FluentU has quickly become the most talked-about video service for learning Chinese online. The site sports a clean, modern feel, and the team have been very responsive over the past year, as user feedback has informed a number of nice changes. Although I’ve been following FluentU’s development (and even met with the founder a while back), I haven’t reviewed the service myself until recently. It’s not a coincidence; I’m actually a bit skeptical of video-based learning (it’s really hard to …
The following is a guest article written by a Sinosplice reader, Julian Suddaby. I have followed it with some commentary of my own.
Warning: if you’re a member of the “Chinese is super easy” faction, this article might annoy you a little, but be sure to read through to the end!
How Many Characters?
by Julian Suddaby, 2014-02-13
I asked Google “how many chinese characters do I need to learn” and the best sites I found pointed to linguist …
I remember when I first moved to China, I used animated films to practice Chinese quite a bit. I quickly discovered that Disney did an especially good jobs with translating (my favorite was the Chinese version of The Emperor’s New Groove). But I also started noticing something strange about a lot of these animated films’ Chinese titles… the word 总动员 appeared, somewhat inexplicably, way too often.
What is 总动员?
It was almost like a formula. In one word, …
I recently noticed an eyeware shop called 日月眼镜 (literally, “Sun Moon” Eyeglasses”). This is a good example of a name that plays on common knowledge of characters and character components. The glasses themselves, of course, are unrelated to celestial bodies, but when you put the characters for sun (日) and moon (月) together, you get 明, a character which means “bright.”
Why “bright”? There are two reasons:
- The word 明亮 (“bright”), is frequently used to …
I saw this sign on the door of the AllSet Learning office building that leads out to the patio:
Here’s a closeup:
Please, everyone, when going out on the balcony
close the door behind you
to prevent smog from entering the building
A young Chinese guy (presumably the one who put up the sign) came by our office to call our attention to the sign and ask for our cooperation. It was a little …
I recently stumbled upon an interesting blog post titled The persistence of comprehension, which focuses on this handwritten Chinese note:
Now before you go too crazy trying to read it, know this:
Some time ago, Instagram user jumppingjack posted the above image of a note she left to her mum. She said that her brother secretly added extra strokes to the characters in the note. The result is interesting though: even though extra strokes were added, the note is…
省 means “save” (as in “save money,” 省钱) or “conserve” (as in “conserve electricity,” 省电).
I feel like I’ve been seeing this particular in-store advertisement in Carrefour forever, but it’s time I pointed it out, because it’s a nice simple example of characterplay:
The text reads:
Which means, “save even more” (or “saving more”). (Check out this Chinese Grammar Wiki article on 更 if it’s new to you.)
Obviously, the clever part is sneaking the ￥ …
I recently discovered gotCharacters, the personal project of Kathleen Ferguson. I was impressed by the logical organization of the character components, and the clean, attractive design of the site. It was clear that a lot of work went into the site, and it’s all available for free! The following is my interview with her.
What made you decide to create a new resource for learning Chinese characters?
I came to Chinese in 2006 as an adult learner and struggled …
I recently spotted this sign on the stairs leading to the roof of the AllSet Learning office building:
Here’s the Chinese text:
rooftop / examine and repair / in the middle of,
temporarily stop / use; usage,
The translation offered:
The roof is during maintenance. Stop using temporarily. Thank you!
The translation, while not great, is understandable. What stood out to me, though, were two issues frequently encountered in Chinese …
I was a little late to the party, but I finally saw Disney’s Frozen recently, and was very impressed. Later I did a bit of searching for different language versions of the movie’s hit song, “Let It Go,” and aside from discovering an impressive 25 language mashup version of the song, I also made another interesting find: Chinese dialect (/fangyan/topolect) versions of the song!
Of the videos included below, only the English, Mandarin, and Cantonese audio …