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Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/07/2010 in Blog Entries

  1. 15 points
    As promised, here is the second installment of my blog following the second term of teaching in a one year Masters program in interpreting and translation at Bath University in the UK. The structure and content of teaching in the second term has been very different to the first term, so if you are interested in comparing, please take a look at my first blog entry. The second term put A LOT more emphasis on live interpreting practice, pressure has been a lot higher, and the requirements for specialized vocabulary has been noticeably greater than the first term. I will break down the different classes over a few blog entries, in the hope its more palatable for reading. I will assess my own performance vs my Chinese classmates, as well as reflect on Chinese-English interpreting from a native English speakers perspective whenever it might be useful. Firstly I’ll start with Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous Interpreting and using Glossaries So, our SI (Simultaneous Interpreting) class has been every Monday at 11:15. The course works both directions C-E and E-C, and we have alternated direction from week to week. We mostly work inside professional interpreting booths for the first hour, doing live interpreting of videos that vary from 10 mins in length to half an hour using headphones and microphones that record live. The second hour is largely dedicated to feedback and guidance for improvement. We are told the broad topic of the class via email around Thursday the week before, for example, “next weeks SI will be on ‘fracking’” and that’s it. We are then expected to prepare a glossary of specialized terms, usually that can fit on one A4 page, which we can then bring to class and place next to our microphones as we interpret, for reference. The point of this is not to actually collect huge lists of words (although this inevitably happens), but rather, read widely and educate ourselves on different subjects in both English and Chinese, as well as learn how to ‘prep’ for real life interpreting jobs. Many students seemed to have no issue with this set up, as many already have rich active vocabularies and encyclopedic knowledge. (side note: Seriously, I have never met such widely read people in my life. And that really goes for every single one of my classmates; they can talk through macro and microeconomics with ease, go to a doctors ward and discuss the treatment regimen for obscure diseases, explain in depth how neural networking is changing media reporting; all in both Chinese AND English. Quite amazing and very motivating for study). One downside of this set up for me has been that I have spent almost all my free time building glossaries and learning vocabulary, whereas my classmates have had time to practice the actual skill of interpreting in out-of-class hours. That being said, if I had known this before starting the course I probably would have been scared away and never even started. It is an inevitability for many of us coming from a background of only starting learning Chinese at university, there is simply not enough time to consolidate the vast amounts of knowledge required for professional level interpreting. Getting back on topic: everyone seemed to have their own method to putting together specialized glossaries, for SI classes some even came with entire prepared folders with concise glossaries on pretty much every entry to an encyclopedia (I later learnt that in some cases these glossaries had already been used for many years and were very familiar to their users). I have spent the better part of every week this year picking out key terminology for Monday’s SI class (and Thursday’s Consecutive Interpreting class), that is, terms that would require thinking time over and above the constraints of simultaneous interpreting. The reaction time to a speaker usually needs to be kept within 2 seconds; if terminology comes up that is not in your active vocabulary, it will almost certainly stretch you to around 5-10 seconds before you get it out in the target language, by which time the entire thread of the speakers argument has been missed. Evidently, glossaries are incredibly important to successful simultaneous interpreting. In almost all cases I short-term memorised every item on each glossary; heres a look at my anki: Vocabulary requirements In the last 3 months alone I have accumulated 1610 specialised vocabulary terms in my anki. This in fact EXCLUDES my cards from Supermemo (another well-know srs system which I both love and hate at the same time) which has another 2733 cards added since early March (see attached images). I use Supermemo for reading, so many of these cards aren’t vocabulary items, but clozed passages from Wikipedia/academic articles. Nonetheless, the mental strain for getting up to the standard required for SI is frankly unhealthy: it is simply not doable in the time frame that the course allows. Many of my classmates have already taken courses in interpreting prior to this course, and so managed to keep up with the pace, but lets just say there were tears in class from some a number of times. Left: Anki deck specifically for interpreting glossaries. Right: excel files for glossaries Regarding the workload and how I coped. I estimate (stressing estimate, based on a pleco deck I have added to over the last five years to track my vocab progress) my passive vocabulary is now around 15-20,000, but active is to be honest probably only around 10-15,000 (again, hard to really know). Which is certainly not good enough to do professional interpreting with. For anyone considering doing a course like this, you should know that you are aiming for ‘near-native’ level size of active vocabulary, what I have been working with seemed like an impressive vocabulary size when I started the course, but now it seems laughable. Some of my classmates are far better read than me in English, 30k+ I reckon. a deck I have added any word I think 'useful' to over the years. I review these words in anki. an example of what my supermemo decks for reading Chinese/English articles looks like. As you can see, the requirements for vocabulary appear very scary. That being said, to someone that has learnt Chinese or English seriously for 10+ years, this is quite reasonable and achievable. I first went to China in 2008, and didn’t properly start learning until 2013/14, so I still have many years to go! I’m sure some of the longer-standing members of these forums must be nodding with a wry smile right now - been there done that! That’s it for now, next entry I’ll go through my thoughts on the CI class. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, very hard to try and structure all that has happened over the last few months.
  2. 14 points
    This is my last entry for this blog now that my course has finished (for those asking how the second year is going, it is only a one-year MA at Bath). I’ve been meaning to update for a while, just not had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, here it is: last thoughts on exams, dissertation, outcomes and achievements and of course what the future holds: Final exams As said in previous blog entries, translation and interpretation are totally different in terms of the skillset and workload requirements, and the same was true during exams. I got fairly good marks in my translation exams, which took the form of two unseen English articles to be translated into Chinese, and vice versa. The content for the E-C was fairly technical stuff on windfarms and medicine, the C-E was a clinical trial and an art exhibition (I’m working on some pretty hazy memory tbh, it might have been slightly different, but roughly in these areas). In E-C the biggest challenge was trying to keep up pace with the writing speed of my Chinese classmates. I didn’t finish the exam as a result, I translated the first article in full, but only 80% of the second (bad exam tactic: I drafted my translation in Chinese then wrote out in full in clear kaishu…then ran out of time…yeah). The C-E was a different story, I finished the paper with an hour to spare and walked out just after the amazing Taiwanese/American guy, which was a massive feeling of accomplishment for me. The mark I got was better than I had hoped for too, so that was a big plus. Interpretation was of course another story. Consecutive exams went okayish, I scraped through and got mediocre marks. My simultaneous exams all went terrible, I got so nervous I just froze up and stopped speaking in some of them, it really was awful. My marks were naturally very bad, surely the worst in the class I would imagine. Thankfully my average dragged me up overall, and all that really came of the experience was a harsh reminder that I am not able (nor do I ever hope to) do interpreting professionally. My own personal opinion is that interpreting really is for people who have lived in a bilingual environment for at least 10 years from a young age (starting from teen years at the very latest). I first started dabbling in Chinese when I was 20, and I think I am borderline. I believe I would be able to get to a professional level if I put in another 5-10 years from now (I am 31 as of writing). And I don’t really think I’m willing or able to give that time unfortunately. Dissertation I managed to make contact with a famous Taiwanese author and got the translation copyright for a final dissertation translation of a book on the history of Chinese calligraphy. It was an amazing project to work on, I learned a lot of in depth specialist knowledge, and has given me a lot of ideas for the future. I am very happy to say I got a distinction for the translation, and hope to get an English translation of the full book published at some point in the future. The future If I learned from my exams that interpreting wasn’t for me, I learned from my dissertation that translation…is! That being said, while the money is fairly decent, the way in which projects come at you randomly as a freelancer is not so much fun (sure many here can relate). As a result, I’m hoping to now go into education as a Chinese teacher here in the UK, with translation as a supporting income. The dissertation project has also thrown me in a new direction, with a current cooperative currently being set up with a group of fantastic artists and calligraphers I know from Hubei. I’m sure there will be more to come from this in the coming years too. Final thoughts For me – this was the hardest, most challenging year of my life. Regarding the change in my Chinese abilities over the last year: Pros - Speaking has become a lot more formal and adult like, less ‘cute’ and childlike. - Writing has become a lot quicker and again more formal in style, less ‘wechatty’ - Reading is rapid, I can now do sentence reading in 2-3 chunks rather than word by word now, and reading out loud with proper emphasis is much, much better now. Cons - Listening has become more difficult, as my brain gets frustrated when I am not 100% about every single word, tone, sentence level implication, etc. Although this might be a good thing in the long run. - I hesitate and stutter a lot more when speaking, as I am so much more aware of when word order/grammar/word choice is slightly off during the mental preparation of a sentence. I have learned too many new words over the last year, and not absorbed deep enough – as a result it causes me to stop for recall quite a lot now. If you are a native English speaker interested in doing a Chinese/English interpreting-translation qualification, I say be sure you know why you want to do the course. I was very clear that I wanted to do the course to see whether or not becoming an ‘English’ Chinese interpreter was possible for me or not. I found out it was not. But I met a few people along the way for whom it was, and that’s great! However, some people were doing the course to improve their language skills, and this kind of course will not necessarily do that – in fact it will require you to sacrifice language ability for codeswitching ability, particularly in the case of interpreting. Codeswitching is a skill that requires you to rewire the way in which your brain wants to access information – great for being ‘in the booth’, but not so much for playing mah-jong and general chitchat over some baijiu. I think quite a few students struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being outperformed by students with worse English but better T/I skills. But as long as you are clear what your goals are before you start, a course like this can only be an asset to your Chinese in the long term. It will weed out every single one of your weaknesses and cracks in your knowledge and remind you of them all day every day until you tackle them. Its been a painful medicine to take, but I certainly don't regret it at all. Good luck to future translators and interpreters reading this!
  3. 14 points
    A few days ago, I finished reading the short story collection 《樱海集》 by 老舍. This brought my reading total above one million characters, completing my goal for the year. 《樱海集》 was first published in 1935. The collection contains a funny and self-effacing preface plus ten short stories of varying lengths (from six to forty-two pages). The stories deal with classical human failings—hypocrisy, pride, envy, bitterness, cowardice, lust, revenge, greed, anger—and the consequences that arise from such failings. Though the stories are thematically related, they differ considerably in their characters, plots, point of views, and settings. Below is a brief synopsis of each story, along with some amplifying details and concluding thoughts. The first story in the collection, 《上任》, is about a recently promoted government official named 尤老二 and the opium-smoking thugs he employs. Much of the story is concerned with 尤老二’s inability to pay for his thugs, who show up at odd times asking for money for travel and other expenses. This story was difficult for me to get into. I found the details of the plot hard to follow and the language more challenging than any other story in the collection. 《牺牲》 is a character sketch of 毛博士, a bizarre 崇洋媚外 teacher educated in the United States. 《柳屯的》 is about a small village, a powerful Christian family, and an unrestrained woman who tries to take over them both. 《末一块钱》 is about a young dissatisfied college student who yearns for the kind of life enjoyed by his more affluent classmates. 《老年的浪漫》 is about an old man who, cursed with greedy former colleagues and a foolish son, decides to settle old scores. 《毛毛虫》 is a very short story that asks the question: What does a community think about that unenviable husband and wife who live down the street, and that husband’s former wife, and their new children? 《善人》 is about a well-to-do woman who sees herself as generous but is oblivious to the suffering of those around her. This story was my favorite story of the collection. 《邻居们》 is about the tensions that flare up between two neighboring families after one receives the other’s mail by mistake. The 明 family and the 杨 family are neighbors. 明家 is selfish and uncivilized. 杨家 is altruistic and lettered. The husband and father in the 杨 family, 杨先生, is described as a “最新式的中国人.” One day, 杨先生 receives a letter addressed to 明先生. 杨太太 attempts to deliver the letter, but 明太太 misunderstands her neighbor’s intentions and rebuffs her. 杨先生 then writes his own letter explaining the situation. 明太太 refuses this letter, too. Tensions between the two families escalate. 杨先生 believes that he and 明先生 can resolve their differences like rational gentlemen, and continues to write his neighbor letters. 明先生 sees 杨先生 as a weak man and despises him for his bookishness and inaction. Eventually… 《月牙儿》 is a longer story about a girl and her hard life after her father dies and her mother is forced out of exigence into prostitution. 《阳光》 is about the life of a beautiful, proud, and dissolute woman from a rich family. Her eventual arranged marriage to a prominent morality-promoting Daoist is comfortable, but stifling. 《樱海集》 is the second work I’ve read by 老舍; the first was his delightful science fiction satire 《猫城记》. There is something irreverent about 老舍’s style in these two works. 老舍’s stories foreground the character defects of early 20th-century Chinese people, whatever their station in life. Opioid-addicted menial laborers, wives of rich businessmen, the orphaned, the educated, the religious and the ideologically possessed—none are spared. By pointing out character defects in such a wide-ranging way, 老舍 advances a kind of criticism of the Chinese society of his day. But 《樱海集》 is not a “critical” work, at least not in the sense that modern people use the term. It isn’t a systematic, theory-driven critique of Chinese society; nor is it especially tragic or concerned with issues of justice. Rather, 《樱海集》 is a moral work. The stories in 《樱海集》 are cautionary tales filled with negative moral examples. They are the modern literary equivalents of fables. The stories paint a pessimistic and probably unbalanced picture of Chinese life. Readers interested in positive moral examples—the righteous government official or revolutionary, the loving and longsuffering mother, the diligent young student who succeeds in life despite enormous opposition—will not find them here. Some of 老舍’s negative moral examples are also offensive to contemporary Western sensibilities. His portraits of women are pretty unflattering. 老舍’s women are ostentatious, stubborn, and quick to anger. (To be fair, the men don’t come off much better. Most of 老舍’s male protagonists are feckless hypocrites.) Others will find 老舍’s portrayal of poor people unsympathetic. The peasants in 《樱海集》 are lazy and spend what little money they find on drugs: It is interesting to consider 老舍’s portrayals of Chinese people in 《樱海集》 in light of then-upcoming theories about politics and art in China. In his lectures at Yan'an in 1942, Mao advocated a new pro-proletariat literature and denounced “petit bourgeois writers” that write “pessimistic literature” and “harm the people.” Were 老舍’s mid-1930’s stories compatible with the new Chinese literature Mao would soon advocate? Was 老舍’s literature “pessimistic”? [For the curious, I blogged about Mao’s Yan'an literature lectures in an earlier post on this blog.] The Chinese language in 《樱海集》 is not especially difficult. The vocabulary is more challenging than contemporary Chinese fiction writers like 余华 and 韩寒, but far easier than writers like 张爱玲 and 莫言. 老舍’s word choices are frequently different from those found in contemporary fiction. This may confuse language learners unfamiliar with early 20th-century Chinese literature. For the uninitiated, try reading other authors from the same period. (I read short stories by 丁玲, 沈从文, and 施蛰存 before. That helped.) My new year’s resolution was to read one million characters in books and articles in 2019. I have now reached that goal with a little over a month to spare. This year I read mostly fiction. I also read Mao’s literature lectures, an article by IBM, a undergraduate thesis on the music of American saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and a third of the Bible. It’s been a great and rewarding experience. From time to time, people ask about the value of studying Chinese language given recent political and economic changes in China. It’s a fair question; there are many reasons to study Chinese and people differ in their motivations and goals. For me, the desire to engage in the cultural and literary traditions of a large and important foreign world was and is a main driver of my Chinese study. This desire was sustained and strengthened this year. I intend to keep reading in Chinese, both fiction and non-fiction. For literature, my near-term goals for the next couple years are to continue with works at or slightly above my current reading level; to move on to major works by 张爱玲, 莫言, and 阎连科; and to tackle tougher early 20th-century works by authors like 鲁迅. I’d like to wade into 文言 someday too, though that day is still a long way off. I had a lot of fun writing these posts and interacting with all of you. In the future, I may continue writing posts here. For now, however, because of many pressing demands on my time, I will put this blog on hiatus and return to posting intermittently in the excellent and underutilized “What are you reading?” thread. Thank you to everyone who read or commented on this blog this year. Link to《樱海集》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117466/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 1,000,931 Characters left to read this year: 0 Percent of goal completed: 100% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters) 《圣经》 (新译本) (1,055,606 characters; 315,144 read in 2019) 《樱海集》 by 老舍 (83,649 characters)
  4. 14 points
    Here is the first installment of my blog on doing a Masters course in Translation and Interpretation (Chinese) at Bath University in the UK. Seeing as it is reading week, I've found I finally have time to do an update on how things are going, I guess I will probably do the next update when we break up for Christmas in December. There's really no time to do anything else except study and class prep in normal term time. Well I've been on the course for six weeks now, and it has been as intense as expected. Despite being at a UK university, I am the only westerner on the course, with 23 students, mainly mainland, but also a few Taiwanese and HK too. There is actually a Taiwanese American student who has taken English as his mother tongue (with all due right), but having been bilingual and living in Taiwan for the last 20 or so years, I feel like we're not really in the same boat. I am clearly bottom of the class in terms of relative language ability, as expected. Being surrounded by people who have studied English for decades, my 5/6 years of Mandarin stands out as particularly bad. I am so used to speaking Chinese colloquially, I am frequently lost for words when asked to interpret English speeches into Chinese using the right register. Anyway, onto the course content. All parts of the course have a two hour class slot that meets once a week: Simultaneous interpreting: we have a dedicated lab with fully equiped professional booths that all face into a bigger room with a conference table in the middle. The set up accurately mimics a real simultaneous interpreting situation, and the tech available is fantastic. Classes are very active, with every student having a chance to practice every class at least twice (practicing skills taught by the teacher in the lesson). I was placed on an internship at a UN week-long environmental protection meeting two weeks ago in London, to get in some valuable practice time. We used the real booths used by the pros for a week (with our mics switched off of course). We did shadowing and interpreting (almost exclusively from English into Chinese) for around 8 hours a day for a week. After this week something clicked in my brain, and now I can keep up with my peers in this class now. Not only that, but my professional Chinese has improved a lot as a result of the E-C direction. I have also discovered that in many cases working from English into Chinese is more often than not EASIER than Chinese to English. Why? I personally feel like the sparsity of phrases 'like' 成語 in English, plus the terseness of professional Chinese means you've always got enough time to think and interpret. Chinese to English is so much harder than I expected, to put it lightly. For example, 授人以魚不如授人以漁 was said in a speech during class a few weeks ago; not only had I not heard the phrase before, but I had no time to guess the meaning (多音字嘛 I thought the person had said the same thing twice by a mistake...), and by the time it was already too late the interpreting student had already interpreted it into "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish". I mean, that makes more sense than what I was able to offer (which was just silence). So, simultaneous as a skill, I can do. But the sheer amount of knowledge you need at your fingertips is insane, and I am still far from being at a professional level yet. Consecutive interpreting: This class is largely centred around memory skills and note taking. Most of my peers have already studied interpreting in some form or another before starting this course, and many are already able to acurately remember speeches of five or more minutes long using some quite fantastic symbol-based systems. The teacher does not teach us a system, but rather teaches us how to build our own personal system effectively. I have found that using English keywords and acronyms has helped a lot, but really don't get too much of a kick out of arrows going everywhere and houses with dollar signs on them etc. As a little side hobby, I've taken up learning Pitman shorthand (new era) mainly for fun, but also with the hope that /some/ of it may come in handy with consec. note taking at some point in the future. This class is by far the hardest, and the teacher seems to enjoy choosing incredibly difficult speeches from people with non-standard accents. Very difficult, very embarassing for me, as most students have no issues in this class. What can you do when you didn't understand, or have forgotten what was said, and have no way to ask the speaker to repeat/clarify? This class makes me so nervous. Liaison interpreting: We have a mock conference/meeting every friday and are expected to prepare for it in the preceding week. The class is split into two groups: Chinese side, English side, and interpreters. The two sides discuss a topic for 2-3 hours whilst the interpreters take it in turns to sit one-by-one in between the two groups and act as a liaison interpreter. The pressure is noticeable, as the whole course is there watching you, and everyone is able to discern how good or bad your interpreting ability is (unlike when you're in the sim. interpreting booths, secluded and safe). Again, note taking is a skill that many of the students here employ. I would say to any westerner thinking about taking on a course like this, aside from having a very, very strong and well-rounded ability in Chinese, you should almost certainly also be practicing note-taking on speeches both in English and Chinese BEFORE starting a course (evidently with Chinese students in particular it would seem). I regret being under the impression I was going to learn note taking skills ON this course; I now know this of course is not the case, as pretty much everyone is already able to do this. Translation: We have both 'Chinese to English' and 'English to Chinese' classes. This needs no real explanation, its pretty much exactly what you would expect: teacher teaches theory, sets translation piece for homework, you translate it, get feedback, rinse and repeat. C-E very relaxing, the teacher seems to enjoy literary translation (lately lots of 紅樓夢 talk), E-C also ok but a much slower translation process for me. The translation process is private, however, so there's no real embarrassment to be had on this part of the course (so far...) All in all? I am loving the course, my classmates are fantastic people, very intelligent, hard working, inclusive, not 'immaturely' competitive if you understand what I mean, and importantly, very supportive as a community. Nobody treats me like a foreigner at all, I'm just another student. In that respect, theres not much leeway given, and as a result I feel like I'm ALWAYS being pushed to get up to their standard rather than being forgiven for being a 'foreigner'. Teaching is top notch, facilities are fantastic. And the fact that the course DOES have English-Chinese direction (as well as C-E) is a massive bonus if you ask me. My Chinese has improved rapidly, I can now read news probably 2-3 times faster than when I started the course. Why? Because I now read (mostly outloud, under my breath) for about 4-5 hours a day (as opposed to about 1 hour before the course). As you may be able to tell, I now live, breath and sleep in a world of studying speeches. I would not recommend this course for anyone who 'wants a life'. I feel obliged to say "sorry for the wall of text" - see you all in December.
  5. 12 points
    This entry has been delayed a bit for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of time, as I've got so much to say on this topic, but also because this is my most dreaded class. For more context on what I'm talking about, skip back and check earlier entries. For clarity, I am a native English speaker that is on the Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating masters course at Bath University, UK. We work in both directions, and I am the only 'foreigner' on the course. This last point is of crucial importance, as it has naturally set me apart from everyone else on the course. Just not always in the ways I was expecting before beginning this process. One of the most noticeable areas in which my background, different from my Chinese peers, impacted my performance was in the consecutive interpreting class. Unlike translating, which can be done at the safety of your own home, or simultaneous interpreting (aka 'SI') where mistakes can be forgiven due to time constraints and the high-pressure environment, consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most unforgiving and most difficult part of the job, as it requires high quality intepreting of complex topics. This of course runs counter to what most people believe, and when one of the course instructors said this at the beginning of the course, I found it difficult to believe him. But he was right. And there are two main reasons: 1. You must understand everything. 1-2% non-comprehension is natural, 3-5% is acceptable, 5-10% is just about workable, but anything more and you lose the ability to accurately infer (yes these are arbritrary numbers, but I'm basing such estimates off my own experience this year). If you don't understand, you can ask the speaker. But 9/10 they will just repeat the phrase you didnt understand word for word, or if they are kind enough to rephrase, the chance you will still not understand a concept you don't even know in your native tongue is 'too damn high'. And I'm the kind of person that goes red in the face when they dont get it. The speaker will also think that your job is easy, as they have to stop for you and 'wait' for you to catch up. As a result, the speaker often speaks much quicker than normal, use more complex terms, and will sometimes even forget to stop for you in the bits they consider 'easy'. 2. You must use a notetaking system. If someone says you dont need symbols or shorthand, just write down the main details and youll be fine...you know they are almost certainly a bad consecutive interpreter. There are simply too many details to remember in a live speech. You must find a way to take down more information than you can possibly remember. In our final exam this was 8 minutes of speech without any break. We then had to deliver the speech in the target language, hoping to also reach an ideal length of 7-8 minutes in our own delivery. This skill was the largest hurdle for me to get over (and I still havent to be honest), and it was the biggest difference between me and my peers. Nearly all the other students were coming into the course with a knowledge of a notetaking system, having taken courses in it back in China in order to prepare for the MA in Bath, or having previous undergrad experience in interpreting. Either way, from day one the teachers were calling us up to the whiteboard to 'show off' our own personalised notetaking (with each student having their own unique ways of taking down 5 solid minutes of statistics speeches, or symbols for taking notes on sustainable energy sources...). Consequently, I never had the chance to formally study this skill on the course, and this is the only area where I felt short-changed in my training on this MA. The first point was manageable, I just had to improve my listening comprehension. I have watched A LOT of news and public speeches in the last year to improve this. While I am watching, I actively ask my brain at the end of each sentence 'can you repeat that sentence back in Chinese? Are you hypothetically able to tell the person next to you what it means in English?' If the answer was 'yes' or 'pretty much' then I keep watching, keep listening. If the answer is no, I pause, search and take down all the words, listen again, add the words to a 'new words' deck in anki, then continue. Rinse and repeat for the rest of eternity. But the second point has been so difficult to deal with. While I was able to understand 99% of an English speech, there was too much information and too little time to write everything down. And yet, the person next to me was drawing pictures of little people and arrows everywhere, intermixed with shorthand chinese characters all over the place, then would stand up and deliver a near identical speech in English, far better than my own English! What do you do in a situation like that? Well I sat down with a friend and we ran through a basic set of maybe 150 or so 'concepts' that could be given symbols (see below), and began to learn them by heart. Gradually my notetaking did get better. But then I came across an additional third reason for why CI is so difficult: 3. Our course is bidirectional, so I was not only required to interpret from Chinese into English (based on scruffy, incomplete notes), but also from English into Chinese. It was at this point where I realised why symbols were so useful. They sit in between the solid words and grammar of language, they represent the ideas and concepts that have yet to be given body by a particular language. So you can use one system to take notes from two (or more) different source languages. For example, if I write the words 'your country' down, when it comes to referring to my notes during speech delivery, I will naturally look down at this and blurt out '你的國家‘. But what if it should have been '貴國'? What if the original English sentence was 'the development of your country is important for the global economy' and thus the use of 'your' in the Chinese is totally redundant? Using notetaking, you dont need to worry about the difference between expression in different languages. You can take the concept of 國/country and write it as 囗 (a commonly used shorthand symbol in notetaking). Once conceptualised, you can look at it and express the idea naturally and uninhibited in either language. A symbol's usage can be expanded across your whole system, eg. I can write the phrase "the development of your country" as "囗'dev". By extension, the whole sentence becomes something like: "囗'dev=!>O" (where ! is important, > is 'to, affect, influence' and O represents global, all over the world). 囗 can be used not just for country, but also - 囗° =...國人(°=person), 囗al (national), 囗ty (nationality), 囗z (nationalize). etc. To get a real flavour of what CI notetaking looks like, I've posted some pics of my own (bad examples) below. In this way, you can write down more information at higher speeds, with higher clarity and accuracy, all while avoiding 'Chinglish' (or 'Englese'...?) pitfalls. So, now we know that notetaking systems can dramatically increase the amount and the accuracy of information one can take down at the speed of natural speech delivery. And we also know that it can reduce the amount of Chinglish one might otherwise say when reading notes written in longhand in the source language. And so that leads me to my last area I wanted to mention. The required quality of output in the target language. Unlike SI, the quality of CI sits closer to written translation in terms of quality. One must be able to understand the original speakers intentions, 'translate' it into notes, then produce a coherent stream of thoughts and ideas based on the notes, where the original speech is often reordered and reworded (like in written translation) in order to better mimick the ways of speaking in the target language. Some students were AMAZING at this. In fact I was in awe on an almost daily basis. That being said, I don't believe the ability to do this is something 'innate'. It obviously requires significant cognizant ability, but these skills have clearly been trained for years and years...and years. Although I am still yet to be able to perform at a professional ability in this area, I have seen myself make positive progress and believe if I really dedicated maybe another 5 years to this I could reach a very high standard. That being said. As it stands, my ability in notetaking is still rudimentary. In the end, it didnt matter how good my comprehension was, or even how good my actual oral language abilities were, the notation 'filter' in the middle of the CI process consistently stopped me from producing good output language. I mean, I've never heard myself speak such strange English before! We're talking saying things like 'this food good eat' if I wasnt paying 100% attention to the notes I was reading. And at this point I would like to say, I strongly, strongly recommend the course at Bath, as the course instructors are fantastic, and surely among the highest qualified in the world to teach such skills. A caveat should be noted for native English speakers: a prerequisite for the course should be a prep course in notetaking for native English speakers, and this should be explicitly stated on all interpreting course details (as all the Chinese speakers had all done this in China, without me knowning until after the course had started...). The course instructor of the MATBI course, Miguel Fialho, has absolutely blown everyone on the course away. His 普通話 is phenomenal, perfect tones, better spoken than any of the Chinese students in the class, and most importantly he is incredibly humble and understanding. You will see him on CCTV whenever there are meetings between the Chinese and Portuguese governments (he is half British, half Portuguese, and also does Chinese-Portuguese interpreting......). He. Knows. Everything. Pretty sure he has learnt an entire encyclopedia off by heart in three different languages. Jane is his equivalent for the Chinese students, and her English is far more eloquent than my, often ending up in me taking notes on how to speak better English after listening to her speeches! Dr Kumar is highly knowledgeable in economics and politics, is ultimately responsible for the excellent course structure and content, and most importantly, is really funny, so that really made things a lot easier when you're in high stress environments. what my notes at the beginning of the year looked like. I was using a pencil, writing everything down longhand, and getting totally confused. I often ended up giving up and just trying to recite everything I'd just heard in one language in the other. What my notes looked like by the end. You can see that for complex terminology, you can write down the word, assign it a number, then just write the number when the term is used. The red is for marking mistakes when going back and comparing notes to the original speech. Practicing symbols. good god. OK I'm done for today, next blog entry will probably be more geared towards some thoughts on written translation. I'm just beginning to write my dissertation, which is a written translation, so will share anything interesting I come across.
  6. 11 points
    I will get round to writing part 2 of my write up of the university course: in the meantime heres a brief thought I ended up writing out in full. Would be interested to hear others thoughts: Recently I have noticed I am stuttering a lot more when just regularly chatting to friends in Chinese; my brain appears to constantly be asking itself, 'is this really the most appropriate word?' Perhaps this is a result of moving back to the UK and being away from the total immersion of China, but I feel like its more likely a result of learning how to work between two languages when on the mic in interpreting situations... Take the various concepts of 'collapse' in Chinese as an example. There's 垮, it denotes the idea of collapsing inwards on itself. then there's 崩潰, the idea of something or someone collapsing from the cause of not being able to bear a load. what about 瓦解, collapse due to internal disintegration, figuratively as well as literally, or even 塌縮, the idea of, say, a star collapsing inwards on itself to eventually become a black hole. All these different concepts of collapsing will almost always be translated into English simply as 'collapse'. Whilst this makes for very easy interpreting, it actually makes your Chinese worse, as you are constantly drawing together these distinct meanings into one basket named 'collapse', not allowing your brain to understand the finesse in their differences. What one is constantly striving towards in learning another language is to rewire the brain in order to divide and distinguish concepts that are different from one's mother tongue. Not only does learning the skill of interpreting not tolerate such rewiring, it actually bundles all the wires together in a big tangled mess. The brain is told to forget the small but important differences between words and instead group words into easy to manage target language categories. As a result, I find I question my word choice a lot more often than I once did. I find I can no longer simply rely on feeling, or make choices as easily simply based on a gut feeling. So it would seem, while my Chinese has improved a lot in the last year, learning to interpret has perhaps had a negative effect on my "語感", or my ability to simply 'feel' what the right word should be. Hopefully this is just temporary.
  7. 11 points
    Haven't really had a chance to update since the new term began, I had my thesis proposal in early September which felt like more of a defense than a proposal. Out of my panel only one of the professors could really ask me questions because the other two didn't have a background in cognitive linguistics and didn't really understand my topic. So I spent 20 minutes of defending my topic with this one professor (Actually my old Consecutive interpreting professor) who began with "honestly this just feels like an idea on paper" ... ummm.... yes.. thats what a proposal is lmfao. but I continued to humor her and stand by my topic. It was rough, actually the entire classroom went through this slurry of vicious attacks toward our topics that if you were unable to defend yourself you would just be stuck standing there listening to them shit on you for 20 minutes. The hardest part was that everyone had to stay in the room so it was roughly 4 hours of listening to each student present and defend themselves. But I survived and my proposal passed somehow even though one of the panel told me that she felt that my topic was really interesting but just not for me. This term I only have 4 classes. Written translation on Mondays, And 2 simultaneous interpreting courses on Friday. Our Tuesday classes (4 hours) began sometime after the holidays and every week since then has been a mental torture. The original teacher for the class "cross-cultural communications" was supposed to be an interesting guy from Australia. Unfortunately this guy is under Confucius scholarship studying his Phd and cant continue his teaching so we got stuck with the same guy who taught us last semester in 4 hour brackets. Yes... that professor. I don't like to judge but this class should just be renamed "My musings" because every class has just been about him rambling off things from his mind for four hours. Nothing he says has anything to do with the class or to anything even remotely useful. It actually feels like he's just trolling the class, because I don't understand how someone can talk about an ant and tiger analogy for four hours straight. I think the worst part of this class is that his musings always lead to something totally inappropriate. So something extremely racist or sexist, or homophobic crosses his mind and he just goes on and on and it really hurts me to hear that so many of my classmates find this "PHD" so interesting, when he would literally be crucified in my country for the things hes said. I don't know how someone like him has studied in America. I've been bringing my study materials and books to read in class so that I don't have to listen to that garbage that he says, but you know its really hard to block out something so completely inappropriate. But other than his inappropriateness his classes are just a waste of time. I'm not even kidding when I say that I had to listen to him talk about colors yesterday. He started from Red and ended on Gray and then looked at the time and we had about 20 minutes left of class and he mused "what other colors have i missed? Oh yeah Brown!". The Monday translation professor is a close second to a professor I have no respect for this term. This lady prepares nothing for class. Her classes are prepared by a different classmate each week. And I'm not talking about just a short presentation. No. I'm talking about a full class, including creating group work exercises etc. She does nothing. What she does is sit there and when shes given the remainder of the class to add anything (roughly 20 minutes) her response is "well what am I supposed to do?" ...... um. Teach. That's what you get paid for . That's your job. In the very beginning of the term the professor wasn't clear she wanted us to basically teach the class every week so in week 2 when we came to class this lady had some nerve to criticize us all for being irresponsible and unprepared for class. She does this from time to time when people are late. I'm legit rolling my eyes in that class every week. The only class worth mentioning is our simultaneous interpreting classes held on Fridays. The classes have been really difficult but really good for exercise. The only qualm I have is that I have my recordings played every class for both sections, so every week I have to hear my lousy interpretations twice in the same day (from E-C and C-E) its rough but I've gotten so used to it that Its kind of like meh whatever to me. Though its kind of irritating that its always the same people played every week. I haven't heard half of my classmates in that class even once. So other than classes what have I been up to? Its a semester that leaves a lot open. I've been trying to work on honing my interpreting skills, especially in simultaneous interpreting which I find to be quite challenging. My professor suggested shadowing for about 10-15 minutes a day to get used to keeping up with the pace. A problem that many of us have with simultaneous is waiting too long to begin, and only speaking in 3 word clusters instead of having a fluid sentence. I've been shadowing with this program 《绝密档案》 from the app 蜻蜓。 The app itself has a lot of different podcasts to choose from to listen. I just find this program particularly interesting so after 15 mins of shadowing I just continue listening to the rest of the story. I've also made use of going over some of my old resources that we had from past classes so Ive been going over speeches that have Chinese and English to work on a more formal register and also to get a feel for collocations. I wanted to work this semester but I think that with the thesis and everything I'd rather just focus on my studies this term. Its sad to be without the extra cash but I have my whole life to make money but just this year to really work on my studies. I've still been keeping my eyes on jobs because I'd like to find a job after my studies and stay here for another year. As much as China kills me at times, I'm not ready to leave. That's it. Our first draft of our thesis is expected to be ready by December for our pre-defense. The date hasn't been confirmed yet but we've been told already we should have a minimum of 19,000 written. I still need to set my study up and get a move on it. I'll try and keep this blog up to date!
  8. 10 points
    (Sorry this is super long and incredibly overdue) It was a challenging semester with a lot of ups and downs. I think I should reflect on a few questions before I begin. 1) Did I learn anything? Yes. I think I did. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t learning anything, just stress and homework. But I had the opportunity to interpret officially for my school three times this semester. The first time was at the very beginning of the term before I even had any interpretation practice, the next two were just recently (last week and the week before). Based on the experience, I can see a big difference, the crowd was more receptive, my interpretation wasn’t as dry, I had a better sense of constructing sentences, and I even made people laugh (not at me haha but at the speakers joke). I also got a lot of positive feedback from people afterwards. I know it wasn’t perfect but no one seemed to notice or lose any of the information. 2) Will I pass? Probably. But not because I’m a great student but because I’m not Chinese. This is kind of a bittersweet victory. The teachers have already made it clear that they’ll be easier on us 3 foreign students, though sometimes it comes off a little condescending. Our teacher for oral class basically told us that we should sit next to a Chinese classmate and copy from them because we probably wouldn’t be able to read the Chinese exam. 3) Will I continue? Of course. There are some teachers who are a waste of time. The teacher who gives us weekly translations (E-C) is probably one of my least favorite teachers. Her idea of teaching is to sit in the class every week and tear apart the next person’s translation. She never reads them or reviews them in advance even though we’re required to submit our translations to her 2 days before. Her lectures tend to lead to rants about how all of us are horrible translators and that google translate and baidu translate does a better job than any of us. Sometimes she gives contradictory statements like “If you don’t want to do the HW or come to my class that’s fine it’s okay, just know that your grade will rely on the one you get in the final”, but when she realized people weren’t coming to class she got angry one day and called in what I’d call the ‘attendance police’, which is a person from the office who comes and takes attendance, if you’re not there when he’s there you’re late, if you get there 5 minutes after you’re ‘absent’. This attendance police entered quite a bit of our classrooms at one point. It’s a ridiculous waste of time. This same teacher then went on to say that the only way to pass was to do the homework. So as you can see she doesn’t make much sense. Sometimes in class she gets angry and starts to say “minus one point minus three, oh look here you would have failed with this many mistakes”. By the middle of the term she decided to ask for feedback from us about her teaching and things we’d like her to do different. I was surprised at how direct my classmates were and vicious lol. Some commented on how she just sat all the time and spoke. But the most important was that the translations were too long. At that point she was giving us translations that were nearing 2000 characters (from The Economist) due every week (roughly 4 days to complete). She agreed and decided to go with shorter passages. Nothing too short but nothing as long as those 2000 characters. I think this was pretty good of her despite my hatred for her. Also, she never enlarges the screen. Nearly 90% of the class wears glasses but for some reason she thinks it’s appropriate to keep the screen at its tiniest font, and never turns off the light. My vision has gotten so much worse than at the start of the term. Another class that is a waste of time is the one taught by our department head (Translation C-E). I think she has a lot of knowledge but honestly has no time to teach. Our classes with her are either cancelled or half assed. Or she just talks about translation phenomenon or stories. Also one of her biggest and most frustrating faults is her last minute assignments. For example, She’ll send something on Sunday 10 or 11 PM, and require it to be due on Tuesday 8 PM, but then sometime on Monday afternoon a thought will occur to her and she’ll add an entire extra part, deadline remains as is Tuesday 8pm. Then for class she doesn’t go over it, weeks later finally goes over it but never looks at it beforehand. She just takes a look during the class and makes comments. I don’t find this helpful at all. Plus we missed a lot of classes to go to mandatory lectures. The “meh” classes have got to be the three courses on translation theory. One professor just reads the textbook. I think he has a lot of knowledge but he mostly just stands there and reads the text in weird English that’s difficult to follow or understand. He’s really boring though and as a result I can only remember his name as ‘boring guy’. The other teacher I have that teaches two theory courses is a bit more interesting but I don’t find the class to be a help at all. We usually spend time watching whitehouse.gov or random video clips or translating random clips, bits of history etc. The other class is on presentations that the class has on each topic. At the beginning of the term we were divided up in groups and chose our day to present. This teacher used to be really weird around me, like he was scared of me… it’s hard to explain. But anyway since my presentation he’s taken a fondness to me so I feel a bit better. It used to feel really awkward when he’d literally jump when I’d come up to him to ask a question (nothing weird or sudden just normal). I have another class that’s on speaking. At the beginning of the term the focus was on English pronunciation and stuff but later became a more useful class for me but at the same time not really lol. Actually I’m not sure how I feel about the class. The teacher gives us really good resources but doesn’t really teach. We have interpretation exercises, then we go through random topics (medical, science, technology, terrorism, holidays, etc.) Lol. Also he has a very sarcastic/joking attitude that I’m okay with because I don’t get offended easily but sometimes it gets to my friends. Like for example, once we had to translate this very poetic text, and he told us in class “You two are about the level of a HS senior” and of course hearing that I’m a HS senior level I’m like YAAAAAAAAY and he’s like “no that wasn’t a compliment” and I’m like It is to me lmfao. And he went on to say that we would pass, but that our other classmate had no chance. But since day one he’s taken more of a fondness for me and that guy, he has a lot of fun joking with the classmate he said would fail. Then that leaves three classes. The two consecutive interpreting classes (E-C and C-E) are taught by really great teachers. They’re patient, helpful, and have really good exercises for developing interpretation skills. Plus I think their best trait is that they don’t try and destroy a student’s self-esteem. I have a lot of fun in these classes and the teachers really make an effort to include us foreign students in class. Exercises we had were on memory, note taking, taking down numbers (big numbers, think million, billion, trillion, etc.), organizing cohesive sentences, etc. The other class that I like and don’t like is Sight translation. The teacher is amazing, great, whatever but she has really high standards. One day I came into class and she was like ‘you’re late’ and I was like “huh really? “ I looked at the time and it was 7:50 so I was like “actually I’m early its only 7:50” and she was like “not in my class” and then proceeded to tell everyone that as a professional we had to get to the class a minimum of 30 minutes early. So every morning I rushed into class by 7:20 or 7:25. She also doesn’t take a break and goes over class time. We can’t eat or drink in her class which okay is reasonable. If your phone goes off she’ll lose it. Sounds make her neurotic and if she hears the classroom across from us she’ll storm outside and slam the door shut and then return back to rant about how annoying they are. Lol. Besides these quirks we’re also required to prepare a piece of news each week as well as memorizing vocabulary (countries names and their capitals, important organizations, technical vocab) and preparing our background knowledge on topics of her choice. Our recent stuff has been speeches, so we have to prepare the materials like vocabulary and what have you. If you don’t have these things she’ll lose it. I’m actually really scared of this teacher lol. She’s cool to talk with but extremely strict. She studied at the Monterey institute and is a professional simultaneous interpreter. She knows her stuff but honestly speaking I sit in that class and pray she doesn’t notice me. Oh and that just leaves my Spanish class. It’s going goodish lol. I found that I have great listening skills. Probably the best in the class. My classmates have no idea most of the time what the audio is saying. I took a look at my ‘first impressions’ so I wanted to point out changes from my first impressions 1) “Chinese students are insanely gifted. “ After a whole semester getting to know my classmates I can say most are quite average, there are about 3-4 that are really impressive but the majority are average and about the same level as me. They might be good at memorization but sometimes their translations suffer from lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. A lot of my classmates don’t really know much about the world. Actually one of the shocking things I found out was that no one in my class knew anything about the assassination of Kim Jung Un’s halfbrother in Malaysia. 2) “I don’t think that foreigners were supposed to be in this major. “ I still feel this way. Actually the worst part about being in this major is that I have to deal with the bitchiest secretary ever. Every time I’ve gone into that office she gives so much sass and attitude I can just tell how much she despises foreign students. I thought it was just the first time I went to the office but later I found out that’s just her state of mind. My friend said he gets the same attitude from her lol. She’s a ‘secretary’ but think ‘secretary general’ instead of office secretary. She’s got a lot of power which is unfortunate. 3) “The Chinese classmates think all 3 of us foreigners are stupid and can’t speak Chinese.” Pretty much feel the same. Just wanted to add that they think that all the teachers love us. Which is so insane. I just think the teachers tolerate us. I also had one of my partners get really cold on me out of the blue. We correct each other’s translations for the economist teacher, but one day I had more time than most to really look at her translation carefully. I noticed quite a bit of clumsy mistakes. Like for instance, she began a sentence with ‘亦或是甚至可能’ so I just told her to pick one not use all of them because it wasn’t grammatically correct. Since then she’s been more distant but still wants me to go over her translations. Her new thing is to tell me that my Chinese sucks. I think that it makes her feel better. So whatever. Lol. 4) “Students get to class something like 15-30 minutes before class begins. “ Hahaha. No. After the first few weeks wore down so did the Chinese ability to get to class super early. Final thoughts: I feel a lot better now than I did that first month. Especially after I began to realize that my classmates are not as good as I imagined and that in reality we’re pretty much the same level. Yeah their Chinese might be better than mine but my English is so much better than theirs hahaha. I think our level in foreign language is roughly on par so I don’t feel nearly as bad. They also don’t speak any other languages than English. I’m more impressed with my foreign classmates who can speak 3-5 languages. I know it’s bad to admit but I’m really glad there are two other non-Chinese students in the class. We have so much fun laughing at each other and it’s not even in a condescending way. We also try and brain storm together or reconfirm translations with each other. And most important we’re always there for each other for support. All of us at one point during this semester hit a low point where we were discouraged or depressed. It’s really good to have a friend there for you who can relate with the problems and get you out of a funk. I’d still like to get close with my classmates but I’m not making it a priority anymore. I’ll let it happen naturally if it doesn’t then it just wasn’t meant to be. Actually today I helped out my classmate with knitting. So maybe we’ll become knitting buddies. What’s left? 3 weeks, 3 papers, and the rest are just exams. I’m a bit pressed because 2 of our papers are due by Christmas. The other paper has a research part, and that’s due in the middle of January. Actually if anyone has any free time to spare and would like to take part let me know. It’s a short study on translation protocols, think process rather than translation accuracy. Actually what you translate doesn’t really matter for the study but rather which approach you take and your methods for deciding it. I chose translating ‘slang’ J hinty hint hint. Haha. Sorry for being shameless. I’m looking forward to going back home for winter break to relax, and give myself some time to go over all the vocabulary that I’ve been meaning to memorize. Also to read through all of those lovely resources that my tea
  9. 9 points
    In most of the world's languages, you can turn a word into its respective occupation by adding affixes to it. However, as Chinese doesn't conjugate, we attach an additional character to a word instead to form that corresponding job. One aspect in which Chinese differs from English when forming occupation words is that in English, what suffix is used depends mainly on the origins of words, but in Chinese people choose occupation particles based on the properties and characteristics of that job. Here're some practically and frequently used occupation particles in Chinese. 1.家 家, with its original meaning of a family or a clan, can be extended to refer to a particular philosophy, theory or ideology. Hence, when it's used to form an occupation word, that occupation would be usually related to a professional skill, interest or talent. For example: -文学家: a person who has been educated on literature — a litterateur. -画家: a person who is professional in drawing — a painter. -科学家: a person who has professional knowledge about science — a scientist. -音乐家: a person who is well-educated and professional in music — a musician. -美食家: a person who is passionate and authoritative in appraising foods — a gourmet. It's good to note that when two different occupation words are derived from the same origin, the one with 家 added often has a higher level of profession, authority or recognisation. For instance, 歌手 and 歌唱家 are both people who take singing as their jobs, but 歌唱家 is definitely regarded as an artist while 歌手 is probably just a public performer or a pop song singer. Another interesting fact is that when we come to players for specific musical instruments, the only two that are conventionally named with 家 are 钢琴家, a pianist and 小提琴家, a violinist. 2.师 师 originally means a teacher or an adviser. When a job is named with 师 attached, it refers to people who are well-trained or experienced in a particular area. The difference between it and 家 is that a 师 may not necessarily have the profession or talent. Here're some examples: -教师: a person who is trained to teach others — a teacher. -厨师: a person who is trained to work in a kitchen — a cook. -理发师: a person who is trained to manage people's hair — a barber. -会计师: a person who is trained to account money — an accountant. 3.手 手 means hands, thus referring to people who have high skills or talents, but only in a small area. Unlike 家, a XX手 usually doesn't have an overall profession in a general field, but in a much more specific section. It is very often seen in players of a particular instrument. For example: -鼓手: a person whose task is to play the drums — a drummer. -吉他手: a person who plays the guitar — a guitarist. -小号手: a person who plays the trumpet — a trumpeter. -舵手: a person who is responsible for managing and controlling the helm — a helmsman. 4.工 工 means originally work or labour. Hence it is usually used to name those jobs that need hard labour or manual processes. For example: -技工: a person hired to manage technical issues — a technician. -水管工: a person paid to repair waterpipes — plumber. -电工: a person paid to check and fix electrical devices — an electrician. -油漆工: a person who paints buildings — a painter. 5.匠 匠 basically means a craftsman, so it is used for any job related to crafting and designing. Though it also involves laborious processes often, it's different from 工 as the labour is done in order to craft or make a certain object or artefact. For example: -木匠: a person who uses woods to do handicrafts — a carpenter. -铁匠: a person who crafts metal objects — a blacksmith.
  10. 9 points
    This series is outdated. I wrote a book about regular script, which I recommend over reading this. This post is meant to provide a clear-cut standard for beginners regarding Chinese handwriting using common hard-tipped writing instruments like pencils and pens, focusing on regular script (楷書). This is necessary because commonly available materials provide inaccurate information or stray too far into aesthetics too early, while neglecting the basics. My goal here is not to get you to write well, but to write correctly. The examples I show are made with a pencil, only caring to ensure that things are correct where they should be, with no attention paid to aesthetics. First, some axioms. Writing is a form of communication through symbols. Recognition of these symbols without distraction requires them to adhere to certain rules. These rules are called 書法, “writing rules.” Characters in regular script are recognized based on the length, direction, and placement of strokes. Stroke thickness is not essential. Therefore, regular script can be written correctly with a monoline writing instrument. However, an atypical scheme of line thickness variation that becomes distracting is still wrong. With that, your goal when writing (regardless of writing instrument) should be to communicate without distraction. The most common potential distraction when writing is producing wrong characters. In general, writing something that has not been commonly employed in exemplary pieces of writing for that particular morpheme will probably result in a wrong character. More concretely, the difference between a right and wrong character can depend on: Substitution of one character for another, e.g. instead of Substitution of one component for another, e.g. for . Absence of a required stroke (which may result in a substitution), e.g. for . An extra stroke, e.g. for . Stroke placement is incorrect, e.g. for . Substitution of one type of stroke for another, e.g. for. Width relationship of certain strokes are incorrect, e.g. for . Height relationship of certain strokes are incorrect, e.g. for . Width relationship of certain components are incorrect, e.g. for . An opening where there should be none, e.g. for . Lack of an opening where there should be one, e.g. for . Visibly incorrect stroke order, e.g. for I think that about covers it. The first piece of homework you have to do, then, is to learn to recognize and reproduce the basic strokes of regular script. They are most reliably recognized by their orientation and curvature. The number of different strokes varies depending on how you count. I only include those which I think differ significantly in technique. A horizontal stroke, commonly called 橫, is written from left to right. It can be truly horizontal or tilted up at the right a bit. It rare cases it can be tilted down, but not doing so in such a case will not make the difference between a right and wrong character. It may bow up (most commonly) or down in the middle, but not extremely. If you vary the thickness, it must be thick on both ends. A vertical stroke, commonly called 豎, is written from top to bottom. It must not curve. In most cases it should be ideally truly vertical. In some cases such as in the second stroke of 五 it can slant and still be a vertical stroke as long as it does not curve. When written with line width variation, both ends are usually thick, although in some cases it can end in a point, and sometimes it must end in a point. A positive-sloped stroke, commonly called 撇, is written from the upper right to the lower left. Lengths and curvatures of these strokes vary greatly. It usually bows down in the middle. In rare cases it must either be completely straight or bow up, such as the second stroke of 為 (examples). If you vary thickness, in most cases it must start thick and end thin. In some cases, such as in the third stroke of 鹿, it may start with a point, however not doing so will not result in a wrong character. Dots, commonly called 點, are short strokes going in some downward direction, written from the top. When writing with varying line thickness, start with a point and increase thickness until the end. The dot to the right can be lengthened using the same technique, resulting in a straight or upwards-bowing negative slope stroke, called 長點 or 反捺. A negative slope stroke that bows down in the middle is called 捺. At the top, if it is closer to horizontal, there is initially a rightward motion. If it is steeper, it starts directly in the downward bow. If it starts in the middle of another stroke, it starts with a point. If not, it likely must start thick, as in the last stroke of 之 (examples). A stroke that is written from the bottom left to the upper right, and tilts up more than a horizontal stroke, is called 提. These are never the last stroke of a character. They start thick and end thin. A round curve of about 90 degrees is called 彎. They are usually a transition between a vertical and horizontal stroke. Hooks, called 鉤, are short attachments to major strokes. Most of them are very straightforward. On horizontal strokes, hooks can only go down. On vertical strokes, hooks can only go left. One stroke only occurs with a hook. I don't know what it's called, but it occurs in the last stroke of 子 and the second stroke of 狗. It is rather vertical but bows to the right, starting thin and ending thick (where the hook starts, which ends thin again). Hooks attached to rather steep 捺 are likely called 斜鉤. However, there are steep 捺 where you must not hook, as in the 4th to last stroke of 國 (example). The hook should point straight up or slightly to the right, even if the next stroke occurs left of it, except in 心 and 必, where it should point left. Corners are the end of one stroke and the beginning of another. Corners can be correctly made by lifting your writing instrument up and starting a stroke that covers the end of the previous stroke. However, if at the end of one stroke you feel that you are prepared to start another, then go ahead and connect them. Note that stroke counts for dictionary classification are made assuming cornered strokes are connected into one where possible. Therefore, while I would write 幺 in 5 separate strokes, a dictionary would say it has 3 strokes. (Continued in Part 2)
  11. 8 points
    Unfortunately I went through another hiatus in learning. It seems to be a character trait that I go through periods of being good and taking a rest when learning Mandarin as a hobby. Here's a list of useful links to posts and articles (to be continually updated) in no particular order. Reading back in Chinese forums helps me get interested again. It just shows how much we can read and learn, yet still forget. 1) List of everyday topics to discuss. Practicing discussing about these topics with different teachers or language partners. One can practice the same topic with different people to gradually increase fluency and also increase vocabulary around that topic. 2) How to make best use of an online tutor. Lots of practical advice by @NinjaTurtle Note: many useful learning strategies in this thread. 3) transcription project. Lots of subtitle materials from shows that you makes searching for content much easier. Also refer to Best way to Use Chinese film / transcripts 4) Accent Improvement: more natural sounding tones - phenomenal post showing the amount of detail that one can analyse ones own tones for that holy grail of sounding native-like. Of relevance, refer to this Towards Better Tones in Natural Speech where one needs to stress the correct tone on key words when speaking to sound more natural whereas some other parts of a sentence, it's not so important. Some important practical advice here. 5) Honorifics in Chinese - this links to a Chinese honorifics wiki entry. I played with this a bit when communicating with newly met mature people on Hellotalk. Excellent resource and when you use it (and get it right), the feedback is pretty satisfying 6) Getting out of a listening rut - a very good thread that makes interesting observations on why a person may have much more difficulty listening despite a lot of effort. The most enlightening post is here on a 12th page. 7) Effective exercises for learning with a private tutor - not to be confused with 2) which has different strategies. Rote learning is an important way to success. A nice recommendation by @Tomsima for this book which I don't have, but learning some idioms for situational dialogues makes a whole world of difference. 8)Looking for more anki based material? It's here in the Subs2SRS Anki Deck Index 9) Transcribing Mandarin as a learning method. Lovely description by @Publius of the transcribing method. A further detailed description in here by @imron. A forum member posts their experience 10) Worst advice when learning Mandarin - third point is great! 11) Drilling tones - takeaway advice is a lot of drilling on the same sentence is required. Chorus method requires drilling more than 20-30 times and this really opened up my insight. For some reason, I am quite happy to do the same amount of repetitive drilling in sports but felt in languages, it should be easier. Not so - you need to put your time in and no short cuts. 12) Getting new vocabulary and syntax from chinese media. One of my favourite threads which contains the detail of how to use subs2srs to make anki cards from media 13) WorkAudioBook – a tool for listening practice (and subtitle creation) how to create .srt files and then troubleshooting the import into anki process 14) Independent Chinese study: review . The most popular post in Chinese-forums. How to learn Chinese away from formal classes. Simply awesome. 15) How to language exchange - this youtube video details the learning process of language exchange. It's the only video that I have seen that details the exact process within a language exchange session - further explanation with respect to input and techniques. Most other people talk about what you should do to find or keep a language partner rather than the content of how to learn within a session. Getting lots of commands can reinforce the acquisition process. 16) An interesting way and fun way to develop more interactions with people and helping your language skills. 17)Listening skills for northern accents, and southern accents 18) The process of using a movie to help your Chinese listening
  12. 8 points
    In “The 2019 Aims and Objectives Progress Topic” thread, I recently resolved to read one million Chinese characters in books and articles this year. Our esteemed forum administrator @roddy reached out to ask if I would chronicle my attempt to do this through posts on this website. And here I am. My goal is to read one million characters in 2019. To accomplish this will require reading 2,750 characters per day, or three to seven pages of text per day, on average. That is a manageable amount of reading. However, it could quickly become unmanageable if I am not diligent. 2019 will be a very busy year. To meet my goal, I will need to stay disciplined while facing many demands on my time. So far, I have finished《三八节有感》, a short 1942 article by 丁玲 about the treatment of CPC women at Yan'an. That article contains 2,370 Chinese characters. I am currently reading a second article by 丁玲, as well as a far longer thing I started last year that will take several more months to complete. It is hard to overstate how helpful this website and its denizens have been to my Chinese language learning. In twelve years of studying Chinese, I have found conversation, motivation, tools, tips, and answers to many questions here. Hopefully this series of posts will be helpful to other Chinese language learners like other Chinese language learners’ posts have been helpful to me. Some statistics: Characters read this year: 2,370 Characters left to read this year: 997,630 Percent of goal completed: 0.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2370 characters)
  13. 7 points
    Hello everyone, It has been a while since I last updated my blog. There were a couple of reasons for this - My eyes My vision was deteriorating quite a lot and last November the decision was taken to under go cataract surgery. As this was in the UK and on the NHS the wheels grind (no complaints it just the way it is) and eventually I now have 2 new lenses and can see better than I have been able to for many years. I found it was becoming increasingly frustrating trying to read characters with bad eyes and magnifying glasses are a pain, hard to scan pages with one. I am still in recovery, it is only the third day after my second eye so slowly slowly does it. My intention is to return and update my blog with my new learning schedule and updates as to my successes and failures and hopefully help myself and others to progress with learning Chinese. Just wanted to update anyone who was interested that my hiatus from learning is now turning slowly into a return to learning.
  14. 7 points
    I am now two weeks into year 2 of my 4 year degree program. The level has increased notably! The content of each class is considerably more than it was, and we now have 7 subjects instead of the 4 we had last year. We now have speaking, listening, reading, comprehensive, writing, general survey of China, and character study. Our class has also increased in size to 44 students, so it's absolutely massive. These are students who have studied at HIT for a year, switched major etc. We now have more Russians, one student from Turkmenistan, and lots more Thai and Korean students. I'm not sure how I feel about the number of students. Obviously it's way too many, and although it won't impact listening much, I think it will affect how much I get to speak to some degree. The flip side of this is that interaction is generally by choice, and some people just seem to scared to say anything, and so I've been speaking/reading in class just as much, if not more than last year. The China survey class is quite interesting, and I am definitely looking forward to learning more about the history, geography and culture of China. Character study is fun, but probably the hardest class of them all. This is because we are looking at stuff like myths regarding the origin of Hanzi, and so of course there are lots of new words, a large portion of which appear to be fairly specialist, and probably not all that useful to us at this point in time. Along with writing and listening, we only have one class per week of these subjects. Speaking is great, as we now have our comp teacher from last year, and he is all about us speaking all the time. He's already had us up the front talking which is great practice. Our teacher last year was terrible, and we hardly ever talked in class, so this is really refreshing, and I feel like it is only going to help my speaking. I'm still not a fan of listening, but at least we only have one class a week now. Comprehensive is awesome, and I love the new teacher that we have for it, her teaching style is excellent. Nothing too specific for this first update, just a general overview. I will give more details on what I am learning in the following updates.
  15. 7 points
    There was some demand for this. I know much less cursive than I do regular script, but I'll try not to BS. First, I'm calling 行書 "cursive" as I feel it's the most appropriate translation and its execution is closest to Latin character cursive. 草書 is more like shorthand, which I'll reluctantly call "supercursive." Others might call 行書 "semi-cursive" and 草書 "cursive". (My everyday handwriting, and example of cursive. It sucks, but it's not wrong.) In order to learn cursive, you must learn regular script. Cursive is 90% regular script, and its quality will depend on the quality of your regular script. In any fluent writer, cursive script is a reflection of their regular script, so the two scripts will not be significantly different unless they have deliberately made it so. The first step to learning cursive is to solidify your understanding of regular script. If you need to, read my series on regular script starting here. Here are some examples of what you need to look out for: Stroke order. Cursive stroke order is almost identical to that of regular script. For example, in Part 5 of my regular script series, the last item on the quiz was about stroke order. You need to get that right in order to understand what’s going on here: (Ouyang Xun 《千字文》) You can read about finding regular script stroke orders here . Correct stroke order is also essential for developing an ability to make structurally correct characters. Below I have written "左右" in a correct and incorrect stroke order, demonstrating the effect of stroke order on structure. Incorrect examples are marked with dots on the right. Yes, there are some instances where cursive stroke order differs from that of regular script. Most of these instances will be because you're writing an abbreviation of some sort. The only case I can think of where the same component is written differently in cursive and regular script is a component where vertical strokes pass through two or more horizontal strokes without passing through the last one, like 土 and 隹. In general, if there is a horizontal stroke at the top, it is written first, then the vertical is written before the other horizontals, unless in 土 above other components (like in 寺) or to the left (like 地) where it resembles regular script stroke order. This only applies to 土. The top of 青 is still 一 丨 一 一. Stroke type. For example, if you are in the habit of ending 羽 with ㇀, you will not only be writing regular script wrong, but impeding your cursive with awkward strokes that don't go anywhere, and if you have this habit, then you are used to awkwardness, and these awkward strokes will go unnoticed. Below I write 羽 alone and as a component in another character with correct and incorrect stroke types. The blue arrows show the writing instrument direction. Width relationships. Cursive permits a wider range of possible width relationships, but in most cases, the only correct one is identical to the regular script one. When you know the correct way(s) to write a regular script character, the cursive character will come naturally. Below, I show correct and incorrect width relationships in regular script, and their effect if translated to cursive. (Verify: 宋 , 春 , 安 , 無 , 事 , 耳 ) Most common variants. When writing regular script, you can get away with only knowing an orthodox variant, but if the orthodox variant isn't also the most common variant, you will need to learn the most common variant, because the most common form in cursive is almost always based on the most common variant in regular script. Below, I have written (from right to left) an orthodox variant, the most common variant, and cursive. It is rare to find these characters written in orthodox form, and rarer to find them written in cursive based on the orthodox form. (Verify: 明 , 來 , 所 , 此 , 能 ) Common abbreviations. Many abbreviations found in regular script, often making the difference between the orthodox and most common variant, are also found in cursive. Below I write a character in orthodox form, and again employ some abbreviation(s), and then all of them in cursive. (Verify: 若 , 後 , 從 , 雖 ) Notice that the abbreviation of 艹 in 若 is the same as the abbreviation of 从 in 從 and 來. Abbreviations will overlap like this, and will never be used in a context that would create ambiguity. Once you are confident with these things, you will have established regular script, one extreme in the range of cursive. From this, simply writing regular script fast enough that inertia overpowers your willingness to maintain a clean line will result in a cursive effect. The other extreme of cursive is supercursive (草書). Cursive exists somewhere between these two. For now, because you (probably) don't know supercursive, your cursive would lean toward regular script. Later, if you learn supercursive, you will be able to add supercursive features to your cursive, therefore pushing it more toward supercursive. For example, the way I wrote 隹 in 雖 is a supercursive feature because supercursive draws more on clerical script (隸書) than regular script. If I wanted to, I could also turn 彳 into 氵 or 冫 or 丨, which would be another supercursive feature. Cursive also has its own unique features, such as an abbreviation of 門 rarely seen in supercursive and never in regular script. The best way to pick up these features is to read other people's handwriting. The best examples of cursive are from Wang Xizhi, Wang Xianzhi, and Zhao Mengfu. I recommend that when practicing someone else's cursive, only aim to reproduce the major features instead of producing a precise copy, as precision is not a primary goal in cursive. As for resources, I've linked to a 書法字典 (search in Simplified Chinese) numerous times in this post. Whole documents can be found here. One particular publication that has helped me a lot is 《王羲之行書字典》. It's about 400 pages of cursive characters. If you take half a day to look through that, it will beat going over the various ways different components are written in cursive.
  16. 6 points
    https://youtu.be/OB5bL3Ow4-c 卡特家庭 5: 在超市) | Level 3 | Chinese Methodology recap : listened a few times not looking at subtitles. Watched the video to help context. guessed meaning, characters known 放进 put in 过道 aisle 汽水 fizzy drink Couldn't guess meaning, characters known. 放进去 to put inside 放回去 to put back Guessed the meaning pretty well, didn't know words before 架子 shelf 薯片 crisps 收银台 cashier's counter Previously completely unknown 叹了口气 皱了一下眉头 wrinkled eyebrows (frowned) 耸肩 shrug shoulders 曲奇饼干 - apparently usually it's 曲奇 for cookie and 饼干 for biscuit. The two words (four characters) are rarely used together.
  17. 6 points
    I finished up the spring semester of my second year yesterday with my final of 7 exams. Next week we start a 4 week summer semester, which consists of a week of class, followed by some outings and then a final exam. This semester has been great, and I feel like I have made a ton of progress. I still struggle with my tones, but thanks to lots of speaking practice I feel much more aware of the mistakes I am making, and am being much more conscious in my efforts to correct and avoid mistakes. I really enjoyed speaking class this semester, as we had a lot of opportunities to be up the front giving presentations and such. This was definitely the highlight for me. Of course I would do massive amounts of preparation beforehand, but the fact that our teacher won't let us take notes up to the front to read from meant that I was forced to go with the flow much more. This in turn has led me to feel much more comfortable speaking in front of others. Final exams seemed to go ok. In general they were similar in structure to previous exams. I made a couple of silly mistakes here and there, but nothing major. I find myself losing interest somewhat in exams and results, as I want the focus to be actually being able to converse fluently in Chinese, read books, write articles etc, rather than comparing myself to others, or getting great marks on an exam. I have already bought most of my books for third year, and have begun looking through them. My reading book is the same series as this year, and so the jump isn't too intimidating. However, for some reason we are now using a 高级 book for writing (I mentioned this to the teacher as I thought he had made a mistake, we are only 准高级 in third year, but he said this is the book). There is a marked increase in difficulty here, and aside from pinyin for a few words, there is no English whatsoever. This may not be a huge deal, but it's a cool little milestone for me hah! I finished watching 男人帮 ages ago, and I'm now 20 episodes in to 一仆二主, and loving it! The first was set in Shanghai, but seemed to use very standard putonghua, and so I didn't find it too hard to understand. The latter is set in Beijing, and for some reason I am finding it far harder to understand! If it wasn't for the subtitles there are whole sections that would just sound like one, long, slurred 儿 sound! I am understanding enough to know what's going on for the most part though, and I am picking up lots of new vocabulary and characters, as well as working on my 听力! I also bought a book. I foolishly bought a copy of 三国演义,being as it was at a great price. It took me half an hour to get through the first paragraph, at which point I realized this wasn't a productive undertaking. Still wanting to be able to have a crack at such a Chinese classic, I bought a 青少年版。 As expected, it is much more manageable, yet still far beyond my level. This is a challenge for me to accomplish over the course of the next two years. Until then, I will stick with my textbooks, and of course with my great friend 淘气包马小跳! In August my family is heading out to China, and we will be traveling to Xian, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. I'm really excited to finally get to visit some other Chinese cities, as so far I have only been to 3. Shanghai is mainly to get passports done for my sons (not to say I am not excited to visit, just that it wasn't at the top of my list of places to go). I can't wait to check out the terracotta army in Xian, especially after spending some time learning about it in my 文化 class this semester. Finally, I have just applied for a scholarship for next year. This is from the university rather than CSC, and there are 4 grades, ranging from fully covered with 1000RMB a month for living expenses, to 20% off. My grades are probably good enough to get me something, but I have basically done no competitions or activities with the university, which is something they highly value. Getting any money off would be amazing, so here's hoping!
  18. 6 points
    I just got home from my final exam of third semester, and so my first year is over! The exam today was quite difficult. It consisted of 5 questions which had long answers, basically like essay questions but much shorter. They were based on what we have covered this semester in our week of class, and the places we went to visit. I am feeling really good about how this first year has gone. I have a very long way to go, but I can feel that there has been a big improvement since I started, and that I have a good foundation for the next 3 years. I'm not sure that there is one stand out area that I need to improve a lot more than anything else, but rather just that I need to keep continuing right across the board. I was at a little show thing yesterday that my kids' kindergarten put on, and one of the teachers was speaking at the front and I understand almost everything she said. Then when we ate together later on she was talking and I understood next to nothing! This may have been because slower, more 'formal' type Chinese is easier for me to understand than dialect laced chit-chat, but it was both a great encouragement at being able to do something I never could have a year ago, and a reminder that there is so much more I need to learn, and so much more time I need to spend practicing. The same rings true of my speaking, reading and writing. I'll express myself really clearly, and then be misunderstood when I try to tell someone I'm from England. I'll write something my teacher says is great, and then forget how to write 年 or 唱歌 in an exam! I'll find a sentence out and about that I can read and understand, and then find one where I don't know a single character. Over the break I want to try and keep up with study, but I haven't yet thought out exactly what I am going to do. I think I will try reading texts from a text book that I haven't used yet, in order to keep my reading up, and also to pick up new vocab. I will try my best to speak Chinese at home (not just out and about), and try to do things where I can increase how much I am listening. I think this might be my last post until September when we start back up again, although I may drop a mid-break post if I remember.
  19. 6 points
    Back in March, I started to transcribe as a listening exercise, but life happened, and I had to stop. Now I'm doing this again, this time with these rules: 1) I'm doing it for 2 hours every day: For one hour, I work with slow, clearly spoken material (Slow Chinese) For one hour I struggle with a Chinese TV drama (Great Marriage). I might rethink this mix, but I stuck with it for the first month. 2) I use WorkAudioBook for Slow Chinese and Lingual Media Player for the drama. The drama has .srt subtitles and I prepare subtitles for Slow Chinese days before using each episode for this listening exercise. I only listen to one subtitle line at a time. Each line is 1-7 seconds long. 3) I can use anything to get the transcription done: Pleco, Google, Baidu, etc, but NOT voice recognition software or looking at the original transcript itself. That would be cheating. 4) I work with paper, mechanical pencil and an eraser in paper with 25 squares per line, with separations to write down corrections and omissions. This makes it easier to compute total characters and count errors/omissions. 5) After each session, I count total characters originally written and subtract double the errors. This is my score. When I reach 1,000 points in one day, I'll go out and celebrate in my favorite pizza restaurant. I subtract errors twice because this way I force myself to try and strike a balance between speed and accuracy: I can't go too fast because my accuracy might fall below 50% and then I get negative scores; I can't linger for too long on difficult parts because then I won't be making more points in easier parts. There's only so much you can do with Pleco and Google when you just can't make out the exact sounds people are saying, so you have to choose when to move on. So far, I've seen progress. With both Slow Chinese and the drama, the proverbs, quotes and fixed expressions are the most difficult. Of course, the drama is way more difficult than Slow Chinese, so now I'm skipping the parts where several people are talking at the same time/quarreling/shouting/drunk/etc. I find that my handwriting is becoming faster, but sloppier. And I'm learning to understand both a slight Zhejiang accent (Slow Chinese) and Northern accent (Great Marriage), and how sounds are slurred together/omitted/whispered/etc. I want to sit for the HSK in order to have a clear goal to work for, so I'm considering switching from transcribing Great Marriage to transcribing past recordings of the HSK listening section, to really get used to them. Of course, during the exam you won't have the luxury of replaying, but still, this might be a useful exercise and a break from all the quarreling found in a TV drama. To be honest, I find it disheartening that even pausing and repeating and using Pleco and all that stuff, I can only get around 70% of the drama dialogue right. It can feel like a chore, so I guess I'll take a stroll through the HSK forest and then come back to the TV drama when I have more vocabulary. What do you think? I'm also attaching a sample of my handwriting. Above the line, it's the drama. Below the line, it's Slow Chinese. To clarify, the "stopped" information doesn't reflect how much I transcribe in each session, because I sometimes keep watching/listening after finishing the transcribing session. It's just a bookmark.
  20. 6 points
    This was copied from the conclusion of a research paper I wrote. I'm not super confident on the quality of the paper so I'm not putting it here. A lot of this should be "no shit" to many of you. Some of it might be surprising.
  21. 6 points
    Just a warning, in case all of the "女" confuses you into thinking that a "女婿" is female. I assumed it was, and boy did I get the wrong impression of that relationship! "姪女婿" is male too. Just saying.
  22. 6 points
    I've been here in Beijing at Beihang University for a week now. The lectures starts on tuesday so I have had some time to explore the surrounding area and check out some markets. So far it has been a great experience and from a swedes point of view the chinese are very friendly and open for contact. I wish I had some language skills to be able to chat with people but that will change (hopefully!). Some photos : http://www.flickr.com//photos/keithakid/sets/72157627476683131/show/
  23. 6 points
    Here's my first crack at a 挑战! I have a clip from the first episode of the show 好想好想谈恋爱. The characters involved are 谭艾琳 and 建豪. Just to give you a little background, 建豪 is fabulously wealthy and he often flies into town for the weekend just to see 谭艾琳, sends her expensive gifts, and in general spends a lot of money on her. This is a conversation between the two of them in a quiet little coffee house. 1. What is the topic of their conversation? 2. Why does 谭艾琳 finally decide to broach this subject? 3. What feelings does 谭艾琳 have towards 建豪? Transcript: For more info, here's the link to the discussion thread from the Great First Episode Project.
  24. 5 points
    I recently finished “Art in China” by Professor Craig Clunas. The book organizes the art of China in different contexts, and then describes the history chronologically within that context. This way of learning about history is rather interesting. The discussions are much clearer because the items being compared are discussed right before, and reduces flipping through the book to remember other facts. It also provides a better overall view of the history and development of art in these contexts. I typically read books in Chinese about topics related to Chinese culture because I’m more familiar with names and terms in Chinese. With books in English, I typically have problems with translated or romanized names and terms. (I never learned Chinese romanization). I had no problems with this book. I think it’s a good introductory book for anyone interested in the history of art of China. The book also has a timeline, bibliography, and lists of websites for reference.
  25. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the novel 《第七天》 by 余华. The story centers around protagonist 杨飞 and his experiences before and after his sudden untimely death. Unlike other 余华 novels, 《第七天》 is a work of surrealist fiction. The narrative present is set in the afterlife; all major characters in the novel are dead. Like 余华’s other novels, 《第七天》 is at turns tragic, funny, morbid, and sweet. It is not his best novel, but it might be my favorite. The Chinese in 《第七天》 is not difficult to understand. The novel is easier to read than 《活着》 and 《在细雨中呼喊》, though probably harder than the dialogue-heavy 《许三观卖血记》. Demands on my time prevent me from writing a longer review. In August, I moved to Shanghai and started a new and exciting job, which keeps me very busy. I continue to read Chinese nearly every day and am confident I will meet my 1,000,000 character goal this year. Link to 《第七天》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117754/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 602,138 Characters left to read this year: 397,862 Percent of goal completed: 60.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters)
  26. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the novel 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒. The novel is about the lives of two people: the unnamed male narrator, a john and former journalist driving across China’s National Highway 318; and his passenger 娜娜, a pregnant prostitute looking for someone from her past. The narrative alternates between road chapters and flashback chapters. The road chapters are set in the present. These chapters contain conversations between the two protagonists and focus on 娜娜’s backstory. The flashback chapters are set in the past. They move chronologically through the narrator’s life, beginning with his childhood and jumping forward until they converge with the road chapters at the end of the book. 《1988》 is a funny novel. This is mainly because of the witty dialogue. While reading 《1988》, I frequently smiled and occasionally laughed out loud. Unfortunately, much of the humor comes at the expense of 娜娜, the down-on-her-luck sex worker. At its best, the humor arises through character-driven storytelling. 娜娜 is a quixotic figure, a woman whose life is full of misfortune but who clings to unrealistic and grandiose hopes for her and her unborn child. At its worst, the humor is meanspirited and cheap, consisting of sarcastic quips from the narrator insulting 娜娜’s intelligence. The plot of 《1988》 is above average; the execution of the plot is unexceptional. While the protagonists’ stories intersect in interesting ways, these intersections would have a greater effect if the storytelling were more patient. The emotional power of the most moving events in the story is undercut by 韩寒’s light, breezy narration and the meanspiritedness noted above. Near the end of the novel, a multi-chapter narrative thread involving a childhood sweetheart is wrapped up in a single paragraph. No doubt this was intentional. But the resolution lacks pathos, as though 韩寒 was not willing to give a personal and moral tragedy the emotional weight it deserved. 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 is not a difficult book to read, vocabulary-wise. I found the language about as easy as 棉棉’s 《熊猫》, perhaps a bit easier. As with 《熊猫》, most of the main text is dialogue. This means fewer low-frequency words, which makes for an easier read. I chose to read this book after seeing @ouyangjun and @Lu mention it in the evergreen and ever-useful “What are you reading?” thread. Link to 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/116/116559/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 497,065 Characters left to read this year: 502,935 Percent of goal completed: 49.7% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters)
  27. 5 points
    I recently finished reading 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华. It is the third novel by 余华 I have read, following the perennial Chinese Forums favorites 《活着》 and 《许三观卖血记》. 《在细雨中呼喊》 is about a young boy and the events that happen to the people around him in two villages over a seven-year period. The novel has a fascinating structure and contains some great storytelling. It is also an uneven book. Its opening and closing sections are fantastic. The middle chapters are overlong and not well executed. I lost interest in the novel halfway. I continued reading to the end, though, and am glad I did. The narrative core of story is this: a six-year-old boy, the middle of three brothers, is growing up with his biological family in the village 南门. Unwanted by his father, he is sold to a couple from another village, 孙荡. The boy goes to 孙荡 and lives there for six years. Following a series of colorful and improbable events, the boy returns to 南门. In some ways, 《在细雨中呼喊》 is less of a novel and more of a novel skeleton. It is not a single overarching story. It is a collection of anecdotes. The novel lacks a clearly defined protagonist. Except for the surreal beginning and ending of the book and a few other sections, the boy-narrator is not a central character. His name, 孙光林, appears only three times in the entire novel. Many of the anecdotes do not involve him. The anecdotes are about other people: his family members, classmates, friends, teachers. The story is told out of chronological order. The beginning of the book describes the narrator’s return to 南门 after six years in 孙荡; the ending does, too. A long middle section describes events that occur before the narrator is born. The narrative is told from a first-person perspective throughout, which is confusing in places. Certain anecdotes contain details the narrator would not have had access to, e.g., the precise movements of his adopted father during a violent post-coital hand grenade rampage. The most powerful aspect of 《在细雨中呼喊》 is its death stories. These are stories that culminate in the mortal or narrative end of established characters. 余华 has this uncommon ability to bring about and describe the deaths of characters the reader is invested in in plain terms, without pathos, to great emotional or comic effect. (The deaths of 福贵’s daughter 凤霞 in 《活着》 and 许三观’s cuckolding nemesis 何小勇 in 《许三观卖血记》are two other examples of this.) At times, 余华 chains multiple deaths together, revealing them with a preternatural timing that shocks the reader. In a ten-page section called 《婚礼》, a woman who was humiliated by her cowardly ex-lover commits suicide at the man’s wedding reception. Two pages later: the bride, humiliated by the same coward, commits suicide too. 《婚礼》 is a modest masterpiece. I was haunted by it when I first read it and have thought about it several times since. (The absurd deaths of 二喜 and 苦根 in 《活着》 are two other examples of 余华’s death chaining. Near the end of the book, 福贵’s sole remaining family members are killed off in ridiculous ways: crushed to a non-identifiable pulp in a construction accident; and choked to death on string beans. Unlike the sad slow rhythm of the rest of the novel, 二喜 and 苦根 are offed quickly, as though their deaths were required by some cruel inexorable narrative logic. After their deaths, 福贵 is old and alone except for an old ox that represents the memories of his deceased family. In the space of a few pages, the novel transforms from historical tragedy to existential meta-story.) According to @imron’s Chinese Text Analyser, 《在细雨中呼喊》 contains about 600 more unique characters and about 3000 more unique words than both 《活着》 and 《许三观卖血记》. For me, this difference made for a noticeable increase in difficulty, particularly in the middle part of the novel. 《活着》 1910 unique characters 4426 unique words 《许三观卖血记》 2035 unique characters 4640 unique words 《在细雨中呼喊》 2602 unique characters 7521 unique words 《在细雨中呼喊》 has a bad reputation on Chinese Forums. @Geiko wrote that the “book was very disappointing”; @wushijiao “got bored with it midway”; @zander1 found it “totally impenetrable”; and @imron added it to a list of books to “avoid entirely.” I don’t think the book is as bad as they say, and recommend it despite its problems. In some parts the storytelling is excellent. Link to 《在细雨中呼喊》: http://yuedu.163.com/source/0b6b9c159cd0455ea90729a756a1ca0c_4 Some statistics: Characters read this year: 362,389 Characters left to read this year: 637,611 Percent of goal completed: 36.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters)
  28. 5 points
    The 2nd in the series of public adverts encouraging intelligent of smartphones on the Chongqing subway, this one takes its inspiration from 红楼梦 (Dreams of the Red Chamber). It asks whether the protagonists would have met if they had had phones to play with. The second sentence is a play on a traditional Chinese saying: "有缘千里来相会, 无缘对面不相逢" (if it is fated to be then it will happen even if separated by one thousand miles, if it's not fated to be then it won't happen even if you are face to face). Instead, the second part in the adverts reads "面对面来玩手机" (side by side but playing on their phones). The first half of the third sentence is also a traditional Chinese saying: 有情人终成眷属 (if there is love between them then they will eventually become husband and wife). The second part is new and says that if they play on their mobile phones then they will remain strangers (玩手机终成陌路). It ends by exhorting the readers to use their phone responsibly (合理正确使用手机) for the sake of their loved ones (为了自己的亲人和爱人).
  29. 5 points
    This blog appears to be turning into a showerthoughts for interpreting. Its late at night and I'm nearly done with studying today. Just thought I'd share a quick thought from my cursive practice just now. I have recently begun using the john defrancis intermediate chinese textbook to practice my 草書. This is because the entire textbook is written in pinyin, in a repetitive, cumulative style, so that I get lots of practice writing 草書 compounds that frequently appear together, without seeing the 楷書 equivalent. Its been great practice, but I've noticed something interesting lately in my attitude towards this textbook, which I once considered 'ridiculous' in its no-character approach. In reading and analysing the written-down sounds without the comfort of characters, I've become aware of how the brain really can effectively compartmentalize sounds separate from characters, enabling better and quicker listening comprehension. Without the character there to remind me, I immediately claw for meaning by honing in on the tone in a way that I have never done before. I can understand a single character (ie no compound to help out) because of the tone, and then the context. If I am writing, looking at a single character written in pinyin appears to effectively mimic the process I go through when listening to rapid speeches in Chinese, constantly bumping into single character words that can only be understood by correct tone comprehension, then context. For example, hearing the single character word 'xì' in a speech may be difficult, as you cannot see it is, say, 戲, and thus realise it is not 係. The job is actually harder in listening than in reading; you must be 100% confident it is a fourth tone xi, eliminate all non fourth characters, then decide from context. Looking at the pinyin is the same, except it is made a step easier; you are given the all important tone. In this way you can cut out all the 希洗西喜席息習 etc. with certainty and focus on just 係戯細, allowing context to take care of the rest. So the pinyin is like an intermediate step between reading comprehension and listening comprehension. I find that if I cant fully comprehend every word in a full speech written out in pinyin, theres a good chance I am not going to be able to do so when I listen to it. While the speaker brings emphasis and rhythm to facilitate better listening comprehension in the audience, reading the same speech in pinyin brings accurate tones and space dividers, enabling one to test their potential listening comprehension ability of a speech at a controlled pace. More importantly, this condition effectively simulates listening, as there are no characters, no subtitles, nothing! When listening to those all-important rare characters as they crop up in a formal speech at high speed, hearing the tone is in fact so, so much more useful than seeing the character. I think this is the first time I have actually thought that reading through a pinyin text really quickly is a useful task for developing other skills...any thoughts from others? edit: note this use of pinyin is effective as my target speeches are only in standard mandarin; if you go out on the streets and want to rely on tones to understand the locals, you're gonna have a hard time...
  30. 5 points
    Earlier this week I finished reading the novella 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文. 《一个女剧院的生活》 is a story about several men of different ages and stations in life all vying for the love of a beautiful and talented young actress. While the men contend for her love, the actress, 萝, rejects their advances. The opening chapters of the novella establish a love triangle, which later turns into a love quadrilateral, which later turns into a love pentagon. Much of the novella consists of drawn out conversations about love in the abstract; of men having trying to convince 萝 to be with them; and of 萝 criticizing the men’s behavior and mannerisms and words. Here is an example of one such conversation. The conversation is between 萝 and her uncle(舅父), who criticizes 萝 for her capricious treatment toward one her suitors. While 沈从文 is a talented storyteller, I didn’t much like this novella. I found the story boring and didn’t care about its characters. I also found the dialogue tiresome. In over half the conversations in this story, characters lecture each other, chastise each other, and engage in overlong detached disputations on love and freedom. That is not what people in love do. 沈从文 made his female lead character unlikeable. 萝 has this tremendous power to make any man around her want to marry her. But rather than be gracious, wise, or even shrewd, 萝 is haughty, hectoring any man who would presume to compete for her affections. In the real world, this kind of behavior would lead to gossip, resentment, and reputational damage. In 《一个女剧院的生活》, no one seems bothered by her badgering. The men in this novella don’t come off much better than 萝. They are desperate, neurotic, feckless, vain. This story would be more believable if it had contained a strong supporting female character. There are a female student actress and an 阿姨 (who works for 舅父), but these characters don’t have much to say. Also, the dialogue is sometimes cheesy. An example: Yech. At 61,154 characters, this novella is the longest work I have completed so far this year. The language wasn’t too hard and should be accessible to any advanced Chinese-language learner. (The quotes above are fairly representative, difficulty-wise.) 《一个女剧院的生活》 is the third work of 沈从文’s I have read. The first was his short story 《牛》, which I loved. The second was the short story collection 《虎雏》, which was pretty good. My reading list contains many other works by 沈从文, including his classic novels. I plan to read some other authors, then come back to him. Link to 沈从文’s 《一个女剧院的生活》: https://m.ixdzs.com/d/116894 Some statistics: Characters read this year: 211,905 Characters left to read this year: 788,095 Percent of goal completed: 21.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters)
  31. 5 points
    From the publicity for Edinburgh's Chinese New Year celebrations. I snipped this from the Internet, but the same poster is adorning bus stops city-wide.
  32. 5 points
    Today I finished reading the short story《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲. Like《三八节有感》, 《我在霞村的时候》was written by 丁玲 during her Yan'an period, and addresses the indignities Chinese women of the time faced from their countrymen. The story is told from the perspective of a writer who travels to Xia village from Yan'an to write and recuperate. Soon after the writer arrives, a commotion breaks out in the village. The commotion is due to the return of 贞贞, a young female villager who has been working as a Chinese spy and was abused by Japanese soldiers. 《我在霞村的时候》is not long; the story has about 10,750 Chinese characters. The language is not difficult either. 丁玲 writes in an undecorated prose style. She leaves many questions relevant to the story unexplored or unanswered. The result is an obviously moral tale that is nonetheless open to differing interpretations. Here is a link to the story: www.millionbook.com/mj/d/dingling/dlzp/003.htm Up next for me is an article by 毛泽东. I will also continue with that far longer work I read parts of last year. Some statistics: Characters read this year: 13,124 Characters left to read this year: 986,876 Percent of goal completed: 1.3% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters)
  33. 5 points
    Schedule: Monday: Thesis Writing 1:55-4:30 Tuesday: Consecutive Interpreting E-C 8-9:35 Wednesday: International Politics and Economy 8-9:35 | Tourism Translation 9:50-11:25 | Public Speaking 1:20-2:55 Thursday: Consecutive Interpreting C-E 9:35-11:25 Friday: Sight Translation 9:35-11:25 Okay so my first week is nearly over. We had registration on Sunday (Which I missed because we were told on Saturday that we had to register by Sunday, and I was leaving for Beijing at the time…) anyway, it didn’t matter. No classes Monday because our thesis writing course begins in week 2 and foreign students don’t take the politics class so I registered on Monday (just a stamp in the 学生证), and Tuesday we were given our grades. My grades (before they disappeared from the system): Consecutive Translation Chinese-English: 80 Consecutive Translation English-Chinese: 83 Theory & Skills of Interpretation: 85 Written Translation English-Chinese: 80 Written Translation Chinese-English: 84 Sight Translation: ? Spanish: 70 Comparative Linguistics & Translatology: 93 An Introduction to Translatology: 93.40 Translation Theory: 97 The grades are obviously higher than they should be. I don’t believe this is an accurate reflection at all. My Theory & Skill of interpretation test was based entirely on the final which was open book essentially with the exception of the essay/short writing portion. The teacher basically told us that the 3 foreign students graded higher than he had expected and he was shocked that so many students couldn’t answer the questions correctly when it was literally in the review sheet. Also their essay portion was way off and didn’t have a thoughtful analysis unlike us 3 foreign students. But the teacher said he couldn’t give us 3 foreign students too high of a grade so he lowered it or else it would “look bad”. So based on this, I‘m guessing this is what the teachers thought process was when grading us, not going too high and not going too low. Just average. With the exception of the 93’s which my friend believes is a real grade. Those were based entirely on the papers we wrote. I don’t think my paper was that good, but I think the 93 was based on the fact that our entire class evidently copied their papers while we 3 foreign students wrote our own. That’s the only thing I can think of. The Translation Theory course also had a paper for a final grade, which the teacher gave us a longer deadline to complete (basically the winter break). A lot of our classmates have been encountering issues with this, because many of them didn’t include a study which we were supposed to do. No surprises there. They all wrote there’s 2 weeks before the term began and many didn’t listen to the professor who required a case study of some sort to be done. They all thought they could just get the passing 60 grade without it. Didn’t quite work out that way. Anyway. Still waiting for the last 3 grades. Soo class. This term we have a lot less classes than the term before, one of them taught by our department head has been cancelled because she's too busy this term to teach. Tuesday: Consecutive interpreting E-C, we had this professor last term. She was really great. Nothing new to add, her requirements are pretty much the same. Wednesday: International Politics & Economy: New class and professor. I don’t really like that the professor came up with a “genius” idea, which basically involves us having night time classes at a different time and day every week with different professors. He started the class with a discussion on “what‘s wrong with America”. Lol. I thought it would be a lot funnier but it was quite boring. His 3 qualms with America were 1) GUAM 2) TAIWAN (apparently America gave Taiwan to Japan….) Not sure where in history he read this but im no expert. 3) Presidential term limits (I’m guessing he states this because now that Xi wants to be a forever president he needs to praise the ingenious of it) Despite being a class on international politics and economy he mostly spoke about China. Showing how territories should have belonged to China based on before the continents split up, etc. etc. Travel Tourism was taught by another old professor, the same guy we had for Theory & Skill of interpretation. Actually I really like this class compared to his last years class which seemed quite useless. Our assignments include C-E and E-C translation passages on a place or point of interest. Plus we need to have a partner, I got into a group that rotates partners each week so that should be good. Public Speaking: This class turned out a lot more interesting than I expected. The professor is quite young, used to live in NYC and is extremely prepared for class. He handed out a speech from Michelle Obama, and then we watched a segment of the speech, He called on students to translate short segments then analyzed words of importance, and wrote them down,and kind of discussed with us what kind of words would be more appropriate. For instance, in the speech Mrs. Obama says “parliaments around the world” and he asked the class “parliaments how would we translate that” we had some literal translations for the British parliament, then he elaborated that not all countries used this system and etcetc. There was also a point where she mentioned her husband. Many people translated as 先生, but he asked ‘who is her husband? He’s the president right? We should use 总统先生’. The method of the class was really useful. I don’t really have a feel for formalities when it comes to Chinese, so I was writing down formal terms and other things. Thursday: Consecutive interpreting C-E, now being taught by my old professor who taught Sight Translation. I actually feel like this class suits her more. She played us a clip by Jack Ma and basically told us that she wants to focus on interpreting less formal occasions so we can get a feel for things like Q & A sessions and these kind of spontaneous speeches. This professor isn’t bad but I’m afraid what the future holds because last term she had a lot of mood swings and went from very nasty to very nice. My friend thinks I let my guard down by feeling that she‘s not so bad for this class. But I believe in the best of people. haha Friday: Sight Translation This class is now being taught by a different professor. He’s an old guy who’s pretty horrible with technology and took a while to work out the system and then gave up halfway and just had us talk loudly. I think he’s a good professor, he has a lot of credentials and our old sight translation professor walked in to introduce him to us and was like ITS SUCH AN HONOR. I thought the class was fun and fairly enjoyable, he would go off topic quite a bit or switch around so it was hard to keep track at times, then there was the fact that he kept calling on me every other second. So like the first time he was rambling about how our schools been winning competitions and prestige and whatever and then he goes to me “WHERE WAS I? QUICK TRANSLATE” and I’m like ……. “what?” and he was like “GREAT ANSWER” and I’m like okay he’s mocking me now…. And he was like “go on” and I repeated what he said and he’s like “YES YES. HER ANSWER WAS RIGHT” and at that point I’m not really sure if he’s trolling me or being legit… So I tried to stay focused to avoid getting caught off guard again, but then my friend ended up asking me a question and I think he keeps a close eye on me for whatever reason because anytime I was even remotely distracted he’d call on me, so my friend interrupted like “IM SO SORRY PROFESSOR, I was just asking her a question so she was distracted” and he was like “NO! KEEP DISTRACTING HER! Gotta bring her down to our level” and I’m thinking to myself my god this guy thinks that I have the upper hand in the class because I’m a native English speaker??? UHH WHAT I’m like my CHINESE SUCKS we’re like maybe on equal terms at this point. So yeah… the class was basically just going back and forth with me getting called on literally the entire class. So I need to be prepared for this for his class I guess. Umm that’s about it. I should really have studied this winter break I feel like I’m slacking… but I think I really needed the break so it’s okay. Considering I have so much more free time I’d like to find a tutor this term or a language partner or I don’t know. Anything. Even taking a Chinese course or so to practice is something I really need to do.
  34. 5 points
    This series is outdated. I wrote a book about regular script, which I recommend over reading this. (Continued from Part 3) Let's start with a... Warm up: Kenny asks Eric how to write 春. Eric says "Write 三, then write 人 centered on that, then write 日 under that." If Kenny follows Eric's instructions exactly, will he write 春 correctly? Answer: Moving on. In this post I want to go over gut feeling. I hope over this series you've developed some. Here are some more weird things you might encounter that, like wrong width-relationships, should make you feel like something's off. One thing is the ㇀ (提) stroke, or rather misuse thereof. This stroke usually comes into being as a modification of some other stroke, usually to ease transition into starting the next stroke. Think of all the ㇀ in the characters you know. Likely there is something following it to the upper right. This is also why ㇀ is never the last stroke of a character. If you find yourself writing ㇀ as the last stroke of a character, then there are two possibilities: It should actually be some other stroke, this stroke being what became ㇀. You have written in the wrong stroke order. As an illustration of number 1, here are a few characters in DFKai-SB: In 羽, there should only be one ㇀: the 3rd stroke. This is only a ㇀ to ease transition to the next stroke that begins to the upper right. The last stroke should be a 丶 just like the 5th stroke. To make it ㇀ would point it at nothing. In 將, the 8th stroke should also be 丶 because the next stroke starts below it. There is nothing right of it to write. Observe these characters written correctly in Epson 正楷書体M: This is also the case with the ice radical 冫 as in 冷. The underlying form should just be two 丶, one on top of the other. However, because it is often followed by something to the upper right, the bottom 丶 becomes ㇀. This leads to such hypercorrections as: That would be Adobe 明體 Std L. Observe this corrected: As for number 2, let's say you think the stroke order of 耳 is 一 丨 丨 一 一 一, and let's say you look through examples of 聞 because you can't find any 耳 in regular script, and it seems to end with ㇀. You feel like something's wrong here. Actually 2 things: (1) the stroke order is wrong and (2) you probably extended the wrong horizontal stroke. Here I give you Epson 正楷書体M: ...and here is 耳 correctly written with stroke order from black to red: And as you can see, the last stroke is actually 丨. Enough about ㇀. Next, a bit about 又. This is very a common character building block. In many typefaces you'll see the 2nd stroke starting where the 1st stroke started, forming a corner: If your gut feeling has developed sufficiently, you'll find it quite awkward to do so, i.e. to write such a long 一 before turning a corner into a 丿. That is because all of these instances are short, e.g. in 夕, or it's actually a ㇀ like in 水, and so 又 written in this way is wrong. Let's look at the etymology. You should see that this was a picture of a right hand, and likely the original character for 右. Look at the etymology for 右 and you should also see that it's just 又 with 口 under it (which should also explain the stroke order of 丿一 for the tops of 右, 有, and 布), and finally look at examples of 又, and you should see that in all examples, even that first one that's usually wrong, there is an opening in the upper left. And you should also notice that in anything that looks like 又, such as 攵 or 夂 or 夊, the last stroke doesn't start at the beginning of the 一. Next, I will talk about variants. The Chinese call these 異體字, although this term implies something nonstandard or unorthodox. I consider two characters variants if they differ in stroke type or placement. That means 太 with the dot attached to the 2nd stroke and 太 with the dot centered under the intersection are different variants. The ROC's MOE variant dictionary doesn't even differentiate them. And of course, not all variants are correct. So, here you are, probably not too experienced with writing Chinese, faced with so many variants and big bad me, who can pick wrong characters out of computer fonts. What do you do? The short answer is: pick one way to write your entire vocabulary and stick with it. As for which variant to pick, pick the most popular among the best examples of regular script. Again, these are 歐陽詢, 顏真卿, 柳公權. Avoid obscure variants. They hinder communication among those who are not well read, or are distracting to those who are. Furthermore, if I see an obscure variant in your writing, and I also see wrong characters, that will not leave a good impression. And remember, only wrong learning and/or carelessness can produce wrong characters; technical deficiencies cannot produce wrong characters, as I illustrated in Part 2 using 月. Also, if you feel like there is a character that is just too awkward to write in its orthodox form, there is likely a common variant that is easier. Examples I can think of are 骨, 斷, 節, 乘, 夷, 皆, 鬼, 策... However, if/when you get a feel for what is legal and what is not legal, you will find that there is quite a bit of freedom in Chinese writing, and it will feel easier than ever before. (Continued in Part 5.)
  35. 5 points
    This series is outdated. I wrote a book about regular script, which I recommend over reading this. (Continued from Part 2) In part 2 I introduced to you some things you should look for when observing example characters. To review, they are What kind of stroke is employed. In relation to other strokes and components, Where it starts What it passes through Where it ends [*]In what order it's written Now we will do some further exercises in observing examples such that good graphemes make it into you head. First, let's do one exercise regarding length of horizontal strokes. Do you know how to write 三? If you're like most people you probably think the first stroke is longer than the second. Look at these. You should see that they are actually pretty much the same length. If there is any significant difference, then the second stroke is longer. But most importantly, the third stroke is still much longer than the first two. And so here I give you a rule about regular script: In any one character there can be no more than one thing that extends far to the right, and if it's a horizontal stroke, it likely starts on the far left, spanning the whole character. Everything else should usually be much narrower. Therefore, when a character has many uncontained horizontal strokes (i.e. not in 目 or something), pay attention to which one is longest. It will be much longer than the others. Let's examine this in a few more characters. A close call is not acceptable: The difference between the longest horizontal stroke and the others must be obvious: (Verify on 9610.com: 書, 每, 善, 樓.) And remember, use good examples to make sure the long horizontal stroke is the right one. 華 ←What does that look like to you? Does it look like any of these? Or is it more like ? If that looks wrong to you, then you're in good shape, because it should be like ! Now, remember that the rule says "in any one character there can be no more than one thing that extends far to the right." This thing doesn't have to be a horizontal stroke. It can be a ㇏ or any hook to the upper right, like ㇂ (or 乚). In any character there will be at most one of ㇏ or ㇂ or 乚 or long horizontal strokes. This rule has a name in Chinese: 一字不二捺. You should remember from before that 捺 refers to ㇏, but in this context, it refers to all of ㇏, ㇂, 乚, and long horizontal strokes. If you find yourself writing ㇏ or ㇂ or 乚 and it isn't the rightmost thing in a character, you're probably doing something wrong. Observe the following wrong characters: 林 contains two 木. You know that 木 ends with a ㇏ but if you write 林, the first one has to change to 丶. If not, two problems will arise: (1) there are more than one ㇏ and (2) there is a ㇏ that is not the rightmost thing of the character. In 疑 there is the ㇏ at the end, but many people like to write a hook on 匕, and if you don't kill it in 疑, you'll end up with both a 乚 and a ㇏. Remember that there can be at most one of these. 輝 has 光 on the left. 光 ends with 乚 when written alone, but because it isn't the rightmost thing in the character, the hook must come off, which results in a bare horizontal end, and because there is more stuff to write to the upper right, this bare horizontal end becomes a ㇀. In 七 there are both a long horizontal stroke and a 乚. Furthermore, 乚 isn't the rightmost thing. And you should remember 大 from Part 2. The problem in this context is that there are both a long horizontal stroke and a ㇏. Observe these characters corrected: Next, I will show you more rightward-extending things that can't contend for rightwardness with anything else: components like 宀 and 皿. ...the key word being "contend." Notice 宀 being most rightward in 寶, but giving it up in 安 to the 一 in 女. In 孟, there is 子 and 皿, both having long horizontal strokes when written alone, but when written together 皿 dominates. In 盡 we have 聿+火+皿. 聿 and 皿 have long horizontal strokes when written alone, but in 盡, 聿 dominates. Below I have written the 266 most common characters in Mandarin as further demonstration of this rule. I have circled the rightmost extender in each character if there is one. Sometimes the character doesn't have one, such as when the rightmost thing is a vertical stroke, as in 個. There will be no ㇏, ㇂, 乚, or long horizontal strokes that do not have a red circle (except in 心), unless I have written incorrectly. A blue asterisk means that there are other correct ways of writing the character where a different stroke or component is extended to the right. Finally, I will show you some characters straight out of my computer that break this rule: This is DFKai-SB, or 標楷體, which exhibits the standard character forms of the Republic of China. Quiz question: Do you know how to correct them? Answer: (Continued in Part 4)
  36. 5 points
    First semester is over and exams are finished! It feels strange to be entering into my big break now, rather than in between years, but it's still a very welcome break. I was very pleased with how my exams went, and finished with 94, 96, 98 and 99, in speaking, comprehensive, listening and reading/writing respectively. Obviously those are pretty good grades, but to be honest I don't think they are all that meaningful, and while I do of course want to score high in my exams, the emphasis has to be on actually being able to effectively use Chinese! I enjoy exams as they are great for showing me my limits and areas that need the most work, but with something as vast as a language I think it is hard to put together a 2 hour test, especially at this point in our learning. Although I think it changes in the future, our speaking final didn't even have any speaking on it! Stand out things across my exams - TONES! Still the hardest thing for me is distinguishing tones that I hear. The only reason I was able to do so well on my listening was because I knew the majority of the words that came up in the pinyin sentences, and so was able to mark the tones on them before even hearing them on the audio. Other than just continuing to listen as much as possible, I am not sure what else I can do to get better at this. Knowing when something is wrong - although I haven't seen the graded exams, I imagine this was the section I dropped most marks on in my speaking test. We were given 10-15 sentences to change, and told that some are right and some are wrong. I only left one sentence unedited. While I don't think I had too much trouble writing correct sentences, I felt that I probably edited some which were actually written correctly, because I simply wasn't sure enough. Reading/writing - while I love pretty much everything about Chinese, this is definitely the part I enjoy most. It's also the part I can do the most self study on! I was a little bit nervous about this exam as I hadn't been to class, and while I had studied plenty of extra stuff, I wasn't sure that I had spent enough time making sure I did actually know the content in the book. Thankfully I was fine, and the extra stuff I have been doing has also paid off, as it meant I knew almost all of the characters across all 4 exams (there are always characters included that we haven't learned, which will steadily increase over the next period, until we have learned a lot more in our own time). It feels good to get a head start here, and I want to try and keep this up. All in all I am really pleased, and encouraged to keep cracking away and working hard! I'm not sure how much I will get done over the break, but I am not going to punish myself if I don't do a ton! My family are here and so we are going to be spending lots of time out and about, and having fun sledging in the snow here! I am trying to do at least something every day though, even if it is just reading over a text. I am also taking new vocabulary/characters and putting them into sentences, which I send to a Chinese friend to edit (trying to hit an average of 5 a day), then put into Pleco flashcards and reread those sentences every day to absorb the new stuff. This is to try and continue to build up my base of characters, as well as new vocabulary. I know this post is getting a bit long, but I have to say I am feeling the effectiveness of some of the things Imron wrote in a couple of threads. Since getting rid of my Anki decks and starting to only input vocabulary that I am actually reading, all of the new words have been coming up again and again! I heard one word in a song, so made a sentence to learn it, then saw it in a notice on the door of our building. I can definitely see the truth in words that are important for me to learn now appearing frequently in real life, and how an SRS is meant to mimic that process. Very cool!
  37. 5 points
    Last week were just final exams, with a total of 6 exams this week (the week before I took my Spanish exam, and handed in my 2 papers for two separate classes, the last paper is due at the end of the month) but it's basically all done now. Interesting takeaways: 1) The examination papers are not exactly 'user friend'. For every exam that had a writing component, we were given these huge pieces of paper that were printed in landscape mode that took up the entire desk. I ended up having to rip off the papers and fold them so that they could be comfortably written on. 2) No electronic devices allowed at all, which I guess makes sense but is quite frustrating. We were allowed to bring dictionaries though. 3) Final exams seem more of a formality than a grade component. At the end of exams most of our professors told us "don't worry, no one will fail", well.. That’s reassuring. 4) Some teachers are really distant but others are really warm and sweet. We took pictures and exchanged wechat with our Wednesday teachers, but not with Thursdays. Friday’s teacher rejected a request for a group picture stating “I’m never going to eat lunch with you or be super close with you and have conversations outside of class with you so there’s no point in having something to remember me” lol. The other Friday teacher was sweet and we exchanged wechat with her. The Exams: Wednesday: Consecutive Translation Chinese-English: Topic on climate change, The professor took a segment of the speech and cut it up into segments for us to interpret within the pauses. He was really nice, and gave us a short glossary before the exam and about 5-10 minutes to review it before beginning. Love this guy, he’s going to teach in Wales though for the next year. Theory & Skills of Interpretation: Just general principles of interpretation, and theory. The professor gave us a review sheet that was about 11 pages long and let us bring it to the test which helped a lot. The test wasn’t very long. Wednesday left me feeling good. We took pictures with both teachers and our teacher gave us homework over the break, he’ll be our travel/tourism interpreting teacher in the Spring. He gave us three foreign students our own homework, which is mostly comprised on chinese culture. I'm guessing the chinese students homework will be focused on 'western' culture, i'll let you know when the banzhang sends it to us. Thursday: Written Translation English-Chinese: 600 word text on the European economic model, looked like something from The Economist, it took me the entire test period to complete the exam. Heavily paraphrased and flipped through my dictionary. Kept forgetting how to write Chinese words. Written Translation Chinese-English: Extremely short text on a company’s briefing report. Didn’t take me long at all. Felt horrible after Thursday but the worst was done with. I think our written translation teacher (E-C) was surprised we finished the exam. Last week she asked us if we were taking the exam and we were like of course professor! Friday: Sight Translation: Interpret 3 sections, the first E-C, second C-E, third just a passage in English to read out loud. The topics were on Food Security, Ali Baba Company, and the last part was on the Donald Trump & Steven Banon feud. The professor gave us about 5 minutes to gloss over the text, then 12 minutes for recording, most of us finished in 8-9 minutes. It’s really easy to get caught up in the speed of the class when you hear everyone talking loudly at the same time. I wish I had spent a bit more time to have a clearer and better interpretation but it’s done with already. Consecutive Translation English-Chinese: Two parts. First part on just memory practice and retelling, the professor picked a passage from one minute Science America or whatever its called, no note taking, just memory practice. The second part was on a speech about the trade partnership between Australia and China. It went okay. I really need to work on my Chinese more hahaha, I literally cringe when I hear myself speaking in Chinese which unfortunately happened when at the start of the recording all of our headphones were echoing what we said. I’m not sure how the grades will be or whatever but I think I feel okay. It seems like the professors don’t seem to be failing anyone, at least that’s the impression I get for now… Our new schedules are out as well. Next semester we have 8 classes, and just two classes in the afternoon *yaaay*
  38. 5 points
    This morning I finished day 90. I used two types of content: 1) Clearly spoken stuff: Slow Chinese, HSK5 recordings, and a magazine podcast for natives. Sometimes I prepared subtitles beforehand using WorkAudioBook, and during the transcribing session I thus was able to do corrections immediately after each line. This lead to time "wasted" doing the corrections, but also stopped me from repeating the same mistake again. Other times, I did not prepare subtitles, and just used WorkAudioBook for automatic segmentation, and did the corrections after finishing each session. This, of course, can cause an accumulation of errors in repeated words, but also means I could write more in a session, as I was not distracted with corrections. So... The left column in the data is not very consistent in how it was done, and even less with the material used. In day 52 I forgot to start the pomodoro clock, so I got an outlier score. I'm leaving it out of the monthly averages. 2) A TV drama called Great Marriage. I downloaded both mp4 video and srt subtitles from YouTube and used them with the fantastic Lingual Media Player, which can automatically stop after each subtitle line and makes it easy to toggle subtitles. In 90 days I only reached episode 8 of a 40+ episode drama, and that's watching long parts without transcribing! So, with this abundance of ready-made material, the right column is consistent both in source and in execution. During the first 75 days, I did 2 pomodiri (50 minutes) per day for each column. But two weeks ago I signed up for December's HSK5, so, to make time for vocab study and practice tests, during the last 15 days I only did 1 pomodoro (25 min) per day for each column. So, in order to "normalize" the scores with the previous days, I added a *2 in the formula. You can also notice that around day 32 I also started to seriously attack my Pleco SRS backlog. The number here is how many pending cards I have each morning. My observations: Clearly spoken stuff You'll notice that during the last month my average score actually dropped for "clear stuff". Maybe in part because I switched exclusively to a magazine podcast for natives in day 60. I must add that, although this podcast is for natives, the magazine is a Chinese translation of the English original, and the podcast is actually just read from the magazine, so it's not at all like 原来是这样 or any similar 100% native, conversational podcasts. TV drama In the graph, you'll also notice that, after a fantastic increase in comprehension from the fist month to the second month, the're no such big increase for the third month. Maybe I'm hitting "diminishing returns" with this particular drama. Still, I've learned a lot! HSK5 As mentioned, I'm attacking HSK5 on December, just as a personal challenge, not for scholarships or anything. My cousins, who are Chinese teachers at the local Confucius institute, passed this exam two years ago and then went on to get their Master's degrees in China, but my current level is nowhere near what theirs was two years ago! My current level fits perfectly the B1 description given by the Europeans. Still, after measuring myself with a couple of old HSK5 papers, I discovered I can pass, even if they completely discard my two essays. So in part I'm taking the test to prove a friend of mine that HSK is actually just B1... So I signed up for a test preparation class at the local Confucius. Nobody else signed up for level 5, so I accepted being put with level 4 test takers. My teacher can't speak Spanish, which helps. Conclusion So yes, this helps. The data shows it. I believe this has mostly given me confidence with my handwriting, as, before this, I only wrote individual words. This will certainly come in handy during the HSK5 writing part, because the only option available in my country is the paper test. During my attempts with past papers, I found this part to be the most relaxing. I can finish it in half the time. Of course, with awful grammar! (My teacher will help me with my writing). I haven't really done any traditional study of grammar after an introductory course back in 2012. It's been mostly input, input, and more input, particularly after I finally took Chinese seriously in 2015 and started with Heisig's Remembering Simplified Hanzi. Of course, I've checked difficult to understand points with Pleco and the Chinese Grammar Wiki along the way. So, what will my listening practice be now? I'll be attacking every single HSK5 past paper I can find, so that will be it, for the most part. I'll also keep watching the drama with LaMP, but without transcribing it. I might transcribe dubbed videos of talks, however, just to keep writing. Thank you for reading! Suggestions are welcome. I'm attaching the raw data, the monthly averages and a sample of my "day 90" handwriting. Now my focus will switch to reading speed, as it's currently my weakest point. I'll soon write another post about it.
  39. 5 points
    A little embarrassed to notice I haven't updated on my progress since the first post - perhaps should have been predictable given how far down my list of priorities it this blog sits, but all the same... On the other hand, the challenge is still going strong - 74/112 days completed now, none missed so far! My method for keeping track of this, and motivating myself, is the old but classic crosses-on-a-calendar method. I've tried some phone-based "don't break the chain" apps in the past, but none of them have quite the same impact as keeping physical track of my progress. It's gotten to the point that, when planning excursions or family days, my first thought is often "how can I plan my hours around that to guarantee I don't miss a day?" That's not to say it's become easy. I've almost never felt like the 2 hours were effortless. It's just without this motivation I'd probably do less and less every day until I stop altogether. Anyway, if you're struggling with motivation to keep a daily habit (as I often have), I can definitely recommend buying a cheap calendar and just marking it off every day. Super effective. So what have I learned over the 46 hours of Chinese since I last updated this blog? Firstly, just as intermediate learners often observe, the rate of progress feels slower every week. I'm still on the boundary between intermediate/upper intermediate on ChinesePod, and when I listen to hard dialogues I downloaded three weeks ago, I don't feel like they've become any easier to decipher in the intervening time. New stories and dialogues introduce just as many new words now as they did two months ago, and I'm getting a visceral sense of just how vast a task learning a language is. The number of near homonyms makes this no easier, and I'm constantly confusing the meanings of words that to a Chinese speaker sound nothing alike. On that topic, tones in particular continue to frustrate me. I'm not exactly tone-deaf - a few weeks ago I tried Olle Linge's tone training - 100% on the initial level placement - and John Pasden's tone pair drills - no problem there either. But I still often make comprehension mistakes in full sentences due to tones, and still can't reliably predict the tones of an unfamiliar word when spoken as part of a larger utterance. Even when hearing a tone isn't necessary to understand a sentence (at my level context is still mostly enough) it feels like full comprehension is slower than it should be, I'm using grammar/context as a crutch, and the other shoe is going to drop when I try to advance to native materials. It seems like there's a big gap in the market for intermediate tone training - forcing students to listen for tones until this habit is fully internalised. Does such a product already exist? I'm also quite curious what others think about this problem, and whether it's really an issue - particularly from those who have learned Chinese to a very high level of proficiency. On the other hand, I do feel like I'm currently developing in three related areas. "Chinese subconscious" - occasionally in the past two weeks I have found myself following some non-trivial material without actively concentrating on the language at all, just thinking about the subject material. This is one of the things I had been hoping to achieve through mass listening, and it's good to feel it might eventually pan out. I have very limited stamina to fully concentrate on spoken language (I can't maintain 100% concentration for more than a few minutes!) so this is very necessary in the long run. This point might seem trivial to many here, but it's a big breakthrough for me! Speed of listening. The 4th level of the Chinese Breeze books has helped with this, as the narrators have stepped up the speed a bit for this level, forcing me to internalise more of the very high frequency words and grammatical structures. (I'll give a more complete review of the Chinese Breeze books later if I can find the time) Ability to learn. The more words I learn, the easier it seems to be to remember new words, and the better I can distinguish between similar words. And because I can listen faster, I can hear more words and grammar structures in 2 hours. It feels like entering a virtuous cycle. Of course because I've properly hit intermediate level now, it still feels like my rate of progress has slowed in spite of all of this. Finally, I've entirely dropped SRSing of new words in isolation. I've just found it a drain on my mental energy with seemingly little-to-no gain. The SpoonFed Chinese Anki deck is doing a great job of introducing me to new words in context, and providing regular reminders. I re-listen to ChinesePod episodes at regular intervals when they have lots of new vocabulary (is there SRS software that can schedule this for me more conveniently than Anki?) The graded readers use the same words so often that there's no need to SRS them. And best of all, all of these activities are simply more fun than grinding Anki decks of words (well SpoonFed isn't much fun, but is definitely more effective). The only thing I'm losing here is the ability to recognise characters of words I'm learning, but given that all of my learning material currently comes with pinyin, this is something I can tolerate (and will probably fix through extensive reading after the challenge is over)
  40. 5 points
    Learn Chinese at advanced levels and you’ll eventually have to write a paper, or design something, with Chinese text. I’ve written a paper or two, and so I’ll summarize my preferences regarding Chinese typefaces. BTW, in this blog entry “typeface” refers to a set of glyphs in many variations in weight, width, Italics or Roman, etc. “Font” refers to a variation. Adobe Garamond and Monotype Garamond are two different typefaces. Adobe Garamond Bold and Adobe Garamond Bold Italic are two different fonts, but the same typeface. These terms are being blurred lately, so elsewhere you’ll probably see them all called fonts. The three most common Chinese type styles are, in chronological order, regular script (楷書體), Ming (明體), and sans-serif (黑體). You can read a history of these styles (in Chinese) here. To summarize: The first moveable type was from the Song Dynasty, using ceramic tiles in regular script. Compared to most modern regular script typefaces, Song Dynasty regular script typefaces have straighter lines and lower variation in line width. This is what is commonly called imitation Song (仿宋體), although it is still a regular script type style. The Ming style appeared in the Ming Dynasty as a result of straightening regular script lines. I’m not sure why. It was not created to compensate for wood grains. Regular script can be properly carved out of wood. Also, in Mainland China this style is called Song (宋體), which is a bad name at best as there is no evidence of this style appearing before the Ming Dynasty. There have been xenophobic explanations made up in an attempt to support this bad name. This has created a mess of analyses and theories trying to explain the difference between Ming and Song as if they were two different things. Sans-serif Chinese typefaces appeared in the late 19th century, first in Japan, probably from Latin character sans-serif typeface influence. Use of these type styles depends on medium. On paper, for body text, you’ll most likely see a Ming typeface, although sans-serif is also appropriate and not rare. On screen you’ll most likely see sans-serif. This makes sense as until recently, printers have had a higher resolution than displays. Sans-serif typefaces, with their low contrast, large counters, and frame-filling glyphs, allow for high legibility at low resolutions. Ming typefaces have characters that are more distinct, and a little less legible, but the popularity of Ming typefaces on paper is probably more due to the tradition of using it for printing body text since the Ming Dynasty. Regular script typefaces’ characters are most distinct, but least legible at small sizes, and can occasionally be seen in body text but probably not at small sizes and not smaller than about 48 pixels high, unless the designer has bad taste. Below I have an example of Chinese text in (from right to left) regular script, Ming, and sans-serif typefaces. Notice that the Ming and sans-serif examples fill each square more than the regular script example. That is because regular script requires certain strokes to extend out far from the body of the character in order to look right, requiring the body of the character to be smaller in order to fit in the frame. Therefore, I have some guidelines for Chinese typeface usage. This is my opinion. No more than 2 different typefaces in one document, unless you have a good reason. You can have different fonts but use them appropriately. If you have almost exclusively Chinese text, prioritize vertical orthography, allowing Chinese to be displayed in its natural direction. On screen, prioritize sans-serif typefaces. No Ming typefaces less than 24 pixels high. No regular script typefaces less than 48 pixels high. On paper, prioritize sans-serif and Ming typefaces. No Ming typefaces smaller than 10 points. No regular script typefaces smaller than 18 points. Also, do not shear Chinese glyphs in order to fake an Italic font. Emphasis should be done with emphasis marks, and titles should have 《》 or wavy lines to the left or below. As for recommended typefaces, I rarely type in regular script. Most modern regular script typefaces are quite objectionable in that there are too many wrong characters and they are too obvious. Just pick one. DF-KaiSB included in Windows doesn’t suck as much as most others. If I absolutely must type something in regular script, I have Morisawa’s 欧体楷書, which has much fewer wrong characters than anything else I’ve seen, whose glyphs I edit as I need to. For Ming, if you want frame-filling glyphs and large counters, Founder’s 博雅方刊宋 is good. If you don’t require counters that are that large, and have the patience, you can use Kozuka Mincho included in a lot of Adobe software and use the glyphs panel to select alternate glyphs when the default one is too Shinjitai for you. If you don't want to deal with glyph selection but want multiple weights, Founder's 雅宋 is one of the few acceptable typefaces. Of course, Ming and sans-serif typefaces contain just as many wrong characters as regular script typefaces, but since it isn’t regular script, it’s less noticeable. If you’re using sans-serif, you probably want legibility and even texture. Microsoft’s YaHei and Founder’s 蘭亭黑 are the best I’ve seen. The former is based on the latter, tweaked to be even more frame-filling and with extensions to the first and second stroke of boxes to make them more distinct (in the regular font. The bold and light fonts lack these extensions.). You can read more about their design here. I find that YaHei can look crowded and slightly messy with the extensions on boxes, while 蘭亭黑 looks simpler. Ideally I would use 蘭亭黑 most of the time and YaHei in sizes below 8 points and on low-density displays. Microsoft JhengHei, done by Monotype, is far inferior to either. If you can read Chinese, blog.justfont.com is a Chinese typography blog whose author(s) are much more familiar with and anal about Chinese typography than me. Read it and you'll probably become a better typographer.
  41. 5 points
    I have had trouble with the trio of traditional characters which simplify to 干. It turns out (as usual) that all three have curious and twisted etymologies. Here are some mnemonics for keeping the traditional characters 幹干and 乾 straight in your head: 乾gan1 This is the most straight-forward of the trio. It means "dry": 乾果 dried fruit 乾淨 clean In its qian2 pronunciation, it is also one of the Eight Trigrams, and a surname, but those are much lower frequency uses. Mnemonic: When there is a drought you beg for even a little mist. Etymological note: Wieger clarifies that "dry" was originally written using 旱 on the left (with 十 above it?). The character 乾 originally was read qian2 and represented the sun shining into the jungle, dislodging vapors which then rise up into the sky. 幹gan4 This character can mean "to do" or "tree trunk". It can be used alone: 你幹了一件蠢事。 You have committed ("done") a folly. Or in the common idiom gan4ma5: 你幹嘛/ 你幹甚麼? What are you doing? A canonical example of the "tree trunk" meaning is: 樹幹 shu1gan4 tree trunk Mnemonic: A tree (which originally was made of wood but is now a post-modern clothes hanger pole) is topped with an umbrella of leaves. But, through the mist, you can only see the trunk. Etymonlogical note: Wieger says the 干 component in 幹 is supposed to be 木, the former being an "absurd phonetic redundancy" This would make more sense. 干gan1 This is the odd-ball in the group. It has several meanings. Its most prolific meaning is "to offend": 干犯 gan1fan4 to offend or to violate 干涉 gan1she4 to meddle But this gan can also mean "stem" in: 天干 the Ten Heavenly Stems An archaic meaning is "shield": 干戈 gan1ge1 weapons of war, literally "shield and spear" Mnemonic: In Toronto, up until a couple of years ago, it was illegal to hang clothes outside, i.e. one of the biggest offenses and ways to offend the sensibilities of people was to hang your clothes outdoors. Silly, but unfortunately true. (credit: koohii user vorpal) Etymological note: Wieger tells us that 干 represents a pestle. By extension it means to grind or destroy. Destruction in the moral sense gives offense. Destruction in the martial sense gives the warlike association in 干戈.
  42. 4 points
    We have just completed the first week of third year! I can't believe I am now half way through this degree, perhaps even over half way as 4th year finishes earlier than the previous 3 years. We have a new teacher for 综合 this year, and so far I think she might be the best teacher we've had. She has a great way of teaching, and explains things really well. In both 综合 and 口语 our teachers have said that the major focus this year is going to be 近义词。 This is because our vocabulary is growing, and as it does a common problem we will face is misusing words that have a similar translation in the dictionary, but can't be used in the same way in Chinese. A good example from this first week was 保存/储存,or 职业/行业。 Our other subjects are 中国历史,写作,修辞和阅读。I was really excited about history, and the book is great, but the class so far was uninspiring. It was all focused on getting through the material and prepping for what will be on the exam, so we covered right up until 秦始皇 in one class, which was way too fast. We also did some on 孔子,which ironically we have covered in more detail last year (twice). Our 写作书 is actually 高级 instead of 准高级,so it's quite challenging, but the first class was laughable. Unfortunately our teacher seems to think we are retarded, and so spent most of the lesson explaining what a sentence is, what a question is, how a question mark/comma works etc. She also calls us 'babies', which perhaps should offend me, but when a 36 year old woman refers to me, a 31 year old man, as a baby, it grinds my gears a bit! Anyway, hopefully this class will improve, and the material in the book looks great. 修辞 was fun, and I am also looking forward to this. We looked at 比喻句 which are pretty straight forward, being as we use them in English all the time. But it's interesting to see how Chinese metaphors differ from English ones! All in all this was a great first week, and I am excited for this semester! Other good news is that I got a scholarship which knocked my fees down 20%! My teacher said if I had done more with the university then I would have gotten a higher one, so maybe next year!
  43. 4 points
    Car Park at Yu Long River 遇龙河 near Yangshuo 阳朔, Guangxi.
  44. 4 points
    Despite learning Chinese Mandarin, I don't get the chance to use it very often. I get the feeling of minimal progress. I haven't really been watching many intermediate learning materials since my last post. A bit boring for my liking... I wasted a lot of time on the hellotalk app. Being a native English speaker is a big advantage when learning Chinese. Eventually, I decided to tell people I am only interested in talking verbally and real time conversation. This proved helpful in screening out quite a number of people who just wanted a friendly text chat with a foreigner. I tend to screen out people who have a strong 南方 accent though Taiwanese are fine. In the end HT is just an area for practice and I cut down my time on it. For learning, I have been using Glossika. 25% through the A1 course. It's a bit boring but I stick with it. I don't like that it only gives two reps of a sentence. I prefer 3 or 4 at one time. Does it have an effect? I think it is hard to say for me - maybe a longer duration of practice would help. I recently dug out some old ankicards that I made long ago. These were made from the Growing up in China series. I remember I had tremendous difficulty in following the speech at time of making them. Well, amazingly, I found my listening comprehension is definitely much better. There are words which I forgot but definitely relearn much better and it's much less frustrating. I recently went to Qingdao for business and badminton. Initially a bit apprehensive yet looking forward to trying out the field experience. Last time I was by myself in China was two years ago in Guangzhou and I fell back to using Cantonese much of the time. Pleased to say I didnt really have any major problems using the language for day to day life. Of course there were the trip-ups. What I particularly liked was I had to use the language for some simple problem solving which sharpens the mind considerably. Although there is still a lot to learn in terms of extending conversations, the initial handling of issues went quite smoothly. I had a couple of nice conversations with taxi drivers and made a large number of wechat contacts from playing badminton. I played a lot of amateur competitions in the past and when I played my trickshots on this trip, they were really well received. Of course, there was also the novelty factor of being an overseas Chinese. So a great morale booster that there is some progression and I got a lot of extensive listening experience even though I didn't understand all of it.
  45. 4 points
    This machine at Shanghai Pudong was having a bad day. But at least management offered a clear explanation. (Please click the photo to enlarge it.) 设备故障 -- 暂停使用
  46. 4 points
    ....is a favourite song of mine by Nik Kershaw. Wouldn’t it be good to just get a bit of time to oneself just to study without life getting in the way. It’s been very busy. At at least I have glossika to fall back on. It’s now very convenient - connect up my earphones, go into the browser on my phone and start the course. If I don’t finish, then do some reps later at another time. So far I have managed about five days out of seven for the last three weeks. Nice.
  47. 4 points
    spotted in a corner of the cbd on the way home from dinner. positive taken: got my new word for the day, 違著
  48. 4 points
    The past two weeks have been slow and steady with respect to my Cangjie progress. While it helps to work through practice exercises physically at the keyboard, I am finding that the best way to remember secondary symbols is to just use Anki and work through the memorization using a brute-force methodology. Interestingly, I find myself double-guessing sometimes, particularly with secondary signs that fall under 尸 or 心 primary symbol keys. When I look at the secondary symbol very carefully, and then look at the primary symbol, I eventually see the reason for its categorization. It is interesting how the brain can be drawn to certain areas first, and if one doesn't look carefully, one miss the fine details. I think in a couple more days I should be in good shape to move onto the third part of learning, which is learning how to decompose more complex characters into primary and second symbols. Perhaps this will be the hardest aspect, and I suspect it will require making lots of mistakes, checking the actual Cangjie code, and then doing it all over again. The first two steps have been finger "muscle" memory, but this third part is going to be more about training the eye. On a more positive note, I did get a character input into a dictionary tool without knowing the pronunciation the other day. It was a great feeling, and makes all of this work more worthwhile in my mind.
  49. 4 points
    This is a recording of my reading of 杜甫's 春望 in William Baxter's reconstruction of Middle Chinese that I used for a presentation last week. I thought I'd post it here in case anyone's interested. Also, please offer corrections if necessary. For one I think my nucleus was too open on 深 and 心. — is 平; / is 上; \ is 去; p, t, or k is 入. Also color coded for 平 and 仄. 國破山河在 kwok pʰwa\ ʂɛn—ɣa— dzoj/1 城春草木深 dʑjeŋ— tɕʰwin— tsʰaw/ muwk ɕim— 感時花濺淚 kom/ dʑi— xwæ— tsjen\ lwij\ 恨別鳥驚心 ɣon\ bjet tew/ kjæŋ— sim— 烽火連三月 pʰjowŋ— xwa/ ljen— sam— ŋjwot 家書抵萬金 kæ— ɕjo— tej/ mjwon\ kim— 白頭搔更短 bæk duw— saw— kæŋ\ twan/ 渾欲不勝簪 ɣwon— jowk pjut ɕiŋ— tʂim— 1. The recording says /tsoj上/. It should be /dzoj上/.
  50. 4 points
    Welcome to the first Chinese Food Geography 挑战. Attached is a picture of 11 Chinese food items (mostly 小吃) and below is a list of 5 cities where these food items are well known. Please list the food items under the city that it is related to or famous for. Provide your answers in Chinese for A thru K. The number of characters for each food item is shown in parentheses ( # of characters ). Answers for C / D are interchangeable and E / F / G are also interchangeable because they have similar number of characters. 北京: A (5) B (4) 上海: C (3) D (3) 香港: E (2) F (2) G (2) 台北: H (3) I (2) 澳门: J (4) K (3) Bonus #1: What is the more specific name for the food item on the second row, third from the left? If you had to order this at a Chinese restaurant, how would you order this type shown in the picture? (5 characters) Bonus #2: Where does the famous types of the item on the second row, second from the left originate from? (3 characters) Bonus #3: Traditionally, what are those red and yellow balls in the item on the third row, fourth from the left? (2 characters) Can you answer these questions without looking at the spoiler tag? When you provide your answers, please mention if you looked at the spoiler tag or not. Also, have you gone to these cities and tried these foods? Which do you like and dislike? Have fun! In the spoiler tag are the out of order characters for items A thru K. There are extra characters that are not used and the answers to the bonus questions are not in there.
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