Sunday, October 16, 2011

中文 - Week 2 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. This is not a Mandarin language learning program and I am no teacher. This is a personalized journal of my Mandarin language journey, and the target audience would be other students of Mandarin, beginners if possible. If you are an advanced learner, kindly give us tips and correct some of the errors we are bound to make, especially with the tone. Your feedback is important to us since books could not teach all. Let’s start! But before we do please watch the video after or while reading, it’s meant to complement the content of this blog article. If you watch just the video and not read, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Volume 1 of the book has 14 lessons. I only study Monday to Friday, two weeks for each lesson, which means it will take us 140 days or 28 weeks to finish the whole book. Target end date is April 13, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson One - 你好
So I decided to dedicate one whole week for the Chinese Character included in each chapter because they are damn hard! For this week we have ten of them so we are going to do two each day. Fair enough, right? They multiply in the next chapters so don’t be so happy, hahaha. As for now, let’s enjoy them while they are still few. The first one is which is probably the simplest Chinese character in the whole wide universe. If you can’t memorize this one, I suggest you quit now. Seriously? It’s like a single bar. Even my two year old nephew could draw that. For the pronunciations, refer to the video. I don’t want to describe phonetics in words. They are best heard. So what does that one line mean? I already gave a clue. Actually I directly spelled it out for you. It means “one”. The last Chinese Character for the day is the character for “eight” which looks like: . Why eight and not two? Does the author not know how to count? I have no idea. It’s his book anyway so let’s just follow. The left stroke is considerably shorter than the right, at least in the book. I don’t know why the font drew it that way. Anyway, we end here today. Expect the weekly blog journals to be short since I would be drawing the characters in the video anyway.

TUESDAY: Lesson One - 你好
Our first character today is 力 which means “strength”. It has two strokes. The next one is 门 which means “door” and is used in combination with other characters to depict many things, some of which include the plural personal pronouns we, you, and they, which means it serves as a pronoun multiplier, sort of.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson One - 你好
Our first character today is 也 which means “also” and is used in combination with the Chinese Characters depicting man  and female 女 to mean “he”  and “she” . The second one means “horse” and looks like this: . Be careful with this one. Use it in the wrong tone and you might just end up calling your mother a horse. If you add a mini square in front of it, you would then have the question particle . What about your mother? Add the Chinese Character for “woman” 女 in front and double it to get “mama” 妈妈. Yeah. So you think you are so clever now, huh? Writing it is just half the battle, my friend. Pronouncing it with the right tone is torture. See me on the video if you want proof.

THURSDAY: Lesson One - 你好
We have two characters today. One of them is which means “woman” while the other is which means “five”. What’s cool about knowing the character for woman? Well, we have already learned the character for horse , and if you add woman in front and double them, you get “mother” 妈妈. There you go, your first word in Mandarin! As you can see, the character for woman gives it its meaning while the character for horse gives you an idea as to how you would pronounce it. The Chinese are not insinuating that your mother looks like a horse. They just placed the horse character there to give a clue regarding pronunciation. So don’t be offended.

FRIDAY: Lesson One - 你好
The first character for today is which means “wood” and the next one is “fire” . Let’s burn some wood! Hahaha. They seem simple to write but make sure you follow the strokes correctly so they would look authentic. My wood character looks like a squid. Damn, I’m depressed. I am not really that good when it comes to calligraphy.

See you next weekend! For next week I would be covering lesson two but I am not sure yet if it would be on writing Chinese Characters again or the dialogues first. Let’s see. The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in September 2012! =)

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