Top products from r/Chinese

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Top comments that mention products on r/Chinese:

u/contenyo · 4 pointsr/Chinese

Don't know about online, but definitely check out Edwin Pulleyblank's "An Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar."

It's concise, well written, and has excellent explanations and examples. Easily the best around to start out with. Best of luck!


If you're looking for something in Chinese that's super comprehensive, I'd go for 王力's 《古代漢語》. It's an entire textbook series with guided excerpts, so it's not for the faint of heart, but if you can slog through it you'll be at college level Classical Chinese.

u/ProfessionalSet0 · 1 pointr/Chinese

So, I too have had this debate many times, and I am heartened every time someone steps up in support of character based writing like Hanzi. My honest attitude toward this is "I want to believe". I want to believe that there is equal merit to Hanzi as letter-based phonetic writing like romanized, cyrillic, etc. But all the evidence seems to point to the contrary.

Some rebuttals to your points:

>I imagine there's also been an increase in the number of English speakers who have problems remembering the spelling for words where the pronunciation is not as obvious when read.

Let's assume this is the case. I mean, there's some evidence that it isn't the case but let's assume it is. There's a categorical difference between forgetting the "I before E, except after C" rule, or forgetting whether you need an 'e', an 'i', or an 'a' in words like "definitely", "separate", and "necessary" and fundamentally forgetting that a letter existed or how to handwrite a letter.

In this clip, there's a gentleman who "struggles with the character for 'thumb'." The above words are 3 and 4 syllables long but 拇指 (Mǔzhǐ) is only 2 syllables and he got half the word wrong. This is a far cry from simply mixing up the order of two letters like writing "beleive" instead of "believe". In other words, here's an article from just 2017 saying "Character amnesia has become more and more common...". Show me the article that says there's currently an epidemic of otherwise literate adults forgetting how to write basic words in English.

>The writing system survived for thousands of years because it was effective.

I mean, there's "effective" and there's "optimal", right? The Mayan civilization lasted for about 3000 years and had a glyph based writing system. Would you seriously advocate that this is an optimal system of writing? Probably not, right? So I think this argument is true but a little misleading, depending on what exactly you mean by "effective". Then again, "effective" is defined as "producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect". Was the "desired effect" of the language for its users to begin forgetting its own writing system?

>(ie, the use of physician, medic, and doctor for medical personnel), it gets a lot harder for the reader to guess what's being referred to.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Yeah, those are three different words with three different definitions and they might be industry-specific. But it's not about it being "harder" for a reader to understand the difference. When a reader comes across a word, they either know what the definition is or not. If it's a real word then then the burden is on the reader to go to a dictionary and look up what the word is. It's also the writers job to try to make their vernacular and syntax as clear as possible.

>Furthermore, they take up little room on the page

Ehhhhh, again, technically true, but so what? It's not even that big of a difference. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in English is 309 pages while in Chinese it's 242. This is not that much value-added.

Arguing that Hanzi has some benefits over romanization is like arguing that chopsticks has merit over the fork (another mistake in efficiency I think the East made). You're essentially saying "Sure, forks are ok, but look! you can't twirl a fork around like this can you?" It just strikes me as a pride thing.

Again! I'm a big fan of the language. I think there are some interesting logical ambiguities that exist in English that don't in Mandarin. For example, there's this joke in English — Question: "What did the logician say when his wife handed him their newborn and asked if it's a boy or a girl", Answer: "Yes" — Well, in Mandarin, since you specify Yes/No questions with the 'ma' particle, you avoid the ambiguity.

u/T9C-gars · 1 pointr/Chinese

Yes... Among the best ones is the 3-book series "Fun with Chinese Characters".

This is how I started to learn to write some 15 years ago. But even today I suprisingly associate many characters with the pictures in this 3-book series from way back when (I'm a visual learner, so I learn by seeing, and I remember what I "see", rather than what I "hear").

It covers the most common 300 characters or their associate characters, and explains them using cartoon depictions of their original meanings (showing how the pictograms from ancient Chinese images evolved to modern characters). It also shows stroke order, so it was with these books that I self-taught myself to write in the beginning.

Since first being published in Singapore, an associate publisher in mainland China republished them in one single book for less than half the price. It's called "What's in a Chinese Character?".

Personally, I like the size of the 3-book format, and it's easier to find in Western bookstores than the one-volume book.

Here are some page images:

  • here

  • here

  • here

  • here

  • here

    Edit: I forgot to mention Chineasy.

    Chineasy didn't exist when I started to learn Chinese. A creative entrepreneur decided she would try to find "imaginary" images (emphasis on imaginary) to help people remember characters. She did what I think is a good job. Personally, I'm for learning the real meaning behind characters (the first suggestion), but some people may find the Chineasy approach more for them (this second suggestion). I suppose it just depends on one's preference.

    Here is a Ted Talk in which the creator of Easy Chinese explains the concept.

    But be careful... Make sure you know if you want to learn traditional or simplified characters. "Fun with Chinese Characters" is simplified (the mainland & Singapore). Chineasy is mostly found in traditional format (HK, Taiwan), unless you can find a simplified version somewhere.
u/dhalgrendhalgren · 3 pointsr/Chinese

So do you want topics in a certain field?


Linguistics is a great way to write about Chinese--there's political intrigue, history, movement of people, burning of academics and their books...but I digress.

^(Orthographic borrowing is also super interesting. How Chinese words for "modern" scientific concepts are Japanese in origin...but Japan used Classical Chinese characters to translate the) ^(idea) ^(of the scientific concept, and China just borrowed the words back.. 核子 "nuclear" from Classical "seed/pit")


"Private Life Under Socialism" details the late-Mao and early 开放 era (

A lot of the economic analysis of that era that isn't Kissinger and the inanity of the "domino" theory can be found under demographic research. Will Lavely out of the University of Washington does a ton of work on it, and is a well-known figure in the field of historical demographics.

u/forgottendinosaur · 4 pointsr/Chinese

I've used two textbooks for learning Chinese.

  1. Basic Spoken Chinese. It helped me a lot with survival Chinese. I learned how to answer basic questions, ask for directions, and so on. BSC also explains lots of the culture, and the design of the book inside is good. The downside is that there are two tracks, one for speaking and listening and another for writing and reading. There's also two books for each track, one textbook and one workbook ("Practice Essentials"). This will cost you, but the textbooks are pretty thorough in helping you to use the language.

  2. Integrated Chinese. I've been studying Chinese for three years. The first year I used IC, and now I'm using it again. (The middle year was with BSC.) The pro of this one is that it's very academic. I'm doing level two right now, and I just studied a dialogue on two people arguing about animal rights. It also has a lot more grammar than BSC. It's cheaper, too, especially if you buy an older edition.

    Between the two textbooks, I'd recommend IC for you. It has the grammar, and I think this is what you're looking for. Another thing I love about it is that it doesn't put the pinyin, characters, and English on the same page. After every line of pinyin in the dialogues, BSC put the English translation. This hurt my attempt to focus on Chinese. Going back and forth between English and Chinese doesn't allow you to make the necessary form-meaning connections between Chinese and the real world. In IC, you'll see a page of characters, and you'll have to flip a few pages to find some English and term definitions.

    Edit: The reason I'm back in IC again is that, after spending a summer in China with mostly BSC running through my head (I memorized all 40 dialogues for class), I wasn't able to hold a decent conversation. I could ask for directions, tell somebody that my Chinese wasn't too good, and ask somebody about how many siblings they had (spoiler alert: none), but that was really the extent of it. I went through a lonely phase because nobody around me could speak English, and I was totally unprepared to get to know people on a deeper level in Chinese.

    Edit2: You can find a graded reader/listener on this website. I've also heard some positive things about FluentU.
u/SlyReference · 1 pointr/Chinese

First, I'm a bit agnostic when it comes to characters. You'll often find me on the other side when the argument that Chinese could never go full romanization. I just hate it when people say that using characters is stupid or wrong.

> Show me the article that says there's currently an epidemic of otherwise literate adults forgetting how to write basic words in English.

Mere anecdote but it reminds me of the ongoing blurring between there, they're, and their.

> I mean, there's "effective" and there's "optimal", right?

You mean letting better be the enemy of good? Using optimal in opposition to effective is a bit disingenuous as well, especially when we're using the clearly suboptimal orthography of English to discuss the matter.

At the same time, China had been exposed to an alphabet (or at least an abugida) when they imported Buddhist texts, and they still felt that Chinese characters were a more effective way of recording their thoughts. That might have been cultural inertia, but the choice was made. At the same time, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese all made use of the characters in the past. Part of that may have been because of cultural and prestige factors, but it was seen as an effective as a way of recording information for a number of languages over centuries. Sure, it's not perfect, but few writing systems are (unless you listen to the Korea-philes who claim Hangul is).

> I'm not sure what you mean here.

You're getting caught up on the specific meanings rather than seeing it as an example of a larger trend in English. Many of the specialty words that are in common use come from three main sources : Germanic, Latin and Greek. While related, the links are not always clear in their expression. The example of doctor, medic and physician shows words from different roots that are used in a way to distinguish different roles in a single field where the links are not clear from the words used. A doctor studies medicine. In Chinese, an 医生 studies 医学。 In English the related nature of the two words is not as clear as it is in Chinese. Even the idea of study (学/学习) is more closely linked to medicine.

> Ehhhhh, again, technically true, but so what? It's not even that big of a difference. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in English is 309 pages while in Chinese it's 242. This is not that much value-added.

That's because you're looking at the language through the perspective of the modern language. If you go back and look at the Analects or the Art of War, they are tiny slivers of books. You can easily fit the text of the Art of War on 4 or 5 letter-sized pages. When the language was establishing itself, and was being written on bamboo slips, brevity made a lot of sense.

And it would be better to see how the length looks from Mandarin to English. The Three Bodies Problem is 302 pages in Mandarin, and 400 in English. Ask any publisher or environmentalist if 98 pages (per book) makes a big difference. Even the 67 pages that you're dismissing as "not that much value-added" is a reduction of over 20% of the length of the English novel, which is nothing to sneeze at.

> Arguing that Hanzi has some benefits over romanization

I am not trying to argue that Hanzi is better than romanization; I'm arguing that Hanzi shouldn't be dismissed by learners who are coming at it from a romanized background. They overlook some of the qualities that helped it endure for centuries. I do not consider it perfect. I can't imagine, for instance, trying to write computer code in it. But I am sure going to push back against the people who say that it's dumb.

> It just strikes me as a pride thing.

looks in mirror

I guess you think I have some sort of cultural connection with China and Chinese characters. That would be wrong.

u/guasong · 1 pointr/Chinese

It looks to be a book of divination attributed to Zhu Geliang. In fact it was translated into English and you can even read the preface on Amazon!

Basically you're supposed to write 3 Chinese characters, count their stroke to get a number, then read the "poem" that matches this number. Your book is written in traditional Chinese characters and present the original text written in classical Chinese with its explanation, to be read from top to bottom, then right to left.

Here is the modern version of it, where you can write these 3 characters with your keyboard and let the website do the divination for you...

u/therealplexus · 1 pointr/Chinese

I ended up getting this one Tao Te Ching a Bilingual Edition by D.C. Lau and it's really everything I could hope for.

It consists of two parts, the first has the "Wang Pi" version of the Tao Te Ching, which is the most well known, with for each verse the Chinese version and English Translation.

The second part is based on scrolls that were found more recently but that are some of the oldest versions of the Tao Te Ching that are known, also bilingual. There's also a great general introduction.

u/[deleted] · 1 pointr/Chinese

If you have a Kindle (or device which supports Kindle...) I can recommend this set of HSK flash cards.

The sets are dirt cheap, and divided into the HSK vocab levels. I've found that they really compliment my Chinese vocabulary.

u/Truthier · 1 pointr/Chinese

for calligraphy I strongly learning 楷書 or 篆書 first, then getting good at 楷書, to master the principles behind calligraphy correctly, only then will your 草書 reach its full potential...

u/louiej77 · 1 pointr/Chinese

Beginner's Chinese by Yong Ho is a great book

u/tubbleman · 6 pointsr/Chinese

Dirty Chinese

You want this. Chapter 5. There is even an e-book version if you need it RIGHT NOW.

u/CatonaHotSnRoof · 1 pointr/Chinese

The textbook my university used was this one: - it's not modern but provides a decent no-frills introduction to some common characters. Its age means you can snag a used copy very cheaply.

Fair warning this book is 99% characters, without English explanations of grammar, which are found in the associated pinyin-only ( textbook. In most cases the example sentences are illustrative and you might be able to go without the pinyin book; I haven't cracked it open in some time, but use the character text frequently.

u/anagrammatron · 1 pointr/Chinese

For example this.
No dictionary with the book, but relatively simple but no too simplistic vocabulary, familiar stories and english text for reference.

There are a bunch on Amazon too, but most seem to be either too simplistic or way too hard. If I could read Lu Xun in original I probably wouldn't be looking for bilingual edition anymore.

EDIT: almost forgot, check out The Chinese Bookshop. Their website sucks major ass, but they have some variety and ship fast.