Best Mandarin Phrase Book?

Mar 28th, 2006, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 216
Best Mandarin Phrase Book?

Which one is the best Mandarin Phrase Book currently available?
Kenstee is offline  
Mar 28th, 2006, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Do you want just a tourist phrase book? Or are you going to take the language as a college course?

The absolutely BEST series of quickie courses for a number of languages is the IN -FLIGHT series from Living Language. (Just type in "In Flight Mandarin" as your search phrase)

It gives you the most basic and essential phrases when travelling. A big plus is a CD which you can listen to and hear natives speaking the language.

This is the most painless way I know of acquiring a very, very fundamental knowledge of any language. I've already used the German, Czech, and Hungarian versions. BTW, not every language is available, unfortunately.

Good luck!
easytraveler is offline  
Mar 28th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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Actually, looking for something pocket size with words/phrases in Chinese and how to pronounce them. Anyone have suggestions?

I checked out your In-Flight suggestion and found it is very fast paced and does not really explain how to pronounce the words which are very tonal. It is a great idea poorly executed IMHO.
Kenstee is offline  
Mar 29th, 2006, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Thank you for explaining what it is you really want.

Why not go to a bookstore like Barnes and Noble and find the volume you would like to own? Berlitz? Lonely Planet? Rough Guide? etc. etc. There are tons of books which will discuss the fine points of any language ad infinitum.

The Inflight series is not designed to be a detailed discussion of the intricacies of any of its languages. They are designed to be a quickie intro to help the average tourist find/get the normal things that a tourist needs and TO GET A SPEAKING ACQUAINTANCE with the language.

I would suggest that you not focus on the tones in Chinese, unless you are an ardent student of Chinese.

It's much easier to learn Chinese by repeating whole phrases. Tones tend sometimes to shift when in combination. You are going for a very painful experience of trying to remember each tone, then when the tone is shifting when combined with which other word, when it shifts when you want to change meaning, etc.

It's much easier to learn the lyrics of a song by singing the entire song than to try and learn each individual note and associate it with each individual word. Just MHO.

Besides you can get really detailed discussions of tones right here online, from great sites like Wikipedia, etc.

Another besides, very few Chinese speak "perfect" Mandarin. When you are talking to an average Chinese (except those living in Beijing), their tones will not be exact and will shift anyhow, so where does this leave you? AND the native speakers in Beijing speak the local dialect, not universal Mandarin, so they will use words that are not in your mandarin texts, so, again, where does this leave you?

If you are travelling to China, just learn the Mandarin phrases and imitate them, tones and all, as accurately as possible. It's the simplest. Everyone massacres Mandarin one way or another. You need to understand CONTEXT more than tones.

Again just MHO.
easytraveler is offline  

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