Bleg: Help me learn Chinese

So, as a kind of side project this year I've decided to see if I can use what I know about Japanese and English (and kanbun) to sort of triangulate a reading understanding of standard Chinese, and a little basic listening/speaking too. Via Amida I found ChinesePod and have settled into a nice routine of listening to it on the train on the way to work. Now I am looking for reading material, similarly divided into small, manageable chunks. So, does anyone have any blogs (or anything else) they'd like to recommend?

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I came upon these two links just earlier today before reading your post, actually. Hope they help.



If there's anything you want to know about learning Chinese, drop me a line and I'll see if I can write up a blog post about it. I've tried to write stuff about that (off the blog) in the past--Chinese needs a book like Jay Rubin's Making Sense of Japanese--but I never got anywhere with it.


(And I still maintain that a native English speaker who knows Japanese would have an easy time with Chinese... 加油加油!)



I mean as a tutor, of course!


Nathan: thanks! They are rather neat.

Ok, Amida, how about: (1) how relative clauses in Chinese work, (2) how to learn all those political slogans people use sarcastically; (3) how to recognize names; (4) major differences between classical Chinese and modern (written) Mandarin?

IDR: I don't think you appreciate the extent to which this impulse is nerdy..


Considering the amount of time you spend on this infernal machine, don't forget to install a completely native Chinese version of the OS to get used to the terms.


It's easier to learn kambun than to learn Classical Chinese from scratch. Then you can skip the transformations and go with the more "English" word order.


I like this site for look ups. http://zhongwen.com/


Long time no see. I think you'll find Chinese grammar very little challenge. And with a good understanding of how to parse Chinese compounds, you've already internalized a good deal of Chinese syntax, I'd say. Relative clauses work like in Japanese, but but in SVO order ( though S and/or O dropping happens a lot too). Thus "sake nonda toki..."=  "喝酒的時候" he1 jiu3 de shi2hou4" (drink-alcohol-LINK-time". The key is the linking "de". SENTENCE + de + post(?)cedent.More too it than that, but noting really difficult.

The hardest part is just pronunciation. Tones just can't be learned without exposure, I think. I think you're in Tokyo or nearby now, right? There must be somehow you could get practice. Even in my little town we have a restaurant where the wife of the owner is Chinese. We chat once a week or so. It's a great help.

Sad to say, I think Chinese is like Japanese text wise. A few good reference grammars, but no worthy texts to buy.


Hmm, ok. I guess I'll figure it out pretty easily when I get to it. (Actually, a good reference grammar recommendation would be really handy.)

Mark: I started that with the iPod, maybe I'll work my way up to the mothership.


Azuma, hisashiburi!I think you'll find that in Chinese, people avoid using too many clauses for just that reason. I have seen stuff translated into Chinese from German and it was almost comical: blahblahblah DE blahblahblah DE blahblahblah DE noun.

I've never used it personally, but I believe Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar by Li and Thompson is a standard reference.


I have used that grammar, and I love it in a way no man should love any book. The day I found a used but very snappy copy of it in a used Chinese bookstore in Ikebukuro for like 1500 yen was a good day indeed. I wish there existed a grammar half as good for Japanese. I mean, there are more thorough works available, and good ones, but have you ever tried to read to Samuel Martin's grammar? Yikes. That book I just read cover to cover though.



also, can you give me more information about that used Chinese bookstore?

also, you need to blog it up some more.


Indeed I do. Christmas at home for the first time in two and a half years set me into deep internet hibernation, though.

The bookstore is actually in Yoyogi, it seems. I misremembered. It's called Touhou Shoten and here's the link for the page I discovered it through, with directions!



How are you doing on the Chinese? :)

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