Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language –Deborah Fallows

Nonfiction - memoir
212 pages
Footnotes/Endnotes: Yes
Illustrations: Yes (some photos, lots of Chinese writing)
Suitable for eReaders: NO!

Right off the bat, Rainy Day wants to emphasize, Do Not read this on your eReader! You won't be happy if you do. Spend the money and get a hard copy. Trust Rainy Day on this. Please.

Deborah Fallows is a linguist by training and when her husband got a job in China, she immediately began Mandarin lessons. This delightful book tells about learning to speak Mandarin, the most popular of the several spoken Chinese languages.

Every chapter begins with a few words in Hanzi and the translation. You will miss this on your eReader, or it will be too large, too small, or too pixelated (Rainy Day has read of all three happening on one reader). Throughout the book she uses Chinese writing to make a point. You will miss a lot if you can't see it.

This is not a 'how to' book. It is not a primer for learning Chinese; it is wonderful insight into one woman's attempt to learn the most difficult language in the world. And to learn the nuances of her new culture. Where you, and Rainy Day, were raised to say Please and Thank You and Would You Mind – the Chinese find all that not only unnecessary, but rude.

And do you remember having to learn all the pronouns and their uses? Uh, not so much in Chinese. 

Rainy Day can relate, in the smallest of ways, to Ms. Fallows and her problem of hearing the tones. A friend of Rainy Day's went to China, and brought her her very own chop, with the name 'rain' on it. Rainy Day was so excited (she uses it when she signs books) she went to one of the engineers she worked with who just happened to come from China. He smiled, and said it was easy to say in Chinese: Yuh. Rainy Day repeated it. Several times. She could never get the tone. Was she saying fish, at, stupid?? She doesn't know, and decided to leave speaking Chinese to people who had good hearing.

If you plan on learning Chinese, and or plan on taking a trip to China, and or just want a good read about China, get this book. Do not hesitate!

And be sure to read the notes in the back of the book, too.

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