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Mandarin Phrasebook Paperback – Mar 1 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications; 4th Revised edition edition (March 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0864426526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0864426529
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 168 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #978,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 5 2004
Format: Paperback
This little book includes the basics that you would expect from a pocket phrasebook and also includes a two-way dictionary which may come in handy. This latter feature is an addition to the previous edition and it adds considerably to the heft of the book. It is pretty much what you would expect from a phrasebook with the requisite inclusion of the counting system (with pictures of the hand-signs which is helpful), useful expressions, and help getting around. It also includes both pinyin and simplified Chinese characters which means that if you cannot pronounce the tones correctly (you won't!) you can show it to someone. Be warned, I have met taxi drivers who cannot read Chinese.
A major caveat is that most Chinese do not speak Mandarin but a local dialect. They mention this in the introduction but it could be stronger. Even in the large cities there are some who do not speak Mandarin and although you may be able to make yourself understood, you will not understand them!
There are a few problems with the book, beginning with several typographical errors and exclusions. This seems troublesome when you may be relying on it to get you out of a jam. Secondly, this edition includes a list of profanity with the caveat that if "you hear these words you should be on your way." Users of this book will not know enough Mandarin to recognise what they are hearing and it seems an invitation for assault to consider using them yourself.
This book is excellent for those who are being tourists in Beijing or Shanghai for a few days but you will want to consider something more substantial if journeying around the country without a guide. If in doubt look for students, inevitably you will meet some who have studied English and are proficient enough to help you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By brillopad on Aug. 27 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was very helpful on my recent trip to Beijing, but only because I've had a few years of formal Mandarin classes. If you've never taken any Chinese, this book, or any phrasebook for that matter, may not be of much help simply because of the difficulty of the language. Believe me, even after 3 years of Chinese I still had trouble getting cab drivers to understand me!
Even if you've been studying Chinese for a while this phrasebook will be a great resource for a multitude of day to day words and phrases. In fact, I often just read it page to page as sort of an interesting textbook. I love that it includes both the pinyin with tones and the characters side by side. Unfortunately, there are more than a few editing errors with the characters which could cause problems if you're using the book by pointing at phrases. Another issue is that the pronunciations often include the "er" ending on words which is only a Beijing thing, not heard much in the south.
Overall it is a great book that managed to survive being thrown around in my backpack, and now that I'm back home it will be useful as a textbook as there are still MANY words in it I have yet to learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm not a scholar of Mandarin although I have completed the Pimsleur Mandarin course level 1. My experience as a relative novice was that this book was extremely useful.
Every Chinese person that I showed it to, when trying to communicate, also thought it was very good and several asked where they could buy it. I looked in Beijing and couldn't find it.
Chinese pronunciation is fairly difficult although grammar is straightforward. I've got by in Vietnam in the past with the Lonely Planet's Viet phrasebook without any previous tuition. If you can retain phrases and remember to transliterate words down quickly before you forget then even this book on its own would be very handy. Pinyin is frequently not pronounced how a Westerner would expect from its spelling. For example the word "wo" for "I" is pronounced like "war" and not "woe".
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book at a bookshop in Beijing after having all but worn out my friend's copy -- and it has been worth every penny.
Words and phrases are helpfully arranged by topic. Cultural tips are both witty and informative. There is a brief explanation of grammar (which is all that is needed; Chinese grammar is very simple), as well as a brief explanation of pronunciation. The pronunciation guide, while among the best in phrasebooks, is not nearly sufficient for learning the precise pronunciation that is necessary for communicating in Chinese. If you've never been to China, and plan on being able to communicate, however modestly, you'll want to get started on pronunciation right away. A book with an audio aid would be better for this, but there is really no substitute for a real-life Mandarin speaker. All words are romanized for the reader's convenience according the pinyin system, which is slightly confusing at first, but is generally the most helpful system in the long run. Characters are included so that the distressed traveler (and there will be times of distress if you travel in China -- nothing to worry about, but still a fact of life in the Middle Kingdom) can simply point to the characters if all else fails.
In all, this phrasebook is a nonpareil among Chinese phrasebooks. Its limitations simply reflect the limitations of phrasebooks in general, though the authors have done a remarkable job of making it as useful as possible. Whether you know no Mandarin at all, or have a rudimentary knowledge of it and want a safety net, this book is the one to buy.
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