Aids to communication

Here’s where I’m coming from. I want to learn to carry on a conversation with locals as fast as I can, not only for its own sake, but so that I can learn what works best for in learning other languages. I want to be able to connect with people wherever I go. Here in Taiwan I’m running up against all sorts of funny pronunciations, and I suspect some of the time they’re not even speaking Mandarin to me.

Many of the locals seem friendly, especially the ones who don’t speak any English at all, and half of seem to want to sell me some food., so I’ve got the profit motive on my side. I think they would be willing to work with me on this. I want to use some sort of aid or crutch that we can use to communicate. If it were some language that uses an alphabet, we could use a dictionary. But they don’t use pinyin, we use pinyin. If I give a guy a pen and paper, he’s liable to write some Chinese characters, and then what? Half the time I can’t even figure out which part is the radical.

I’ve got an Android tablet, and I’ve got a dictionary on it that takes pinyin input. If I can make out the sounds, and it’s Mandarin, I can use that. If not, then what?

Get a character recognition software for your tablet. I use Pleco Dictionary and I am really satisfied. :slight_smile:

With proper communication AIDS can be reduced

You just want to communicate? PM me. I have a very, very old book I did in the 1990s that would do the trick.

Or you could memorize the bopomofo, and memorize the phrase “Bopomofo zenme xie?” to get them to write the bopomofo for whatever the word in question is. It’s only a couple dozen symbols.

As for learning what works best for learning other languages, Mandarin is rather unique in some ways. Not unique, but fitting into a small set of languages. If you’re tackling a language with conjugations, number, gender, noun declensions and adjective agreement, your strategy for shaping your input will be different than for Mandarin. I can put a lot more interesting language into a reader aimed at a person with a couple of weeks of Chinese study than a Spanish reader could contain at the same level, but the Spanish reader could use more cognates. For those languages, vocabulary is easier; for Chinese, structure is easier.