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Beginning Chinese: Second Revised Edition Paperback – Sep 10 1976


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 601 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (Sept. 10 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300020589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300020588
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 18 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,254,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6 2002
Format: Paperback
I really want a book like this, but this isn't good enough. I want a book that gives me a ton of conversational Chinese in Pinyin so I can get a lot of language "practice" with the vocabulary, grammar, etc. used again and again in all kinds of scenarios.
This provides all of that but, frustratingly, it's of no use.
My wife and her family are from China. I let my wife see this book once (the Chinese character edition), and she quickly scrunched up her nose and said, "Nobody talks like this!"
Later, when my wife was out, I tried the same test on my wife's aunt (who doesn't speak any English). She seemed reluctant to comment. I think she was afraid of causing me to lose face, so I showed her another Chinese text that contained hanzi (Chinese for Today, Beijing Languages Institute) and asked which one she thought was better. After about 20 seconds of page scanning she got very excited and said (in Chinese), "Oh, yes, this is the normal way people talk" (yiban de shuofa), and "you should study this one".
Unfortunately, Chinese for Today probably contains less than 10% of the total quantity of example text in Beginning Chinese, with not very useful vocabulary and skimpy grammar explanations, so I'm not a big fan of that one, either.
But despite the wonderful quantity of example material in Beginning Chinese and its sequels, it's of no use to me if what I'm getting so much great practice in is bad Chinese. I can come up with plenty of bad Chinese on my own. ;-)
To be honest, I don't know how much of the "bad" is just the Mainlander's reaction to Taiwanese Mandarin, but my wife and aunt (who like to watch Taiwanese dramas) claim "they don't even talk like this in Taiwan".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Sahu on Jan. 20 2004
Format: Paperback
A few reviewers below have said that the conversations in this text are too old-fashioned and that no one talks this way in China anymore. I haven't shown this book to any Chinese friends but I can't see how the relative colloquialism of these texts would be a big problem. They don't seem very different from others I've read, and the Second Revised Edition (1976) does discuss Revolutionary changes ('airen' versus 'xiansheng' for husband, etc). It seems to be the equivalent of any English text from a few decades ago - people might not talk quite the same way now, but the vast bulk of vocabulary is the same, and anyway, no one ever faults a foreigner for having too bookish or old-fashioned a manner: on the contrary, we often find it charming. Not to mention that Chinese is spoken differently Beijing, Taiwan, Los Angeles, etc. Strikingly, the illustrations, though much superior to the cartoons in other Chinese learning texts, are very old-fashioned: Americans in Western suits and Chinese in silk longcoats. (Though I did see a man dressed like that in an LA supermarket last week!) If the drawings were updated, I bet the texts would not make half so bad an impression.
And the advantages of this work far outweigh the disadvantages. With almost all Chinese language learning texts I've used, I've felt that I had been thrown into a sink-or-swim, suffering-is-good-for-you situation. Brute memorization seems to be the traditional Chinese learning method. In most modern textbooks there is little attempt to explain grammar, and when it is attempted, it is done extremely poorly.
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By A Customer on Nov. 6 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been studying or trying to study Chinese for many years now. Most books seem more geared toward travel conversation(how much does it cost? etc). This book seems to really teach the language. I think that all languages change fast enough to make any book out of date quickly, this book seems to go deeper and really teach the structure and grammar that can be applied with newer slang. The fact he is aware of the differences between Taiwan Mandarin and the Chinese spoken in the PRC says alot to his credibility. However, the book is dry as are all books of this nature. It does provide a great beginning to learning the language. I think the other levels are now out of print.
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Format: Paperback
When I studied Chinese back in the 1970's this was the beginning text we used. I was not extremely satisfied with it then, and I am even less satisfied today. Arguably, it covers the subject of Chinese grammar in considerable detail, but my overall impression of the material presented is that it simply isn't the "way that Chinese really speak" - that is, it really doesn't reflect colloquial Chinese as it is actually spoken, even taking into account that it is supposed to be Taiwan Chinese. It is as if there is too much interference from English grammar in the way it is presented.
I am even less satisfied with it nowadays, with the large amount of language study material now available from China. While some of the material printed in China can be a bore, some of it is really extremely good - Beverly Hong's "Situational Chinese" springs to mind as perhaps the best book on colloquial Chinese I have yet found. I'd suggest to the would-be learner to review the material available from Beijing before investing any of the books in the old Yale Asian series.
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