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Lorinth’s log - 劳伦的博客

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 369 of 408
23 February 2015 at 11:02am | IP Logged 
In the context of my ever failing quest to improve my listening comprehension, I hereby
take this silly oath: I will listen every day to the 锵锵三人行 show of Nov. 4, 2013 on the
subject of 周恩来尼克松握手照片中翻译被PS掉. I will only work on that show. Nothing else.
Every day. Listen in the background. Listen to short parts intensively. Study the
transcript. Echo. Repeat. Chorus. Loop. Parrot. Nothing else than those 20:55. Until it
clicks or I die. I've been attacking the Everest with WorkAudioBook, Audacity and Anki (fed
with bits and pieces of the dialogue extracted with Audacity).

Link to the show on Youtube

By the way, I have found a new site for Chinese subs: Subom. The plan is to use it to
create subs2srs Anki decks, but I haven't tested it yet, as I'm still working on my 白蛇传说
Anki deck.


In other news, I have started reading 盗墓笔记, another famous tomb raider series. There are
8 books in all. I am reading the first novel, titled 七星鲁王宫. At the beginning, I had the
impression that the language was quite complicated, and that the story was poorly written.
My overall feeling was that the book was much less fun to read than the other tomb raider
novel I'd read one year ago (鬼吹灯). However, now that I'm 6 chapters into it, it seems I
may enjoy it enough to at least finish the first episode. Who knows.

All novels are available online.

And here's some info on the series in English.

Apart from that, for the sake of variety, I opened a copy I own of Paul Rouzer's "A New
Practical Primer of Literary Chinese". Here, "literary" of course means "pre-1911". Lesson
1 was fun and easy. I proceeded to create a brand new Anki deck with all sentences in
lesson 1. After all, I owe my first contact with the Chinese language to 庄子 rather than 余
华, and learning to read some classical Chinese has always been one very long term
objective. In the Anki deck, I kept all example sentences in traditional characters, as a
way to get used to them.

The book on Amazon.

Toying with the idea of taking the HSK5.

Discovered that Voice of America in Chinese often airs courses that are supposed to teach
English to Chinese people, but it works equally well to learn Chinese using the English has
a base.
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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 370 of 408
05 March 2015 at 10:59am | IP Logged 
I don't post all that much, but losing one week's worth of messages is an unpleasant
experience and a bad omen for the future of this forum, so I started the day by
copying/pasting by hand the entire content of this log to a text file.

One of my last messages was written to take stock, so let's try again:

* Reading: still reading 盗墓笔记, part 1. I'm now 25 chapters in (91/274 p. Chapters are
very short) and enjoying it. As usual, I tend to start the day with a relatively intensive
reading session, during which I look up unknown words and add them to my vocab lists for
later review. After I've collected about 10-15 new words, I switch to extensive reading
mode, during which I only look up words when needed. I may take a mental note, but I don't
add them to word lists. I sometimes use Google image or an equivalent when they talk about
esoteric stuff.

* Listening: still stubbornly listening to the 锵锵三人行 show of Nov. 4, 2013 on the
subject of 周恩来尼克松握手照片中翻译被PS掉. I have gained a decent understanding of the first
12 minutes or so, i.e. about half of the show. I use Workaudiobook, Audacity and Anki, plus
the transcript.

* Vocabulary. I currenlty use:

- Pleco. Each day, I study the vocab lists of day -1, -3 and -6 (no SRS, just "normal"
flashcards. These lists are fed with words I collect while reading or listening. Currently
10-15 words/day, not more). Then I add the words contained in vocab list of day -7 to
another, cumulative list called "SRS", which I also study (this time, in SRS mode).

- Skritter for isolated characters. I use Zein's frequency list, which I started in
reverse, from character #3000. I'm now at character #1900, and I do hope it will become
easier and easier.

- Anki. Currently using two audio decks and two written decks:

(1) An audio deck created with subs2srs to study the subs of the movie 白蛇传说.

(2) Another audio deck that contains sentences extracted from Slow Chinese or (mainly) 锵锵
三人行 with Audacity.

(3) A deck with a variety of Cloze deleted cards (ZH-ZH). Not adding many cards, so it's a
rather leasurly deck.

(4) A deck with two-way cards of sentences and exercises taken in Rouzer's A New Practical
Primer of Literary Chinese. Let's call that a useful/controled form of wanderlust.

Edited by lorinth on 05 March 2015 at 12:24pm

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 371 of 408
06 March 2015 at 3:12pm | IP Logged 
Thanks to a message from Iversen in the thread titled " A week of posts has disappeared",
I was able to recover the messages that had vanished. Here's the tip: replace the address with the ip address

For instance: =47

Anyway, my vanished posts where not *that* interesting anyway.

Here's what I had to say on Feb. 27:

"It's a nicely strange day when you wake up in the morning and your first thought is: What
will happen next in 盗墓笔记? (I've read 13 chapters, p. 55/274)."

I'm now at page 102 and I'm *still* eager to know what happens next to our tomb raiding

And, when I was taking stock on March 2, I noted one thing I forgot to add in yesterday's

"Unfortunately, it's rather rough going at home and at work, so I've had zero time to take
iTalki lessons recently."

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 372 of 408
09 March 2015 at 5:29pm | IP Logged 
Finished reading the first part (卷) of 盗墓笔记 1. i.e. 七星鲁王. Started part 2. Good book,
with lots of tomb raiding adventures in claustrophobic corridors, unlikely mutants,
disgusting blood sucking worms and all. It's a bit less wacky than 《鬼吹灯》, which I read
last year, but definitely enjoyable.

Stubbornly working on 锵锵三人行 on 周恩来尼克松握手照片中翻译被PS掉 for listening

I started Rouzer's A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese, chapter 2. Haven't started
preparing Anki cards as yet, as I want to study all cards from lesson 1 first. After all,
this jaunt into ancient Chinese territory is supposed to be a *controlled* form of
wanderlust, right?

I ordered books from a Chinese provider in Beijing ( 路遥的
《平凡的世界》 (there are 3 volumes, amounting to about 1,000 pages, don't know if/when I'll
be able to read that), 徐磊的《盗墓笔记》 (second episode of the novel I'm currently
reading), 张牧野的《鬼吹灯》 (yay! *more* tomb raiding! Second volume of a novel I read last
year), plus a copy of a sci-fi magazine called 《科幻世界》. I'm set for many months to

I'd kept a full Windows 8 installation on my computer just to use WorkAudioBook, but other
than that I work with Linux, as I've been doing since 1998 (yes, the time when you got to
choose between a grand total of 2 or 3 distributions and you needed a pile of floppy disks
and a lot of patience). Recently, the Windows installation had become slower and slower,
and more and more unreliable (no network e.g.) and then it stopped functioning. Just like
that. And then, I made a stupid mistake: as I've never got the hang of Windows 8 anyway, I
decided to reinstall everything from a Windows 7 DVD I own and, like a fool, I deleted the
partition which (I suspect) contained all the drivers to make that Toshiba Satellite work
properly (in theory at least), not to mention the partition that (probably) contained
everything needed to reinstall Windows 8. Result: my fresh installation of Windows 7 is
unable to detect anything related with the network - heck even USB slots are not
recognized. I can't find the necessary software on the Toshiba site. In the meantime, my
Xubuntu installation works like a charm but I can't run WorkAudioBook under Linux, not with
Wine (does not work), not with Virtual Box (my computer does not do virtualization), not
with anything. Sigh. WorkAudioBook is one of the cornerstones of my Chinese studies right
now, so I need to find a solution.

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 373 of 408
13 March 2015 at 10:03am | IP Logged 
Business as usual. I've now read 132/274 pages of 盗墓笔记 1. I'm 7 chapters in the second
part, called 怒海潜沙. What does *that* mean by the way? The Secret Sands of the Furious Sea?

In my opinion, that second part starts off very well, beter than the first one. The author
does a very good job of setting the stage for an unconventional, adrenaline-pumping grave
robbery story happening under the sea. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Apart from that, I've continued slowly grinding through that episode of 锵锵三人行 about
photoshopping, studying vocab, etc.

[rant continued]
My computer is driving me crazy, I could reinstall Windows 7 (no sound, no network, no usb,
but it somehow works), but now Xubuntu has stopped behaving properly. I've been trying to
resinstall it, or other versions of Linux, unsuccessfully for 3 days. Let's face the sad
truth: this computer is bricked and I will soon have to break my piggy bank. Of course I'm
typing this on another machine.
[/rant continued]

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 374 of 408
16 March 2015 at 10:24am | IP Logged 
Even if I was not actively channelling my natural wanderlust tendencies with a book about
ancient Chinese, life would get in the way and offer opportunities to play with languages
other than Mandarin. Two of my kids need help studying Latin in one case and Dutch in the
other case. So… what can I do?

My eldest daughter has to follow an utterly classical, grammar and translation-based,
accelerated Latin course. Of course she's been handed sheets after sheets of declensions
and conjugations (and vocab) and, equipped with that, she's supposed to translate Cicero
next year. Oh my. Of course, it's dry and mechanical, not to mention that she has a hard
time imagining how such grammar tables could possibly amount to a language, i.e. something
that is (well, "was", in this case) used to communicate and tell stories. So I've started
using my beloved Oerberg's Lingua Latina with her. I can't swear that that book will help
her pass exams (though I'm convinced the answer is yes *if* we keep at it), but it has
already succeeded in making Latin more lively, because there's flesh around the skeleton
now. Studying ablatives in tables is one thing, seeing them in action in accessible,
progressive and funny narratives is very different.

Another of my daughters is at the unavoidable stage where she has to learn "sterke
werkwoorden" in Dutch. Of course, it's not fun, so I've spent some time teaching her how to
use Anki for that (and the rest of the vocab she has to learn) and I've explained that
learning those in Dutch will help her considerably when she starts English (next year) or
if she ever wants to learn German. More importantly, studying such a list should be
completed by heavy doses of input, but I could not get around to finding interesting Dutch
material for a mildly convinced teen with a very basic level…

[end of rant for now - hopefully]
I've finally managed to reinstall both Win7 and Xubuntu on my computer. Xubuntu works well.
Win7 has no USB or network, but at least it has sound and it runs. That means I was able to
reinstall WorkAudioBook by downloading it from Xubuntu, copying the install file on the
Win7 partition, rebooting in Win7 and finally installing. I'm able to use that programme
again, so I'm happy, even if it means rebooting in Win7 whenever I want to create a
subtitle file, and rebooting again in Linux when I want to export that file to my phone (I
only use the desktop version of WorkAudioBook to create subtitle files and the Android
version to use them for practicing listening comprehension on the go).
[/end of rant for now - hopefully]

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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 375 of 408
23 March 2015 at 11:41am | IP Logged 
I've been tinkering with a programme called Chinese Text Analyser. Basically, the
idea is much the same as that of Learning With Texts, which readers of this forum may
know better. Here are my first impressions about how they compare.

Differences in features:

- CTA is designed for Chinese, while LWT should work with any language
- LWT has sound (listen while you read), not CTA. But what's the use of a built-in mp3 player? You can always start two
- LWT has a kind of "Library manager" that lets you tag, add, delete texts, etc.
- CTA is extremely easy to install (Windows only, for now, but it works nicely under Wine for Linux at home. I also use
it as a portable version, from a USB key, but I have to copy the application data manually); LWT runs on a server, which
is much tougher to set up.
- CTA has a Chinese parser; LWT has no parser, you parse your texts manually, one word at a time, which is much more
tedious. However, dare I say that CTA's parser somewhat leaves to be desired? It produces many many false positives.
- LWT has a very flexible built-in SRS mechanism for reviewing words (in sentences or isolated, L1 or L2, etc.); with
CTA, you have to export cards to another programme, like Pleco or Anki (you can do that with LWT too).
- CTA is incredibly fast, even with huge texts, while LWT is very slow (it runs on a server, with an SQL backend…)
- In LWT, you get to choose your dictionaries (and you can define several), but you have to configure them on your own.
CTA uses …? What in fact? ccdict? Nothing to set up and no latency, as in LWT.
- LWT can export your text with annotations (translations, pinyin).

Difference in philosophy

In CTA, if you use the popup dictionary to reveal the meaning of a word, the word is automatically tagged as "unknown".
Fair enough, though harsh. In LWT, you assess your own knowledge of the word on a scale from 1 to 5 (plus "Well known").
Each word in your text is colour-coded according to its status, which can hurt the eyes when there are many unknown
words with varying statuses.

On the other hand, I've noticed that, while reading, I kept on checking and checking the same words because I thought I
might have forgotten their pronunciation (much more often than their meaning) - more often than not, only to discover
that my first impression was correct. I hope that a positive effect of CTA will be that - when I see a word that I'm
*supposed* to know - I will learn to trust my brains and consider that what I hear in my head *is* correct, and that
there's no need to check again.

Note that I've used LWT for other languages (Latin and Finnish) but I've stopped using it some time ago, because I've
chosen to focus on Mandarin exclusively and LWT was a too much of a hassle to maintain on a server for just one

My first impression is that CTA may be more appropriate for intermediate/advanced learners, because (1) though it
provides segmentation, you have to be very careful about the output. When you start learning Chinese, segmenting words
is often a problem (where do Chinese words start and end?). In LWT, you're left in the dark. In CTA, everything is
parsed but the output might be incorrect; (2) it's much easier and faster to manage longer texts with CTA; (3) I do hope
that the main advantage for me, in the long run, will be increased confidence about what I'm supposed to know already.

Though CTA is written for Windows, there's something Unix-ish about that programme, in that it is designed to do one
thing, to do it fast and well, and to complement other programmes when needed (like Pleco or Anki for reviewing cards,
ccdict (?) to provide a dictionary, etc.) rather than be a resource-hog Swiss army knife.


Apart from that, I've kept on reading 盗墓笔记. I'm at page 167/274, 18 chapters into the second part, and very bad
things are starting to happen to the underwater tomb raiders.

In a sci-fi magazine (科幻世界) I've also started reading an article about the two futures of humanity, the material one,
and the digital/virtual one.

I've kept on listening to the 锵锵三人行 show about photoshopping. I'm slowly approaching the end of that episode. There
are three persons talking. The Taiwanese girl (竹幼婷) talks like a machine gun, four or five syllables are often
coalesced into one, she's really tough to understand. The Hong Kong guy (许子东) has a heavy accent, but he talks much
more slowly, so that's OK (I mean: after lots of repetitions and with the help of the transcript, of course). Now I'm
happy when the main anchor (窦文涛) starts talking, because, compared with the other two, he has what seems to be the
most standard Mandarin. Overal, it's still very hard for me. But I swore I would stick to it until the end, didn't I?

I've started studying lesson 2 in Rouzer's primer of ancient Chinese.
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Senior Member
Joined 3151 days ago

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

 Message 376 of 408
25 March 2015 at 2:52pm | IP Logged 
For years, I've crammed Chinese characters by writing them dozens of times, over and over
again. I've long been convinced that that brute-force method is not the best or the
fastest. Rather than relying on automatisms and muscle memory, I believe it's better to
actually think about the character, its components, its etymology (insofar as it provides
some clues), its collocations, etc.

Now, when I study or review characters, I actually try to *avoid* writing them. Or at
least, I think it's useful to actively avoid writing immediately. Why? To give my brains
the time to really think about the character, its components, proncunciation(s),
collocations, associated mnemonic if any, etc. and to have it fully formed in my head
before automatisms come into play. If I start writing before thinking, I often get stuck in
the middle or get one component wrong. Or even more bizarre, I can write the character
(because of some automatism) only to discover I'm unable to write the very same character a
few minutes afterwards. If I think before writing, I know at once whether I know that
character or not. Actually writing it is optional. Of course, this only covers the learning
phase: when the character is internalised, I should be able to avoid going through the same
thinking process. However, I've also discovered that, if I have learnt a character that way
and if I ever forget it, I can usually piece it back together just by concentrating a bit
and going through that process again. If I have relied on muscle memory and automatism, it
doesn't work.

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