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Lorinth’s log - 劳伦的博客

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lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 337 of 408
07 November 2014 at 3:11pm | IP Logged 
Thanks Expugnator, you're right about this:

Quote:
when I learn a new word which consists of two characters I already know, I really
don't worry about learning the pronunciation. I focus on meaning: I have to understand that
those two concepts associated generated a third one (often not directly related to each of
them).


However, even in such cases, I try to check the pronunciation, because I've had nasty
surprises in the past with characters I thought I knew perfectly well taking a different
pronunciation in new words, e.g. very basic characters like 要 in 要求, 没 in 出没, 看 in 看护
, etc. So even there, there may be a trap.

1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 338 of 408
13 November 2014 at 10:52am | IP Logged 
For once, I had two evenings to devote to Chinese learning, so I went ahead and totally
wasted them by trying to prepare a new Anki deck using movies I like (洗澡 and 天下无贼),
subtitle files, subs2srs and Anki. Even after having read several tutorials (emk's,
sprachprofi's and others), it turns out that each step is much more complicated than I had
anticipated:
- Many Chinese movies have hard coded subs, so impossible to extract them (would OCR
produce any useful result anyway?) and, oh, impossible to hide them when reviewing (if I
had been able to reach that stage, that is)
- On the other hand, finding srt subtitle files is relatively easy, there are many
dedicated engines, provided the movie is well known
- All the subtitle files I have found were badly out of synch with the video. After
downloading, trying, and failing, to understand how to use several tools to correct that, I
ended up downloading a short extract of 洗澡 from Youtube and aligning the subtitles
manually. Tedious, even with a 10 minute extract. I haven't reached the stage where I'd
have to check whether the subtitles are even accurate.
- The subs2srs documentation did not seem to match the version I was using, so I went into
a burst of (many) trials and (many) errors. And, when time was up, I ended up with nothing
usable in Anki, unfortunately.

I'll try again, though, as this method seems so promising. If I manage to do it, I'll try
to write up a tutorial intended for dummies like myself learning Chinese.
1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 339 of 408
17 November 2014 at 10:50am | IP Logged 
Finally, I can report some success on the subs2srs front.

Phase 1. I was confronted with a few problems that were very easy to solve in isolation,
but were nevertheless annoying. For instance :

- Chinese *.srt files are often encoded in BIG5 or GB-18030. Subs2srs needs UTF-8. I opened
my file in OpenOffice and saved it in the UTF-8 format.
- Handbrake had produced a *.m4a file that SubtitleEdit refused to open. In fact, an *.m4a
file is just an *.mp4 file. Rename the extension and SubtitleEdit will open it.
- SubtitleEdit refused to open any video file, until I noticed that I had a 32-bit version
of VLC. I installed the 64-bit version, and SubtitleEdit could show me the video.

After that, I used the Visual Sync tool in SubtitleEdit to try and match subtitles with the
audio. Very easy to use – except that it did not work. I also used the Adjust All Times
features, which is also very easy to use and which also failed to work.

After a few hours of fiddling, I finally concluded that my *.srt file for 洗澡 was
hopelessly buggy.

Phase 2. I changed my mind:

- From Youtube, I downloaded the movie 白蛇传说, which I also like. I used the *.flv format.
- I found an *.srt file quite easily on http://www.opensubtitles.org and converted it into
UTF-8.
- I loaded the subtitles and the video into SubtitleEdit and – BINGO ! All subtitles were
right on time ! I quit SubtitleEdit without saving, as everything seemed perfect.
- I loaded everything into subs2srs. The latter complained about a badly formatted srt
file. So I loaded it again into SubtitleEdit, saved it, and then subs2srs accepted it. The
only option I changed was Pad Timings, which I activated (it's not by default).
- Apart from that, I followed the procedure explained in the subs2srs manual
(http://subs2srs.sourceforge.net/#importing_into_anki2)

And after about one hour of work, my computer produced a tab separated file that I could
import into Anki. Hard subtitles remain at the bottom of the snapshots, but they are so
small that they are illegible (plus subs2srs has an option to crop pixels off the bottom of
the pictures in such case, but I did not use it).

Note that I use monolingual (Chinese) subtitles only. When I see the hanzi, more often than
not, I can understand the sentence. I don't mind checking some words from time to time with
an external program. My problem is not reading, it's understanding the spoken language.

Infrequently, I have come across a card where the sound does not correspond to the
subtitle. Also infrequently, I come across a sound file where the end syllable missing,
so I should increase the Pad Timings values next time.

What's next, apart from actually studying that 白蛇传说 desk? I may try to align ZH and EN
or FR subtitles, which would be more convenient when I don't get the hanzi. I could use
bigger snapshots while studying on my phone with Ankidroid. I may try to have Handbrake
output a *.mkv file, open it in Subtitle Edit and OCR the Chinese subtitles. After all, it
just might work. And if it works, I'd have less alignment problems. Once I'm finished with
the 白蛇传说 desk, I have a pile of other interesting DVDs.

PS: but, alas, after two days of bliss, this morning, when I fired Ankidroid to study
today's pending cards, I discovered that Ankidroid produced no sound for this deck (while
it does for other decks). What gives? Oh, I hate these tools when I have to spend more time
fixing them than using them.
1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 340 of 408
18 November 2014 at 9:27am | IP Logged 
I've finally finished reading 三毛's 《撒哈拉的故事》. I haven't read the 附录 (appendix)
though, except a letter in which the author explains her interesting views (to say the
least) about the comparative value of marriage in Europe and in China.

I was taken off guard by that book. Perhaps I was expecting old-fashioned feel-good
postcard exoticism. In fact, this is a very dark book - despite the brutally blazing sun
that pounds on every page - which fully deserves its reputation as a contemporary classic
of Chinese literature.   However, although many people say it is adapted to intermediate
learners, I felt that book was rather hard to read.

In fact it took nearly 100 pages before I started feeling at ease. After that, it was a
very pleasurable read, with about 6-10 unknown words per page, which is OK for extensive
reading. I underlined those words while reading and looked them up, or just some of them,
after having read the page in full. And then, when I reached the last chapter, it suddenly
became much harder again, with 10-15 or even more new words per page, which means I was not
reading extensively, but intensively. I wouldn't have been able to make it without looking
up many words while reading.

It's not only the vocabulary, but also the syntax that seemed a bit more involved than in
other Chinese books I've read up to know, as if the writer needed longer, more convoluted
sentences to lead the reader into a nuanced mixed of feelings, with lots of telling details
about the personal, social and historical contexts. It's not like that everywhere, though:
the dialogues can be sharp.

And lastly, there are of course many transliterations of Spanish and Arabic names that are
not always obvious to spot.

That last story (哭泣的骆驼), by the way, is probably one of the most interesting in the
book, as it includes a stronger historical background, a thrilling plot and an incredibly
sad vision of human beings. The ending is violent, scary, depressing and beautiful.

1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 341 of 408
20 November 2014 at 10:22am | IP Logged 
For once, after having finished 三毛's 《撒哈拉的故事》, I did not hesitate long before I
chose another novel. I definitely needed something lighter and easier to read. So I started
vol. 2 of the adventures of 哈利•波特, i.e. 《哈利•波特与密室》. As I had hoped, I found it
easier than vol. 1, which I read 2 years ago, not to mention easier than 三毛.

My plan was to listen to an audio version while reading, but the sound of the audio
versions I found online is so atrocious they hurt my ears. Does anybody know where I can
find a decent audio version of 《哈利•波特与密室》? A legal version is fine, I'm willing to
pay for that kind of stuff.

In principle, I don't want to read works translated into Chinese: I'm not learning the
language for its own sake but to get to know a culture and translated books do not tell me
much about China. However, I'd bought this book 1.5 year ago, and it was sitting unused on
a shelf (I have another one left like that on my shelf: Stevenson's Treasure Island - 金银
岛). And, by the way, to hell with principles, I'm having fun reading 哈利•波特 again.

1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 342 of 408
21 November 2014 at 9:34am | IP Logged 
Yet another bonanza for beginner/intermediate level Mandarin learners:
兒童之路

The site is full of stories for kids, with transcript (traditional characters and pinyin)
and downloadable recordings (mp3).

I registered and tried one story (火龙的传说), read it, downloaded it to my phone, etc. As I
did not take the time to read the fine print, I don't know whether you can listen
to/read/download anything you want without paying in the long run.

The recordings do not use a shrieking vocoder, as is sometimes the case, but, as far as I
can tell, a real human voice.

As I'm not used to traditional characters, I googled one sentence and, sure enough, I found
a simplified character version of the same text on another site.

--

Apart from that:
- I've been reading Harry Potter II, 《哈利•波特与密室》, up to page 25/203.
- I've been studying my usual daily dose of words (with Pleco) and characters (with
Skritter).
- I've added another routine, i.e. my 白蛇传说 Anki deck produced with subs2srs. It's fun.
Of course, I haven't reached the stage where reviews start piling up :)
1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 343 of 408
25 November 2014 at 11:53am | IP Logged 
Strange fact of the day #1: on page 35 of the Chinese version of Harry Potter II (《哈利•波
特与密室》), there are approximately 728 characters, out of which 113 (i.e. a non-negligible
proportion of 15,5219%) are made of proper names.

Strange fact of the day #2: these last 3 days, I totally *forgot* to study with Skritter. I
don't keep a log or a reminder for SRS reviews, because it's burnt into my daily habits -
or I thought so. It's quite surprising that this should happen. The result: this morning,
when I suddenly remembered the very existence of Skritter, I was confronted with 311 cards
to review. Yuck!

Apart from that, I can feel a very strong wanderlust crisis coming my way. I've tried to
fight it by creating a new Cloze deletion deck in Anki, to spice up my daily routine. But
the temptation is there. I feel the urge to go to the second-hand bookshop and see what
worn-out Assimil they have in store. Help!

1 person has voted this message useful



lorinth
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 3139 days ago

443 posts - 581 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, Latin
Studies: Mandarin, Finnish

 
 Message 344 of 408
27 November 2014 at 2:22pm | IP Logged 
Here are my first impressions with italki.

I had not attended a Chinese class for over two years. Before that, I'd been using Skype
and a web-based school (http://www.echineseSPAMMING.com) for two 1-hour lessons per week.
It was a
positive experience, but I had to stop due to lack of time.

Then, a few weeks ago, my employer decided to install a wifi network in the cafeteria. So I
thought, hey, I'm using lunch time to study Chinese anyway, so why not take advantage of
the time difference and try italki?

After registering with italki, I was offered the possibility to try 3 teachers. The first
one was excellent, the second one not so stellar, the third one cancelled the lesson before
it could happen, the second third one did not show up at all, and then italki told me I had
used up my three trial lessons - which wasn't true but, as I wanted to go ahead, I chose to
hire the first teacher, though she was a bit more expensive than some others, for some
pompously called "advanced Chinese conversation" lessons.

That teacher is excellent. I'm the one who chooses the subject of the lesson (a podcast). I
send her an mp3 or a link in advance, maybe a list of difficult words and, up to now, the
teacher had prepared the lesson effectively, could ask and answer questions, explain the
vocab, correct my Chinese, etc. So I'm entirely satisfied with her and I do hope I'll be
able to work with her for some time.

The only drawback up to now: the cafeteria can be a noisy place at times, so I replaced my
cheap headphones with a model that's more adapted to this kind of environment (one that
covers the ears entirely, with a decent microphone) and I chose a quieter, less crowded
time, which made for a much more satisfying experience. I also installed a Skype session
recorder, so I hope I can listen again to our lesson.

--

Wanderlust: I've learnt some hiragana characters. Which is most probably a waste of time.
But who knows.


Edited by lorinth on 27 November 2014 at 5:53pm



1 person has voted this message useful



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