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Showing content with the highest reputation on 10/28/2019 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    This week I finished reading the Holy Bible in Chinese. The version that I read (新译本) contains 1,055,606 Chinese characters. I started it several years ago, and finished the last third of the book (some 315,144 characters) this year. The Bible is an epic millennia-spanning multi-genre story about God and his people. In addition to God himself, its major themes include worship, law and commandment, righteousness and wickedness, love, obedience and faithfulness, judgement, death and resurrection, covenant, conquest, sacrifice, salvation, social order, war, mission, hope, and more. The Bible’s genres include long theological histories of Israel and the Christian church, letters of exhortation and rebuke, philosophical writings, prophecies, proverbs, and songs. The narrative sweep of the Bible is considerable. It covers the creation of the world, the rise and fall of its kingdoms, the end of all things. Its narrative structure is cyclical and complex. Certain events, figures, and themes in the narrative are recapitulated again and again, in different places and under different names and circumstances. The Bible contains perhaps the most surprising third act ever written. After the people of God are judged for their idolatry and cast into exile, and the remnant are waiting in eschatological anticipation of a promised king, the object of worship and apparent author of the text itself comes into the narrative in a new and unexpected way that transfigures everything that has happened in the story up to that point, and will happen after. The Bible is an impressive and powerful book. I recommend it. The 新译本 is one of the more accessible Chinese translations out there. Unfortunately, it is stylistically flat. (Its closest English equivalent is probably the NIV.) The 和合本 is more literal, literary, and majestic by comparison. Translated early in the 20th century, the 和合本 remains the most popular Chinese translation of the Bible today (by far), although its language is older and more difficult. Finishing the Bible puts me within striking distance of my 1,000,000-character goal for the year. Currently I am reading a collection of short stories by 老舍. I expect to complete that book—and my New Year’s Resolution—in the next couple weeks. Link to《圣经》(新译本) http://www.godcom.net/xinyiben/index.htm Some statistics: Characters read this year: 917,282 Characters left to read this year: 82,718 Percent of goal completed: 91.7% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters) 《圣经》 (新译本) (1,055,606 characters; 315,144 read in 2019)
  2. 2 points
    Yeah, that. I sound so fluent and extremely competent in everyday situations, and then I try to do something two centimeters outside my comfort zone and it all crumbles.
  3. 2 points
    Exactly this! And also I always felt like foreign students of Chinese are just compared to other foreign students of Chinese. Whereas if you’re learning another language (like Spanish or something) you’re usually held to native speaker standards. You’ll be measured and compared to a native speaker. A lot of students also buy into this (consciously or not). People often misinterpret my relative fluency for having “advanced” Chinese. It’s just I’ve lived here for 10 years and most daily life Chinese stuff I’ve said hundreds or thousands of times. Imagine how many times I’ve ordered a meal in that decade. That’s a lot of practice. I’m probably intermediate by current inflated standards.
  4. 2 points
    I'd ask if my students are likely to ever need to have a simple daily conversation. Many students of English in China are preparing for exams and have little concern about anything else. If that's what you've been hired to do, and that's what the students want... This is a very old chestnut. If you've found yourself teaching a roomful of Chinese toddlers, go for it. If not, bear in mind your students do have valuable skills three-year-olds don't, but they don't have a decade of brain-plasticity to work with. The way you're approaching it *might* work, in the right hands. It also looks suspiciously like what many unqualified teachers end up doing because they have no idea of how to approach the job systematically.
  5. 2 points
    It's almost as if this whole idea of "Chinese fluency" has a long tradition of foreigners overselling their actual capabilities. It's almost as if the majority of "fluent in Chinese" foreigners have a hard time reading a newspaper.
  6. 1 point
    (Apologies in advance for the following nerdy response that incorporates material I wisely excised from my original review.) Yes and no. Obviously there is a huge plot twist near the beginning of the New Testament. And there are important genre differences between the New Testament and the Old Testament. Paul’s Greek epistles, for example, do not appear to have any Hebrew counterparts, at least not in terms of genre. But there are also major literary similarities between the OT and NT. Jesus gets extended treatment at the beginning of the NT. So did Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Elijah in the OT. Jesus’s story is told more than once, from different and sometimes conflicting perspectives (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). So is the story of the kingdom of Judah (in Kings and Chronicles). The prologue of John’s gospel is a recapitulation of the opening of Genesis. Acts is a recapitulation of Joshua. Revelation is a recapitulation of Ezekiel and other prophetic books (and arguably, the entire Hebrew canon). The NT Jesus is not a single portrait, but a composite picture of the Jesus of the Gospels and the letters of Paul, Peter, and John. The OT David is also a composite picture (of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms), as is Solomon (Kings, Chronicles, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) and some of the prophets (those who are mentioned both in Kings/Chronicles and their respective prophetic books). I believe there was a conscious decision by the New Testament writers to portray Jesus as the fulfillment and culmination of the Hebrew scriptures. At various points in the NT, Jesus is likened to a new Adam, a new Melchizedek, a new Moses, a new Joseph, a new Elijah, a new Jonah, etc. Herod is the new Pharaoh. Mary Magdalene is the new Eve in the garden outside the tomb of Jesus. And so on. The connections are easy to spot once you know the stories. Finally, focusing on the discontinuity between the OT and NT is good and worthwhile, but there is plenty of discontinuity in the OT itself. The prophetic literature at the chronological end of the Old Testament is very different in style and tone from the kingly literature that precedes it, which is different again from the priestly literature (i.e., the Pentateuch). Thank you Roddy, for your kind words and for hosting this blog.
  7. 1 point
    Here's a sample of the listening from the old HSK advanced. It's in a whole different ballpark. The instructions are all nice and clear and them boom - random interview with crackling audio and accented mandarin, and then you have to do maths in your head about the stats and figures mentioned.
  8. 1 point
    "Seems to completely change genre 3/4 of the way through..." Congratulations on imminent success. The journey's been one of the highlights of the site for me this year.
  9. 1 point
    The situation is a lot more nuanced than that. Schools have always kept students happy with 'progress' - finish half a textbook, move up a level. I once asked a big private Chinese language school in Beijing why the advanced course I was looking at used a textbook labelled Intermediate. The answer was something along the lines of "It's advanced for our students." Alongside teachers, the general public helps. Utter three comprehensible phrases and you get told your Chinese is great. Which the professional and amateur linguists on here know isn't true, but it's not that hard to believe the propaganda if you're making what seems to you to be great progress, and everyone tells you 'Oh, as long as we can understand you'. I definitely had a stage in my early-mid twenties of thinking I was pretty good at Chinese before realizing, luckily for all who had to listen to me, that I really wasn't. This state of affairs has now been institutionalized since the HSK changes of 2010. The old HSK was way harder than the current options - it just went further. If anyone wants to look at an old 高级 paper and compare it to HSK6, I really think they´ll see the difference, and I suspect it might be quite eye-opening for many students today (although bear in mind most people bailed out of the process at an old-HSK 8.) A nice PhD thesis might be looking at the knock-on effect of those changes on the creation of textbooks and other resources. Are there fewer post-HSK6 level textbooks being published now? There are, of course, foreigners overselling their Chinese ability, particularly on their CVs (in real-life, I think, most of us are some mix of realistic and self-effacing). But the Chinese-teaching industry does seem to have opted out of doing much above a 'good enough for foreigners' level, so I can understand how they get there.
  10. 1 point
    I like how you review the Bible here as if it were just any ambitious novel that we might have heard of and would consider reading 🙂
  11. 1 point
    Maybe somebody somewhere squished the language. It's often set as a prerequisite to taking an intermediate course, not as a definition of intermediate level.
  12. 1 point
    China's over-emphasis of vocabulary and grammar at the expense of other skills is misguided. It's no surprise a vast majority of the young people can't engage in a simple English conversation despite years of instruction and testing. Frankly, achieving high standardized test scores is utterly meaningless in the absence of effective oral communication. Unfortunately, the government created a system that rewards compliance not real-world performance and innovation. And the current crop of English schools do nothing more than remain compliant...churning out millions of kids who are unable to communicate well in English. Breaking this cycle isn't going to be easy...but I've set my sights on doing exactly that.
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