Dreaming in Chinese

Dreaming in Chinese

Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

Book - 2010
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Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people,and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language--a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar--became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China.

Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones--the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning--is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them.

In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., 2010
ISBN: 9780802779137
Branch Call Number: 951.06 FAL 2010
Characteristics: 205 p. : ill., map


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May 21, 2011

I really like this book. It's short and informative, however not as detailed as I'd like (for example, most concepts are hastily glazed over abstractly, without much linguistic analysis). There are too few of these books nowadays.

I have been learning Mandarin Chinese for 2 years, and know a bit about the language. This was a refreshing read because it allowed me to understand a bit about how the culture drives the language and why the Chinese mindset is so different, all while connecting my own learning experience.

Overall, I think this is a worthwhile read if you are at all interested in China/Taiwan or the Chinese language.

Nov 19, 2010

A very quick read about how studying a foreign language helps us understand new cultures as well as our own. A great book for anyone interested in languages.

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