How is your Chinese?


#1

Hi,all
I know few foreigners in Taiwan,and every time I listen to their Chinese I gradually think “wow~why”.
Why they,maybe including you,speak Chinese by English spelling,I mean they spelling Chinese words in English for speaking.
Com’n!Imagine~if a chinese speak English with chinese spelling method,could it be good?
I am not trying to be critical,but since you all pay effor to learn Chinese.How can you allow your Chinese always remain “so so” just because "you should learn Chinese by “ber per mer fer…”
I know it would be hard for you at first,but only in this way your chinese could be understandable by locals.Therefore your Chinese can improve with your vocabs.Not remember some words and speak them out,but few people can understand.


#2

As to foreigners speaking ‘English - Chinese’, I think the amount of, often awful, Chinese - English foreigners must daily tolerate might at least mean that some of our Taiwanese friends, such as R.T., could give us a little accommodation if our Chinese isn’t perfect.

And as for those poor overseas born Chinese who don’t speak ‘correct’ Chinese i.e. the Taiwan way - I pity the insults they receive and understand why many avenge themselves by demonstrably speaking fluent English in front of their bretherin.


#3

I assume the original poster’s main point was that anyone who learns Chinese using any kind of Romanization system except bopomofo will end up with lousy pronunciation.

This is, obviously, not always so. The determining factor will be whether a student is taught (and LEARNS) the correspondence between the correct sounds and any scheme of Romanization or phonetic representation used.

I learned Chinese using Hanyu Pinyin to start with, and my pronunciation is good enough to fool people into thinking I’m really a drunken Cantonese speaker on the phone. Whether that qualifies as “good” or not is anyone’s guess.

Terry


#4

And I learned to speak by watching a sh**load of Chinese movies and listening to Chinese songs. And people think that I am a telephone operator on the phone.


#5

So you’re the one who refused to give out accurate directory information listings to drunken Cantonese speakers over the phone, huh??

Once again, Oriented exposes the truth!!

Terry


#6

Bo-po-mo-fo (Why the original poster used r’s when there are no “r sounds” I’m not sure, perhaps a general reflection of his expertise in phonetic rendering) is a waste of time for most people learning Mandarin. Most foreigners will simply never speak without an accent. It’s not even a worthwhile goal (as compared to, say, being able to communicate a complex idea coherently. I’d take that over perfect pronounciation any day). I love Taiwan, but it’s education system is afflicted with a lot of myths (eg the excessive stress placed on textbook grammar at the cost of communication in a lot of English courses in the schools). Zhuyin is one of them. I’ve seen a lot of foreigners who have come here and are making an admirable effort to learn the language. They enroll in a class and for their trouble and money they are afflicted with two months of nothing but zhuyin, so that atthe end of the term they know nothing else.
Language is for communication. After that, it’s mostly aesthetics. Our original poster wrote with severely flawed grammar but fluently enough to get his insulting message across. Apparently, people deserve scorn for practicing a language that they’re not yet accent-perfect in.
I heartilly agree with the poster who said that it’s not what system you learned but how well it was taught. My teacher the first year I learned Chinese in college was a hard-ass. You were corrected constantly. I learned with Hanyu Pinyin, and I can say for what it’s worth that the blind masseuses ask me if I’m overseas Chinese. Frankly, I’d rather be able to explain Foucault to my girlfriend.


#7

I think Pinyin is superior to zhuyin. I think that CSL speakers will first make zhuyin into pinyin before saying something. Pinyin cuts to the chase. I think the poster was insinuating that using pinyin is like using chinese characters to pronounce English, like saying Ah La Ba MA for Alabama. Obviously, this is not an accurate comparison. Don’t the mainlanders only use Pinyin? they seem to speak okay Chinese.


#8

I prefer zhuyin to pinyin in general (but not for things like computer use, and I can write pinyin faster). I learnt both and I think it’s best to learn both. Of course it comes down to how well you learn it, but I think it’s easier to make mistakes with pinyin. Eg I’ve often heard people ask about the pronounciation of the pinyin ‘a’. It sounds like the a in apple for bian, but the a in car for ma. Well in zhuyin thewre different symbols (although zhuyin still doesn’t have a symbol for all the different sounds, - but more than pinyin).

Bri


#9

I was taught in zhuyin. if you wanna ask Taiwanese people how to pronounce something, do you think there gonna be able to do it well in pinyin? nope. Although RT doesnt really know what he is talking about, he has a good point. Some of yall have learnd pinyin, and your Chinese is better than mine (congradulations), but most of yall were just to STINKIN LAZY to learn zhuyin, and way more importanly, Chinese Characters. If I go to China I’ll learn pinyin, cause people there USE it, in Taiwan unless your Chinese is so good that you dont have to ask people how to pronounce anything, get off your lazy but and learn zhyuin.

(and when I go back to the US, I’ll have to learn how to spell

peaches!!


#10
quote:
Originally posted by Bu Lai En: I've often heard people ask about the pronounciation of the pinyin 'a'. It sounds like the a in apple for bian, but the a in car for ma.
Bri the problem is that you're trying to isolate Chinese sounds in a non-Chinese way. there is no isolated "a" sound in "bian", rather it is an integral, inseparable part of the sound known as "an". Also, the "n" part of "an" can not exist independently as a final consonant, but must be used in tandem with one of a select group of vowels.

#11

I disagree with aarondbu.

First of all, whether you use pinyin or zhuyin shouldn’t matter if you have mastered at least one of them. If you come across a character that you don’t recognize, you can always ask someone to pronounce it for you. You can then transcribe their pronunciation into zhuyin or pinyin if you wish. As long as you can understand the pronunciation, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know Zhuyin.

As you are aware, sometimes people’s pronunciations are not always perfect in Taiwan. If you are really serious about the new character you just asked someone about, you can use what they said as a guide for you to look the character up in a dictionary.

In all fairness, though, it really does help to know both systems, esp while living in Taiwan.

Scott


#12

A lot of people on the mainland use Hanyu Pinyin to learn Chinese. By the logic of the original poster’s argument my Shanghainese wife’s pronunciation is therefore wrong.

Furthermore, given that the inventors and developers of Pinyin were not themselves native English speakers, why do we automatically assume that native language sounds are superimposed on the Pinyin system ? Has the original poster asked Korean, Russian, or Japanese students of Chinese how they superimpose their Hangul, Cyrillic, etc phonetic disciplines over Hanyu Pinyin ? As ironlady points out, it matters not a jot what system you learn if you still sound like a gweilo. We could use pictures of animals to represent the sounds and many learners would never sound quite right.

If Zhuyin Fuhao automatically leads to correct pronunciation, then no educated Taiwanese should confuse “four” with “ten”, should be able to differentiate between the “-in” and “-ing” final sound, and should be able to say “Fujian” instead of “Hujian”.

I agree to a certain extent with Grizzly. For the first month of my university course in England we had Pinyin drummed into us in a language lab, after which time you now longer need to think about it, and you get on with the business of actually learning the language.

Hexuan


#13

That’s all very well and good (drumming Romanization systems into people in language labs) but as other posters have pointed out, it rather kills the initial surge of enthusiasm in learning a new language, and it’s not very pedagogically sound either, as the learners have no idea of any actual words in the language but are being force-fed a type of orthography for the language.

Speech and understanding first, at least of a certain amount of the language, followed by reading and writing, IMHO. In Chinese things are complicated by the dual nature of the writing system for foreigners (i.e., characters and various Romanization schemes) but I don’t see any Chinese students learning English being subjected to a full month of merely repeating isolated English syllables with no semantic content whatsoever – and that from the rather tradition-bound Taiwanese education system!!

Terry


#14

Yes I tend to agree with you. We did a very intensive first year, and then went abroad for our Year Abroad Drinking and Not Going to Class and I learnt far more propped up on the high stool for a fortnight at the Bushiban (pub) than I did in the whole year at uni.

We also had to learn something like 50 character a day or something ridiculous and write them out a million times. Crazy. All the other first year undergraduates had a class a week in between watching daytime TV and going to the pub whilst we were in our flats writing barbed wire.

Hexuan


#15

“Speech and understanding first, at least of a certain amount of the language, followed by reading and writing, IMHO. In Chinese things are complicated by the dual nature of the writing system for foreigners (i.e., characters and various Romanization schemes) but I don’t see any Chinese students learning English being subjected to a full month of merely repeating isolated English syllables with no semantic content whatsoever” --Ironlady

I don’t know how widespread this is or how it was taught, but my fiance’s niece had to learn IPA (international phonetic alphabet, ie that stuff in the dictionary that explains how to pronounce the word) in her English class. So she essentially had to learn to romanize English. I was rather surprised.


#16

quote:
quote:

Originally posted by Bu Lai En:
I’ve often heard people ask about the pronounciation of the pinyin ‘a’. It sounds like the a in apple for bian, but the a in car for ma.

Bri the problem is that you’re trying to isolate Chinese sounds in a non-Chinese way. there is no isolated “a” sound in “bian”, rather it is an integral, inseparable part of the sound known as “an”. Also, the “n” part of “an” can not exist independently as a final consonant, but must be used in tandem with one of a select group of vowels


I know what the problem is. I’m saying people who use pinyin make this very confusion more than people who use zhuyin. That is they try and think ‘what is the “a” sound’. Of course this is still possible in zhuyin, but as it is more abstracted from ‘English’ it is harder.

bri


#17

Yes I have heard people pronouncing “yan” as “yaan” instead of “yen”, thinking that is has the same final sound as “ban” which is pronounced “baan”.

But I don’t know which romanisation / phonetic system is at fault ?

Hexuan


#18

Some interesting claims were made about 2 month intensive pronounciation classes:

Where? I attend NTNU and there is a 1 (one) week course at the beginning of each term to teach Zhuyin Fuhao, furthermore it is optional and in addition to regular class. On your first day at school you will be jumping straight into learning your first characters. I previously attended WenHua University and the 2 month pronounciation course was notibly absent from that establishment too. So where can we find it?

Comments about “killing of an initial burst of enthusiasm” seem rather amusing to me. If all a student has is an “initial burst of enthusiasm” then they won’t get far with any language, let alone Chinese.

My reasoning is that decent fluency is going to require my learning about 3-4000 characters in total. Learning the 40 or so that make up Zhuyin seems a relatively small investment.

Personally I like Zhuyin Fuhao better because I never took the time to learn Pinyin properly and now always try to read it using an English pronounciation. The other thing is that about 3 different people have invented their own versions of Pinyin: one of them wrote my map, another the street signs in Taipei and the third wrote my textbook. Further, there are even more variants besides the three that I encounter in daily life. There is only one Zhuyin Fuhao.


#19

Hi,all
Me,again!
I was originally convinced by former replies,but I happen to realize Chinese and English are two totally DIFFERENT language.they are from totally DIfferent world,land even culture.So the pronousiation is different,too.There are so MANY Chinese words that English can’t exactly pronouse.For instance,“food” in chinese,“laugh” in chinese!
Think,why Japanese speak English poorly,because their language is only a sort of similar to English,so they are easily tend to learn English in Japanese’ spelling(cuz laziness),so they pronouse weird.Still,I can’t deny some of Japanese can speak good English,but I believe they couldn’t use the Japanese spelling to learn English!


#20

The purpose of learning any language is to be understood by a sympathetic audience, at first, and thereafter to be understood by a hostile audience. There is little point in pursuing absolute perfection when it is not necessary, as anyone who takes such a negative inference from one’s lack of perfect fluency is probably not worth talking to anyway.

I consider being able to convince the tax office that you really don’t need to pay all that tax this year an adequate level of achievement for me.

Hexuan