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Modern Chinese (Cassette Edition) : A Basic Course (Dover Little Activity Books) (Paperback)

Modern Chinese (Cassette Edition) : A Basic Course (Dover Little Activity Books) (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Peking University
Format: paperback
Emphasis: Spoken Mandarin Chinese
Level: Beginning - Intermediate
List Price: $19.95

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Detailed information
Editorial Reviews
Book Description
Superb introduction to modern Mandarin Chinese, on 3 cassettes, with manual. Full explanations, drills throughout—phonetics, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar. Boxed Set.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Bk&Cassett edition (July 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0486999106
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.0 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 9 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful:

Geared towards linguists, February 4, 2000

Reviewer: P. Parker "Call me Leo" (Seattle, WA United States)

The book has a very strong emphasis on correct pronunciation of the basic sounds of the language. But it does this from a "first principles" approach -- they tell you the "t" sound is an alveolar plosive sound made by puffing out as much air as possible from the mouth with the tip of the tongue touched to your upper teeth (with diagram). But they never make any analogy to similar (in this case identical) sounds in english. For this reason alone, I cannot recommend this as a good way to start learning the language. The easiest way to start is to be told up front that while Chinese has many sounds you just don't hear in english, there are a lot that are identical and probably don't need any work on your part.

In addition to using terms like "labio-dental fricative" it also makes refernces in the text to certain vowel sounds that are only described by strange squiggly lines and greek letters. I presume that these mean something to a linguist, but this book gives no explanation for them.

To put the title in context, know that this book was last updated in 1971. They call the spelling system they use "Peking." It seems similar to pinyin, the standard that the rest of the world has settled on(even Chinese street signs), but I can't be sure that it is. This is another big black mark for the book -- I'm not sure that the way they spell things is the way everything else will.

All this said, it has taught me to pronounce things well. It covers traditional writing a little as well. Overall, unless you're a linguistics major, you should be able to find a more modern easier to use book.


24 of 24 people found the following review helpful:

Good text, but a little too old, February 8, 2000

Reviewer: Katsushi Okada (EAST LANSING, MI USA)

I bought this book because many reviewers here gave highest rates. But since this book was written in 1971, they use some obsolete words (for example, Chinese people don't usually call each other "tongzhi" any more), and some Chinese characters shown in this book have been further simplified ever since, so you need to unlearn and relearn some stuff if you really want to learn "modern Chinese".

Also, some grammatical topics which should be covered in a basic course such as comparison are not covered. Overall, this is a good text for beginners, but you will need to supplement it with a more comprehensive and up-to-date text before going on to intermediate level.


Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

so-so effort, August 11, 2005

Reviewer: Benjamin P. Wing "saudade seeker" (Austin, TX USA)

the best thing about this book is that it is cheap and well-bound, as is typical of dover books. it also has a good (if technical) description of the phonology of chinese. as a learning book, however, it's not especially good. its grammar descriptions are not only far too technical, but even for someone like me who studies linguistics and hence understands the terms, they are poorly written and unclear. there are hardly any exercises, and they are mostly geared towards writing the script; the remainder are mostly written in the script only, without pin-yin. in general, there is far too much emphasis on learning and using the script, not very practical for a beginning book. i'd much recommend the teach-yourself book (elizabeth scurfield) instead.


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

Could be better, but not a bad starting point, December 30, 2003

Reviewer: Jad (TJ) Duwaik (Liaoyang, Liaoning China)

I think the other reviews are accurate for the most part. For example, as one other reviewer mentions, this book uses a lot of phonetic terms like "affricative" and "labio" that really frustrated me at first. But using a dictionary, I created a little glossary of all the terms used and as I got to know the terms better, I found the descriptions more helpful than any other source for correct pronunciation. (These descriptions alone are, I think, worth the cost of the book.)

Another reviewer mentions that this book doesn't compare any of these sounds to English equivalents. I think this is done to help the student begin the process of "thinking in Chinese" which, while frustrating at first, probably pays off down the road.

I've used two other books and several Web sites to help me learn Chinese. I don't know if I'd recommend this book by itself, but together with other sources, I think it's invaluable.


value for money, February 23, 2001
Reviewer: "a_f_schneider" (Germany)

The book is a western adoption of the 1963 edition of a Basic Course of Chinese for Foreigners, English version. (I happen to own the further enhanced 1971 original edition) The Latin transscription, approved already in 1958, is called PinYin today. The explanation of sounds employs the International Phonetic Alphabet, generally used in dictionaries and in language teaching. There are a couple of Chinese Characters, however, that have been further simplified after 1963. If you use the book along with something more modern, it can be value for money.


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