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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 9 points
    My documents have finally arrived!!! Thank youu Got in BNU for masters scholarship. So it was the one from the CSC. Thank you guys for helping me in waiting for this 💗💗 @Abmens @Kimberly125 @Jabri Hi guys so I feel like I was part of the first batch that they submitted to CSC. You can try calling them on the phone to see if you got in, or if something is up for the second batch that they will release.
  5. 9 points
    Yaaayyy!!! I had this great news from tsinghua this morning
  6. 8 points
    This lovely stuff has been trickling onto the shelves since the middle of March. This year's crop is especially fine because it was a dry but not bitterly cold winter. In Yunnan, that makes for topnotch tea and lovers of fresh green tea have been eagerly awaiting it here in Kunming. Let me take you on a short tour to buy some. Then you can read about brewing it at home in this companion article: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58173-and-heres-how-it-brews-yunnan-spring-tea-2019/ . First score was a few days ago at a retail store not far from home where I often stop for a cup and occasionally buy. The new stuff is usually marked something like this, not difficult to notice or to decipher: (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) You will usually find two main types of early spring tea, as pictured here. The one on the left with the pink sign (早春绿茶 = early spring green tea) has leaves which are fluffy and open, sometimes called 毛峰 maofeng. The tea on the right, behind the orange sign saying "manager's recommendation" 店长推荐 has been rolled into balls and is sometimes called 碧螺春, which means "green snails of spring." Here are closeups of those two common types of early spring tea, before we go any farther. The unrolled tea on the left, and the rolled tea on the right. Both are delicious, but have differences. In the case of these two, the "open" maofeng 毛峰 was milder 清淡一点 than the rolled biluochun 碧螺春。That doesn't always hold true. Ask the seller to guide you. The boss's assistant brewed me some of the open leaf tea first, since it was supposed to be milder. Wanted to progress in my tasting from mild 淡 to stronger 浓一点。She first warmed the glass with boiling hot water and let it thoroughly heat. Poured out that water. Put enough tea into the bottom of a clear drinking glass (180 to 200 ml is suggested) and shook it around so it could heat and begin releasing some aroma. Passed me the glass so I could have a whiff. Very aromatic, floral and slightly grassy. Then she slow-poured hot water in a high stream into the tea to wake it up gently and not kill the flavor by scalding it. Swirled it around and gave the leaves time to expand. Poured it into a small pitcher 公道杯 through a strainer 滤网。From there into my small drinking cup 品茗杯,which only held enough brewed tea for two or three mouthfuls. The idea behind this is to not let the tea get tepid or cool like it might if she poured me a mug. The tea leaves greened up as she worked. I was asking questions she couldn't answer and the boss soon came over to help me himself. We progressed to one of his better biluochun teas, a little more expensive than the one on display in the big bin. It was also an early spring harvest, and from Youleshan 攸乐山 in Xishuangbanna Prefecture 西双版纳州。That is one of Yunnan's traditional six famous tea mountains, located deep down in the province between the Mekong River 澜沧江 and Laos 老挝。 Here's what I wound up with. Very tasty stuff. I'll show you how to brew it once I get back home. But for now, the adventure continues since I wanted to explore more exotic offerings in the wholesale tea market. Rode the Number 25 bus about 20 minutes to get to one of my favorite places in Kunming. I will use any excuse to go there and just poke around. All the shopkeepers welcome you in to taste their wares. It's easy to spend half a day giving your kidneys an Olympic workout. Kunming has several wholesale tea markets, but this one is easiest for me to reach and has become my favorite. It's the Xiongda Tea City 雄达茶城, located north of center in the 金买小区 Jinmai Quarter. About a thousand tea stores on the north side of the street, spanning two blocks, and slightly less on the other side of the road. Several ornate entrances, like this one. My strategy is to dive in pretty deep, getting away from the shops on the main road. Rent is higher out front, as are prices. I looked for the signs advertising spring tea, just like we saw earlier. Go in and ask the shopkeeper about his or her wares. An invitation to sample usually follows. There's never an obligation to buy and I don't think I've ever felt pressured. All these shops also sell cakes of Pu'er tea 普洱茶, in fact it's far and away their main draw. Today, however, I was intent on finding spring tea and didn't want to lose focus. Tried several of them at several different shops, always following the same basic procedure. Made sure to do plenty of smelling as well as drinking. Sample several steeps to see how the flavor develops. Swirl it around well in the mouth so it gets to reach all your taste buds. Pay attention to the after-taste 后感。Always look at a few of the leaves after the tea had been brewed. Leaf appearance and structure can be very revealing. The tea above left opened up very evenly after being brewed, showing what this merchant called “两呀,没有叶”。She was putting a spin on the truth, since actually this complex is one bud and one very small leaf. I didn't argue, just nodded. Tea of this type has a very subtle flavor. Above right is a picture of one of the "double shoot" teas beside a more standard configuration consisting of one bud and two small leaves. That tea, the darker one with two leaves and one bud, turned out to be one of my favorites and I bought a small bag of it, 100 grams. It was rich and full of the mountains from which it came, deep in a different part of 'Banna. (Pasha Village 帕莎村 in Menghai County 勐海县)。It was from old trees with deep roots 古树 over 200 years old. Those leaves were too large to brew well in a glass, and she used a gaiwan 盖碗 instead. I'll tell you more about it later. Don't want to get off track. Wound around a bit more, back in the bowels of the place, passing lots of signs offering spring tea. Shops are arranged on a maze of narrow lanes, barely wide enough to allow for a single small car. Customers cannot drive in, but a guard admitted vehicles belonging to the merchants or staff. Eventually had my limit of tea, so I wandered upstairs to look at teaware 茶具。Such a lot of beautiful pieces!. Dangerous; any pretensions I may have had towards a minimalist lifestyle are quickly out the window. This time I escaped with only a couple of small items. Some stores are basic and small; others are large, artistic and lavish. Finished up, trekked back down the stairs and onto the street. Caught the same bus back home. It had been a fruitful expedition. Here's a parting look at the 雄达 Tea City from the inside. In a few minutes, I'll show you how this new tea brewed up. (Don't want this post to get too long.) ---------------- Add: Here's a link to the thread about brewing it: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58173-and-heres-how-it-brews-yunnan-spring-tea-2019/?tab=comments#comment-451545
  7. 8 points
    The reason I ask this question is because last week my father asked me, and I couldn't come up with a convincing answer. I often hear expats complaining about China, and yet many of them have been here for over a decade and don't seem to have any plans of returning to their home countries any time soon. Many such complaints are not unfounded, and I too do my fair bit of moaning (I've you've seen my other posts you'd know I hate fireworks, noise and censorship) and yet again there must be something bigger that negates all the bad stuff because a decade has gone by and... here I still am! After reading through your replies and thinking about it for a while, I started to think that the question might be easier to answer if, instead of thinking of it not in terms of what I like about China, I turned it around and considered the things I miss about China when I'm back home. This lead me to the following main two reasons: Life doesn't feel stagnant: This could be just me, but my life in China has never felt stagnant, not one day. There's a prevalent sense of opportunity, maybe due to the fact that China is not yet fully developed, or perhaps the sheer size of the country and its population—either way, it oozes opportunity and excitement. Lower societal expectations: In China I don't need to meet my home country's societal demands and expectations and, being a foreigner, Chinese people tend to forgive me for not meeting theirs. Once the societal burden is removed, you are free to be yourself and focus on the things that really matter, and not the petty crap that drags you down and serves no real purpose. Other more specific reasons I can think of: Easier to meet new people: It's just really easy to strike up a conversation with just about anyone in China, both locals and expats, male or female, of any age, so I'm continuously meeting new people. That's just pretty awesome. Product availability: Though, at times, it can be challenging finding exactly what you want, it's almost guaranteed to be somewhere out there on Taobao or Jingdong. I also quite like the availability of engineering services such as 3D priting, PCB manufacturing, CNC milling, etc which costs relatively little money—great if you are a hobbyist. Convenience: Being able to do almost everything from my phone, from paying for my groceries, paying utility bills, booking travel tickets, calling a cab. Being able to just step outside and get stuff done without having to plan too much in advance (a lot of things in China are done impromptu). Cost of living: Being a frugal person, not having kids, knowing how to take good care of my health (at least I like to think so), not having a desire to own a home or a motor vehicle, being a devoted minimalist and worshipper of life's little pleasures more than, say, an obscenely expensive holiday and other material cr*p, I find in China I don't need to work as much as back home to make ends meet (in fact ends meet pretty effortlessly here) and still have loads of spare time to do the things I like. What's really interesting is the fact that I could tell you a thousand reasons why China sucks and still, overall, I quite like living in China. It's as though all the bad stuff and the good stuff combined adds up to something better, kind of like a dish where you don't like the individual ingredients but the finished product actually tastes alright. Chinese people tend to be quite tolerant to rule-bending and chaos, which one one hand gives rise to a whole host of annoyances, but on the other also encourages individuals to venture and explore without fear of crossing a line. Maybe my observations resonate with some of you.
  8. 8 points
    Hi, My name is Karen. I was a high school Chinese teacher in Ohio, USA for several years. Recently I created a website for people who are teaching or/and learning Chinese. I thought about using infographics to learn Chinese when I was a teacher because I found some of my students are visual learners. The infographic types of materials helped them tremendously. All the infographics in my website are free. I have made about 30 infographics so far. They are categorized to 3 groups, culture, grammar and vocabulary. The website is VividChinese.com. Culture infographics: https://vividchinese.com/category/infographics/culture/ Grammar infographics: https://vividchinese.com/category/infographics/grammar/ Vocabulary infographics: https://vividchinese.com/category/infographics/vocabulary/ Hope you find this website useful!
  9. 8 points
    I have resolved the issue in-country. Fortunately I had a trip to China coming up anyway. I bought a Chinese phone number at the airport (needed this anyway). Went to the bank with my three passports (two old ones and the current one), my bank card and my new phone number. It took an hour and a half to change the passport, the phone number and my PIN (which I had forgotten). By that time the higher-ups in the bank were concerned it really was still me, but fortunately it was. I still have a little money in that bank account, I have another week left here to decide whether to take it out or leave it in to use on Weixin. I attached the phone number to my Weixin account. This was not difficult, but unfortunately it was not enough for real-name registration. I don't know if I did something wrong or it's just not enough. I then added my bank card to my Weixin account. This worked. I received a few text messages with codes to verify that it was really me and my phone and my bank account. Fortunately, it still was really me, and then I was a verified user and I could finally join the big group I so badly wanted to join. Writing this update in case someone else ever has the same issue. It appears that coming to China is the only real solution.
  10. 8 points
    Just got a call from my university (Southwest University of Finance and Economics 西南财经大学) that they just received the list in the mail from CSC in Beijing and I'm on it! woohoooo! Good luck to everyone else still waiting I know its super painful but I guess CSC isn't yet technologically advanced enough to do this all by email
  11. 8 points
    CSC Scholarship results- EU window winners list http://www.chinamission.be/eng/zglx/P020180724644465444755.xls I am not on the list. That’s life. You win and you lose, the important is how good you stand up after every failure, ready to fight again with even more determination. That makes the difference. I leave the game with my head held high. Show must go on. Congratulations to all the winners and my best wishes for you. And good luck to whom is still waiting. 😉
  12. 7 points
    No pencil, no mouth, no food, no drawing a straight line. I'm not sure where that explanation came from, but it's simply not accurate. I'm going to oversimplify a bit here, but this is essentially what happened. There were originally two characters: and The one on the left is zuǒ (left hand), while the one on the right is yòu (right hand; now written 又). They look exactly alike, except for the direction they face. Over time, they started to resemble each other: (that's zuǒ, but you wouldn't know to look at it). So you have 𠂇 zuǒ and 𠂇 yòu. They look identical, but one is "left" and the other is "right." So how do you know which one you're looking at? You add a mark to distinguish them. Now you have 𠂇 zuǒ and 右 yòu. Note that in 右, 口 isn't "a mouth," but a distinguishing mark. But since 𠂇 can be "left" or "right," it's still a bit ambiguous. So it's really best to have a character used exclusively for "left," don't you think? Enter 左. It already existed, as a depiction of a "left" hand holding a tool (not a ruler, but a shovel-like tool of some sort), and it meant "to assist." They borrowed it to mean "left," and that's how we got to where we are today. All of this happened pretty early in the history of the writing system. Interesting tidbit: in Japanese and in traditional (not 繁體 but 傳統) stroke order rules, the 𠂇 in 左 and the 𠂇 in 右 are written with different stroke orders. That's due to the fact that they were originally different hands.
  13. 7 points
    It would be strange here in Kunming. People would wonder about your motives. Is he selling something? Is this a scam? What I do is talk to people about something that I'd genuinely like to know. Today at lunch in a small shop specializing in stewed chicken and noodles 卤鸡, I asked the boss what kind of chickens he uses for best results; what kind of chickens I should buy at the market if ever wanted to try and make his signature dish at home, like after leaving Kunming and returning to the US. Chatted back and forth with that as a starting point. Wasn't hard because I go there often and he's friendly; figured he would not mind. He's a very good cook, versatile and smart, but I figure he must get kind of bored, making the same two or three things over and over every day. And his conversation with the customers is usually along the lines of: "大碗,中碗,小碗?" Customer replies, "多少钱?" and then they wrap it up. Not a lot of mental stimulation in that exchange. He offered to show me how he makes it and he even offered to give me some stock that I could take home to use in stewing a chicken that I bought on my own. Pretty generous and helpful. But it probably wasn't great as language practice. His Mandarin has lots of Yunnan dialect mixed in and I was not speaking carefully. He was sitting at the cash register. All the customers in the shop stopped what they were doing and listened in to our conversation. The place became silent, all six tables.
  14. 7 points
  15. 6 points
    Well, I think I'd better speak up here because I have rather unusual qualifications on this topic. I am a white Western woman who met my Chinese husband when I was working in China, and we have been married now for 34 years. I would call it a successful marriage, though we did go through some rough patches related to his difficulty in finding jobs in the US. I don't remember any huge cultural differences at all around courtship and romance, except that he doesn't like to talk about his feelings much. Hah! I don't fit any of those criteria. I'm not beautiful, not petite and am not outgoing. I'm an intellectual and very adventurous, and it was those qualities that attracted my husband to me, I think. When we were dating, we most often talked about philosophical ideas. Maybe he's an outlier in Chinese society, but it appears he was looking for what we call in the West a "soulmate."
  16. 6 points
    There doesn’t appear to be a thread on this and I’ve found patchy reviews online (most reddit comments). Do you use spoonfed? How long have you used it? What’s your level? How do you use it? For example, I’ve seen some people set the cards to audio on the front and everything on the back. Any advice on starting to use it? Things you’d wish you had or hadn’t done. Any other tips? I think I’d like to start using it to combine with watching some TV. I’d like to know more about it and others experiences. @admin could you help take the relevant posts from this topic on textbooks and put them in here? There are 2-3.
  17. 6 points
    Just wanted to share a small step forward (big step for me) from today, as its been such a massive barrier I've been pushing against for a few months now. When I read Chinese, arabic numerals ALWAYS revert to English first, and I always have to then translate the English into Chinese. Its as if they are symbols specifically wired to English sounds in my brain, so different from characters, which only have a Chinese pronounciation. If the numbers are written out using characters I have no issue at all. Anyway, I was just reading a wikipedia article in English: "...The Eight-Nation Alliance, after being initially turned back, brought 20,000 armed troops to China, defeated the Imperial Army..." and then suddenly I realised, something felt different. I had unintentionally read the above sentence as: "...The Eight-Nation Alliance, after being initially turned back, brought 兩萬 armed troops to China, defeated the Imperial Army..." I mean, obviously my brain is making a mistake here. But wow, not only did I see the number and hear the Chinese first and not the English, but I automatically translated twenty-thousand to two-ten-thousand (ie. 兩萬"). I hate interpreting bigger numbers, its so counterintuitive. So to automatically and intuitively react in this way is a big encouragement. Change is coming! (chineseforums同學們加油!)
  18. 6 points
    Whatever the case, I think we can all agree it sounds like a terrible shirt.
  19. 6 points
    Here's a look at how this fresh tea brews up. (This article is a companion to one about shopping for spring tea. You can read that one here: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58172-hello-spring-tea-2019-早春茶/?tab=comments#comment-451546 .) It's the biluochun 碧螺春茶 from Youleshan Mountain 攸乐山 in deep south Xishuangbanna 西双版欸州。A two hundred-gram bag of it cost me 25 Yuan and will probably last me until the end of the year. This is plenty beaucoup cups of good tea. It's even enough that I can give a little to a good friend or two as well so they can try it at home themselves. (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) Biluochun 碧螺春 is the one below left, rolled into tidy little pearls. It's the one we will be using today. An open leaf maofeng 毛峰 from last year is shown below right for comparison. If you want one insider tip before surfing away to take care of other more pressing matters, it's this: Use a glass to brew these light green spring teas 早春绿茶。You get to enjoy the visual treat of the process along with the aroma and taste. Using that heavy old crockery teapot you inherited from Aunt Martha, the one with the tacky flowers, would be a crime against nature. You could get away with a gaiwan 盖碗 but a plain, clear glass of 180 to 200 ml capacity is the choice of the pros. Try it at least once and you'll see what a difference it makes. Fill the glass about half full with boiling water. Let it stand half a minute or so to allow the glass to get hot. Pour out that water. Drop the tea leaves into the glass and shake them around well. Smell the aroma; let the aroma sink in. Drinking tea is about pleasing the eye and the nose as well as the mouth. How much tea should I use? People who do this all day just drop it in by eye. I generally use enough to loosely cover the bottom of the glass, as shown above right. If you have a small scale, start with 5 grams the first time. Depending on factors having to do with how your tea was produced, you might need to use 4 grams or 6. Adjust it to taste after that first time. Either pour in hot water in a high, thin stream or put it into a small pitcher as a first step before adding it to the dry tea leaves. This lets it cool off a little. Water which is too hot will "kill" this delicate green tea and demolish its flavor. If in doubt, err on the side of less hot instead of too hot. Don't fill the glass completely full; that makes it difficult to handle without burning your fingers. Leave the top quarter or third empty. If your tap water is funky or full of chemicals, use some from a bottle. The tea masters say that "the leaves are father of the finished cup of tea, but water is the mother." Let the tea leave steep undisturbed until most of them fall to the bottom of the glass and you can see them expand. That takes less than a minute. It won't really hurt if you want to swirl the glass gently while reciting a Tang Dynasty poem. Just don't stir it madly with a spoon. It's also not a big deal if you can't wait and drink it a little too soon. It won't be the end of the world. The second brewing and the third will probably be better than the first one. These leaves are good for maybe 4 or 5 steeps before they become weak and insipid. Discard them and start over if you and your guests are still in a tea drinking mood. Pour it through a strainer 落网 into a small pitcher or beaker 公道杯 gongdaobei。You have warmed this ahead of time with plain hot water. Decant it straight away into your small drinking cup 品茗杯 and that of your guests. I'm sure you have pre-wamed these as well. Do lots of sniffing along the way. Be sure to smell the glass after you have poured off the tea. Smell the gongdaobei once it is emptied. Pass them around. This is my setup, above. It's a simple one but fine for two, three or even four people. A larger tea tray 茶盘 would be better for more. Even this small one has a drain hole where you attach a rubber hose to lead the spilled liquids away into a plastic discard pail on the floor. It's time now to play with the leaves. You don't need to be psychic. Spread some out on a plate and have a close look. The pickers just snap off the last little bit of new growth on the tea plant, usually one bud 一芽 and one or two leaves 两叶。They work fast but carefully, often getting their start in early morning just after a quick breakfast of porridge 稀饭/粥 with a fried egg on top. The work is made tough because in these far south Yunnan tea hills, pickers must stand on an incline all day, working their way through the bushes and small tea trees, most of them a little bit over head high. These aren't flat, well-groomed plantation fields like you see in the postcards. Notice that some of the leaves are darker than others. This is an indication that this tea has been processed by hand instead of by some computerized machine. The leaves have been hand-fried in a large hot wok that is set over a wood fire. This "kills the green" 杀青 and keeps the tea leaves from .oxidizing and turning brown. They are then roughly rubbed and rolled against an irregular pan in such a way as to break up inner cellular partitions a bit, releasing flavors that would not come to the fore if the leaves were left completely intact. These and the other steps involved in making this tea require experience and good judgment. It's an art. This light spring Yunnan biluochun tea 碧螺春 and its cousins will keep its charm pretty well for a year if stored away from direct sunlight. Put it into a cupboard where it isn't too hot. It doesn't actually "go bad" after a year in terms of becoming unsafe to drink; it just looses it's zip and becomes boring. Don't put it in the fridge. That doesn't work because as the refrigerator cycles, the tea gets damp and becomes musty, develops off flavors. If you can store it in a crockery jar or one made of clay, that's perfect. Best not to keep in the the plastic bag that came from the store. You can enjoy this tea art if you get on the next plane to Yunnan. Well, actually ladies and gentlemen, you can order some from your favorite purveyor by mail. Might not be quite as fresh as mine, but I'll bet it will still be real good. Refreshing plus all sorts of outrageous health benefits. Everything from curing cancer to weight loss and stopping the ageing process dead in it's tracks. Try it and see what you think. Warning: It's hard not to like it.
  20. 6 points
    If you enjoyed the big China-X course by the Harvard team of Prof. Peter Bol and Prof. William Kirby a couple years ago, here's another (smaller) one just starting. It's about the Tang. Lasts 15 weeks. Here is the official descriptive blurb: Here's a link for more information or to sign up: https://www.edx.org/course/china-part-3-cosmopolitan-tang-aristocratic-culture-2 I plan to take it.
  21. 6 points
    春發叔公敬啓者:     本人上月回鄉裏探親時,聞悉秀叔公由馬來西亞回來祖國唐山定居,藉此前去拜訪他老人家,詢問我親叔父亞財在海外生活等情形,得秀叔公詳細傳達。使我熱望之餘,謹煩勞叔公,爲您孫侄女之懇求,多費脣舌相助一是,敬乞叔公收到我的信,將情形轉告我叔父亞財明白,唐山有親女來信尋親望他要懷有唐山叔侄女觀念望他有音信給我,有機會時,要回來唐山省視親人,是天倫之樂也。   今將本人狀況敘述給叔公明白,以便轉述給我財叔父知之,諒他能接納耳。諒深有叔侄女之情。我的名字是炳娣,現年53歲了,我的父親名字是嚴定友,母親黃嬌,生下我姊妹倆。早年父母雙亡(我三歲時失父,九歲時失母),哥哥相繼在民國32年離世,使我成爲孤兒。深蒙水清叔把我撫養育作成人,婚後又遭波折,慘愧之餘,今於1974年婚以寶安坪山碧嶺大屋廖家生活,家有五口,耕田爲生,算是溫暖家庭,但生活不勝以人,三女同人打工,四男現年13歲正當求學,剛考入初中學校,負擔甚大,生活全靠我夫婦倆辛勤勞力維持。是所奉字,容後在敘,此致     順祝 福體安康         愚孫侄女嚴炳娣托         一九八八年十二月三日 回信地址 CHINE 中國廣東寶安坪山碧嶺大屋,嚴炳娣收。 (Trying to do genealogy without the ability to read? That's... tough. Google Translate is trained on modern Chinese corpus, not very good at handling this kind of text.)
  22. 6 points
    If you are recently arrived in China, you may have discovered that the vegetable section of many restaurant menus features hearty combinations with stick-to-your-ribs portions of meat and potatoes that overshadow the lighter veggies in the dish. Furthermore, these often arrive at your table swimming in oil. If you are puzzled regarding how to get some simple fresh vegetables in a restaurant, three approaches can help you out. The first is to just order a vegetable stir-fried alone, such as 清炒菠菜。This would get you a plate of plain sautéed spinach. The waitress might ask if you wanted them to add garlic, 加蒜泥。 Another method is to order a clear soup made with a green leafy vegetable. Example of that would be 苦菜汤, the unfortunate translation of which is “bitter sow thistle.” It’s usually just the named vegetable and water, boiled till tender, with perhaps a dash of oil and a pinch of salt. The third approach is to order a 凉拌 or cold dish, made with a vegetable and an oil-vinegar dressing or sauce. Even though the name says “cold,” these are usually served at room temperature and take the place of salad in a western meal more or less. Today I’ll show you how to make one of my summer favorites: long green beans and king oyster mushrooms 四季豆杏鲍菇凉拌。Simple flavors with a pleasant crunch. I sometimes eat it by itself as a light lunch topped with a hard-boiled egg, but it can also be a side dish for your dumplings/jiaozi 饺子 and your lamb kebabs 羊肉串。 These 四季豆 beans go by several names, much as they do in English, and are easy to find in supermarkets here as well as closer to the source. They should be fairly stiff and not limp; color should be a vibrant deep green. I buy mine at the wet market, where a large bunch, enough for two generous meals, sells for 2 or 3 Yuan. They are traditionally paired with king oyster mushrooms 杏鲍菇,but if you can't find these, the dish will work with other mild-flavored mushrooms just about as well. (You can click the photos to enlarge them.) King oyster mushrooms 杏鲍菇 are on the left. They often grow on the stumps of dead hardwood trees. They have an umami note as expected and a tender texture, often compared to abalone or ... well, better yet, about like oysters. Flavor is mild, sometimes with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Cut away and discard the base of any thick, woody stems. Brush off soil with a wet paper towel. It's not necessary to scrub or soak them. Chinese chefs find their texture is best if you tear them into strips or coarse shreds with your fingers instead of chopping them with a knife. This gives a more pleasant mouth feel 口感。 Wash the beans and cut off the stem end. These are about as long as my forearm, but they aren't tough or knobby. They don't have tough "strings" or "threads" on the margin like some other varieties.The peas inside the long pods are tender and immature. I slice them into 6 or 8 inch sections, cutting on a diagonal, but you could chop them straight across to save a few seconds if necessary. I've also finely chopped three or four cloves of garlic 大蒜 and a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger 生姜。Removed some of the seeds from three hot chilies and cut them into thin strips 切丝。 Blanch 焯 the mushrooms in a pot of lightly-salted boiling water for a minute or so. Lift them out with a strainer and drain their water 捞出、流干水粉。You will use the same pot of water in a minute to boil the beans, so don't discard it. Saute the chilies, garlic and ginger in a little oil. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry quickly, adding a conservative pinch of salt. They don't need to brown; you just want the flavor of the aromatics to develop and blend with that of the mushrooms. Scoop them out into a temporary holding pan 备用。 Boil the beans for 4 or 5 minutes, testing them frequently so as to stop the process when they just barely begin to get tender. Don't overcook them; better if they are al dente. Drain them and "shock" them quickly with ice water. This stops the cooking and also improves their color. Drain them well and toss them with the cooked mushrooms 拌匀。 Sauce the combined beans and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of olive oil 橄榄油, 1 tablespoon of aged vinegar 老陈醋, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce 生抽, half a teaspoon each of salt 食用盐 and sugar 白沙糖。 MSG 味精 1/4 teaspoon if you use it. (I do.) Toss everything together and allow the flavors to blend by putting it in the fridge for 20 or 30 minutes. It doesn't need to actually get cold. Best served at cool room temperature. It's easy to find this dish or some variation of it in simple neighborhood restaurants all over China. It's also pretty straight forward to make at home. Give it a try and see what you think. This kind of food works real well when the days are warm, such as now.
  23. 6 points
    @Dawei3Yes, it involves changes in the sound system and the spelling convention, not a simple matter of mishearing. But your example is not an appropriate one. The current Japanese pronunciation for 北京 (Beijing) is indeed Pekin (ペキン), but as is suggested by the use of katakana, it's actually of European origin, probably French, dating no further back than the Qing dynasty. The on-yomi or Sino-Japanese "sound" reading of 北京 is Hokkyō. When read Hokkyō, it refers to 京都 Kyōto, the former imperial capital for over a thousand years (794-1868), located to the north of 奈良 Nara the oldest capital. 東京 Tōkyō the new capital of course is "eastern" relative to Kyōto, not in any way a reference to the Chinese Empire. I know some Japanese. Allow me to elaborate a bit. As I mentioned previously, the reconstructed Middle Chinese pronunciation for 北京 is roughly */pək.kiɐŋ/ or Bekgiang if one insists on using pinyin. The reconstruction work is based on multiple sources: the good old rime books, transliterations of Buddhist sutra, various Chinese dialects, non-Sinitic languages in close contact with and heavily influenced by Chinese such as Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese. Faced with a massive influx of Chinese words, Japanese people had to find a way to deal with the novel sounds not found in their language, most notably the syllable-ending consonants -p, -t, -k and -m, -n, -ŋ. The plosives are easier. They just added a syllable with the "weakest" vowel so to speak, usually u or i. So 一 (MC */ʔit/, Yue jat1) became 'iti'; 六 (MC */liuk/, Yue luk6) became 'roku'; 十 (MC */dʑip/, Yue sap6) became 'zipu'. For the first two nasals -m and -n, they used -mu or -mi at first, but soon switched to -n following the invention of the last and very special kana ん/ン. (On a side note, two readings of the kanji 文, fumi (ふみ, 'epistle') and bun (ぶん, 'sentence'), could well be the same sound with different spellings.) As for the third nasal -ŋ, they did their best to emulate by adding a い or う to the preceding vowel. How it was originally pronounced, we have no idea; but apparently they were i and u respectively when they began to merge with the preceding vowel to form long vowels. (Japanese has a relatively simple syllable structure. Old Japanese had an even simpler one. All those 長音 (long vowel), 拗音 (consonant + glide + vowel), 促音 (double consonant), 撥音 (syllabic n) wouldn't exist if not for an effort to accommodate Chinese sounds.) Today the most common reading for 京 in Japanese is kyō (きょう). The old spelling or historical kana usage, however, is kiyau (きやう). The きや combination was used to represent kya before the new spelling convention きゃ was established after the World War II. Meanwhile, a sound change happening in Japanese has caused the vowel combination a + u to merge into a single long vowel ō long before the modern spelling reform. So although spelled kiyau, it was pronounced kyō anyway. (Once a loanword was absorbed into the language, it became part of the language and subject to its internal sound changes; the original sound, though, is often preserved in the old spelling.) Since -u was meant to represent the Chinese -ŋ, 'kyau' matches perfectly with the supposed Middle Chinese pronunciation */kiɐŋ/. Similarly the on-yomi of 東, tō < tou (とう, 漢音 or Sino-Japanese reading based on the pronunciation of the Tang dynasty) or tsū < tuu (つう, 呉音 or Sino-Japanese reading based on Wu dialect of the Northern and Southern dynasties), maps to the Middle Chinese pronunciation */tuŋ/. Armed with such knowledge, working backwards from Tōkyō, one can arrive at a pseudo-pinyin spelling of Donggiang. Compare Cantonese: Dung1ging1. By the way, there is another, less common reading kei (けい) for 京. It was either a /keŋ/ re-borrowed into Japanese at a later time, or the same /kiɐŋ/ but spelled differently, because there was no central authority to regulate how a Chinese sound was spelled using Japanese kana. Now let's turn to 北, Middle Chinese */pək/, Cantonese bak1, Japanese hoku (ほく). A little off, isn't it? Well, it has to do with the most radical sound change ever happened in Japanese, namely, to the は row. はひふへほ are now pronounced ha, hi, fu, he, ho. But add a dakuten (濁点, voiced mark), they become ばびぶべぼ ba, bi, bu, be, bo. It just doesn't make sense -- unless the unmarked ones were originally pronounced pa, pi, pu, pe, po, which is exactly the case. The p sound in Japanese is very unstable. It went through ɸ, h, (w), (∅) -- meaning in some cases disappeared altogether. In the first Japanese dictionary compiled by Europeans, the Japanese-Portuguese Dictionary or 日葡辞書 published in 1603, the は row was transcribe as fa, fi, fu, fe, fo. And there's evidence to suggest that the sound change had already begun in the 10th century, not too long after katakana and hiragana were invented. It's worth mentioning that the so-called handakuten (半濁点, semivoiced mark -- clearly a misnomer) was invented by the same Portuguese missionaries who compiled the dictionary. Before then, はひふへほ were pronounced either as fa, fi, fu, fe, fo when isolated or as (p)pa, (p)pi, (p)pu, (p)pe, (p)po when in double consonant position. (So this innovation seems a little bit unnecessary if we forget the fact that before the introduction of small っ in 1948, there was no reliable way for a non-native to tell whether a つ means double consonant or simply a normal tsu sound.) Now thanks to them, pa, pi, pu, pe, po are written differently with a small circle ぱぴぷぺぽ. Back to fa, fi, fu, fe, fo. They later went on to become ha, hi, fu, he, ho when word-initial and wa, i, u, e, o in other positions. The latter group are also written as わいうえお after the spelling reform to reflect the real pronunciation, i.e., いふ 'to say' becomes いう -- a historical p just poof, disappeared without a trace. Exceptions were made for particles は and へ, because particles are such an integral part of the language and they have no kanji representation, changing them would risk rendering all existing documents unreadable. That's why if you want to type konnichiwa in Japanese, you need to actually type ko-nn-ni-chi-ha. (It's shortened from 今日は(御機嫌いかがですか?) 'As for today, (how are you feeling?)') So modern Japanese hoku should correspond to a Middle Chinese /pok/. And hoku + kyō = hokkyō is because that's the correct Chinese way. Chinese -p, -t, -k are "unreleased", i.e. hold without burst, like the first t in the English word 'cattail'. The u sound in Japanese ([ɯ̟]) is already very weak, often devoiced to the point of near inaudible. When two plosives meet, it's quite easy for the the first to be assimilated into the second, producing a lengthened, single consonant. (This happened in other languages too, for example, Latin perfectus > Italian perfetto.) From a listener's point of view, it feels like the flow of sound is being clipped/cut off for a beat and then resumes. This "clipping off" is written in Japanese as っ. When converting to romaji, it means the consonant that follows must be doubled. To summarize: Middle Chinese 北 */pək/ and 京 */kiɐŋ/ were borrowed into Japanese, went through mutilation and evolution, and give us the final product Hokkyō. An interesting exercise: It is deducible from above, that from year 9xx to 16xx, p sound could not happen at the beginning of a Japanese word. In modern Japanese, anything beginning with a p must be a gairaigo (外来語) borrowed from European languages. Also deducible is that until very recently, there was no h sound in Japanese. So what about the Chinese words with an h sound? The answer is: they used k, a plosive at about the same position, to represent the Chinese h, which is a fricative. Therefore 海 Middle Chinese */xɒi/ = Cantonese hoi2 = Japanese kai (かい). This mispronounced k also follows the Japanese double consonant rules, e.g., 北海道 = hoku + kai + dō = Hokkaidō (ほっかいどう). And that's about it.
  24. 6 points
    If you’re Chinese, this is a familiar classic. Your mom made it for you once a week every summer from the time you were a tadpole until you finally went off to college. It was mandatory hot weather food. Bitter melon 苦瓜/kugua has myriad health virtues, chief among them is that it dispels excess internal heat. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, delivering them with relatively few calories. People striving to lose weight and adult-onset diabetics are always advised to eat plenty of it. For the rest of us it’s somewhat problematic; it seems foreigners either love it or hate it. Furthermore, you're not likely to find it at Panda Express. If you aren’t sure which camp you belong in, I would urge you to give it a try. Paired with beef like this and with the bite reduced through smart handling it has a lot going for it in the flavor department. You could try it first in a restaurant and if you think it’s a winner, then come back here for the “how to.” Ask for 苦瓜炒牛肉 (kugua chao niu rou) and you won't get any strange looks; the waiter might even think you're a local. Here's what this bad boy looks like in the wild, namely in the wilds of my neighborhood wet market. It will be less bitter if it's not too large and the bumps (called "teeth") are not too prominent. Light green is milder than dark green. After selecting a couple, head over to the beef lady with her sharp cleaver. Ask for a cut that's suitable to stir fry so you don't wind up with stew meat. Butchers in the local market are specialized: this one only purveys pork, that one only beef, and another one, flanked by woven bamboo coops, handles chicken, killing them to order right on the spot. (Remember, you can click these photos to enlarge them.) At home, you should start on the meat first, since it requires some time to marinate. Chinese beef can be tough, and restaurants all give it special handling. The Muslim restaurants 回族餐厅 are especially skilled at making it tender and delicious. But you can use some of their tricks in your own kitchen. First and foremost it needs to be properly cut. Sharpen your knife and work across the grain of the muscle 横着。When I remember in time, I put the meat in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes to firm it up and make it easier to handle. What I had today was a 320 gram piece of eye of round, a relatively tough and lean cut from the rump of the cow ("黄瓜条“). The grain of the muscle fibers is not well seen when viewed from above (left photo) but you can see how they slant in the right photo. This meant my cuts needed to be on an angle, as shown, instead of straight down. I was slicing as thin as I could, being deliberate about it. If you are pressed for time, shortcuts are possible, but tday I wanted to be sure to get it right, so I took the long, careful road. Put the meat in a bowl and sprinkled in a half teaspoon of baking soda 苏打粉。Added enough water to barely moisten it and massaged it with a gloved hand for half a minute or so. Let it stand 10 to 15 minutes, then washed it clean with potable water. This gets it ready for the main marinade, composed of 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce 耗油, one tablespoon each of Shaoxing cooking wine 黄酒 and sesame oil 香油, a half tablespoon each of light soy sauce 生抽 and dark soy sauce 老抽。Resist the urge to go nuts with the soy sauce or you won't be able to taste the beef itself. Put on another disposable glove and give it the second massage of the day. Let it stand 20 minutes or so on the kitchen counter, or up to an hour in the fridge. (The two marinade steps can be combined, but use less baking soda if you do it that way.) Move on to the beautiful melon. Cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Use your spoon to scrape away at least some of the white pith, since it has a very strong flavor. Cut it into uniform pieces that suit your fancy. If it's a small melon, I just cut straight across, but this one was larger so I cut on a rolling bias 切棍。 To reduce the bitterness, salt these cut melon pieces and let them stand about 10 minutes. Then blanch 焯 it all for a minute or so, straining it into an ice bath. If you prefer your dish to have more of a bite, like I do when I'm making it just for myself, omit either or both of these two steps. Strain the cooled melon and set it aside. Now it's time to quickly stir fry your marinated beef. But first add a teaspoon of the last-minute secret ingredient, 木薯粉/mushu fen/cassava powder. Mix well. Using high heat, preheat the wok and add two or three tablespoons of oil (beef tends to stick.) The meat needs to just barely cook, to still be slightly pink in the center in order to avoid becoming tough. This only takes a minute or so. Scoop it into a pan on the counter 备用 and rinse out your wok. Most people use a stiff bamboo brush for this step. A little more oil in the hot wok and quick fry part of an onion, some minced ginger and garlic. They don't need to brown; only need to begin releasing their aroma 爆香。 Add the bitter melon and fry quickly for a minute or two. You want the vegetable to become slightly soft but to still retain some of its crunch. Then add back the cooked meat. Cook it all together for a quick minute so the flavors can blend, adjust the seasoning. Shouldn't need much, if anything. Plate it up 装盘。 Serve with steamed rice. Some Chinese food can be made a few minutes ahead and served at close to room temperature without significant loss of its charm. This dish, however, really needs to be eaten hot from the wok. If I'm making several dishes for guests, this is the one I do last for that reason. Any discussion of bitter melon seems to include comments about how learning to "eat bitter" or 吃苦/chi ku early in life builds character and is essential to wisdom and virtue. I would certainly not want to argue with the sages, and simply present that as one more reason to try this fine dish without too much delay.
  25. 5 points
    She's around 50 and didn't take kindly to you sending random bits of Internet slang? Play social Russian roulette, you're going to get shot in the head now and then. I think there's a not-particularly-wise tendency for learners to reach for the slang on the assumption that it's authentic and how people really talk. And it is, but it's also hugely variable across age groups and class and place and has to be used with caution.
  26. 5 points
    I've never read the book before. My memories of 《城南舊事》 mainly involve the theme song of the 1982 film My Memories of Old Beijing. The song has a memorable tune and lyrics. 《城南舊事》 is a collection of five short stories:《惠安館》、《我們看海去》、《蘭姨娘》、《驢打滾兒》、《爸爸的花兒落了》. The stories are semi-autobiographical and in chronological order. Read together, they can be considered a novel — a novel that follows a little girl 林英子 around the south side of the old city during the years 1923-1929 and sees through her eyes the sometimes incomprehensible adult world. The book was first published in Taiwan in 1960. But I think it's fair to say the success of the mainland film adaptation brought renewed interest in the book, contributed to its popularity and helped cement its place as one of the 100 best Chinese novels of the 20th century. Today on the mainland, it's on the recommended reading list for primary school students; in Taiwan, 《爸爸的花兒落了》 is in high school textbook. (I tried to watch the film the other day but it was, ahem, cringy. It was 1982 after all. And some things are best left to imagination...) 林海音's style is simple and straightforward. No unnecessary long descriptive sentences. I think @Fred0 can agree (he has a related thread here), both the content and vocabulary are fairly accessible. The main hurdle seems to be dialectal and historical. I'll try to focus more on that respect. The geography: Old Beijing was a walled city in a "凸" shape (the 2nd Ring Road runs where the old city walls stood). The north side was 內城, the south side 外城. Three gates connected the inner and outer city: 正陽門 (colloquially known as 前門) in the middle, 崇文門 (哈德門) in the east, and 宣武門 (順治門) in the west. The inner city was inhabited by lords and princes, high officials and business magnates, leaving the outer or southern city to ordinary people. Lin and her family mainly lived in the southwest part around 宣武門外. About the editions: There are too many versions of the text. It took me a while to track down the source. For simplified edition, 人民文學出版社's is the best (ISBN 978-7-02-011259-3). For traditional edition, of course 爾雅出版社 as shown below. There's also an English edition Memories of Peking: South Side Stories translated by Nancy C. Ing 殷張蘭煕 and Chi Pang-yuan 齊邦媛. Here's a zip file that includes both simplified and traditional versions in txt format. I think some of Lin's essays and the foreword penned by the book's English translator are very good reading and very helpful in better understanding the book. chengnanjiushi.zip 《城南舊事》,林海音,爾雅出版社有限公司,一九六〇年七月初版,二〇一七年十月十日新五十七印,ISBN 978-957-9159-22-7 Difficulty: easy; Total characters: 56,344; Unique characters: 1,935; Unique words: 4,122 (counting only the 5 short stories) First chapter (4510 characters): Characters: 英子 Yīngzi – Narrator, 6-year-old girl who has just moved to Beijing from the South with her parents 宋媽 Sòng Mā – Nanny/housemaid 秀貞 Xiùzhēn – The Madwoman 瘋子 妞兒 Niūer – Yingzi's friend of the same age 小桂子 Xiǎo Guìzi – Xiuzhen's missing daughter 老王 Lǎo Wáng – Xiuzhen's father, janitor at the Hui'an Huiguan Other names: 惠安 Huì-ān – A county in Quanzhou 泉州, Fujian; the 館 in the title means 同鄉會館 or huiguan, essentially a hostel for fellow countrymen from the same county or province 順義 Shùnyì – A county 30 km northeast of Beijing; during the Beiyang government era (1914–1928), Shunyi was under the jurisdiction of 京兆地方 (Capital Area); when Beijing was demoted from national capital to a provincial city and renamed Beiping, the surrounding rural counties, including Sunyi, were redrawn into Hebei, hence the historically inaccurate mentioning of 河北省順義縣 in the foreword by Chi Pang-yuan; in the eyes of Yingzi's family, Song Ma is a "北京的老媽子/北京人", although even today people outside the urban/suburban area still say 上北京 when referring to the city proper 燕京大學 Yānjīng Dàxué – Yenching University, a Christian university founded in 1919; its first president was John Leighton Stuart, who later became the U.S. ambassador to China and whose Chinese name is well known to every Chinese person growing up in the People's Republic reading Mao Zedong's 《別了,司徒雷登》at school; Yenching University was dissolved in 1952, its departments absorbed by several universities, its scenic campus 燕園 taken over by Peking University (previously located in downtown Beijing at 沙灘, near 美術館 the National Art Museum) 騾馬市 Luómǎshì – A street in the southern part of present-day Xicheng 西城 District (formerly Xuanwu 宣武 District) between 虎坊橋 and 菜市口 (I used to ride through there every evening on my way back from work, stopping to buy kebab occasionally); the street got its name from the "mule & horse market" formed in the Ming dynasty and existed for centuries 佛照樓 Fuózhaòlóu – A Cantonese hotel, from what I can gather from the internet 魏染胡同 Wèirǎn Hútòng – A north-south running hutong between 騾馬市 in the south and 南柳巷 in the north; named after a dyehouse run by a Wei family 西草廠 Xīcǎochǎng – A street parallel to Luomashi; so named because it was where fodder was stockpiled for the Qing cavalry, and before that in the Yuan dynasty where reeds were grown and harvested to reinforce the mud city wall during rainy seasons 椿樹胡同 Chūnshù Hútòng – Where Yingzi lives; some celebrities in the literary and theatrical circles used to live there 海甸 Hǎidiàn – Old name of 海澱, administrative seat of the Haidian District; it was a swampland before the Yuan dynasty; 澱 means shallow water, e.g. 白洋澱 Baiyangdian in Hebei province 齊化門 Qíhuàmén – Old name of 朝陽門 Chaoyangmen; it used to be the southeast gate of the Yuan capital and got its name from 《周易》「齊乎巽,巽東南也」; the official name changed during the Ming dynasty but it was still known by its old name among the people in the early 20th century Variant characters: 牀/床 裏/裡 撢/撣 鷄/雞 響/響 駡/罵 秃/禿 吿/告 囘/回 爲/為 眞/真 敎/教 淸/清 楞/愣 靑/青 混身/渾身 偸/偷 擡/抬 吜/扭 朶/朵 葱/蔥 揷/插 簷/檐 Vocabulary and notes: 三屜桌 sāntìzhuō – three-drawer desk 雞毛撢子 jīmáo dǎnzi – feather duster made of chicken feathers attached to a bamboo stick (also 撣子) 絨褲褂 róng kùguà – sweat pants and sweat shirt (絨 = cloth with soft nap/pile, such as corduroy, flannel or velvet; 褲 = 褲子, 褂 = 褂子, but people no longer say 褲褂) 打噴嚏 dǎ pēntì pēnti – to sneeze (less commonly, 嚏噴 tìpen) 棉襖 miánǎo – cotton-padded jacket 篦子 bìzi – fine-toothed double-edged comb (one of the main functions was to remove lice from the hair, because of the poor hygiene conditions of the past) (as an aside, 篦 is bis in Korean, a piece of evidence supporting the theory that the departing tone 去聲 arose from the loss of Old Chinese -s suffix) 搽 chá or cā (also written as 擦) – to put (powder, ointment, etc.) on the skin, to apply 惠難館、灰娃館、飛安館 – I don't know Hokkien or Hakka, but the Shunyi accent is spot-on. In 北京官話懷承片, i.e. 密雲、順義、河北承德 including 灤平縣 where the local dialect is billed as "the most standard Putonghua", an n- initial is often present where Standard Mandarin uses zero initial, for example, 愛 -> 耐. 匾 biǎn – horizontal rectangular inscribed tablet hung over a door or on a wall (I like this definition, lol, what a mouthful) 做唔得 – 唔 (pronounced m or ng) is the 客家話 Hakka equivalent of 不. 做唔得 = 不可以 油鬆 yóusōng – sleek and lush (not to be confused with 油松 Chinese red pine, Pinus tabuliformis) 鴨蛋粉 yādànfěn – cosmetic face powder in oval shape (not made of duck eggs!) 八珍梅 bāzhēnméi – a kind of red bayberry preserves (made of 楊梅 yángméi, Myrica rubra) 井窩子 jǐngwōzi – 舊日北平賣水的人,於水井旁建屋聚居,人皆稱其處為「井窩子」。也稱為「水窩子」。 毛窩 máowō – cotton-padded shoes (=棉鞋) 劉海兒 liúhǎir – bangs/fringe (named after 劉海蟾, a Taoist immortal who wears his hair in bangs) 洋槐 yánghuái – black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia 烏鴉 wūyā – crow; raven (in Classical Chinese, 烏 = 鴉, 鴉 = 烏; the character 烏 is a pictograph – a bird with no eye, because it's black on black! and by extension it means the color black) 念叨 niàndao – to keep talking to oneself 打寒戰 dǎ hánzhàn hánzhan – to shiver (also 寒顫 hánzhan, 寒噤 hánjin) 溺尿 niào niào – to pee (note 溺 when pronounced nì means 'to drown') 被窩兒 bèiwōr – quilt folded to form a sleeping bag (the non-erhua but neutralized 被窩 bèiwo means 'bedding, bedclothes' – erhua and neutral tone in the north often serve a distinctive function differentiating, for example, 門道 méndao 'way of doing something, knack' from 門道 méndào 'doorway, gateway') 老媽子 lǎomāzi – older female servant 長班 chángbān – 隨身侍候官吏的僕人。《二刻拍案驚奇》卷一七:「杜子中見說聞俊卿來到,不勝之喜,忙差長班來接到下處。」《儒林外史》第七回:「長班傳進帖,周司業心裡疑惑,並沒有這個親戚。」也作「長隨」。 吱吱吜吜 – In all the dictionaries 吜 is pronounced chǒu, but I'm pretty sure what the author intended is zhīzhī-niūniū, which is usually written 吱吱扭扭. 一大枚 – a copper (即一個銅板、一個銅子兒) 淚坑兒 – Here Song Ma is channeling her inner physiognomist. She says Niuer, though pretty (俊 zùn), has a 薄命之相. Her eyes are too limpid, as if always brimming with water. She has two "tear puddles" under her eyes, referring to the dimples which Yingzi finds very attractive. 淚坑兒 will appear again and again in the story, foreshadowing the fate of the character. 吊嗓子 diào sǎngzi – 戲曲或歌唱表演者藉由清唱或在樂器伴奏下鍛鍊嗓音、唱腔。如:「她每天一早起來便到陽臺吊嗓子,勤練歌藝。」 (I guess the verb 吊 is used because you need to "lift" 拔高 your voice to a higher pitch?) 趕明兒 gǎnmíngr – literally 'until tomorrow' but usually means 'another day' or 'one of these days' depending on context 橫胡同 – I have no idea what it means. It seems from later description to be not a real hutong but an east-west running alleyway with no house opening into it. 揣手 chuāi//shǒu – to tuck each hand in the opposite sleeve 囘頭 huítóu – later ⇒ ⑤〔連〕不然;否則(用在祈使句後的句子開頭申述理由):小點兒聲兒,~把孩子吵醒了|快走吧,~要遲到了。 南蠻子 nánmánzi – barbarian from the south (Chinese is full of these kind of insults based on locality. The term 四夷, namely 东夷、南蛮、西戎、北狄, existed in the Zhou dynasty. Xiuzhen's mother uses it more affectionately with the diminutive 小 and 兒, but Yingzi is right, it's 罵人的話.) 腦門兒 nǎoménr – forehead 炕 kàng – heatable brick bed in northern China (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_bed-stove ) (when I was very little, I used to sit on 炕頭 the warmer end watching grandma baking pancakes) 活計 huóji – needlework 害臊 hài//sào – to feel ashamed (不害臊! = You've got no shame!) 納悶兒 nà//mènr – to feel puzzled, to be perplexed 檔子 dàngzi – measure word for affairs or matters (=件, but only combines with 事) 過家家兒 guò jiājiār – to play house (children's game) 敢情 gǎnqing – of course; indeed; really (那敢情好 = That'll be really wonderful!) 換洋火 huàn yánghuǒ – 洋火 is the old name for 火柴 matches. In old Beijing dialect, it's called 取燈兒. 換洋火兒的/ 換取燈兒的 were usually old women. People traded in their old newspapers, old clothes, etc. in exchange for matches. 如今晚兒 rújīnwǎnr – same as 如今 'now; nowadays' but with a more glib tone (you can hear it in a late Qing tune: https://3g.163.com/v/video/VF32CK9AQ.html) 明媒正娶 míngméi-zhèngqǔ – 舊時指有媒人說合,按傳統結婚儀式迎娶的婚姻。 (In those days, a formal marriage proposal must be made through a matchmaker, even if the two families knew each other for generations. It's the 規矩.) 有了 yǒule – euphemism for being pregnant 義地 yìdì – 舊時埋葬窮人的公共墓地,也指由私人或團體購置,專爲埋葬一般同鄉、團體成員及其家屬的墓地。 裹包裹包 – I always thought it was 裹吧裹吧, similar to 揉吧揉吧、團吧團吧, conveying a sense of casual indifference, but 裹包裹包 makes sense. In some mainland versions it's been changed to 包裹包裹, obviously by editors who do not speak the dialect. 城根兒底下 – at the foot of the city wall (The original meaning of 城 is city wall, or more specifically, the inner wall. 城 meaning city is a metonymic use. A city without walls cannot be called 城. Therefore “城鐵” is a misnomer.) 刨花 bàohuā – wood shavings (But why?) ☞ ② 以往民間特指從榆木鉋下的薄片,泡水有黏性,用這種水洗刷頭髮,可以光潔不亂。 So, a poor man's styling mousse. 老親嘍!我大媽娘家二舅屋裏的三姐算是瘋子她二媽 – We're very close! My father's eldest brother's wife's second brother's third daughter is Fengzi's father's second brother's wife! (Close indeed!)
  27. 5 points
    I think it helps to know how to ask for clarification. Some ways seem to work better than others. Through lots of trial and error, I have pretty much abandoned 听不懂 as a viable method. It often leads to the other party just giving up on that topic and moving on to something else. Or breaking off the conversation entirely. (I mean out on the street; not in a classroom.) "听不懂” is a complete dealbreaker. It pours a bucket of cold water over the whole project. 听不懂 comes across as something "flat-footed" and right out of a beginner's textbook. The other person unconsciously thinks, "Do I really want to be talking to this foreigner in the first place? Really?" Much better to say something like, "我不太明白你的意思" or maybe “请再说一遍" or "你刚才说的是。。。?“ or 慢一点吧。“ Sometimes an "upwards tone" grunt with mouth closed will suffice. Or almost anything else you can come up with besides "听不懂。” Those aren't as "hopeless." Those aren't as "final." Those aren't as "global."
  28. 5 points
    Yep. Confirmed, pretty much. What happens to me is that the person with whom I am talking starts out trying hard to use standard Putonghua, like they learned in school. They speak slowly and clearly. Easy to understand. Then after a few minutes they sort of forget I'm not their neighbor or cousin. They speed way up and slip into a heavily accented version of standard Chinese sprinkled with plenty of dialect. I have to wave time out and urge them to go back to the way they were talking three minutes ago. This is one way in which professional teachers are better than ordinary folks for language practice. Teachers tend to be able consciously maintain a type of speech suitable for conversing with foreigners or students. Ordinary folks cannot always do that. They unconsciously slip back into their most comfortable mode of speech. It's similar to how the foot massage guy will ease up if you say "轻一点师傅,疼了!“ ("Take it easy, that hurts!)" Then three or four minutes later he's back to his usual style of massage and you either have to just wince through it or get up and leave. Corrections don't last.
  29. 5 points
    Sometimes the ignorant presume to be experts. When I lived in China, sometimes Chinese people told me things about the west that were simply untrue. Most of these people had never been to the west. But rather than asking me if these things corresponded with my experience growing up in the west, they spoke as though they—not I—knew what the west was actually like, and argued with me if I disagreed. After I returned to the west from China, sometimes western people told me things about China that were simply untrue. Most of these people had never been to China. But rather than asking me if these things corresponded with my experience living in China, they spoke as though they—not I—knew what China was actually like, and argued with me if I disagreed.
  30. 5 points
    I can totally see that joke land well in China, I can see Chinese men (and some women even) make that joke, but not at the office water cooler. Another factor: if your Chinese is not great yet (no idea whether it is, can't tell from here), people will often have the impression that you're a bit naïve or not too smart, simply because you often don't understand the banter (too fast, too complicated Chinese). If you then say something intended as humourous, it might not come across as a joke because people don't expect a joke from earnest, slow-talking John Foreigner. And then the joke is interpreted as a straight remark, with all the attached misunderstandings.
  31. 5 points
    Viki (Rakuten Viki now) has a lot of new additions, total 210 drama series from China and 58 from Taiwan. They're licensed for viewers outside China, and availability varies for different countries. https://www.viki.com/explore Here are a few of the subtitled ones I'm partial to (but check the explore pages for more) Candle in the Tomb 鬼吹灯之精绝古城 https://www.viki.com/tv/31617c-candle-in-the-tomb With Learning Mode, try it out! Candle in the Tomb: The Weasel Grave (in progress) 鬼吹灯之黄皮子坟 https://www.viki.com/tv/35568c-candle-in-the-tomb-the-weasel-grave Story of Yanxi Palace (90 episodes, in progress, soon complete) 延禧攻略 https://www.viki.com/tv/36279c-story-of-yanxi-palace On a similar vein, Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace 87 episodes - complete 如懿传 https://www.viki.com/tv/36164c-ruyis-royal-love-in-the-palace The Three Heroes and Five Gallants (42 episodes, complete) 五鼠闹东京 https://www.viki.com/videos/1097037v-the-three-heroes-and-five-gallants-episode-1 Lots of kungfu and banter, and Kevin Yan is good as the Imperial Cat. Based on an oral story later written down during the Qing dynasty. I'm partial to it because I worked in the team, it was fun. For some reason, Chinese subs can be seen in the background - great! Secret of the Three Kingdoms (54 episodes, complete) 三国机密之潜龙在渊 https://www.viki.com/tv/35857c-secret-of-the-three-kingdoms The Deer and the Cauldron (50 episodes, complete) 鹿鼎记 https://www.viki.com/tv/34438c-the-deer-and-the-cauldron?q=deer and the The one I'll be watching because I just bought David Hawkes and John Mintford 4 3-volumes translation Ever Night (60 episodes, in progress) 将夜 https://www.viki.com/tv/36178c-ever-night?q=eternal This is one I'm working on, not quite sure what it is about because I came to the team late, but it has a cast of thousands, lots of adventures and lots of kungfu. Had good reviews. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9193596/
  32. 5 points
    I actually had a related thing happen. Ten years ago I had an unbelievably difficult family situation(my mum nailing doors shut and my dad disappearing for a year without contact, constant police contact) while at university and was also working through personal issues(being gay and evangelical Christian) too that was very stressful, my student advisor told me I should get a doctor referral for extension on coursework which I did however.. ten years on my doctor lost my medical notes but had some flag of mental health on her system and despite my protesting insisted on including this on my doctor reference. From her point of view I appreciate that she would want it noted in case I got sad being in an alien culture/being isolated, but since I am a generally happy person and have been for years I was quite annoyed about that. I did consider going to a private doctor to request a reference from someone who had no notes rather than incomplete notes but in the interest of time I just wanted to get it sorted. She basically ticked the anxiety/depression box and indicated that I had ‘talk therapy’ under mental health. But it ended up being okay I still got my visa. So I don’t think they will always disqualify people completely for mental health history. It’s also worth noting that the world health organisation estimates 1 in 4 people will be effected by mental health issues at some point in their life so it’s not like it is an even an uncommon thing. You can’t help some prejudice from an individual reading a report who thinks you are going to spiral somehow though.
  33. 5 points
    Hey everyone! Because I found OneEye and everyone else's NTNU advice so useful before coming to NTNU (and I know I'm not the only one, since this thread is linked all over the place), I decided to create an account and use this thread to give my own thoughts about 師大 from an Autumn 2018 perspective. A little bit about me I've been in Taiwan for two years, in fact Friday will be my two year anniversary! I spent the last two years teaching English in Toufen down the west coast (between Hsinchu and Miaoli, for the vast majority of you that have never heard of it) but I moved to Taipei a couple of weeks ago to study Chinese at NTNU. I spent the second year in Toufen driving up to Tsing Hua in Hsinchu every Tuesday and Thursday morning for Chinese class, but I wanted something more intense. My teacher at Tsing Hua advised me to go to NTNU, so here I am. My Chinese Level A quick word on my Chinese level. I arrived two years ago with nothing, and I started at Tsing Hua a year later with still next-to-nothing. I'm not amazing at self-studying - I learn best in a classroom and doing the homework and finding ways to practice speaking as much as possible. During my year at Tsing Hua, I finished the first 'Course in Contemporary Chinese' book so I can probably read and write 500 or so characters. My speaking is okay although I still struggle with the tones, and my listening is pretty poor. I find listening the hardest by far and I am doing my best to listen to as much as possible. I originally learned bopomofo on my own alongside pinyin, and I would highly recommend that to familiarise yourself with the sounds. If you don't learn bopomofo then I think it's hardest to get out of the English mindset. Applying to NTNU I was already in Taiwan so I don't think I could've applied for any of the usual scholarships. I did however apply for the internal MTC scholarship, but I was turned down. I guess it doesn't help that I was already in the country and coming anyway. The application process for me was very straightforward and fast since all the information is available on their website and I was already in the country. I was rejected for the scholarship but of course was still invited to enroll at the university. They sent me a letter with all the information I needed. Registration Although registration day was last week, I'm still not sure if I'll be doing the regular course (2 hours a day) or intensive course (3 hours a day.) I'd like to do intensive as I'd like to learn as fast as possible, but I can only study in the morning due to work and their morning slot is reserved for continuing students, aka 'non beginners.' Now while I'm not a beginner, I'm obviously not an NTNU student. If I can't do that intensive course then I'll do the regular 2 hour morning course. I'll find out if I can do the intensive course sometime over the next week. Registration is still very similar to what other posters have described. I turned up in the afternoon, waited a bit, was guided through the application process and then did a placement test. The teacher was very nice and spoke in clear Chinese. I guess my level is pretty simple - the start of the second textbook. I then filled in some details and collected my brand new student card. Everything was simple and completed in less than an hour. Accommodation My method for finding accommodation won't apply to everyone because I was already here, but I'll write about it anyway. I simply joined all the Facebook groups, replied to loads of posts and visited lots of places until I found one I liked - a shared flat near Taipower Building MRT. Lots of places looked very different in real life compared to the pictures - particularly in terms of size. I've seen suggestions that you should stay at a hostel/hotel when you arrive and then look for an apartment when you're here. I think this is a good idea because, as I said, places look very different from the pictures. ----------------------------------------------------- Aaaand that's where we are now. I plan to keep this thread updated with my own opinions on the school, classes and teaching. I - along with probably everybody else reading this thread - have heard very mixed views about the teachers at NTNU. While studying at Tsing Hua, my usual teacher was excellent and kept the class engaged in what seemed a fairly effortless way. She somehow managed to motivate everyone to do the homework and put in extra effort without looking like she was trying too hard. On the other hand, she was sick for a few weeks in the middle of the first term and we had a substitute teacher. She was most certainly NOT excellent and you could see the motivation and spirit level drop around the classroom. She spent a lot of time getting us to memorise dialogues and she didn't explain things well. Apparently she's an experienced teacher too. It just shows that you get good and bad teachers everywhere. 加油.
  34. 5 points
    off the top of my head: 老婆 - normal, colloquial, usually with familiar people 妻子 - normal, usually in more formal situations, although is fine in normal conversation too 太太 - infrequent, formal, in official situations where 先生 would also be appropriate. For example, at a bank or a police station 'who is that?' 'oh thats my 太太' is fine 愛人 - normal, used similar to 'my partner' in English (nb. not the same as 'lover' in English) 夥計 - really colloquial, I mean, if you want to make people laugh, its like 'the missus' in british english 媳婦(兒)- sometimes normal, sometimes condescending/derogatory, can sometimes have the connotation along the lines of 'my wife (that I own)' around here. 夫人 - very polite, sometimes too formal, I have rarely if ever used this, but have heard others refer to my wife with this word once or twice before to sum up, I just use 老婆 as a catch all, 妻子 in slightly more formal situations.
  35. 5 points
    Get pleco and buy a good chinese-english dictionary add on like ABC. When you type in a character, eg. 生 you can go to the 'words' tab and see how it appears in different words representing different meanings.
  36. 5 points
    What you might find is that the problem isn't with the tones as much as it is with the phrasing, the speech rhythm and its contours. I don't consider my own speech all that good, but the criticism I most often get here in Kunming is "When are you going to stop sounding like a 外地人 and learn to use 昆明话 like the rest of us?" Using good, standard 普通话 here just makes you sound strange. (But it's something which is readily forgiven most of the time.)
  37. 4 points
    I remember in the past getting frustrated by how I heard quite a few 2nd tones as 3rd tones. I think I've worked out why it used to bother me -- and though may well be common knowledge, I thought I'd put it up here. I just heard 原谅 yuánliàng and although I know that yuán is 2nd tone, I was sure I heard a dip at the start. Someone who knows about linguistics and Chinese pronunciation may be able to confirm that [yuán] is a dipthong which begins with a [yu] glide. I think I'm right in saying that the "rising-tone" isn't expressed until the [an] part of [yuán]. And if the [yu] part of [yuán] isn't rising - and perhaps even falls - it can cause the whole [yuán] to sound like something that isn't a 2nd tone, but one that first falls and then rises. (Or maybe it's that the [y] has a sound that dips and the [uan] rises - I don't know much about linguistics... but I think it's less critical than that one sound goes down and the next one goes up.) I'll attach an audio of the brief sentence, the word, and a pic of praat's analysis of the tones of the single word yuánliàng (with the [liàng] in the red-shaded section). Does anyone else hear it the way I described? sentence sentence.mp3 yuánliàng yuanliang.mp3
  38. 4 points
    This is great advice. I often talk with friends while exercising and I don't write new words down, but I should. I do lots of passive listening, i.e., to Chinesepod, while doing chores & other things. However, as several have noted, this is just minimally effective. However, it's better than zero; I find that if later a friend teaches me something I've heard on a Chinesepod lesson, I tend to retain it better. For the difference between active & passive learning, I love the following quote: "A man may hear a 1000 lectures and read a 1000 volumes, and be at the end of the process very much where he was, as regards knowledge. Something more than merely admitting it in a negative way into the mind is necessary, if it is to remain there. It must not be passively received, but actually and actively entered into, embraced, mastered. The mind must go half-way to meet what comes to it from without." John Henry Newman, (1852) The Idea of a University (English prelate and theologian) While Newman was talking about learning in general, what he said is particularly applicable to language learning (and supports the theme in many/most of the posted comments).
  39. 4 points
    Platform(s): PC / Mac OS X Where to buy: here System Requirements: OS: Windows 7 64-bit, Processor: Intel Core i3 6100 or AMD FX-4350, Memory: 4 GB RAM, Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GT 1030, 2GB (Legacy: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460), AMD RX550, 2GB (Legacy: AMD Radeon HD 6850), Integrated: Intel HD Graphics 630, DirectX: Version 11, Storage: 5 GB available space Release Date: 30 Aug 2018 Languages: English and Chinese (both text and audio), French, Italian, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish (text only) Chinese Level Required: intermediate/upper intermediate Proportion of play time where you'll be using Chinese: High (lots of text-based resource management, plus plenty of audio) Specific/specialised Vocab Learned: Medical This game is a spiritual successor to the popular mid-90s sim Theme Hospital. Your job is to build and maintain hospitals in a variety of challenging environments. It takes a pretty cynical view on private healthcare, and the main aim of the game is to make money rather than cure patients. A game centred around illness could get a little depressing, so the developers have created their own humorous diseases and cures. You'll be dealing with illnesses such as Freddie Mercury Sickness rather than the common cold: Despite the relatively low system requirements, my laptop still isn't quite up to running it, but a fellow forum member, @markhavemann, has played the game and was kind enough to leave the following review:
  40. 4 points
    "So cool!" "That's amazing!" "Awesome!" "Wow!" And of course, the ever-present "Yeah!" None of these are exactly the same as 好玩, but they're used in the same way to express the same feelings. It's arbitrary. Next topic: Why do Westerners say "Oh my God!" all the time? Is it because they are especially religious? Perhaps this has something to do with the Reformation?
  41. 4 points
    Yes, 梅根 is the standard transliteration, e.g. for Meghan Markle. But the situation is a bit different. Our client has a Chinese surname. 何梅根 doesn't sound like a Chinese name. Also three level tones in a row is not very pleasing to the ear. I agree 何美安 sounds the best. 梅根 and 美根 are okay. Just don't choose 美感. It's an existing word. A quite common one actually. Putting a 何 in front of it would make the full name sound like a rhetorical question. It negates any 美感 you could possibly have.
  42. 4 points
    Another mooc. Sorry, they keep on coming! I remember there was a discussion about standard pronunciation and standard putonghua a few months ago, this mooc seems very relevant. It starts on 18 December. 普通话实训与测试 Mandarin Training and Testing Sichuan University (good place to learn 普通话). Instructor: 朱姝 Zhu Shu https://www.icourse163.org/course/SCU-1003501002 It is for Chinese students with high school level as a minimum and it looks like it doesn't have subtitles. People who don't understand the trailer may struggle to keep up with the lectures. I'd advice doing at least the phonetics parts of 魅力汉语 (Charming Chinese) first: https://www.icourse163.org/course/HZAU-1001741023 On an aside note, how can they possibly say 普通话 is 中国人的“母语??? At best it would be their stepmother. The more they try, the more I like 方言
  43. 4 points
    That is called 四人歸西 and is a taboo for some superstitious people. 歸西 (going/returning west) is a euphemism for death based on the Buddhist idea of heaven in the west.
  44. 4 points
    Since you are a beginner, I suggest you watch children's videos in Chinese. These videos might be a bit boring, but they are great ear-training. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY3Xz5Q532o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM_QSDCjHKY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpseCxt5Wkk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7vP9EYCYsA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSkZsh3sl8c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_GQPMqJR30 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0lTEAPVkbA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUDt4vyCOfo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoulIKjl09w https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx9OhgVxxyE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeQhpeNgM68 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlYuykVFYNo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-BaeRspg9U https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0eT6dA3vDo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw8GIf7KYLY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s96iyEYcPo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7iaXVgk1xk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsz99rmn-P4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jojGGiCvplM (When you move past the beginner level, I have higher-level videos I can also recommend.)
  45. 4 points
    When I was in Suzhou earlier this year there were signs all over the place reminding people of "manners", including this fairly comprehensive one in the metro: Also spotted this one in the (fake-German) Paulaner bierhaus in Nanjing, over a plastic dustbin, and wasn't entirely sure what to make of it: ...is 醒酒桶 actually a thing? (Sobering-up bucket?)
  46. 4 points
    For years I never considered a HSK exam, however recently I decided to take HSK 5, mainly for two reasons 1) It helps with my work visa (extra points) 2) A rough guide as to where I am with my learning ( see * below for my definition) I have gone through both of the official Hanban HSK books 《Standard Course HSK 5 上 and 下》 twice. I have every word in myflash decks. Interestly there are a LOT more extra words appearing in the book that don't appear in the HSK exam. I am somewhat fastidious in my Chinese approach so record ever single word in ANKI that I come across in the text books and word books. In the text books there are about an extra 900 - 1000 words that are outside the HSK 5 list. The workbooks are very surprising. The first 11 chapters have, on average 50-60 words per chapter that don't appear in this 3500 vocabulary (2500 hsk 5 + EXTRA 1000) in the work book. Hence at this rate there would be approx a further 2000 words appearing in the workbook. I haven't see the actual mock exam yet but I am somewhat pessimistic about the HSK prep material. I can't really say i am learning anything much apart from blagging it and improving exam technique. All the workbook chapter sections I can generally pass but truthfully I barely got the gist of the passages . For example I just read a story about some old timer who makes something, retires, wants to take something home with him as a memento but his boss says no. I got all 4 questions right. Yet I have no idea why the boss said no, what he wants to take home nor what he actually does as a career. Turns it he is a Jade sculpture, make dragons, boats etc and what's a big old lump of jade and the boss has a surprise for him in a lovely old wooden box. So you as a listener would you be happy with me retelling that story half assed? If this was the case with the exam I wouldn't hold much faith in a stated ability of a HSK 5 level. Maybe the exam passages are easier. I learn chinese to be able to understand the language and be confident that I know the passage. I want to understand what i am hearing not just blag my way through it or give a pretence of knowing Chinese at a stated HSK 5 ability My views may change when I practice the mock exams or take the real exam. As regards the actual exam I will take it when I feel like I can genuinely understand more than 85% of the mock exam texts (see * above). Whatever mark I obtain from that, so be it. It's not useful for my career, nor living in China for that matter. This approach is not optimal for someone whose aim is primarily to obtain "HSK Level X" As regards HSK v real life here in China, I think up to HSK 4 is fairly well correlated but after that the distinction starts to present itself. My ANKi decks contain 8000+ words , of which I know about 5 - 6k. However around 1500 of these words have just come from everyday stuff like shopping, hanging out with friends, wechat posts, tv etc Some of the words on this list I use far more frequently that that on HSK list.
  47. 4 points
    Getting better but still a long way behind western countries. Everything seems to get classified under one broad heading of "mental health" issues with no real concern about how to diagnose it properly. My friends wife has some pretty serious mental health problems and she found that here in Beijing hospitals just weren't interested and simply prescribed some run of the mill drug like an antidepressant. As regards attitude, I think younger people are more accepting that it's a proper and potentially serious illness. However unfortunately there still is a strong stigma attached to it and many people still reluctant to admit it or feel ashamed to talk to people about it.
  48. 4 points
    That doesn't sound right. Either remove 人 or add another character before 人. Aha, I see! It's not 人. It's 儿. You know 儿化 right? 一点儿 yīdiǎnr = 一点 = a little, a bit
  49. 4 points
    Yeah, this is definitely a major stumbling block for me, my speech rhythm is often still off. Stupid example, but good nonetheless: went to a water park two days ago and there was a big slide called '大喇叭', it was a huge slide with a conical trumpet shaped end which you spin round before dropping into the water. I said 大喇叭好刺激 and the girl next to me did her best 外國人 impression of what I'd just said. All my tones were right, got the name right and all. but yeah, I found out I had said 大喇叭 when everyone else was saying 大喇叭. So frustrating, but yeah, still wrong. As for the dialect thing, I can actually say quite a bit in the local dialect here now because of long term exposure with my wife and her family. But outside the house I just dont, it causes so much attention and people dont seem to actually listen to what Im actually saying. I'm obviously still in the formative stages, so its a bit like when we all first started mandarin and everyones constantly coming over to listen to your weird attempts at butchering their language. Don't know if youve had the same experience with 昆明話?
  50. 4 points
    There seem to be only a few people who post here irregularly, but maybe starting it up again will encourage my fellow intermediates to come out of the woodwork. Come update! This week I have: 1) done my Pleco flashcards (from vocab encountered in reading) every day. I recently tweaked the parameters so I'm seeing cards more often, and even though this increases my number of reviews, I feel like I'm retaining the words much better. 2) read from my book every day. This is a little more iffy, as some days I've done it right before bed and have been literally falling asleep, therefore meaning I haven't actually done a lot of reading on those days (like <10 minutes). I had one really good day where I read 30-45minutes in the library, which was very cool! I'm going to try to move my reading earlier in the day to encourage better habits. 3) I've started watching Chinese TV again! I was watching 归去来, but it was getting too overdramatic a few episodes in for me to have the stamina to watch the whole thing. I've since started watching 漂亮的李慧珍, which is a lot more fun and enjoyable (and the language is a little easier as well). This has been cool, because some of the vocab and chengyu I'm learning from my book are popping up in the TV show, even though they're on very different subjects. It really makes me feel like learning the vocab is worthwhile (and helps me remember it better, ofc). So even though I'm not doing transcripts or making flashcards from the show or anything, I still feel like it's helpful for my learning. That's all for me this week!
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