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Character Text for Beginning Chinese : Second Edition (Yale Language Series) (Paperback)

Character Text for Beginning Chinese : Second Edition (Yale Language Series) (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: John DeFrancis
Format: paperback
Emphasis: Chinese Characters
Level: Beginning
List Price: $44

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Detailed information
Editorial Reviews
Language Notes
Text: English, Chinese

Product Details
  • Paperback: 524 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd edition (September 10, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0300020597
  • Product Dimensions: 10.0 x 7.0 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.0 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 2 reviews.

Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

A Chinese-Character Transliteration of "Beginning Chinese", May 19, 2004

Reviewer: C. Sahu "Cathy Sahu" (Southern California)

"Character Text for Beginning Chinese" is simply "Beginning Chinese" written all in "Han zi," or Chinese characters, rather than in pinyin. ("Beginning Chinese" being all in pinyin.)

The above 2 books are the beginning (Mandarin) books in Yale's "DeFrancis Series," all written by John DeFrancis. But it's a bit more complicated than that, because in addition to the above 2 texts, there is a third beginning text, in 2 parts: "Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 1" and "Part 2." The "Reader"s aren't transliterations of the texts -- rather, they introduce Chinese characters in a different manner (easiest-to-write characters first, not most commonly spoken words first).

If you're thinking of starting to learn Chinese, or you're already learning Chinese and looking for another text because the one you're using doesn't have enough info and/or practice, I would definitely recommend all these books, if you can get ahold of them, as well as the audiotapes (EXTREMELY useful), which are available through Far East Publications, part of the Yale bookstores, I think. The DeFrancis Series comes as close to being a self-contained, self-explanatory method for learning Chinese as is possible. I am studying Chinese at home now and I find using these texts and tapes is much less frustrating than what I went through during community college Chinese 1 and 2, in which we used the "Integrated Chinese" texts and tapes (as well as live teachers, of course). (I got an "A" for those 2 semesters so I'm not saying this out of thirst for vengeance!) Please see my review of "Beginning Chinese" for more info on why the DeFrancis Series is, in my opinion, so good.

In regards to this particular book, you could just use the pinyin "Beginning Chinese" and then, after acquiring a basic knowledge of the spoken language, go directly to the Readers for a hopefully less frustrating introduction to Chinese characters, and skip buying this book altogether. But most people reading this review, I'll bet, have already studied some Chinese, both spoken/pinyin and written/character, and struggled through learning to write "wo," "nin," etc., cold. (I still flinch at these memories.) In that case, get this book, too, and follow along with it. No, don't consider just getting this book without the pinyin "Beginning Chinese," since one of the most valuable aspects to the DeFrancis series is the English translations of all the text, drills, etc. which are included in the pinyin text but not in the character text. (Otherwise, you won't know for sure if Lin Taitai is saying she lives on a big hill or she is a big hill. And don't tell me you never misread like that.)


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

Okay if it's what you want, January 30, 2002

Reviewer: Thomas F. Ogara (Monticello, Florida United States)

This book is the Chinese Character text for DeFrancis' "Beginning Chinese." There are two theories regarding teaching written Chinese to foreigners. One is that you should treat it as a separate subject in the earlier stages of learning the language. For those who agree with this premise, there is DeFrancis' two volume "Beginning Chinese Reader."

The other school believes that students should learn how to write what they learn how to say. For educators who prefer this approach, DeFrancis prepared "Character Text."

If you're a teacher, you can come to your own conclusions without further input from me. If you're trying to teach yourself to read and write Chinese, I recommend that you use the readers rather than this book; learning to write Chinese is a task in itself that has little to do with linguistics. You can read my review of the Readers under their proper site, if you're interested in pursuing the matter.


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