Lately I’ve gotten back to thinking about simplified Chinese (I mean easy to read, not necessarily in simplified characters) reading materials.
There was/is a section of the English Wikipedia in “Simple English”, and the Voice of America also provides broadcasts and print materials on the Web in simple English. They seem to use a limited vocabulary as their basis.
I’d like to know what your opinions are, as learners or teachers of Chinese, about what makes a reading passage easy (or at least level-appropriate, so that you could think about reading it, say, to just strengthen your Chinese, as opposed to slogging through it with a dictionary and a three-volume reference grammar at your elbow).
This is what I’ve come up with so far. If you were going to read a short article in Chinese “just for fun”, so to speak, what/which would be important to you (you can vote for all of them, or add some, of course!) I’m assuming the article is about some fairly interesting topic that has some relevance to you.
[ul]Limited vocab, certainly. Not more than 10% unknowns.
Repetition and (artificial) use of things like “which is to say” and clauses explaining words that have been used.
Simplified grammar (i.e., perhaps limiting connectors to basic ones like “因為”, “但是”, “所以” and “雖然” and disallowing “deeper” ones like “則”.
Shallower structures – especially for the whole XYZ 的 ABC thing. I mean, not allowing the part that modifies the noun to be more than a few words long, unlikes some articles we see where there can be several clauses before you finally hit that elusive 的 that points out the noun is coming.
Shorter segments – more use of shorter sentences, and emphasis on SOV order rather than topic-comment stuff; making sure to break up long sentences into shorter ones and use a pronoun to refer to the topic/actor in the subsequent short sentences.
Always spelling out the whole phrase rather than using an abbreviation.
What sort of Romanization support (if any) would you prefer in this sort of thing? A parallel text with the Romanization, some sort of glossary/footnotes, none…??
In this vein, does anyone have a flat-text or spreadsheet version of the vocab from AV-Chinese I and II?