premises and has a workshop behind the sales area. You can see a tall pot on the stove, in the left corner. Probably has more kinds than anyone else. Unfortunately he is not very forthcoming and doesn't like to chat about his wares. You point and he bags it up; you hand over your money and leave. Not even a thank you. What I do from a practical standpoint is buy certain tofu staples over and over from the same one or two vendors. Then from time to time I branch out and try new types or new variations on the old types. I often ask the sellers for their recommendations as to cooking methods. Sometimes I try something in a restaurant that I would like to try to reproduce, or watch something being made on TV. Before moving here a decade ago I seldom ate tofu at all; in fact practically never. Now it's something I have about once a week. Good source of protein without many calories and it is definitely economical. For better or worse, tofu has become part of my China life. Here's a link to the last two tofu recipes: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/56990-addictive-smoked-tofu-青椒豆腐干/ https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/56975-sunday-brunch-tofu-and-eggs-豆腐炒鸡蛋/
  11. 13 points
    This resource is probably more intended for intermediate to advanced learners. I've personally been studying for about 9 years and work in translation full-time now, and I've always used Zhihu as a tool for studying Chinese and staying abreast of the current Chinese zeitgeist. On Zhihu Digest, each week I take a look at the top 10 questions and analyze the language involved (from a Chinese learner's perspective) as well as any relevant cultural aspects. Some of the interesting tidbits from this week include what exactly it means for a person to 废掉, different ways of talking about steroids, and what grade levels 中小学 comprises. https://www.zhihudigest.com/ All feedback, whether regarding content or the site itself, is welcome. Cheers.
  12. 13 points
    Graded Watching is a website I've created to make watching Chinese TV series more approachable for Chinese learners. It offers mainly two things: a ranking based on the number of words, to find TV series at your level a list of words for each show that you can import into Pleco for studying Currently there are around 60 shows listed. I hope I can add more shows in the future, but since the analysis is done based on soft subs the selection is limited. I selected two easier shows for myself to start with, "On Children", a show on Netflix which reminds me of Black Mirror, and "Memory Love", which I use for practicing listening comprehension together with the Chrome extension Language Learning with Netflix. It will stop after each subtitle and I can check whether I understood everything. Before watching an episode I study all the words using Pleco flashcards, so I hardly need to look up anything while watching, which is very motivating. If you have soft subs for more shows I'd be happy to include them.
  13. 13 points
    Haha, with families and couples suddenly forced to spend a lot more time together than they are used to, I'm sure China will see a spike in both births and divorces in the coming months (just a general comment, not talking about your personal situation) The situation in Harbin escalated a notch overnight, and I'd say we're at DEFCON 3 now. Apparently, there have been a few infections around my area (within 1-2 km), so the situation feels a lot closer to home, rather than just being something on the news. It also seems that many residential apartment complexes have begun requiring permission slips in order to leave, including mine: I used one of the three slips issued to me for this week to go to the local supermarket to stock up. I pretty much bought a weeks worth of supplies, so I suppose I could now sell the other two slips on the (probably already thriving) exit slip black market. Surprisingly, the two guys who run a nut and seed street stall just outside the supermarket decided to open today. Just as I was walking past and thinking about whether or not to buy something, one of the men let out a massive sneeze. While I appreciated the effort he made to turn his head to face slightly back over his shoulder as he did it, it was far from the recommended "sneeze into the inner elbow" technique, and I decided to carry on walking. At the entrance to the shopping mall was a man taking everyone's temperature. He said something to me as he was aiming the small thermometer gun at my wrist, but I was daydreaming and didn't hear what he said, so I just smiled and asked ”正常吗?“, to which he replied ”零“ and showed me the result. He had a slightly confused look on his face, as if unsure as to whether those strange 老外 just naturally had a much lower body temperature to normal folk, and that maybe he should just let me pass anyway. Fortunately, I already had already experienced this issue a couple of days before and therefore knew what to do. I said to him “零?怎么可能, 我还没死呢!” and pulled my jumper and jacket down a bit from my neck so that he could take the measure again, this time around my collar bone area. This time I got a ”正常“ reading, and could continue on downstairs to the supermarket. Everyone seems pretty calm around here, in spite of the new measures. Even the people taking temperatures and controlling the flow of people are generally in good humour. The only nervousness I've encountered was when I was walking around my 小区 a little earlier today. My apartment area is criss-crossed with walking paths, and as I was walking towards a small crossroads, a woman a little ahead and to my right suddenly shouted “别动!”. As I looked to my left I could see who she was telling to stop - a 10/11 year old boy who had seemingly fallen behind his parents at the other side. The boy stood perfectly still with a scared expression on his face, as if he had just been told by Dr Grant to freeze so that a nearby T-Rex wouldn't be able to see him. I carried on walking and the boy ran to join his parents as soon as I had passed the little cross-section. This afternoon I decided to take a leaf out of @abcdefg's book and actually try my hand at making some Chinese food. I generally like cooking, but the food is so cheap that I tend to eat out most days, and when I do cook at home I usually make western food. I decided to make a Dongbei favourite of mine, 锅包肉, but realised when I go home that I had forgotten to buy any Chinese onion. It's at this point that I had to decide whether or not buying it would be worth using one of my two remaining exit permission slips for (#justcoronavirusthings, as @vellocet might say). I decided that I could make do with the western onion already in my fridge instead. The dish turned out ok, but I couldn't quite get the water to 淀粉 ratio right, so the batter didn't turn out as well as it could have. I was satisfied how the sauce turned out though (a delicate balance between the sugar, vinegar, ginger and onion). Oh well, I'm going to have plenty of time to perfect the recipe over the coming days anyway.
  14. 13 points
    http://www.bilibili.com/video/av85901845?share_medium=android&share_source=more&bbid=XYFB5CAF698EEE335B6147082A959F8C857D9&ts=1580454870665 started a video diary for anyone thats interested in getting a realistic perspective of what things are like here at the moment. as you can see, things are calm and quiet. the sun is out, everyone is going about on the street as normal, feeling happy. but tbh it does feel like a calm before the storm kind of atmosphere here, little bit eerie, this street is usually buzzing with neighbours washing clothes, smoking meat, chatting and playing cards and chess
  15. 13 points
    Hey guys, I can comment on this because I know a lot of people who have been in the China Horizons program and I am familiar with the program over my time in China. They are unaffiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints although they are members of the church and primarily recruit students from BYU. Basically, they have been breaking the law in China for a decade or so. They are being accused of human trafficking which, while I think does not exactly capture what has happened, does have a case as a legal charge. Here is what CH has been doing. They offer a program to primarily undergraduate students to go to China to teach English for 2-3 month stints. The students pay CH a fee to go to China and the students pay for their own flights to China. The students are placed in a small town with largely private English schools in the area, primarily teaching young kids. The students go to China on a tourist visa. During their time in China, the school provides accommodations and a small stipend of around 500 RMB per month. The students then return back to America after their time is up. There are legal problems with this situation as well as some ethical issues I have always had with it. First, the students are working in China illegally. To legally work, in China, you must have a work permit. It's a lengthy and sometimes costly process which would not justify just a 2-3 month employment. The students largely would be unqualified to receive work permits anyways because they do not have a college degree. China Horizons is "double dipping" on both sides: they receive a payment from the students AND they receive money from the school employing the students. This seems supremely unfair the first time I ever heard of it and I've always felt the students are being taken advantage of it. The students have no idea how much of a risky situation they have been placed into. With the stricter enforcement that the Chinese government has enacted over the last few years, they could easily be jailed and deported if they were found to be working without proper documentation. I've heard a lot of people rally for Jacob Harlan and his associates indicating that they are victims of Chinese government oppression, but this is just not the case. While I feel for Jacob and his family (his family being the real victims of his crimes), he has been breaking the law and arguably exploiting students for a very long time and the chickens have proverbially come home to roost. I have been in touch with some of the representatives about this and I have expressed my opinion about all of this but they didn't seem to want any of this information spread around because it is damaging to his case. However, it is my prediction that he will not be coming home till he finishes a jail sentence complete with an apology and possibly fine. I will say that despite what I have said, I have known a number of the students who went through the CH program and had a very good experience and some even went back to China under more legitimate circumstances. I am really happy for them and I am glad that they did have this experience. However, I have always harbored big reservations about the CH program and it appears that things have finally caught up to them. I hope this sheds some light on the issue for anyone interested.
  16. 13 points
    Just a small reflection I wanted to share here on my improvements with tv comprehension. I can vividly remember feeling so frustratated with how impossible and stressful watching the 'fun' Chinese tv recommended here on the forums used to be. But now watching tv is so easy and fun, I wanted to share my 'yeah you can do it' moment So, I watched 琅琊榜 when it came out, which was what about 3-4 years ago now. I loved it, but it was such hard work, I remember spending about a week working through the first episode alone. The visual aids made it watcheable and fun, but I was well aware of the fact that I was only really able to grasp the bare bones of the plot, and struggled a lot with even trying to pick out names from regular vocabulary. After that, I watched similar kinds of tv shows non stop, for years, with depressingly low success rates. But it did seem to be getting easier. Just that progress was painfully slow. But I figured, what else was I going to do with my evenings? So I kept watching, and pausing, and then watching...and then pausing...etc Flash forward to earlier this year, I finished the fantastic 武林外传 (highly recommended), but after having such an annoying time with what you might call 方言-interference in my everyday Chinese tones (from the non-standard accents in the show), I then switched to something more 'clear' - the classic 甄嬛传 (avoided for years because sadly I thought it was too 'girly' - imo this show is actually a legit classic and must watch for intermediate-advanced Chinese learners). It was still pretty tough going, but by the end I would say I felt 'relaxed' and enjoyed it without any language stress - ie. minimal pausing, I would guess maybe around 98^% listening comprehension. Recently I took a break to read 左傳 in the evening instead of TV. This evening I sat down feeling pretty tired (dissertation translation submitted...finally!) and thought, hey, why not give 琅琊榜 a try again, would be good to rewatch it. I was shocked to find I could understand everything, the plot, the subplot, insinuations, jokes, you name it. Must have been 99.5^% comprehension or something. I just sat and watched five episodes straight without a hitch. In fact the language is actually easier than 甄嬛传, and obviously way way way easier than 左傳. I almost cried it felt so good. So thats all I really wanted to say really, in a really long-winded way... Hopefully some will read this and remember what the struggle was like, others might realise, it will come, don't give up.
  17. 13 points
    Recently I did an interview with @Phil Crimmins, the co-founder of Mandarin Blueprint. Phil is an old friend and drummer I used to perform with around Sichuan. He invited me on his podcast to speak about my experience learning Mandarin and making music in China. The podcast covers many topics, including: definitions of language fluency and proficiency; reasons to learn (and not to learn) a foreign language; similarities between language and music; the benefits of patience; moving past the “intermediate plateau”; immersion/environmental factors; language learning and empathy; my experience teaching at a Chinese music conservatory; aural reading and reading speed; reading Chinese literature; concision as an indicator of language ability; my upcoming role at NYU Shanghai; and more. Chinese Forums gets mentioned a few times as well! The podcast can be watched/listened to on the Mandarin Blueprint website: https://www.mandarinblueprint.com/podcast/35-mastering-mandarin-music-with-murray-james/ It’s also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0mg2sBhEtA
  18. 13 points
    Ok so I'm posting this topic just to comment my experiences during this first academic year that I have recently completed, please note that any opinion written here is completely subjective and does not represent the totality of Chinese Government Scholarship (CGS) students that have gone through this program. (For Undergraduate studies) If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask and do not hesitate to add your experiences too. A quick intro I did my pre-university preparation program in the northern campus of Capital Normal University (CNU) located in Beijing from September 2017 to June 2018. According to our teachers this university one of the 10 universities assigned to prepare CGS undergraduate students and it seems that each of them specializes in an academic field (STEM in our case, Business and humanities for BLCU and Medicine for Shandong University, etc etc) Accomodation CNU's dorms might be some of the best dorms that you would ever encounter in a Chinese university for a CGS student. We are talking about ample double rooms with private bathroom, no shower schedule hours(that is to say hot water at the showers at any given time), a 40inch TV with hdmi slots, two closets, two desks with lamps, a laundry room almost in every floor (you could use wechat or a magnetic pin depending on the washing machine), a kitchen every two floors or so (no need to pay for electricity), and the possibility to rent a fridge for 400元 per academic semester. There were also quads (none of the CGS students got those ones), two types of singles, and some rooms that looked like suites (none of the CGS students got any of the previous ones either, unless they paid). None of the students that I knew that had visitors ever had any huge problems letting them stay overnight (this of course is not allowed)(mainly couples) and there were basically no problems for arriving to the dorms at any time of the day if you came from the outside or any place really. Food The campus had 3 canteens (one of them 清真) all in the same building and offered a variety of dishes to choose. Chinese students would mainly go the first-floor canteen because the prices were much lower in there (the stands in the second floor were not owned by the university, hence the higher price in there) There were also convenience stores, a restaurant-bar and some fast food chains in a 50m-1000m radius. Most of my time during the school year was spent in the 清真 canteen and the second floor canteen, and occasionally to the first floor (especially when I was with people that were not scared to try a more authentic Chinese flavor) I have no special comments about the food in there, I might complain a little bit about the spicy dishes but food is food in the end. Extracurriculars The two biggest activities planned by the school were 长城 and a car exhibition (there were other things but I forgot them already) In addition to that, there was a running track, 3 basketball fields, 2 tennis field and a football field all of them available for any student Studying Regarding academics, I was told by some classmates that our program (预科班)might have been one of the most rigorous ones compared to the other schools at least for the first semester and I support the idea. I can say that the first semester was the hardest one with a placement exam and weekly exams whose results let the teachers place us in one of the three groups they made throughout the semester, although they stopped doing the placement afterwards (there were around 71 students in total, many of them placed in the second group) During the first semester classes would be from Monday to Friday (including Saturday afternoon later in the semester) and they would start from 8:30 and end at 16:50 with 20-minute breaks per class and lunch time between 11:50 to 13:30 (summing up 4 classes per day each of them lasting 1.5 hours) There were classes on Saturday afternoon too at some point. The second semester had an increase of Math and sciences classes to the point that there were evening classes in two days of the week from 18:30 to 21:00. It would be good to point out that the class hours were more or less depending on which group was a person in, and those who were going to Tsinghua/beida were placed in the same group most of the time (so that they could prepare them to meet some of the respective requirements given by the universities) I'll keep elaborating as people come to talk about their experiences and ask me questions.
  19. 12 points
    Update: Made it as far as Hong Kong. Flew out of Kunming yesterday afternoon (Friday 31 Jan.) It was an on-time departure with arrival in Hong Kong about 6 pm. Good flight, even had food and beverage service. As you know, China is taking this epidemic very seriously. Everyone wearing a face mask, wiping down surfaces, using hand sanitizer and such. Compliance was 100% at the airport, complete with temperature checks. Still, I was not prepared for lots of passengers on my flight to be wearing those cheap plastic raincoats with hoods. They had the peaked tops pulled up over their heads in addition to face masks. Odd sight. Reminiscent of a KKK rally, since most were light colors, pastels and off-white. (I have only seen these in movies.) The young lady sitting next to me was additionally decked out with disposable vinyl gloves and eye goggles as though she was preparing to do battle in the ICU. She was exquisitely well informed on the subject of this health crisis, and in fact would not shut up about it. My flight out to the US, scheduled for this afternoon (Saturday 1 Feb) was delayed a couple times and ultimately cancelled. Am now re-booked on another flight leaving Monday 3 Feb. Nothing was available tomorrow. The flight from Kunming to Hong Kong was on Cathay Pacific, but now I am at the mercy of American Airlines, and they are a less stable player. I've read that their pilot's union is suing the carrier over assorted grievances, real and imagined and this has further compromised their performance, their ability to deliver the goods, which is getting passengers and freight from point A to point B. I don't really know or care whether their cause is just. I just want them to take me home. Not a big deal. I'm in a good hotel, healthy, well fed and watered, and was able to simply extend my stay by two nights. Have adjusted reservations on the Dallas end of the trip and notified friends and family. Beats the hell out of being locked up in some quarantine gymnasium or warehouse, eating instant noodles 方便面 and sleeping on a straw mat.
  20. 12 points
    Half year update time for me too: Goal 1: Watch 新聞聯播 every single day of 2019. To date, 100% on this goal, but I after day 74 of 新聞聯播 I was really not learning much beyond 一帶一路 every. single. day. So I switched to 國際財經報道 (also part of CCTV news), the content is much more varied and more importantly faaar more interesting. I've been watching this every day for the last few months. Listening ability has improved massively. Very happy! Goal 2: 30 mins Chinese cursive practice every day. Also 100%. But 30 mins has turned into a good 1 1/2 hours every evening before bed now. This has unexpectedly become my obsessive hobby, love it so much. I've learnt so much in researching and compiling information, images, books, databases, you name it. I can now read a lot of inscriptions on painting, and can now read pretty much the whole of 書譜 in its original form. Again, really happy! (stats from my anki deck for learning 草書, it says 60 hours, 24.5mins/day, but thats a bit of an understatement, as it sits on the edit screen for another additional hour or so as I edit each entry. Im using the Heisig order for learning characters, as it nicely builds up your knowledge of shortcuts, so that by the time you reach complex characters, 7 or 8 times out of 10 you can guess how to write it correctly even if you've never seen the supercursive form before) (^ regular handwriting, speed fairly average, this is a page of me writing out an essay from 思想與社會 that I've learnt by heart. Not pretty, just trying to build speed.) (^ what learning how to write looks like, slow speed, again, very ugly to look at, but its not about looks, its about getting that muscle memory drilled in) (^ the latest entry from today. You can see in the middle some Hiragana. Yes, Im finally beginning to learn some basic Japanese in order to access some great resources on 草書 and 書法 in general. Luckily the Hiragana forms are proving pretty easy to learn, as theyre all based on 草書 anyway. Thanks to @Gharial for recommending some great books on this!) All in all, my two goals have served me well. Cant wait for what the next six months may bring!
  21. 12 points
    Early on I learned an "Imron Principle" that has proved very useful. He urged that we practice the skills we hope to master. Seems obvious, but is often overlooked in the dash or struggle towards language proficiency. Simple can sometimes be profound. As someone interested in food and cooking, I pick up the weekly "specials" flier at the entrance to Walmart when I go to shop. These kick around on the coffee table in my living room or on the kitchen table for a week or two. I study them like a textbook, learning common names for foodstuffs, ingredients, seasonings, drinks, woks, rice cookers and other counter top small kitchen appliances. Along the way I pick up names for common brands. Eventually I toss these all out and start collecting new ones. When I get my purchases home, I read the cash register tape, trying to figure out what I've paid for what. Sometimes things are abbreviated and I have to scratch my head. Gradually this process has become faster and I do it quickly the first time while I'm still in the check-out area of the store. Do the same with menus at restaurants I visit. Particularly like the ones with pictures. I typically put a copy in my pocket and study it when I get home and the dishes are still fresh in my mind. More and more restaurants have these "disposable" menus, partly for use by take-out customers. Then I refer to them when I'm thinking about making a dish or going out somewhere to sample a new version. When I can pick one up and read it well enough without the help of a dictionary, I throw it out. The goal is to let me read new menus at a glance, scanning quickly for things I might like to try. Sometimes a special opportunity presents, such as this one at KFC where they were highlighting all the spices that they use in making a new signature crawfish dish, 小龙虾。They list the the spices (bottom of picture) along with pictures of them. Good for a review. I suppose all these tasks could be done in a completely digital form, but I find that having the actual paper copies around the house leads me to pick them up for just a couple of minutes of casual review. Seeing them serves as a reminder. I do browse lots and lots of Chinese recipes on line, not having any Chinese cookbooks. As I read these materials, I put new words automatically into a Pleco review queue and hit them a few times more on my phone as flashcards when I'm sitting on the bus or waiting my turn at the bank or otherwise just killing time. Small things like this are all around us while living in China. Paying attention to them and using them to build useful vocabulary is an easy thing to do and it's one way to get full value from your "immersion dollar." It's not a glamorous process or one you can brag about back home; but as a refinement of "survival Chinese" it's kind of fun and relatively painless.
  22. 12 points
    - Start and maintain a blog about Chinese literature. Reporting on my reading here has been more useful and helpful to me than I had expected and I think I am now ready to start a blog. It will be in Dutch, sorry for all the non-Dutch-speakers here. - Continue to diligently study Cantonese - and keep learning Mandarin vocab. - Take and hopefully pass the test in May that will make me a certified translator. - Make more money than last year. - Exercise twice as much (from once a week to twice a week). I actually, honestly really like rowing and should do more of it because it is all kinds of good for me. I'm not going to include 'translate a book' in this list because that is really out of my hands. I know I am in a great position to translate another Chinese book, the publishers know it too, and now it all depends on someone deciding to publish a Chinese book in Dutch and ask me to translate it.
  23. 12 points
    Waiting for these results is more difficult than the past 4 years of my degree xDD
  24. 11 points
    Hi Guys, I just got my HSK 4 and 5 exam results back results posted to HSK results thread here The 2019 thread and previous threads have been a source of inspiration for me and I hope no one minds that I get the 2020 thread started a little early. While I failed HSK5 fairly hard, I was happy that I did most of what I had set out to do in 2019 with massive amounts of listening practise and watching of TV shows - I saw a big improvement in general communication. 2020 I'd like to pass HSK5 with a 200+ Get into structured classes again. At some point during 2020 - turn off the subtitles on the tv shows. Thanks !
  25. 11 points
    Hello, I created a podcast series aimed at intermediate to advanced learners who want to listen to more spoken Chinese to improve or become more used to pronunciation and sentence structures. Along with each podcast episode, I also set out the script (in simplified Chinese and pinyin) for that episode on my website (https://chinesecolloquialised.com/). The podcast episodes are under the name "Chinese Colloquialised", which can be found on most major podcast platforms (e.g. Apple Podcast / Google Podcast / Spotify / Overcast/ etc). If there are any intermediate to advanced learners, I would be keen to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Particularly: Is it helpful? Is it too easy or too difficult? Do you find the episodes interesting? Any other thoughts, whether it's positive compliments or constructive criticism. Thank you and best wishes, Kaycee
  26. 11 points
    Platform(s): PC / Mac OS X Price: £7.19 (regional pricing may apply) Where to buy: here System Requirements: OS: XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, Processor: Intel Pentium III 800 MHz+, Memory: 2 GB RAM, Graphics: 1024x768 High Color +, DirectX: Version 9.0, Storage: 500 MB available space Release Date: 29 Sept 2018 Languages: Chinese only (just text, no audio) UPDATE: English available from 20th June 2019 Chinese Level Required: HSK4 + (this is very subjective of course. The game is text based, and most screens only move on when you click, so it is potentially accessible to anyone with enough patience to look up unknown vocab) Proportion of play time where you'll be using Chinese: 90% (mostly text based, so you'll be immersed in Chinese for a large proportion of the game) Specific/specialised Vocab Learned: Childhood (toys, games), school (academic subjects, activities) This game has been very popular since it was released on Steam last year, with over a million copies sold. You take control of a Chinese baby, and are responsible for raising him or her all the way to the all important 高考 (college entrance exam). Getting the highest exam score possible is the basic aim of the game. Along the way you'll have to make choices of how to spend your time (studying maths or playing computer games), which friends to hang out with, what to spend your pocket money on, and how to resolve moral dilemmas (do you let that classmate copy your homework or not?). You'll need to balance you parents' expectations with your own happiness. It's a turn based game, so you'll make all your choices and then the computer will scroll through various events and take you to the next turn (see the tutorial below for a deeper look at the gameplay). There are also various mini-games throughout the game. For example, every now and again someone (usually a neighbour or relative) will challenge your mother to a 面子 battle (battle of "face" or pride). The person will make caustic remarks in order to make your mum "lose face", and you'll have to counter with remarks of your own (usually by choosing to boast about any particular talent your child has). The more cutting the remark, the more HP the other side loses. It's fun to read the dialogue, and it was probably my favourite of the mini games. Pros - mostly text-based, so you'll be practising Chinese pretty much the whole time you're playing it - addictive light-puzzle elements - a fun and satirical, but affectionate, look at Chinese childhood. You'll learn a lot about Chinese attitudes to school and parenting along the way. - cheap (a paid as much for my most recent textbook) Cons - can get repetitive as you play through the game a 2nd and 3rd time as each new generation is born (the same events, classmates etc tend to turn up game after game). On the bright side, this repetition could be good from a Chinese-learning perspective (helping with memorising new vocab) - text-based/puzzle games might not be your cup of tea, but you're playing to learn Chinese, not to have fun, right? - no audio (text only) Basic Tutorial Although it's a simple game once you get going, the first playthrough can be intimidating (I stopped my first one 5 minutes in and didn't come back to it until a few weeks later). I'm not going to cover everything, but I'll explain the most important mechanics, which will be enough to get you going. I'll be happy to answer any questions later if anyone gets stuck. This is the main screen of the game: Being a turn based game, there are a number of tasks you need to complete before moving on to the next turn. In general, the first thing you want to do each turn is to click on the little thought bubble appearing above your character. This will open up the following screen: You can think of the little coloured "gems" as brain cells. Each time you click on one, it will develop a corresponding attribute, which you can see listed on the left hand side of the screen. The attributes are as follows: 智商 - intelligence 情商 - emotional intelligence 体魄 - physique 记忆力 - memory 想象力 - imagination 魅力 - charm/charisma You'll notice that, apart from the coloured "brain cell" coloured gems, there are also other little cards to choose from. I'll let everyone discover the function of most of these for themselves, but I'll briefly describe the two most important. Firstly, clicking on the orange light bulb symbols will increase what the game calls your 悟性点数 (power of understanding/comprehension points). You can see how many of these you have accumulated by looking at the bulb symbol in the top right hand corner of the screen. You'll need these in order to learn new abilities (which I'll cover in the next screen), so I tend to prioritise the light bulb symbols over the coloured attributes. The second most important one is the symbol which looks like an old telephone with an arrow pointing at it. Clicking on this will take you to a new board, where each of the attributes/lightbulb symbols will be worth more points than before. It will also replenish 50 of your move points. In most circumstances you are going to want to click on this as soon as you discover it. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game if there wasn't some kind of limit on your "moves" to force you into making choices. The number of "brain cells" you can choose per term is stated under the bolt of lightening symbol (行动力点) in the top right hand corner of the screen. Once this reaches zero, you can't click on any more attributes and it's time to move on to the next screen. You will notice 4 buttons in the lower right hand side of the screen. The most important is the 学习 tab. Here you will be able to "purchase" new skills using your 醒悟/lightbulb points. To begin with these will be very simple skills (learning to walk, learning to talk etc), but later you will get the opportunity to learn more advanced subjects (algebra, piano, coding etc). Now, although the 醒悟/lightbulb points are needed to directly purchase these skills, the cost will depend on the level of each of your attributes. For example, the higher your 体魄/physicality attribute, the less the physical skills (such as walking, swimming, basketball) will cost in terms of 醒悟/lightbulb points, which is why it's important to choose carefully when doing the brain cell exercise in the previous screen. That being done, it's time to move on the the final major screen, 安排 (on the far left of the screen). You have six time slots to fill with either studying (学习) or leisure (娱乐). At the top of the screen are two bars, 父母的满意度 (parents' level of satisfaction) and 我的压力 (pressure/stress). Too much studying will cause the stress bar to increase, and will eventually lead to a nervous breakdown. On the other hand, if your parents' level of satisfaction gets too low (by doing too many leisure activities), then they will admonish you. Because of this, it's a good idea to maintain a healthy balance of the two. Each activity will also have an effect on your attributes (intelligence etc). Once you've chosen, it's time to move on to the next turn by clicking the green 下一回 button in the lower right. This is what the end turn screen looks like. It will cycle between 9 screens. 6 of these will just be the skills you chose to practise, and the remaining 3 will be various random events (you fall out with a friend, you get caught playing games in an internet cafe, you lose your homework etc). Once all 9 screens have been cycled through, the game will return to the main screen for your next turn. That's basically the meat of the game. You'll continue cycling through turns all the way to the 高考 (college entrance exam). After that, you'll get a couple more screens where you'll go to college and then get choose a husband/wife, whereupon the next generation will be born and you can start the whole process all over. You always seem to start off as a working class family, so don't expect t be able to get into Qinghua or Peking University until at least the 3rd or 4th gen. Edit: If anyone is looking for a deeper tutorial, here is a detailed analysis of the how the game mechanics work (in Chinese): https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1620393135
  27. 11 points
    Hi everyone, As we begin a new month I have decided to share some words of encouragement to all who are awaiting response of their scholarship application. Without this forum I myself don't know how I would have kept sane. Regardless of the outcome ,I wish you all the best in whatever path you may choose to embark on. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”
  28. 11 points
    I wonder if any of the people who posted in this originally are still active in the forum? I completely forgot I had an account here, then re-signed up and found my old account history. Thought it would be interesting to give a catch up to what happened to the eager 16 year old that posted on here all this time ago back in 2007! Well turns out most of the advice was the perfect advice to give! I took a break from my school but still became a professional dancer, now at the age of 27 I finally started to achieve my dream of getting a degree in Chinese, however I decided to be 'sensible' and enrolled in a uk university at the age of 25 in a Chinese and business management degree programme. I got a 1:1 in each year and am now about to go on my 'official year abroad' to China! Thought it might be a fun post to show that even though it may take years, some things can finally happen!
  29. 11 points
    Going through the same "what are you reading" thread (but over a longer period of time), below is my list from when I started making a conscious effort to do more reading. The list is in the order that I read them, and I read them one after the other (sometimes finishing one and straight away picking up the next). Like I mentioned to Mark, it's always a good idea to have your next book ready to go before you finish your current one to prevent any break or lull in reading. Like Lu, I could read quite well when I first starting doing this and regularly read newspaper articles and such, but other than a couple of half-hearted attempts, I had only previously finished 1 or 2 novels, and didn't do any sort of regular long form reading. Also worth noting is that when I decided to do more reading the first book I chose was actually《书剑恩仇录》. However due to it having too many new words/characters a page I put that aside and came back to it a dozen books later which made it much easier to read (an experience I wrote about here). This was a good decision. I've since come to the opinion that you are better off reading a bunch of easier novels than struggling through a more difficult one - especially when you are just starting out. If the more difficult book is one you really want to read, you can always come back to it later (like I did) and it will be much more enjoyable. In the list, I've highlighted the books I think are suitable for beginners in blue, and the books I'd avoid entirely in red. The reason I'd avoid them is not because the language used is unsuitable, but rather because I didn't like the book. I've also thrown in a couple of oranges, which are books I didn't like, but that are part of a set so it may be worth reading them if you are interested in being able to say you've read the set. Finally, you'll see a couple of green ones, which are my favourites out of all the books listed here. 《平凡的世界》in particular is one of my favourite books I've read in any language (I've written about it here). Although it's quite accessible in terms of language, it's really long, which is I why I don't recommend it as a first book because you'll want to build up your reading stamina before tackling it. 《汉语与文化交际》 《家》 《春》 《秋》 《活着》 《许三观卖血记》 《记忆的微风》 《天下无贼》 《中国式离婚》 《兄弟》(上) 《兄弟》(下) 《书剑恩仇录》(上) 《书剑恩仇录》(下) 《碧血剑》(上) 《碧血剑》(下) 《圈子圈套1》 《圈子圈套2》 《圈子圈套3》 《射雕英雄传》(1) 《射雕英雄传》(2) 《射雕英雄传》(3) 《射雕英雄传》(4) 《狼图腾》 《在细雨中呼喊》 《平凡的世界》(1) 《平凡的世界》(2) 《平凡的世界》(3) 《色,戒》 《神雕侠侣》(1) 《神雕侠侣》(2) 《神雕侠侣》(3) 《神雕侠侣》(4) 《夜谭十计》 (includes the short story that《让子弹飞》was based off) 《人生》which is by the same author as 《平凡的世界》 《雪山飞狐》 《杜拉拉升职记》 《杜拉拉华年似水》 《杜拉拉3:我在这战斗的一年里》 《裸婚》 《蛙》 《飞狐外传》 《北京记者》 《黄金时代》 If I was doing it again I'd definitely change up the order of things. I was smart enough to put aside《书剑恩仇录》until I was a better reader, but was still stuck in the trap of wanting to read "great literature/notable books", hence 《家》《春》and《秋》. Those books are worthy of reading for the insight they give you in to China during that period of time, but in hindsight, I would have been better off reading them later. I had to force myself to finish 《春》because it was boring me to tears. 《家》and 《秋》were much better in that regard but still contained enough archaic and old-fashioned language that I wouldn't recommend them as first books (I know others disagree with this). Of the blue books, 《活着》is the one I'd recommend first, although《许三观卖血记》is at around the same level and is also a good choice (I put 《活着》first because I prefer the story). 余华 is a very accessible author for learners because the language he uses isn't too complicated, the only thing is, he tends to write about the same sort of things, and so if you've read a couple of his books and want a break from that genre, you'll have to go to another author. Here's how I would break down the genres of the other blue books Rural China/Cultural Revolution and Beyond 《活着》 《许三观卖血记》 《人生》(same author as 《平凡的世界》) Modern China - Business Intrigue 《圈子圈套1》 《圈子圈套2》 《圈子圈套3》 Modern China - Relationship Drama 《中国式离婚》 《裸婚》 Reading things in the same genre will have the benefit of having similar vocabulary, but mixing things up can keep things interesting. It comes down to personal preference as to what works better for you. If you look at the main list, you'll see I tended to read a few books in one genre and then switch up to another genre, and then go back to the original genre and so on. I think that approach worked quite well. Once you've read all those blue books, you can probably start venturing out in to longer and/or more difficult works. 《兄弟》is good if you like 余华, although the second half is much better than the first. If you're looking at getting in to 武侠 novels 《雪山飞狐》is one of 金庸's more accessible stories, and《流星•蝴蝶•剑》by Gu Long is also apparently quite accessible (but I haven't read it). 《鬼吹灯 》also comes recommended (but again I've not read it so can't comment more on it). Once you're comfortable reading longer texts then《平凡的世界》might be a good choice, or perhaps some of the other 金庸 novels -《碧血剑》is a favourite of mine. Regarding advice for book selection, I think for the first 10-20 books, I'd really focus on pulpy, easy read books just to build up reading stamina and other reading skills (not to mention incidental vocabulary). With handful of exceptions, the way I chose books was just to walk in to one of the giant bookstores (北京图书大厦 is 西单 is a favourite) and have a browse around to see if any of the promoted books looked interesting or if any of the authors I knew had other books available, and then purchase 10-15 books at a time (this also solved the problem mentioned above about always having the next book ready). I agree with Lu that you need to enjoy the book you are reading, but I'd hold off on more difficult books that you want to read until after you have acquired decent reading experience and ability - that way they'll be that much more enjoyable. Once you've got 10-20 books under your belt you can then start to branch out in to more serious literature. The only other thing I'd add is the importance of doing daily reading, even if it's only a page, or half a page. Once you stop, it's easy to stay stopped - and somewhat ironically, that's the position I find myself in at the moment, as I haven't done much long-form Chinese reading for a number of months. I could blame an international move, or life getting in the way, but there are always excuses if you want to make them. Making sure you do a little bit of reading every day helps keep the momentum going.
  30. 11 points
    Ready for more good audio? The “Chinese Language and Literature Demonstration Library” (中小学语文示范诵读库) is a joint project by China's Department of Education and Central Radio and TV. The aim is to produce a high-standard, high-quality language audio teaching resource for primary and secondary schools. So far, grades 1, 2, 7 and 8 have been completed and released. More on the project on these sites: http://m.news.cctv.com/2018/05/18/ARTI7HhSM5j32FR1JQVhJSM9180518.shtml http://news.cctv.com/special/zxxywsfk/index.shtml http://www.moe.gov.cn/s78/A18/moe_807/201812/t20181224_364534.html The audios are perfectly clear Mandarin readings by very pleasant voices. The choice of texts is varied, the language is generally easy, many are short or very short, and there are even some 文言文 texts in the higher grades. Since the project also aims at promoting 'core values', some texts are rather too patriotic and/or slushy, but still good learning material. The audios can now be found in Ximalaya and other sites (iTunes, You Tube, bilibili, sukou, CNR/CNTV sites, etc. etc.) Search for: 小学语文示范诵读库 There are also some video productions (still frames with text). This, for instance from the Grade 1 and 2 set (click on the side links for more rabbits, if so inclined): https://www.bilibili.com/video/av23701129/ This 179 audio series in Ximalaya starts with Primary school Grades 1 and 2 (in Page 1) but soon gets rid of the white rabbits and baby tadpoles, and jumps to Grades 7 and 8 (in pages 2-6). All the readings in this set have transcripts. https://www.ximalaya.com/jiaoyu/17003729/ It looks like iTunes has the whole set too, but maybe not the transcripts. Search for: 中小学语文示范诵读库 (By 中国广播Radio.cn)
  31. 11 points
    Hello, I'm the one who did a one year intensive Chinese course (level zero to HSK 4) and then 4 years Bachelor in Chemical Engineering taught in Chinese. First of all, it was not a bad experience at all, on the contrary, I'd recommend it but it depends on what you want. In my first year, we had comprehensive Chinese, listening, writing and all those classes, but the major difference was that there was only two of us students for nearly all classes, so we made rapid progress and reached HSK4 within 8 months when HSK 3 was min requirement back then. My first year in BEng was tough, I was the only foreigner in my class, and had to digest all the new vocabulary and grammar on my own. I went to Math class without even knowing words like addition, substraction...I admit I should have set up a better study plan for technical vocabulary, but it went fine, just needed to catch up and keep the pace with Chinese students. I'd say that with A levels in Chemistry, Physics and Math, the content itself is not difficult, and the good thing is that there's less language compared to humanities, you can easily figure out the numbers and work out the problems. Another bonus about learning Beng in a small uni is that your listening will get used to accents, and your handwritten Chinese reading skills will get a boost. During my last year, our supervisor had a buddy program, so I had a senior to guide me with the laboratory work, thesis writing, data analysis etc. Overall, my Beng was ok, my chinese reached HSK 6 within 5 years with strong focus on technical language. Here's a few words of advice: Learn the Periodic table, organic and inorganic nomenclature in Chinese. Check my zhihu answer. Get your hands on secondary school science textbooks in Chinese, technical English books for uni students like 化工专业英语 Start reading academic papers in Chinese. Watch Open courses in Chinese 公开课 Get to know Chinese friends, esp in Science field Get ready for the challenge, and get plenty of perseverance.
  32. 11 points
    Well, it seems about time to lay out my 2019 aims and objectives. I delayed this since I wanted to start my new year goals in February after turning in the first draft of my thesis (though the editing process that I am now in is just as burdensome). Last year was pretty much filled with successes and I hope I can make some obtainable goals again this year. My life will be changing a lot with being a full-time student coming to an end. So I will be setting more modest goals to allow for time to transition. The theme of this year, from a Chinese language perspective, is pronunciation and reading. My grammar and writing have gotten to a comfortable point as a natural result of writing a thesis in Chinese. That was exciting to realize. Woohoo! So the goals: 1) Finish one Chinese book every month. With a stretch goal: put the top 300 most common unknown words into a Pleco deck and learn them (10 new words a day, 3600 new words by the end of the year). 2) Pick one phrase that I am struggling on the pronunciation with per day and put it on a note card in a sentence. Have a Chinese friend record themselves saying it and work on imitating them. And that's it. I do want to say more about what books I'll read. I asked my middle school students which books they actually enjoyed reading during class, today. One is a series called 皮皮鲁和鲁西西 that according to reviews is a difficult book for first graders. I'm so down for this. They also recommended translations of the Japanese author 东野圭吴's books, one of which I already bought. Outside of fiction, having previously enjoyed 费孝通《乡土中国》 I've also picked up his 江村经济. I also put the first 204 words (all words that I don't know and appear >5 times) from《看见》into Pleco and started working on those. I hope that by the end of the year I can pick up 三体 or 欢乐颂, both of which are books I want to read but still require too much dictionary work. I'm doing this alongside diving back into reading English classics in preparation of teaching English lit. It was so exciting to pick up a novel and finish it in three days. I forgot how easy it is to read when it's my native language... So, really, my first goal is two books per month, one English and one Chinese.
  33. 11 points
    Here are all the HSK level 6 practice exams released by Hanban that I have been able to find. Are people aware of any others? H61000 H61001 H61002 H61003 H61004 H61005 H61006 H61007 H61008 H61009 H61110 H61111 H61218 H61219 H61220 H61221 H61327 H61328 H61329 H61330 H61332 H61333 I uploaded everything to the Internet Archive. edit for those having trouble finding the PDF files: Under "DOWNLOAD OPTIONS" on the right there is a link that says "PDF". You'll find the files in the drop-down menu. As @mungouk pointed out below, the following practice exams are available at http://cnhsk.org/mk. H61113 H61114 H61115 H61116 H61117 H61221 H61222 H61223 H61224 H61225
  34. 11 points
    We need to see some pictures of your 书法 now! I'm with agewisdom. After spending the first two years filling notebooks and notebooks with Chinese writing, I rarely pick up a pen anymore except to take notes. My handwriting in English is awful so I doubt the world will miss my Chinese handwriting. Goal 1: Finish my thesis! (before March) Goal 2: Pass my defense! (April) Goal 3: Pass HSK 6! (after April)
  35. 11 points
    I did a bachelor's degree in clinical medicine in Shanghai. I had learnt Chinese as a hobby, though quite seriously, for several years previously. I did have some classmates who had only done a 1 year language course first. I can say that 1 year of Chinese is nowhere near enough to keep up with the local students. In fact, my foreign classmates could not even understand the exam papers for the first couple of years. Fortunately, the invigilators in some cases, were able to provide basic translations. Though not officially allowed, they also answered all exams in English, as far as I remember, for the entire 5 year degree. I chose to write all my answers in Chinese, which I'm sure had an impact on my marks (because my writing in Chinese is much slower than English, so completing the exams in time was always a challenge), but my rationale was that I already had a first class degree from a/the top UK university so had nothing to prove, and wanted the satisfaction of doing the exam the "proper" way. The other thing is that local students cheat. Cheating is so widespread, that I would say it is essentially not even seen as cheating. Invigilators would always warn that cheating would be punished, but in reality, they would always turn a blind eye. So, you will be at a severe disadvantage if you want to do the exams honestly, which is an additional obstacle besides the language barrier. On the other hand, though, the tutors would often give pre-exam tutorials to the foreign students, in which they would to a greater or lesser extent, let us know what was coming up in the exam - so unfair in favour of the foreign students (but to be honest, I think there are a lot of exams we wouldn't have had a chance of passing without this help). Anyway, it is certainly possible to get through a degree programme (with a lot of hard work) and come out with a degree at the end. In terms of how much you actually learn, though, I would say it cannot compare to doing a degree in your mother tongue. At least that was my experience.
  36. 11 points
    Apologies for major difficulties accessing the site over the last two days. Things went wrong just as I was on holiday with only my mobile and at points GPRS Internet. I’m hoping it’ll now hold until I’m back at my desk Wednesday. Again, sorry.
  37. 11 points
    Well, the competition finished more than a week ago but busy with finals (still am) and doing my thesis proposal. But back to the states and completely off schedule for sleep, so some middle of the night writing sounds good to me! I finished the competition in 3rd place! I was very happy with that, seeing as my original goal was to make it to the top 32 and finished in the top 6! (one first places, two second, and three third place trophies). The big surprise was I learned that I am now able to directly apply for teaching jobs (本土老师) at Confucius institutes without doing the Hanban exam. So cool! Overall it was a great experience, though terribly exhausting. I lost a lot of weight during the process and I was already terribly thin. Everyday was a battle for extra minutes of preparation, and it became apparent that those that battle for additional minutes were also the ones who moved on (with some very surprising exceptions). While it was a competition, it was first and foremost a TV show. This made every contestant all the more nervous with every second being recorded and the knowledge that our audience was all of China. But at the same time, because it was so competitive, it pushed me to improve in so many ways. For the non-native speakers, the biggest challenge was simply doing the task in Chinese and as such every day was working with our assigned tutors to improve our Chinese and learn the necessary language for each section. I am stoked I got to participate and met many new friends, all of whom are exceptional individuals. Regardless of how the competition unfolded, it became apparent that anyone that made it to this stage was incredibly talented. Some strengths played out better for a TV show while others didn't do so well. After all, "performing" was a big part of this competition and those who were great teachers but bad performers, didn't necessarily do well. From a Chinese learning perspective, I've never seen so much improvement in my pronunciation. While the improvement has yet to make it into my freely spoken Chinese, the confidence that with preparation I can produce well enunciated Chinese has done wonders for my confidence as a Chinese speaker and my "Chinese (language) identity." I feel like there is a lot to unpack from this and I'm at a loss for where to start and what would be most interesting to hear. East China Normal University did a write-up focusing on the students from our school. (https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ghXnJqsO_zi7gfm50cIgEQ) It includes a "比赛感悟" that we were asked to write. I'll copy mine here as well. 参加汉教英雄会夏令营,我有两个主要的收获。第一个是新朋友。第一天开幕式,我发言时说了“首先我们都是人,其次我们都是老师,最后我们才是选手,但是做选手是暂时的,做朋友是一辈子的。”现在回头看全比赛的过程,我最看重的是我新交的朋友。我跟这些朋友一起经历熬夜、成功之乐、失败之伤。但是因为我们可以在一起同甘共苦,我们在短短时间内发展了这么好的关系。我感觉我认识了很多新的知己。只有这些朋友才真正理解这次比赛对我的影响。 第二个是我新学到的知识和能力。在第一轮比赛中我学会了编辑简单的视频;第二轮比赛让我学会了怎么用汉语辩论,怎么表示认同和反驳别人的观点;第三轮,我学会了怎么保持平常心。最后这一点在走下舞台的那一时刻,最容易忘记的但恰恰是最重要的。即,比赛不是最重要的,更重要的是做一个好老师,只有在失败中,才可以学会如何面对失败。在这个方面,我为我自己感到骄傲。在我离开舞台时,我没有忘记尊重我的对手,尊重评委和老师们。 I did get interviewed my 人民日报 and was featured on their publication as well as in a couple of 孔子学院's 微信公众号: http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrbhwb/page/2018-07/06/09/rmrbhwb2018070609.pdf https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/3hqTFVGVdknwVc1q_dJi6A https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/XoH6VbX6XRFFH60HODePaA I also uploaded my 3 minutes speech during the opening ceremony to google photos. It can be watched here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/nKvHxM4eHk2tAzB16 Edit: @Angelina I'm currently uploading the 16 minute video of my thesis proposal to my google drive. I'll send you a link once done. The first six minutes are the presentation followed by 10 minutes of feedback. Based on sharing the video with a Chinese friend, the feedback wasn't too representative for how the process goes since my 评委 didn't have much knowledge about my research topic. They will usually ask slightly more poignant questions. Edit 2: I should also mention that I finished in second place for total votes, which was the reason I started this thread. Ended up with 35,000, give or take a few thousand and was just a few hundred short of first place. Thank you all who helped cast votes for me. I got so many because, unlike most, instead of pushing really hard at fist and then tapering off, I just did a little each day under the assumption that it would slowly pick up pace, and it did. (kinda like learning vocab, yeah?) Edit 3: @Tomsima Removed italics.
  38. 10 points
    I created a user dictionary for Pleco which adds a new "dictionary" to Pleco so that when you look up a word, you'll also see the frequency ranking of the word in 6 types of corpora: subtitles, weibo, blogs, literature, news and technology (see the screenshot below). The subtitle word frequencies are based on SUBTLEX, and the other 5 are based on BLCU Chinese Corpus (see this thread). I thought others might find it useful. To install it, you'll need to purchase Pleco's flashcard add-on to access the user dictionary options. Next, download the zip file attached to this post, and extract it to get a plecofreq.pqb file which you'll need to put on your phone. In Pleco go to Settings -> Manage Dictionaries -> Add User -> Existing, then locate the plecofreq.pqb file. In the next post I'll attach a text file with the raw entries (as it's too large to attach to this post). There are a total of 109207 entries, which includes all words which are in the top 50,000 most frequent words in at least one of the 6 corpora. The pinyin of the words is based on the CEDICT dictionary, and is left blank if the word isn't in CEDICT. plecofreq.zip
  39. 10 points
    we're basically screwed - FCO called this morning to say last flight out is this Sunday, again from Wuhan. Again, no way for us to get to the plane. There are no cars to rent, or buy, yet to find a driver willing to do a 500k round trip to the centre of the epidemic. FCO are not able to guarantee the driver will be able to return after dropping us at the airport. Helpless, govt telling us to get out asap, but when I asked how, I was told, you should use your 'connections'. I dont live in China anymore, and even when I did I didnt live here, and the people here are old just old farmer folk, what connections are we meant to have? Currently speaking with a bbc reporter, see if they can put some pressure on, raise some awareness… At least im in a great place with great family.
  40. 10 points
    Things are fine here in Harbin. The streets are a lot quieter, there are very few cars driving about and many shops are closed, but the supermarkets and 便利店s are all open and full of food, and the air is clear and the sky is blue (probably due in no small part to the lack of traffic). I managed to buy three tubs of fresh fruit for just 10 yuan this afternoon. I've just come off a 3 and a half day water fast, so I dread to think what all that fruit will do to my digestive system! We had our first lesson today via wechat. Luckily there are only 3 students in our class, so we can make it work. All things considered life is pretty good here at the moment - it's all quiet on the Dongbei front. Now I have to send an email to my family to stop them from panicking (I hate the sensationalist news sometimes)
  41. 10 points
    This is an Unfinished List (will update later as per contributions) This list of resources is meant for anyone that aims to improve their Chinese proficiency past the HSK benchmark. While the obvious course would be to consume whatever Chinese media you can get your hands on, I still believe that having a few resources on hand to kick-start the process can't hurt. Heck, it might even provide some well-needed structure. 📱 Pleco 🆓 (Apple / Google / APK) [forums] ↓*↓ • Most comprehensive database of Chinese dictionaries. • Flashcard system optimized with dictionary entries. • OCR (Optical Character Recognition). • Native pronunciation to a range of words. ... 📱 有道语文达人 💯(Xiaomi) • Lightweight Chinese to Chinese dictionary. • Shows synonyms and antonyms. ... 📱 微信读书 👥🆓(Apple / Google / Xiaomi) • Most popular reading app in China. • Contents far-ranging. ... 📱 天天作文精选💯(Xiaomi) • Reading materials sorted by Chinese school grade all the way to 高考. • Short stories from 200 characters to 2000 characters. ... 📱 观止 💯(Apple / Xiaomi) • Don’t like the abundance of choice? Here is one short-story per day. • Short stories by critically acclaimed writers (cross-strait) • Want to read more? Randomly receive any of the previously posted stories. ... 📱🔗人民日标 👥 (Apple / Xiaomi)[Website Version] • “The Party’s Daily” ... 📱🔗纽约时报(Apple / Google)[Website Version] • NYTimes – Chinese Edition ... 📱 喜马拉雅FM 🆓(Apple / Xiaomi / APK)↓*↓ • Large collection of podcasts, comedy, eBooks, history and more. • Largest broadcasting “network” on the web. ... 📱 每天读点故事 ⚡👥 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Stories by (I assume) amateur writers. • Spoken in by storytellers with the original text available • Non-Audio stories also available. ... 📱 得到 ⚡👥🈸 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Collection of University level “classes” or rather thought provoking discussions. • Listen to books. ... 📱 普通话学习 📞⚡(Apple / Xiaomi) • 15k+ words, tongue twisters, and more with standard pronunciation. • Ability to test your own pronunciation, graded by PC. • Personal tutors available. • [More information in another thread + translated word sheets] ... 🔗 普通话学习网 💯 [website address] • Similar and sometimes overlapping content with above, but free. • Audio fragments downloadable • Want to learn 儿化音? Here is all the 儿化! ... 🔗 范文等等 [Many Links > Here is one (Just Google 范文大全 or similar) • These are model essays, speeches, letters, and above all CONTRACTS. • Want to avoid getting scammed in a contract? Why not read some examples beforehand? • Need some flowery language for a love-letter? Here are 1000 examples. • Do you want to join the Communist Party? ... Probably not, but reading other model essays won’t hurt! ... 🔗 草书字体转换器 [Placeholder Website] • Website that allows you to type in text and get it in cursive. • Though only a placeholder, I wish I could find a teaching resource for 草书 ... 🔗📱 📚 "国考" China's Civil Service Exam Study Materials [LINK TO THREAD] • A myriad of topis/questions that test whether the examinee's reading comprehension is up to standard. • Tests whether the examinee's language logic and if they can make direct connections between words and definitions. • Dubbed "HSK's Reading Exam on STEROIDS" ... I really can't recommend it often enough. [... I will keep updating this post in the foreseeable future. Please share anything you have. ..] → Pleco: By now you should have gotten used to using CN-CN dictionaries. Pleco offers both “Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian” ($50) and “Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian” ($20). Also, as a bonus, there is the “Duogongneng Chengyu Cidian” ($20) which offers a wealth of knowledge on Chinese idioms. → 喜马拉雅 FM: “Free” is only true for parts of certain broadcasts. While you don’t need to register, you will still need a Chinese phone number to buy courses and even link your WeChat to the app. 【Meaning behind the emoticons】 ↓*↓ Check bottom of post for extra comments. 📱 App on phone. 📚 Physical book. 📺 Television series. 🔗 Website address. 📞 Registering requires Chinese phone number. 👥 Registering requires WeChat authentication 🈸 Registering is possible with just an e-mail. ❔ [IF BLANK] Then just downloading is enough. 🔒 Region-Locked to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. 💯 Even if you wanted to pay they wouldn’t let you. 🆓 Standard (functional) version is free. Buying more content is optional. ⚡ Some free. You can slowly unlock content through use, but prohibitive. 💲 Requires an up-front purchase or monthly fee. Sometimes a demo is available. 🌄 Traditional Characters only AKA Taiwan or Hong Kong based.
  42. 10 points
    Just got my HSK 6 test results back. Up to 248 from 212 the first time I took it one year ago. Pretty proud since I spent close to zero time preparing for the test itself which surprising shows non-test language learning does transfer over to the test. Good to know. My writing was the lowest at 72, which, while disappointing, isn't much of a surprise. I don't use a lot of "fancy" chengyus and the like that tend to bump up the score. Mostly just happy I got a 90 on the listening which was previously a weaker skill for me. My reading of 86 is hard to assess because I never do the bingju and don't know how many I randomly got right. Still would rather invest time in consuming native content rather than just studying test content, however, I do think I would benefit from a more structured course in writing in Chinese for a variety of different specific situation and practicing adjusting tone/formality to the occasion.
  43. 10 points
    I just wanted to chime in and say good job with the product. The more resources there are the better! I don't understand why there's so much much flak when you're just announcing your product. You've not once said it's the only way to successfully learn Chinese, but it's another method people can use to learn. I've just subscribed to the YouTube channel and really enjoy the videos. It's great to have some good video production for a change. My feedback regarding the product is 1. the price and 2. the need to submit card details to get the free trial. I'd be more than willing to try if there was say a 7 day free trial without needing to submit card details, then it just expired after 7 days. If I was interested, I could then pay for the subscription. Regarding the price, with websites like Lynda.com being just £15 a month which has hundreds of different courses, it tough to spend $30 a month on just a Chinese course. I know there's the biannual option, but personally I don't purchase long subscriptions until I've used the product a while. Nonetheless, keep up the work. Take some of the comments with a pinch of salt, as some people seem to spend much more time criticising studying techniques than actually studying themselves.
  44. 10 points
    hi Phil, just looked at your website out of curiosity. You seem like genuinely a solid guy and best of luck with your website. From my perspective and I certainly have no axe to grind and wouldn't sign up as it only covers the basics but my initial impressions is 1. Its flashy, looks nice to use, ..... but its quite off putting in my view and too salesman like, for example you say on the web page "80% of Chinese in 3 months" That right, there is a big nono! It's just blatantly misleading. To anyone reading this, the claim in the youtube video (24mins in) knowing 600 characters and 1000 words does not allow you to understand 80%-90% Chinese nor anywhere near it! Its highly misleading. You will at the very best be trying to stumbling through a basic conversation in China, and will have no chance of picking up even the gist of native material. One will be mislead into thinking "oh I learned 80% in 3 months surely (t 3 hours a day) i can get an 15% in another 9 months and be near fluent." Not a chance! Comprehension, grammer, accents, speed of language, exposure and yes, passage of time (years) is vital to learn Chinese. The reason why thousands upon thousands of people have struggle for many years just to reach an acceptable level is not due to the fact that they used a bad technique, it is mostly due to that Chinese in reality takes that long and is a hard slog. That is the cold hard fact, there is no magic bullet. 2. The claim in your youtube video it's the "best way learn" and you have the science to prove it. It's a claim you cannot make chaps. For example, how do you actually know its the "best"? Ignoring the fact that people have different learning styles, you have no evidence to compare people who studied at university, mandarin pod, pimsleur, rosetta stone, self study, private teachers etc. You simply have no way of know as you don't have the data to analyse. Further by the very nature that your (excellent) website is just starting it is that you do not have this information to make such a claim 3. the idea that you can learn hundreds of characters in days or weeks is a claim made by so many people before you guys. The problem is, what about a year later, two years later. Also learning a hundred characters quickly cannot be linearly scalable to the sheer amount of words required to learn Chinese to an advanced level. These memory techniques may work well at the start but I do not believe they will work in the long term, especially with the actual amount of characters and words that are required. Maybe they do? The chap from Burma that learnt 105 characters in two days. He is the tale end of the distribution, mother language i presume Burmese which is closer to chinese than English, already speaks english and most importantly how many of these 105 will he know in a month? Again potentially misleading. 4. I think the reviewers posted here are genuine and very enthusiastic, posted in good faith, but how long are they studying chinese? Everyone is super enthusiastic at the start but will these be so glowing a year, two years later . It reminds me of reviews on amazon or taobao when people review a product a day after they bought it and gives it 5 stars. It's the review years later after the product has been tried and tested it are the vital ones 5. They say the have all bases covered and when talking about price they ditch the ideas of using tutors,. Well that comparison that cannot be made. Their software will not talk back to, correct your errors, speech, have a conversation with you etc I think over all, despite my reservations above there certainly is no harm trying it and just see how it goes. I think it's worth a shot at least. They offer a money back feature which is good to see. The course seems to be quite motivating to learners which is a big aspect Again its just one persons opinion on first look
  45. 10 points
    Dear Mr. Howell, My name is Ash Henson. I am the paleographic team for Outlier. OneEye is my friend and colleague. I have asked OneEye in the past not to call people out specifically like you were. The main reason for that is that I would much rather be doing anything productive than getting involved in online debates. I would also like to state my intentions from the get go. I'm not here to get into a long drawn out discussion. I'm going to answer your initial issue and then go back to doing productive work that needs to be done. There is no need for the aggressive tone. Let's keep to the facts. Having said all of that. Let's discuss the claim that you are clearly upset about, namely that your work is “fairly controversial.” Why is that not a fair claim? Are you saying that the majority of the scholars in the field accept your work? If they don't, then “controversial” isn't an unfair claim. OneEye even softened the claim by adding “fairly” to “controversial.” I'm not sure where the unfairness lies. Uncontroversial ideas: words or groups of words in Old Chinese seem to have both related sounds and meanings Even the most traditional scholars seem to admit that there are groups of words that are related both by meaning and phonology, e.g. pair of words that differing in the voicing of the initial, but have a slightly different meaning or differ in tone and have a slightly different meaning. Newer, more controversial ideas: there was affixation in Old Chinese. these suffixes, prefixes and possibly infixes bear meanings there are word groups based around a root word These ideas are accepted more readily by Western scholars and are rejected by most traditional minded Chinese scholars. See: Schuessler's Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese; Sagart's 1999 book “The Roots of Old Chinese”, 金理新2002《上古漢語音系 》&2005《上古漢語形態研究 》 2014 Baxter and Sagart book “Old Chinese: a New Reconstruction” Personally, I think there is a lot of evidence to support these ideas. I did a systematic study of the “state of the art” back in 2007 using the above mentioned books and some academic papers. However, this type of research is in it's early stages and though there is consensus on some of these affixes, there are a lot of different ideas floating around. Very controversial: I call it “very” because very few scholars accept these ideas and incorporate them into their work. all sound components in Chinese characters carry a meaning that there are phonesthemic tendencies in Old Chinese If you're claiming that phonesthemic tendencies in OC is uncontroversial, that is simply false. Having one scholar in 2007 mention that (and not make systematic use of it in his work) is not an indication of it being accepted by the scholarly world. Acceptance by the scholarly world would indicate that lots of mainstream scholars incorporate these ideas into their work. One person is not consensus. And, that one person is not making anywhere near as strong of a claim as you are. In fact, he said, "Occasionally, certain meanings were associated to certain sounds." That is a very weak claim. I would also to address a few claims made in this thread and why I think they are very likely to be spurious: In the process of making the Outlier dictionary, I've done a lot of analyses related to meaning. Due to the sparse evidence that you have deal with, I always find very specific claims to be doubtful. What do I mean by that? Take this claim from the current thread: CLAIM: in the dual-element characters 穴 兌 㡀 分, 八 conveys the concept “split right and left.” So, are there other words for “split top to bottom”? What about “split at a right angle?” Splitting can happen in any direction. What evidence are you basing this “right and left” claim on? Paleographically, there are issues here as well. 1. The 八 in 穴 is not “eight” or the form used to write “eight.” The original form differs graphically from what came to be 八. 2. 㡀 did not appear as an independent form until very late. The earliest forms of it appear in 敝. 八 does not appear in the earliest forms of 敝. 3. 分 actually does mean “split”, but where does the evidence for “right and left” come from? Does that mean that 分 cannot be used to indicate a top to bottom split? The ability of a theory to reject false positives is just as important as its ability to accept true positives. CLAIM: 氐 (originally signifying “press the low point or foundation of an object”) That definition doesn't make sense to me. There is a specific word for “pressing the low point of an object”? Really? Where does this come from? It's obviously over specified. According to 季旭昇, 氏 is a depiction of a mallet. 氐 is a related character, depicting a mallet striking something. It's very easy for me to believe that there was a word for “mallet” or “striking with a mallet”. It's very difficult for me to believe that there is a word for “press the low point or foundation of an object.” Maybe if I saw the evidence, it would be easier to believe. People inventing characters were trying to solve a simple, real-word problem. That is, coming up with a way to write a spoken word. And yes, sometimes these things are related. But, the claim that sound components are always meaning bearing or that there are phonesthemic tendencies in OC is a much stronger, more difficult to prove claim. If you are claiming that, then the burden of proof lies on you. The point of my response, however, is that the claim that your ideas are controversial is a true claim. In fact, they are much more controversial than OneEye said they were. If you are claiming that your work isn't controversial, please post a list of mainstream scholars making active use of your ideas or at the very least, supporting them. Schuessler doesn't count here either. He did not make the strong claims you are making nor did he systematically incorporate them into his work.
  46. 10 points
    Found one. It turns out breaking the chain was the best thing I’ve done in years. Keeping a chain was great for maybe the first year (2015), but it quickly became a chore. In the end I was keeping it up because I had to, not because I wanted to. This is not to say chains are bad — they’re not bad at all, if you respond to that type of motivation — but I was already motivated enough without building structural guilt into my study routine. I kept it up until it hit 1,500 days, just for the milestone, then shut it down and did no Chinese at all over the Christmas break. After a month I was ready to jump back in, and have been loving the hell out of it ever since. So now I’m focusing on what I like most: reading, character learning, grammar and online chats. I’ll get to listening and speaking later when I find my mojo. I’ve also booked a flight back to Taiwan, but this time I’ll put a lot less pressure on myself, and will take a completely different approach to language exchange. Last year’s visit was incredibly stressful, mainly due to the expectations I put on myself.
  47. 10 points
    That is beautiful. Not quite true. ;) Close, and an easy mistake to make! That part is 父作寳...用享. Here's the full transcription: 曼龏父作寶 盨用享孝宗 室用丐眉壽 子子孫孫永寶用 Note that I'm using characters readable to modern readers. If I were doing this for paleographers it would be a bit different (曼龏父乍寶盨用亯孝宗室用匄眉壽子々孫々永寶用). Translation: "Man Gong Fu made this Xu as an offering to ancestors and to pray for longevity. May my progeny treasure and use it forever." Some additional information: This is a very common, formulaic type of inscription for a Zhou era bronze vessel. These vessels were often made to commemorate something good or auspicious that happened, and/or (as in this case), to offer to their ancestors for good fortune, long life, etc. A Xu (盨) is a type of bronze vessel. But what you have isn't a Xu. It's a Ding (鼎) of some sort (another type of bronze vessel). It may be a Fangding (方鼎) as you said, but I'm not an expert on bronze vessels (my specialty is ancient scripts, not the artifacts themselves). This also isn't a Zhou bronze vessel. If it has genuinely been in your family for a hundred years as you say, it's most likely from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The decoration looks Qing-ish to me, but again I'm not a specialist. So it's probably a Qing copy of a Zhou-era style of bronze vessel with contemporary (Qing) decorations added, or it's inspired by the Zhou era (仿古 "pseudo-classical"), or something like that. You'd need to have it looked at by a specialist to be sure, and it's probably worth doing so. As for the inscription itself, whoever made the Ding probably copied it from some Xu they had access to. Or it was a copy of a copy (of a copy...). The characters themselves are correct, or very close to it, for the Zhou era, so it was probably copied directly from an authentic vessel, or from a good copy. The inscription could be Spring and Autumn (春秋), because I don't know of that particular variant of 壽 existing earlier than that (though it's possible). In researching this inscription, I found a recent post on reddit requesting a translation for the exact same inscription, but with slight cosmetic differences and on a different vessel. I also found a Sotheby's posting for a Qing era (they date it to the 1700s) pseudo-classical bronze (different style of vessel) with the same inscription. Possibly exactly the same inscription, meaning cast from the same mold, because they look identical to my eye (I'd need higher resolution photos of the Sotheby's piece to be sure). It sold for US$16,250 so yes, it may be worth getting this looked at by a specialist. This was fun. I haven't had a chance to do this sort of thing for a while.
  48. 10 points
    Here's the backstory to yesterday's recipe. (Link, in case you missed it: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/56622-spicy-green-peppers-and-mushrooms-香菇炒青椒/?tab=comments#comment-438182 ) Let me give you a look at my trip to the outdoor market for the ingredients. It's a look at my neighborhood wet market in early summer. It's also a daily-life taste of the non-tourist China. (As usual, you can click the photos to enlarge them.) It was clear that lots of people had the same idea at the same time because it was hard to find a place to park my bike outside the gate. As previously mentioned, rainy season has arrived, and we all rush out to do errands when we get a blue-sky sunny day. We have begun to see some wild mushrooms for sale, though not the abundance that will be here in a month. As business is slow, the vendor even has time to puff his Yunnan water pipe, lower right. Instead of buying wild ones today, I headed for the large table where they sell an assortment of cultivated mushrooms. The boss was having a reflective moment, contemplating the meaning of life. Next door, I bought a pile of dragon fruit 火龙果. They were being sold by the pile 一堆 instead of by weight. You couldn't sort through them, but my pile had 4 fruits for 10 Yuan, so I wasn't about to complain. These had been brought up from Vietnam. One of the glories of this market is the large assortment of fermented condiments, pickled vegetables and vibrant Yunnan spices. Look at the lovely long red pickled peppers in the photo lower right. They are not as hot as they look and make a great accompaniment to a roast chicken. Today I bought a chunk of lufu 油卤腐, a specialty of nearby Yuxi 玉溪。It's a rather strange salty and spicy fermented product, made from hairy tofu 毛豆腐 pickled in chilies and oil for several months. It's pungent and sort of stinky; reminiscent of Limburger cheese, great spread onto a fresh steamed bun baozi 包子。 Even better when spread on one of these steamed braided buns hua juan 花卷。Doubt it will ever be a hit with Joe Sixpack back in Texas. Here's the source of the peppers in yesterday's meal. They are abundant just now. I bought the green ones 青椒 or 青辣尖椒, but red ones are available too. They are moderately piquant, and sometimes I prefer small red bell peppers instead. Yunnan people love their peppers and one can find a couple dozen different kinds. I stopped to say hello to Mr. Gao, purveyor of edible flowers. I sometimes cook the large yellow ones, but never got around to making the photos to show you. They are very tasty, but require some extra work. Today he had a basket of perfect jumbo figs, bottom left corner of his display. I bought a few one day early last week; an experience to be long treasured; goodness they were sweet. One fills you up and makes the sun shine even at night. A few meters away, a cluster of people looked over the lettuce and cabbage. It was a popular spot: prices were low and quality was high. It was early in the day, and the place I usually buy roast duck was just gearing up for round two. They hang the birds to air dry for a while before rubbing them inside and out with spices. Then they put them into sealed clay ovens to roast slow. This produces the famous Yilaing roast duck 宜良烤鸭 for which this region is famous. It rivals those from Beijing. They are prized for their tender meat and their crispy skin 脆皮。 Next door someone was selling roast duck by the kilo. They were cheaper because they were prepared somewhere off premises. Competition was stiff and they had a bowl of free samples that you could spear with a toothpick. This middle-aged couple lingered there a long time, sampling steadily as if trying to make up their minds. They didn't fool me and they probably didn't fool the duck seller; eventually they moved on without making a purchase. At the bottom of the frame, lower right, notice the big metal pan of spicy Yunnan chicken feet. They are not for the faint of heart. By now it was time for a bowl of one of my favorite local specialties, silky tofu "flowers" on rice noodles with a pungent pickled vegetable sauce 豆花米线。Mine had a sprinkling of ground meat, although they make a meatless version as well. 7 Yuan for a medium serving. The boss was bouncing a baby on his knee. I asked if it was his grandson. "No, he is my neighbor's.” 他是隔壁的。In a couple minutes the mother came over from the stall next door to reclaim her happy little boy. On the way out with my trophies, I passed some zongzi 粽子 booths just getting cranked up. Dragon Boat festival 端午节 is on the horizon and will be here in less than two weeks. Zongzi made with Yunnan ham 云南宣威火腿 are very popular here. Made my way back to the street, passing some free lancers selling small items they had carried in by hand. Outside the market proper there are always several small mobile vendors selling just a few items. Doubt they are really making a living; more likely just supplementing their slim pensions. The old man had brought in some small dried fishes, carried in two baskets on either end of a bamboo shoulder pole 扛。 When people back home ask me about the "Real China," I never know quite what to say, then I think about places like this. Ten minutes by bicycle from my apartment.
  49. 9 points
    You can have Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁at the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet in the strip mall on the outskirts of Smalltown, Texas, USA. I know because I’ve eaten it there. Panda Express also dishes up a ton of it at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Concourse B. You can always count on it to form the cornerstone of an honest, solid meal. East or West. But if you start chasing it around Mainland China, you will quickly find that the name is the same wherever you go, but what the waitress delivers to your table definitely won’t be what you remembered having last week down the road a piece. It varies all over the map. More so than most popular dishes. Why is that? Gongbao jiding originated in Shandong during the latter Qing. Chicken and peanuts were both staples of Shandong Cuisine, which is also know as 鲁菜 lu cai. The Governor of Shandong Province 山东省 was a real aficionado of that particular taste combination; anecdote has it that he would even occasionally fiddle around with cooking it himself instead of just relegating the task to his staff. We are talking about Ding Baozhen 丁宝桢(1820年-1886年.) Shandong Governor Ding was originally from Guizhou 贵州省 and that is where he began his political career. When his relatives and friends from back home visited him at the Governor’s Mansion, he couldn’t wait to introduce them to his Shandong “find.” They were suitably impressed and carried the word back to Guizhou. The dish was quickly adapted to the local palate, and soon became a staple of Guizhou Cuisine 黔菜 (Qian Cai) as well. Guizhou loves hot food, so the fire quotient was ramped up. Guizhou also insists that sour be part of the flavor mix. That was accomplished by including pickled vegetables 泡菜。 In his later years, Ding was appointed governor of Sichuan. Not surprisingly, he took his culinary discovery with him. Once again it was modified for local tastes and to make use of prized local ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns, also known as prickly ash, a mouth-numbing member of the citrus family 花椒 huajiao. Today Gongbao jiding 宫保鸡丁 definitely belongs to the cannon of best-loved Sichuan Cuisine 川菜 chuancai. Ding continued to attract favorable national attention by revising the salt tax codes and by refurbishing the famous Dujiangyan Water Conservation System 都江堰水利工。In the course of his long career, Governor Ding caught the eye of the Qing Emperor in a positive way, and before long his favorite dish got picked up by the power elite in the northern capital city. It earned a proud place in Beijing Cuisine. So today your order of Gongbao Jiding 宫保鸡丁 can have many faces. Not to worry; they are all pretty darned good. I’ll show you one very decent recipe that’s not difficult to cook up at home, but I make no extravagant claims to it being the “one true way” or the “gold standard.” (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) The finished product and the vegetables. Start with the meat. Use two large chicken breasts if you plan to make enough for 3 or 4 people to share as part of a Chinese meal. I suggest buying fresh chicken, instead of frozen chicken breasts since they have more taste. The two I had today weighed 0.549 kg (a little over a pound.) I sliced them open first off so they wouldn’t be quite so thick, then proceeded to cut the meat into roughly one-inch cubes. 鸡丁 Safety tip: Put a folded piece of damp paper kitchen towel under the cutting board so it won’t scoot around. Marinate the cut chicken in a mixture of 1 beaten egg white 蛋清, ½ teaspoon cooking salt 食用盐, ½ teaspoon ground white pepper 白胡椒粉, 1 tablespoon of yellow cooking wine 料酒, and a heaping teaspoon of corn starch 玉米淀粉。Put on a disposable glove 一次性手套 and massage the seasonings into the meat. Let it marinate 腌制 in the fridge about 15 minutes. Notice that the marinade isn’t “soupy.” It coats the meat without much excess. Wipe a small amount of cooking oil around the inside of your wok and heat it with low flame. Put in a heaping teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns 花椒 and stir them until you start to smell their lemon-zest aroma. Take them out and let them cool. Meanwhile, cook a handful of peanuts 花生米 the same way. You want them to slowly toast, but not scorch or burn. Keep them moving over low flame for a couple minutes. They become crunchy as they cool, not while they are still hot. Crush the toasted Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or in a bowl with the back of a stout soup spoon. Toasting and crushing them like this greatly increases their flavor. Set them and the roasted peanuts aside, turning your attention to the vegetables. Cut the red bell pepper 红甜椒 into thumb-sized pieces and chop a cucumber 黄瓜 into cubes 丁that are about the same size as the chicken. If you are using long Chinese cucumbers as shown, no need to peel them. Cut the spring onion into rounds, using only the white part. Mince 切碎 a thumb of ginger 生姜 and a clove or two of garlic 大蒜。 Prepare a thickening sauce 勾芡酱 by putting a heaping teaspoon of corn starch and a half cup of water into a bowl. Stir well to dissolve. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar 白砂糖。Add a tablespoon of cooking wine 黄酒, a tablespoon of dark vinegar 老陈醋, a tablespoon of light soy sauce 生抽 and about a third as much dark soy sauce 老抽。Set aside. Prep finished, time now to cook. Get the chicken from the fridge, stir it up. I always like to lay out the ingredients and mentally rehearse what goes in first, what follows, and so on. I suppose you could even arrange all your “mis en place” dishes in time-sequence order if you were of a mind to. “Hot wok, cold oil” 热锅粮油。I realize you knew that. Preheat it before adding two or three tablespoons of cooking oil. I used corn oil today. Flame on medium 中火 instead of high. Chicken requires a different approach from pork or beef. Add the chicken in one layer, spreading it quickly with your chopsticks (not all mounded up in the center of the wok.) Leave it alone for a minute or so, allowing it to sear. Carefully scrape it up and turn it over, trying to minimize surface tearing. It should mostly have changed color from pink to white by now and have a little bit of golden crust. The goal for this first stage is to only cook it two-thirds or so; not completely done. Only takes two minutes max. Add the crushed Sichuan peppercorns and 4 or 5 dry red peppers 干辣椒。I usually just tear these peppers in half as I add them. Some people cut them into smaller bits with scissors. Stir everything well and then add the chopped cucumbers and red bell peppers. Add new ingredients to the center of the wok; that’s the hottest part. Then stir it all together. Give it a minute or so, allowing flavors to blend, stirring and flipping all the while 煸炒,翻炒。 Now the thickening sauce goes in, mixing it well because the solids will have settled in the bowl. Stir everything well for a minute or so until you see the chicken and vegetables developing an attractive sheen. Last of all, add the peanuts and incorporate them more or less evenly 拌均匀。You want the peanuts to have a very short cooking time so they will retain their crispy texture. Plate it up 装盘。Admire your handiwork. Snap a photo with your phone. Set it on the table. Call the team to come dig in. Gongbao jiding and steamed rice 蒸饭 are just about inseparable, so plan ahead and have some rice ready when the chicken comes off the stove. Took a little over half an hour today, maybe 45 minutes including clean up. I listened to the Sutherland - Pavarotti Turandot while working. London Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta. Although this is fun to make at home, it’s also an easy thing to order in a simple restaurant. Any random six-table Mom and Pop joint will be able to turn it out. I often supplement it with a clear green-leafy vegetable soup. 苦菜汤 kucai tang, for example, is easy to find and serves the purpose of turning this into a real meal: veggie, meat, and soup. Tasty and won’t break the bank. Try it soon and see what you think! Here's the recipe all in one place to make it easier to use: (Click "reveal hidden contents."
  50. 9 points
    These are my goals for 2020, as of now... Daily: 30 minutes reading time Deeply focus on at least 5 unknown new words 30 minutes active listening (active TV watching, LCTS, etc) Diary entry "Teach" my wife for 15 minutes per day (as long as she stays interested... this can just be a basic conversation together based on her vocabulary) Weekly: Continue at least 1 hour formal tutoring (online) Write a 500-1000 word essay At least two 30-minute conversations with language partners Yearly Read 6 novels At some point, begin a more serious study of Classical and Literary Chinese Thoughts?
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