It’s striking how quickly technology is changing the way we learn Chinese. Recently I mused that it doesn’t seem to take as long to get fluent in Chinese as it used to, and one of the reasons I cited was technology. A recent Input Device Roundup update on the Skritter site calls attention to how it’s not just the software (“computers” in general), but actually the hardware that’s changing rapidly, and with it, the way we learn to write Chinese …
To answer this question, I’ll start by quoting from a Quora page, where two heavyweights gave excellent answers:
Mark Rowswell, AKA Dashan/大山:
When I started learning Chinese, I was horrified to hear that it would take me 10 years to become fluent. 27 years later I’m still working at it. Due to my work on television, some Chinese language learners may consider me a role model of sorts, but every day I’m reminded of what I don’t
A while back I did a post on the simple characters around you. I’ve been slowly collecting some other simple signs. Here are three more.
Noodle to Noodle
In simplified Chinese, 面 can mian either “noodle” or “face.” 面对面 means “face to face,” hence the obvious pun. (Note: in traditional Chinese, the “noodle” character is written 麵.)
The other characters are 重庆, the city of Chongqing.
Big Big Small Small
大大小小 can means “big and small,” and …
The hard-working guys at Skritter have been working on an iPhone app for quite a while. They put up a nice launch page, made a really cool video, and then… proceeded to “keep us in suspense” for a really long time. Well, the wait is finally over! Even though I’ve been helping to test the new app prior to the official release, I waited until I got word from Skritter that the app has been officially approved before …
When I first moved to Shanghai, I lived in the Jing’an Temple area, behind the Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel on Nanjing Road. It was a cool place to start out my Shanghai experience, and I enjoyed my time there (even if there weren’t many good eating options nearby). I discovered the joys of Shanghai morning walks to work there, and the whole “familiar strangers” thing was interesting. Later, though, I moved to the Zhongshan Park area, where I’ve …
Recently Brendan put up a post called Peking Opera Masks and the London Book Fair on the new “Beijing Avengers” group blog, Rectified.name. It’s an insightful take on how contemporary Chinese literature is being represented (and not represented) abroad.
I especially enjoyed the explanation toward the end of his use of “Peking Opera masks”:
A few years ago, a few other translators and I were talking with employees of a Chinese publishing house who said that they had some books
As a learner of Chinese, you’re going to make mistakes with your tones. A lot of them. It’s unavoidable. It can be helpful to reflect on the kinds of mistakes you’re making, though, because it can help you realize that despite all the mangled tones, you’re actually making progress.
No, I’m not just talking about the stages of learning tones which I’ve written about before, I’m talking about mistakes which are fundamentally different in nature. As your Chinese gets …
Friends of mine have asked me many times: can you really speak Chinese without translating it first in your head? And when I answer yes, the follow-up question is: but how can you get to that point? I have to translate everything!
There’s both an implied lie and a rather direct lie in that follow-up question.
“But how can you get to that point?”
The problem is that it’s not a “point.” There’s no instant when you can suddenly stop …
I remember quite distinctly the way I learned the sentence-final particle 嘛. I had only been studying Chinese for a little over a year, and thus was quite familiar with the yes/no question particle 吗, but not this new 嘛, which seemed a bit more complex. I might have studied it before and just ignored it, but once I was on the streets of Hangzhou and hearing it all the time, I knew it was time to …