Chinese

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Written Chinese is ancient barbarism.

I'm going to rant on some of the problems it has, with occasional glib solutions.

I understand that using pinyin was considered and declined back in the 40s. I still think using roman characters is probably the best solution, but let's play with the restriction of using most of the existing characters.


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Chinese >

In many cases, Chinese is a totally alien language compared to English. Some of the sounds are similar, but the tongue is in a different position.

The most unfortunate problem is that pinyin wasn't designed to solve pronunciation but was created to provide jobs to linguists. There's only a confusing match between phonetically-written English and pinyin, and a beginner will be easily overwhelmed.

So I'm going to do the work to describe, as best I can, various pinyin pronunciation items. I'm also going to develop a better way to phonetically write Chinese so my pronunciation learning curve isn't so steep. I think I'll look into the International Phonetic Alphabet as well.

Learning by ear is, of course, perfectly reasonable. I would recommend it. However, thinking long-term.. separately memorizing the pronunciation of every individual word is pretty ridiculous. Keep in mind that Chinese people don't have a consistent language, and I wouldn't bet there's a lot of consistency on pronunciation. Learning things "properly" with a universally-applicable skill would be best in the long-run.

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Chinese > Books for learning Chinese >

Highly recommended - Mnemonics, multiple pictures for stroke order and details for each character's difficulty level give this book a completely different approach from the others I own.

(amazon.com: look inside)
ISBN-10: 080484299X
ISBN-13: 978-0804842990

Feel free to change the Amazon.com URL from .com to your language of choice. Odds are good that it'll be available from another amazon.foo website.

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Chinese > Books for learning Chinese >

Highly recommended - A stark contrast to the traditional dictionary. Far more visual and friendly. Absolutely not a replacement for an actual dictionary.

(amazon.com: look inside)
ISBN-10: 0756634423
ISBN-13: 978-0756634421

Feel free to change the Amazon.com URL from .com to your language of choice. Odds are good that it'll be available from another amazon.foo website.

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