Austin, United States

I have spent most of my career as a French professor and a research librarian, and have been reinventing myself as a writer. I’m...

Learning Chinese, Fewer Pictures

Well, some of you may be wondering what has become of me. I am not as present on the RB as I used to B. That’s because I have taken on another project, as I mentioned before. I am learning CHINESE! O.k., I am more or less learning a bit of Chinese. I have yet to see if I can speak to anyone in Chinese, but I keep trying. It’s best if you practice with people who do not know a WORD of Chinese! :) :) :) That way your ego does not get decimated, though I have to say the Chinese are very polite and agreeable when they see you trying to learn.

I’m very much enjoying my self teaching. I have two books. The oral part, a book with dialogs and a DVD is this one:

I’m using the above book because the dialogs are very, very easy.. I am a complete novice, and I need baby steps right now. The tones take time to master. But I’m also using a character book, learning the pictorgrams. I’ve chosen to learn the short form. So I’m using a Tuttle book for that too. I had been told before to learn by the story method. I have found this to be wise. They are great mnemonic devices. It’s fascinating to see how they put characters together to say something. The characters are stylized pictograms, after all, and after a while, you can kind of learn faster by understanding the combinations. But the stories still help a great deal. The character book contains 800 characters. We only have 26 letters to our alphabet! But it’s very fun, a nice summer project. For example, one of the ways to say “cloudy” in Chinese turns out to be the pictorgrams for “many” and “clouds”. But there are also other ways to say “cloudy”. It’s a very fascinating language. And since Chinese is the third most spoken language in the country, and since we owe them big time!, I thought I’d invest some time, since I have plenty of it at the moment, on the bus, and waiting at the bus stop. If you decide to learn Chinese characters, here’s the link: On this link, you can look inside the book and get an idea whether or not it’s for you.

So if you have nothing to do this summer, get a Chinese character book and have a fun summer or bus project. You school kids might like to use them as a “secret language”….. Only I will know what you re saying…. :P and a few million Chinese people….

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