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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 361 of 408
14 January 2015 at 11:43am | IP Logged 
I'm experimenting with yet a new format for my SRS flashcards. In the beginning, I used the
most simple format exclusively, e.g.:

[front]
蒙蔽
[back]
méngbì (v) hoodwink; deceive; hide the truth from; pull the wool over sb's eyes.

Then I started using sentences, or more specifically one sentence for each unknown word,
e.g.

[front]
蒙蔽一部分群众。
[back]
Méngbì yībùfen qúnzhòng
Hoodwink part of the masses

Now, thanks to the new functionality available in Pleco, I can add *several* example
sentences containing the same word with one tap of the finger, e.g., to learn 蒙蔽, I added
the following three cards to my SRS queue:

[front]
蒙蔽一部分群众。
[back]
Méngbì yībùfen qúnzhòng
Hoodwink part of the masses

[front]
不要被花言巧语所蒙蔽。
[back]
Bù yào bèi huāyánqiǎoyǔ suǒ méngbì.
Don't let yourself be fooled by honeyed words.

[front]
千万别受他的蒙蔽。
[back]
Qiān wàn bié shòu tā de méngbì.
Never be deceived by him.

I've been doing that for a few weeks and my first impression is that my retention rate
tends to improve.

I can experiment with this format because I use Pleco, which makes it easy to create cards
like that from the dictionary examples, with just one tap on the button that appears after
each sentence.

Probably, not all new words can and should be learnt like that: I only do it when good
examples are available: i.e. they are short, specific (they provide a context that
specifically illustrates the meaning of the unknown word - which is not always the case)
and simple (no or very few other unknown words). It allows me to see the same new word
repeatedly in several different, relevant contexts, while reinforcing other words and
structures at the same time.

One objection could be that I have two, three or even sometimes four cards to learn one
single word. But:

- Up to now, as I'm noting an improvement in my retention rate, it's an acceptable trade-
off. In addition, if the word is known better (which is the whole point of the exercise),
it will be buried more quickly in the depth of the SRS queue. So, hopefully, the increased
number of reviews is balanced against ever more remote due dates for review.

- In addition, I find it more useful not to learn words but uses, or contexts of use, hence
it's only normal to have several cards for distinct uses.

- And finally, it makes me read and, hence, review more 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 362 of 408
15 January 2015 at 2:27pm | IP Logged 
After having read three mythological stories in the 中国民间故事 book (about 牛郎织女, 孟姜女
and 女娲补天), I inadvertently (?) started reading a science-fiction short story written by
张系国 (S. K. Chang) titled 未来的孩子.

It's available online here.

Excellent stuff. It's a slightly verbose yet eerily credible depiction of a world in which
assisted reproductive technology, as part of population engineering, has become the norm -
and a lucrative business. The end of the story decidedly smacks of Borges' lottery in
Babylon and the company that organises it. There's also a touch a very dark humour towards
the end.

It made me want to discover more Chinese sci-fi. Apparently there's a very vibrant scene,
with paper magazines like 科幻世界, web portals like 科幻小说网 (kehuan.net.cn) or 幻剑书盟
(hjsm.tom.com) and several famous authors (王晋康, 刘慈欣, 韩松, etc.) I've never heard of.
The future looks exciting.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 4031 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 363 of 408
15 January 2015 at 5:38pm | IP Logged 
Great! Now you make me eager about reading original Chinese contemporary fiction. Chrome says the site has malware, though (Firefox does nothing but blocks some pop-ups and let others open).

My main concern about reading native fiction is not realizing people's and places' names when they appear the first time and being lost all the way.
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 364 of 408
15 January 2015 at 7:17pm | IP Logged 
Hello Expug, the problem of names, though real, is not as bad as it seems. First, you can recognize them because they are groups of (usually) three caracters that (most often) do not make sense taken together.

Second, the structure of the sentence often provides hints, for instance if you see "X 对 Y 说...", you can guess that X and Y are names.

Third, you often have compounds like X先生, 老X, 小X.

Fourth, the number of possible family names is relatively small, and they are often used as family names only, so you end up knowing the most frequent ones pretty fast.

And finally, the names tend to appear quite soon in a novel and to be repeated a lot. Hence, when you suspect you have come accross a name, I think it's useful to look it up right from the start. When I read on paper, I usually write down the pinyin in the margin, so I pronounce the names correctly in my head while reading.

When you're reading something translated from a Western language into Chinese, the problem is different of course, but the characters used to translitterate foreign words (and names) tend to be a relatively small subset of specialised, otherwise less frequently used characters. Plus, if you read Harry Potter, well, you know those strange meaningless groups of caracters must be names - or curses.

Place name are harder IMO.
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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 365 of 408
16 January 2015 at 10:46am | IP Logged 
Now I've read the second short story by 张系国 (S. K. Chang) available online (玩偶之家) and
I'm totally mesmerized.

[Beware: short semi-spoiler follows]

Picture a society in which Philip K. Dick's androids would have taken over - you are in 张
系国's world. The philosophical conclusion of the story would have been an interesting
piece of information for Rick Deckard. In case of doubt (don't we all have such doubts?),
this is how you can tell that you're a life form and not a robot: 我们当然不是机器人。最重要的
一点,我们也会死亡。机器人会死亡吗?我们 当然是人。 Of course we're not robots. The main reason
is that we are mortal. Can robots die? Obviously, we must be human beings.

[/End of short semi-spoiler]

By the way, here's a direct link to the four stories I could find:

Link

Unfortunately, there are a number of what seems to be scanning/OCR errors, but not enough
to kill the fun.
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 366 of 408
26 January 2015 at 10:50am | IP Logged 
I've finished reading 超人列传, by 张系国. With over 29,000 chars, it was much longer than
the other two stories and it qualifies as a novella: I converted the web page in an ebook,
I reckon it has the equivalent of almost 60 physical pages and it took me a week to finish
it.

Again, it's a very good and scary story. I can see now what the obsession of 张系国 is:
intelligent machines overcoming foolish carbon-based human beings mesmerised by their
desire to progress. It made me think of several Greek myths: Prometheus, Icarus. But the
starting point has a parallel in the Odyssey: Ulysses has the opportunity to live an
eternal life of bliss with the nymph Calypso. Instead, he chooses to return to real life,
his human wife and son, a life of hardship with its inevitable sad ending: old age, disease
and death. On the other hand, 斐人杰, the hero of the novella, confronted with the same
choice, choses the life of a God - or of a 超人, more precisely. Read the novella to
discover what happens next... I'll just say that the ending mirrors quite exactly another
well-known ancient Mediterranean myth.

Literary speaking, I found that this longer story was the least well written: at times, I
had the feeling the author should have taken his time to describe things (the long
wandering of the hero from one stellar system to another), at times, on the contrary,
there were longuish speeches. The ending was predictable. Also, I found the language was
more complicated than in the other two shorter stories, maybe also because this one was
more verbose. In spite of all this, this is another good, scary, highly recommended sci-fi
story.


Edited by lorinth on 26 January 2015 at 10:52am

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 367 of 408
29 January 2015 at 10:59am | IP Logged 
I've been a bit lazy lately with listening exercises. I made one more listening drill with 慢速中文 (中国人去美国前没想到的三件事). That text was noticeably easier than some other articles on the same site. After repeated listening, there were 4 "hard" sentences left, plus 10 "medium" sentences, out of 69. However, I had guessed the meaning of pretty much all "medium" sentences, so overal a satisfying result. As for sentences where I got the pinyin transcription wrong, I extracted them with Audacity and created a bunch of Anki audio cards to drill later.

I've renewed my subscription to Chinese Learn Online. Their podcasts are the most carefully thought out podcasts (of the learning type) I know of. I'm now using the level 5 series (out of 7), i.e. lesson 241 and above. The first lessons of this level are pretty easy, so I've already listened repeatedly (I wouldn't call that "studied") to 4 lessons. One drawback of this series is that the same two people, the same two slightly stilted voices and the same two accents present each lesson. Though they are really good at teaching, they are not the wonderful voice actors you can hear in e.g. ChinesePod lessons. Also, the lessons themselves are not as lively as those of ChinesePod, which feel much more like real life Chinese. But, as I said, they are very carefully paced, so you get a real sense of progess, which I personnally did not have when I was subscribing to ChinesePod. Time and again, I grow tired of always hearing the same two people on Chinese Learn Online, so I switch to something else for a few weeks. But up to now, I've always come back to them.

Also, I've discovered a new site that looks a bit like Slow Chinese. It's called The Chairman Bao and it's extremely promising. You can listen to press articles on a variety of subjects and read the transcript (but you can't download the audio, as far as I can tell, unfortunately). There are other tools for subscribers. My first impression, compared with Slow Chinese, is that you could start from a lower level (A2?). Each podcast is graded with an HSK ranking, starting with HSK3, which is a fantastic idea.

Chairman Bao

As for reading, after my sci-fi outing, I returned to the book 中国民间故事, in which I've now read 8 stories out of 41.

Edited by lorinth on 29 January 2015 at 11:00am

3 persons have 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 368 of 408
04 February 2015 at 11:33am | IP Logged 
Kept on reading 中国民间故事. Though the first stories were relatively easy, they tend to
get more and more difficult, with lots of chengyus and, as far as I can tell, a slightly
archaic language. I'm contemplating starting something else.

I watched the first part of the wonderful 大闹天宫 anime (which recounts the first episode
of 西游记) of 1964. It's a jewel.

Also on Youtube, I stumbled across an adaptation of a story I had just been reading in the
book 中国民间故事: the tale of 哪吒闹海. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure the character of 哪吒
also appears in 大闹天宫, as a hero of the army sent by the Jade Emperor to punish the
Monkey King. But in this case, 哪吒 is defeated by the self-proclaimed 齐天大圣.

And finally I watched 站台, another fascinating movie by 贾樟柯 about the fate of a
"cultural unit" in the years between 1979-1989. We see a group of people in their 20s
living, dreaming and struggling through epochal changes, with the apparition of, among
other things, love, privatisation, TV and pop music. 99% of the language, however, was
unfathomable.

Short italki session about 中国人去美国前没想到的三件事, from Slow Chinese.



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