Howdy folks. After years of study and professional application, I’m quite fluent in Chinese, but I feel that my knowledge of chengyu is still not quite where it should be for my level of spoken and written Chinese. Other than flipping through a chengyu-a-day-book (ain’t nobody got time for that), is there any shortcut for picking them up quickly, or should I just keep plodding along with my “learn-'em-as-I-see-'em” policy? I read a lot of Chinese everyday for work/fun/school/whatnot, but 啊 現在的年輕人啊 their chengyu usage may be even more limited than mine.
成語 are tough…I used to read the 成語 a day books too but there’s just too many…it wasn’t until reading them elsewhere, in context, that they really stuck in my head. One thing I do like is those children’s books with stories that go along with the 成語. That way, there’s a story that’s associated with the 成語， and it becomes a little more interesting and easy to remember.
Well I like to think I’m a bit past the children’s books level. The worst situation is when I’m writing in/translating into Chinese and I can tell my sentence is missing a kind of oomph that can only be brought about by the right chengyu at the right time; usually I turn to the person next to me and ask if there is an appropriate chengyu to sum up some kind of situation briefly, but I’d like to be more, you know, self-reliant.
Just learn by osmosis (TV, radio, people around you). The problem with actively learing them is you’ll end up learning ones that are obsolete. Why bother brushing up on those? You answered the question youself quite well:
We have a Chinese Expressions game, and will have the Chengyu deck out fairly soon, in both Carnival and War incarnations. The Expressions is really only set phrases that don’t mean what they might seem to mean from the surface meaning – not really chengyu (which is why we plan a chengyu product separately, later).
Chinese Expressions Carnival game (for study, you’d want the Chinese>English version, of course.)
Sorry, I’m kind of 狀況外 here. What exactly are these decks? Study cards?