This book is phenomenal in some ways and problematic in another. I will explain why: I have been a learner of Chinese for over 14 years and have dove into my share of textbooks, and programs so I have a pretty good idea what is out there. This book is an intermediate...
This book is phenomenal in some ways and problematic in another. I will explain why:
I have been a learner of Chinese for over 14 years and have dove into my share of textbooks, and programs so I have a pretty good idea what is out there. This book is an intermediate level book, like the stage where you speak Chinese but it just isn''t quite fluent yet. You can read many characters but you can''t get through a novel, you aren''t a beginner but your Chinese needs major cleaning up and there are so many key phrases and sentence structure you still need to either learn or solidify. It is filled with excellent grammar points that really anyone other than a very advanced speaker would find very useful.
The problems first: One of this book''s strength is the unbelievable attention to the details of how tones are spoken in actual true speech, such as properly placed neutral tones. This is the ONLY textbook I have ever had that really shows the extant of neutral tones within full sentences in context. The problem is the pinyin is inconsistent without explanation. For example "li" inside. I have seen it "Jia li" home where "li" is neutral tone, or "sushe li" in the dorm where li is neutral tone, but I also see "gong li" with "li" as 3rd tone meaning inside the apartment. One part shows "cesuo" toilet, as "cuo" with neutral tone and other place with 3rd tone. "jiu" as in "jiu shi" is repeatedly shown in neutral tone but then I see it in 4th tone on another part. The problem is there is no explanation why. These are either major errors or tones simply change so frequently, and they are demonstrating here what it actually is in real speech, but there is no explanation of the when and why. I am going to try to contact the writers and ask them if these are errors or they intended it to be this way. If so I would like some type of guide as to know why the inconsistencies.
One time "Zhe me" is spelled "zem me" in pinyin and again, is this an error or showing how it would have been pronounced?
For example, "women shi zhongguo ren" as in "We are Chinese" is shown with men, shi and guo as neutral tones. Men is obvious but shi and guo? This is a remarkable achievement here. Say this fast and you will see, it actually makes sense. This is what I mean by it''s incredible use of neutral tones in the pinyin.
One incredible strength is this is the ONLY book I have ever seen that mentions the half 4th tone. When 2 fourth tones are together the first is pronounced in not a full fourth tone. The section on neutral tones, half third tone as well as pronunciation are very good.
In the free preview you can check out at least some of the pronunciation section and the tones section and you will see the tremendous attention to detail. Read the part about tones in combination, fourth tone sandhi and the neutral tone section.
The dialogues are not the usual dialogues you find in textbooks and they are in simplified and traditional characters which I love, and filled with a very detailed grammar point section at the end. The grammar sections are fantastic! Of course and MP3 of the dialogues would be a great edition, but there isn''t any. This book is printed in the US so you are getting a slightly different take on the the books printed in China.
I highly recommend this book, if you can find a way to come to terms with the inconsistencies which are possible errors.
This book is from Princeton University which is one of the top schools in the country and there is so much incredible explanations and details in this book that the writers clearly know what they are talking about. I just wish I could get some type of update on what I think are either inconstancies simply inherent in the language or actual errors. If any of the writers read this review I would greatly appreciate a response.
What I am going to do is finish this book,and move along the track within the otherr Princeton Books, get New China which seems to be the next step up logical choice and then All Things Considered which is said to bridge the gap between Intermediate and Advanced Level, and then move on to their advanced books, A Kaleidoscope of China and Anything Goes.
All Mandarin students know that there is no definitive book without problems, errors or simply containing MP3s with non native like robotic dialogue. How many CDs have we heard where they speak way too clear and perfect, not how most Chinese speak in real life. This is just something we have to learn to deal with. Despite it''s possible problems, I find this book to be one of the best I have ever come across and will continue with this company for a while in the above mentioned books.