Superb introduction to modern Mandarin Chinese, on 3 cassettes, with
manual. Full explanations, drills throughout—phonetics, pronunciation,
vocabulary, grammar. Boxed Set.
- Paperback: 249 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Bk&Cassett edition (July 1,
- 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.
|33 of 36 people found the following review
Geared towards linguists, February 4, 2000
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
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
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
|24 of 24 people found the following review
Good text, but a little too old, February 8, 2000
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.
|1 of 1 people found the following review
so-so effort, August 11, 2005
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
Could be better, but not a bad starting point, December 30, 2003
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
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
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