Wednesday, November 16, 2011

中文 - Week 6 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Let’s start! 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 Three - 他是哪国人?
Let’s start with the Chinese Character for the numeral ten which is . As you can see, it looks like a cross. Not that it has any relevance to the meaning but it makes it easier to remember. The book says in the illustration that it is derived from the pictograph of two hands. Okay… Whatever! The next character is the one for person which you would be using a lot asking for and giving nationalities because it is a suffix for that, just attach it to the country name. We have three words today. Two of them refer to the third person singular pronoun which is for he and for she. You just change the first character to fit the gender of the person being referred to. The character to the left of the first word is actually the character for person mentioned earlier, but its appearance somehow mutates when placed in front of another character. How do you make them plural? Add the character for door accompanied by the character for person to the left: . This is usually a common mistake for me because I tend to forget to include the first character. Of course, that would be wrong! And so you could say 他们 or 她们. They have the same pronunciation and tone but they are gender specific only when written.

TUESDAY: Lesson Three - 他是哪国人?
A dagger is and for some reason I can’t find the character here. Anyway, just remove the character to the left of the character I just wrote and that’s it. Two strokes, not so hard. The second character is the one which means middle and is the prefix for China before the country character. To describe it simply, it looks like a small rectangle traversed by a vertical line. Our three new words are pronounced the same way. The common character is which is already a combination of two characters and means that. To derive new meaning, you add a new character to the left. To mean which you add the particle which seems to be the character of choice if you want to denote some grammatical function. Do you remember it as one of the characters for the question and tag question particles? And so which is written like . There is another one in the book with the woman character as prefix and is written like this . To tell you the truth, I have no idea what it means.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Three - 他是哪国人?
If you are learning Japanese, you will easily recognize the character which means “sun”. This has four strokes, watch the video if you want to know how to write it. The other character is also common, but I don’t like it a lot. I don’t know, maybe because it looks like another character and I find it confusing. It means “shell” and the character is .

THURSDAY: Lesson Three - 他是哪国人?
means “jade” and I always see this when I read something in Mandarin. I think it is that common. It’s easy to memorize, it just looks like a capital i with a horizontal stroke and an accent on the lower right. The next character means “arrow” and is written as .

FRIDAY: Lesson Three - 他是哪国人?
The first character is quite common because it is used mostly for people and usually comes second to another character. It means “to be born” and is written as and you often see this as the second character for “mister” and “doctor” and the likes. Doctor, for example is written as 医生. The other character is which is more useful as an element of another character than by itself. I don’t know. I just see it that way. By itself the book says that it means “person/thing” which is a rather vague description.

For next week I will be covering lesson four. We are making progress! The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in September 2012! =)

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