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Showing content with the highest reputation on 06/27/2020 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    Disclaimer: This write up is not a guide on how to type using Cangjie, check out the wiki page for a basic intro if you're interested. This is aimed at anyone who simply wants to know whether learning a new input method is or is not worth the time investment. 2020 has been a very strange year for me, as I'm sure it has for most of us. With all the extra time, I decided to get down to some things that I've wanted to do for a while but...just never had the time. One of those things was learning to type Cangjie both fast enough that I can use it for live conversation on Wechat, and for practicing my character retention abilities. There are a number of shape-based input methods for Chinese out there, the most famous being Cangjie (倉頡), Dayi (大易) and Zhengma (鄭碼) for traditional, and Wubi (五笔) for simplified. I chose to learn Cangjie as it is well suited for typing both traditional and simplified, which can't be said of most other shape-based methods (most are now able to some extent, but mainly rely on 'conversion' rather than directly typing in the specific character according to its structure). Thats not to say Cangjie is 'the best' of these systems, its just the one that suited my needs the most. Other benefits of Cangjie are that it is widely available and license-free, so no worries that it will suddenly disappear or require some payment to use. It also uses a lot less keys than methods such as Dayi, so less finger stretching. Regardless, I believe Cangjie is an incredibly well-designed system, a real work of genius that functions to break down computer-font characters in the same way stroke order helps with handwriting characters. After 6 months of practice I have racked up just close to 100 hours of typing practice on anki (typing out sentences from memory based on prompts). I can now reach around 25-30cpm. I type at around 60-70wpm in English, so I've still got a long way to go, but I'm happy with my progress as it stands. Here's what I've found is important on my journey: 1. Your keyboard keys affect how a shape-based input method helps with character retention I originally set out using normal keys with alphanumeric symbols. I learned to touch type fairly quickly in Cangjie, but found that I began to see characters as strings of English letters in my head, a little like how when you're typing in pinyin you often think of the romanised version of what you're writing before the image of the character floats into your mind. This became quite annoying and counterconstructive, so I got some Cangjie stickers from ebay and stuck them on blank keycaps to see what difference there might be. The difference was noticeable immediately, as I began to associate the keys with Chinese characters much quicker. However, I still found that with some of the more difficult keys (where the character and the element it could represent are connected in a fairly abstract way), my brain would start remembering the string of keys for the character instead of properly decomposing it into its elements. The brain always chooses the easiest option I guess. A good example of this would be 麼, where 戈 represents both 广 and 丶 in the decomposition, with 女 also representing the stroke 𡿨, it was just easier to remember 麼=戈木女戈, or even just the shape the keys made on the keyboard. So I decided to make a set of keys similar to the ones you see for 五笔, where every single symbol is listed on the keycaps (ive seen them for 鄭碼 too, probably because the amount you need to remember for it is too much of a burden on the brain). I should emphasise, I decided to use this keyboard specifically for the purposes of character retention. If I wanted raw speed I would just use blank keycaps and rely on muscle memory. This keyboard has had a massive effect on how Cangjie has helped with remembering character writing, and if anyone is interested I'll be happy to send on the inkscape file. Now when I look at my keyboard to type 麼 I can actually look for 广 - 木 (-木) -𡿨-厶 instead of remembering some arbitrary code or pattern. Think that looks scary? Its not, it is very intuitive and can be learnt in half an hour of typing I would estimate. Check out 徐碼 for a typing system that has a single code for every single character you could possibly type. Bet you like the look of that Cangjie keyboard now: 2. Cangjie 5 is a massive improvement on Cangjie 3. Microsoft Cangjie is riddled with errors. I first set out using Cangjie probably around 2 years ago, but it was only really out of curiousity and I only used it on my phone. I didnt realise it at the time but I was using the 3rd generation of the system (for reference, 1 and 2 were largely just glorified betas). Then when I moved onto using cangjie on my laptop (ms surface), I discovered that many of the codes were different, despite it still being classed as Cangjie 3. Thankfully I came across this fantastic wikibook which not only explained the errors that MS has made in its own hacky version of Cangjie (after parting ways with the creator of Cangjie), but also showed how the 5th generation of Cangjie had corrected all the weird decomposition errors and inconsistencies in Cangjie 3. I immediately switched to Cangjie 5 and have not looked back, it is internally consistent and logical throughout. I strongly recommend any future students of Cangjie to use Cangjie 5, it is a pleasure to type with and really feels like you're writing characters, just like that feeling you get when you type English and your thoughts seem to just 'appear' on the screen - there is no feeling of detachment. Here are some notes I made when I first made the switch from MS Cangjie 3 to Cangjie 5 (using 倉頡平台) Correction of character selection order based on frequency. Eg 致 before 玫,知 before 佑. Damn that ms input was annoying, always having to add in '2' after so many common characters. recognition of 尸 as representative of the double dot, eg 假 人口尸水 應:戈人土心 this is fantastic, finally the parts are separated properly! 篼 has been corrected to 竹竹女山 (instead of 竹竹尸弓, which breaks away from the treatment of 兜 as a single unit (both in 3 and 5) 撐 and 撑 have their own unique codes (another MS error, typing 牙 here gives you 手...) 木廿 来 大木 东 etc the list goes on... I encourage anyone thats interested in comparing the differences between CJ 3 and 5 to have a look at this list. In fact, browse through the whole book, its incredibly well written. (Written by the 'boss'? of 倉頡之友, a forum without which I would never have found any success in learning 倉頡). 3. Cangjie is really fun to type with If you've ever felt the frustration of having to cycle through pages of characters to find the one you want, hate typing out whole words then delete the parts you don't want, or if you just can't stand 联系and 练习 causing all your friends to question what on earth you've been doing with all those hours of Chinese study, then Cangjie is defintely worth a try (or any other shape-based input method for that matter). Once you get used to typing using a shape-based method, you realise just how annoying typing phonetically is. Yes, I get it, its very, very, very easy to learn, and it means you don't have to remember how to write characters, only recognise them. But if you are at all interested in writing Chinese, then try Cangjie (or Wubi if you're simplified only gang) and I'm sure you'll never look back. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing an obscure character and being able to check it instantaneously in your dictionary. I still remember the first time I saw 鑾 and realised it was just three keys right next to each other (女火金), the pure satisfaction... Here is an update video of me typing from today:https://youtu.be/DaZ9QRSKTbc I drafted a short paragraph then recorded myself typing it back out. There are errors, and its pretty slow going, but still, shows where I am honestly at after 6 months. Hope some of this helps, and if you've got any questions let me know and I'll try and help out
  2. 2 points
    I came across a website with past exam papers for undergraduates studying Chinese at Cambridge University. I thought I'd post the link here in case it's of interest, and it might help answer the question that often comes up on the forums about what kind of Chinese proficiency to expect after studying Chinese for one year, or after a full undergraduate course, etc. I was in fact hunting around for Classical Chinese material, but there's the Modern Chinese exams there too. As I understand it, Part IA would be the exams taken after one year of study, Part IB is after two years. Students then study in China for a year before returning for their fourth and final year, so the Part II exams are those taken at the end of that final year. I think all papers (so both Modern and Classical) on Part IA and IB are compulsory, don't know about Part II. I then had a look to see if other UK universities make past papers available too, but the ones I googled seemed to all need student ID. Here's the link: https://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/faculty-library/past-exam-papers
  3. 2 points
    2020 Update One or two new 古汉语 / Ancient Chinese moocs have appeared since 2018, so here's an updated list in the 中国大学MOOCs platform. BLCU 古代汉语入门 Introduction to Ancient Chinese https://www.icourse163.org/course/BLCU-1450193180 Don't be put off by the awful introduction in the general pages! This is a rare one, because it is designed for foreign students and doesn't assume any previous knowledge of classical Chinese. It is very well presented and very clear (at least the first few lectures that I have seen), has Chinese subtitles and enough handouts to be able to follow the videos without much trouble. It is very basic, but I think a nice introduction for beginners in Classical Ancient Chinese. More advanced: BLCU 古代汉语 Ancient Chinese https://www.icourse163.org/course/BLCU-1206312837?tid=1206618259 No subtitles, no handouts either. Probably not very appealing for western students. I gave up after the first 2-3 videos. Fujian Normal University 古代汉语 (上)(下) https://www.icourse163.org/course/FJNU-1205698810 Much easier to follow than BLCU's, Chinese subtitles and plenty of handouts. Looks quite well organised, some very interesting insights relating Min language to ancient Chinese. I enjoyed the first few videos and will get back to do more at a slow pace. Wuhan University 古代汉语 https://www.icourse163.org/course/WHU-1002922024?tid=1450286449 Still there and still my favourite but get my brain done in by the teacher's dialect, can only take a bit at a time, tough it is very interesting and funny. Worth the effort. Thankfully the videos have clear Chinese subtitles and the ppts are available for download.
  4. 1 point
    I'm preparing for the HSK 4 in about 10 days and currently I'm really falling down on the reading section... in particular the speed you need to go in order to answer everything: it's 40 questions in 40 minutes. A simple breakdown of the 5 question types, with timing assuming that they are all worth equal marks, looks like this: Currently on mock tests I'm getting to around Q74, 75 and panicking that I don't have much time left, especially since Q80-85 have 3-4 line texts with 2 questions each. So I end up rushing it and guessing some answers. I'm fairly confident on the first 3 question types, but for Q66 onwards I'm just much too slow at the moment. @∞保罗∞ or anyone else who's passed HSK 4 and can remember their tactics... do you have any tips for the reading section? My current thinking is to sit down with some mock papers and a stop-watch and work on my timing for these specific sections, Q66-85. Ideally I should be able to scan longer texts when appropriate, but they rarely seem to use the same words in the question as in the main text, so you're scanning for synonyms in hanzi... Skimming is maybe a bit easier, but they rarely seem to ask "what is this passage about?" in the HSK 4 mocks I've seen so far.
  5. 1 point
    Mungouk It’s ironic you tagged me in this - My tactic for the hsk5 exam is Try and get 100 in the audio and writing. reading is with the gods - or pick A for everything And possibly get 25 marks good luck tomorrow all will be well ! remember: Attack the exam paper !
  6. 1 point
    Yes, me too, as many practice tests as I can. Today I'll have a go at one of each practice tests, then I'm just watching some youtube channels for HSK2 where I seem to pick something new up each time I watch. Yesterday, I found a series of short films called shuoshuo Chinese, and I'm watching these today (good for spotting common mistakes). She does a level 3 and 4, but I don't know if they are any use. In case we don't post here again today, all the best to you and everyone sitting these!
  7. 1 point
    Hi, just checking in How's everyone doing, ready for tomorrow? I've done as much as I can for hsk2, still struggle a bit with some things, but will just do the best!
  8. 1 point
    Yes, Karen in particular was revered by many.
  9. 1 point
    Haven't seen anything much myself; mostly 'brand expansion' sort of stuff rather than actual usable apps. My impression is that the demand is pretty tiny - hardly any customer email about it - and in my own experience it's just not very comfortable to do stuff on the watch for more than a brief interaction; about the only time I'd ever use it for more than 10 seconds at a go is if I've loaned one of my kids my phone for some reason. Chinese handwriting works reasonably well, but not enough to discourage you from taking the extra few seconds to pull out your phone and do it properly. We do get a lot of requests for automated background flashcard playback and that's something we are working on, so when that's available you should at least be able to run an all-audio flashcard session that you can play/pause from your watch, though you can also do that by double-tapping your AirPods / pushing a button on your steering column / tugging the sleeve of your smart jacket / yelling at Siri to pause audio / etc. If there's ever going to be a watch app revolution, it'll probably come ~2 years from now when SwiftUI (Apple's Grand Unified Interface Design System For All Apple Devices) is sufficiently stable / widely adopted that rebuilding an app for Apple Watch becomes the sort of thing one can do in a week or two. But by then we may all be looking at doing Chinese learning for our AR headsets instead, which have a lot more long-term potential...
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