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Learn to Write Chinese Characters

Title: Learn to Write Chinese Characters

Author: Johan Bjorksten
Format: Paperback
List Price: $25.00
Where To Buy

Amazon USA Price: $20.00

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Learn to Write Chinese Characters

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Product Details
  • Paperback: 123 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 1, 1994)
  • ISBN: 0300057717
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches
  • Average Customer Review: based on 12 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful:

Do Not Try This At Home (without this text!!), November 25, 2002

Reviewer: lisbeth west (wei wu-wei)

I have just started learning to write Chinese characters and THIS is the holy grail of beiginners' books. I looked through many listmania and reviews on Amazon.com's site (thank you ALL!) and decided to start with this primer. As a hands-on learner, I know now why it has been recommended so highly by those who teach, speak, or are just learning the Chinese language.

I am reminded of the first days in school when we had to practice writing our ABCs on a tablet with pencil. We wrote those damned letters over and over again, didn't we? The teacher stood at the blackboard and showed us the best way to make the lines and the order of the "character's strokes."

This book is the Mrs. Hatfield of my first grade class in Chinese. Each stroke is shown carefully. Each stroke is also shown when it is not written correctly and gives the "name" of the error (eg. "fish hook, etc.)

Tao only knows how a Swedish author conceived of and wrote such a wonderful primer to the language. It makes sense, however, that a person whose first language is NOT Chinese would be so specific about the right and wrong way to hold the pen, use the correct posture and table angle, and keep "between the lines."

I don't get too hard on myself when I can't make a character look the way they does in the book. I look back at how I wrote my name in first grade and now understand the true meaning of "penmanship". The author urges the learner to practice each stroke at least one hundred times until you go on to the next stroke. Add them together and you get a beautiful character. Don't practice each stroke individually over the course of days and many sheets of paper, and the character resemble the rough letters I wrote in my first grade homeworlk.

DO NOT attempt to do this at home (learn to write Chinese characters) without this very important primer. It is invaluable, extraordinary, and shows a great deal of thought and study by the author and those who assisted him in compiling this material. I do my 100 + strokes a day. I don't jump ahead and do what I thought I could do -- "Oh that character looks easy, it's just an upside down Y."

I know this edition will get dog eared and I will probably buy another to replace this text. It has no equal. Aside from the friends in China who supported me and applaud me for learning their language, this small text tells me that I CAN learn a language and fulfill a longtime dream. Hurrah! and thank you, Mr. Bjorksten.

from Lodro Dawa, my Buddhist nickname.
(Someday I will learn to write it AND learn its lesson for wisdom in this lifetime.)

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful:

Start with this book., December 29, 2001

Reviewer: "bertport" (MILPITAS, CA USA)

This book teaches the principles of sound and beautiful writing - the names of the strokes, the order in which they are written, aesthetic principles, and the common radicals. Then it provides a famous poem to practice with, and a list of a hundred common characters, sorted by frequency of usage. When the simplified character differs from the traditional, both are given. Transliterations are in pin-yin. This is far and away the best book I've found for learning to write the characters. I regretted the transition away from this book to other resources, principally because other resources usually use the printed form that ignores the aesthetic principles and turns beauty into ugliness. That sounds harsh, doesn't it? But it's true! If you're going to learn to write, start with this book, so you won't have to go back later to correct bad habits.

Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review:

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Very Interesting, March 18, 2004

Reviewer: Coniah Grimes (Pittsburgh, PA)

This book was quite helpful by helping one to gain a better understanding of the background and make-up of Chinese characters which helps one to better appreciate both their historical and aesthetic value. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to seriously learn about Chinese characters.

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful:

Not a primer, but good in its own right, February 4, 2004

Reviewer: "cardoza_the_hammer" (Bowie, MD United States)

I'm learning Chinese as part of my major and wanted a good book on characters, specifically for things like stroke order, and picked this up expecting it to be a practical tutorial on how to write basic Chinese characters. What it actually is is more of a guidebook for calligraphy. Now, as that, it is very good. The author definitely conveys the mindset one needs to be a skilled calligrapher, and gives great step by step instructions on how to write well. For that, I don't regret picking this up. However, if you, like myself, are more concerned with learning how to write the 2000 or so most used characters towards the end of being functionally literate in Chinese, this is not the book to purchase. It would be something like teaching calligraphy to kindergarten students. Also, the stroke order illustrations for the characters towards the end of the book, while representing commonly used characters, are really small, and presume that you've gone through the prior half of the book as recommended, that is practicing each stroke for a half hour a day until mastered. If you're learning calligraphy for it's own sake, or just have lots of time, this is great. If however you need to develop a functional writing ability in Chinese relatively quickly, I would personally recommend buying another book first and coming back to this.

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful:

Wonderful for Learning to Write Chinese, November 19, 2002

Reviewer: "sundazegrl" (Illinois)

This book is wonderful! It contains useful beginning lessons on writing materials, stroke names with information of writing them (showing examples of common mistakes), and stroke order. It then gives advice on the best ways to practice, and it even has a poem to study at the end of the book. The catalog of characters is wonderful by showing the stroke order in both traditional and simplified forms, with pinyin (with a guide at the end on pronunciation).
This book is a "must have" for anyone beginning to learn to write Chinese characters.

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