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A Frequency Dictionary of Mandarin Chinese: Core Vocabulary for Learners (Routledge Frequency Dictionaries) Paperback – 27 Feb 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 Blg edition (27 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415455863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415455862
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Xiao, Rayson and McEnery's frequency dictionary is an impressive work that will undoubtedly prove useful to students, teachers, and - because of the detailed statistical information that is given - perhaps to researchers as well.....my main reaction upon perusing this book has been a feeling of regret that it was not available to me years ago when I was first studying Chinese."
--
Michael Grosvald, the University of California at Davis

About the Author

Edge Hill University, Lancashire, UK University of Lancaster, UK

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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Venturi Alberto on 5 May 2009
Format: Paperback
This dictionary lives up to my expectations. For all those learners who have always struggled with Mandarin vocabulary (as I have), this promises to be the ultimate problem solver.

True, there are a few areas for improvement, but these are minor imperfections in an otherwise brilliant achievement. The basic requirements are all fulfilled.
1) Entries are neatly arranged by frequency order - starting the most frequent word in Mandarin and ending with the 5000th. As in the best Routledge tradition, each word comes with a number (e.g. 1572) (they're not lumped together in huge frequency bands that don't really tell you which words you should memorize first).
2) There are alphabetical indexes at the end of the book that enable you to find the word you're looking for, quickly and easily. These are transliterated in pinyin (the Latin alphabet).
3) One great feature is Traditional characters. Each entry is given in Simplified characters followed by the Traditional orthography. In this world, you want both varieties.

Now for the minor imperfections.
- The bold type print quality is not very good. The most complex characters are a little difficult to read - you often need to compare them with the (Traditional) clear type characters on the right just to recognize them.
- Pinyin transliterations are enclosed in slashes. Because it's an Aerial type font, they look like l's (L's), especially at the beginning of a word. (Besides, what are the slashes for? it's not like pinyin is a phonemic transcription -- very far from that.)
- It takes time to understand the three figures at the bottom of each entry. These technical data (for corpora experts, not average linguists) call for extensive explanations, and I can only say I've found none so far in the preface.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rjw on 20 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback
The typeface in the book is too small, so readers with poor eyes might struggle. But this book provides a great vocabulary resource, with 5000 high frequency words, indexed in several ways, with a sample sentence for each. The 5000 words employ just over 2000 different characters.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mod on 20 Jun 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Head words are so small that the chinese character lines are mixed up eve n with using a magnifier lense, the example sentences given after each word are not much of a help to a beginner, since no pinyin is used to help reading them
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Just_Reviews on 1 April 2013
Format: Paperback
The main point of this book is that it contains 5004 Chinese sentences ordered by frequency. Unfortunately, because the authors have been so vague about how these sentences were written and selected, it isn't really possible to assess their value for a student.

The authors state in the introduction that the Chinese sentences and English translations have been selected from a Chinese-English parallel corpus, and that's it.

They do not state whether the corpus consists of works originally written natively in Chinese, and then translated into English, or vice-versa, or some combination. It's possible that some of the Chinese sentences have been translated from English, and feature unnatural constructions, "translatese", if you will. Or not. They don't make it clear where they got the sentences from. It's possible that some of the sentences feature archaic language. Or not.

So can you trust that you are getting real, by a native for a native, authentic, modern, vernacular Chinese? No.

Other, slightly more trivial shortcomings include:

* All sentences are written in simplified characters, with no traditional equivalent provided. (Although the traditional equivalent is provided for one word of each sentence.)

* No pinyin gloss on any of the sentences. (Although the pinyin is provided for one word of each sentence.)

* Some of the translations are a bit dodgy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Useful 15 Jan 2011
By micha claessen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think the Frequency approach is a very interesting one : Study the most used words first, makes total sense to me. I was really looking forward to get this Frequency dictionary, and still consider it very useful, however, a few things immediately caught my attention which i didn't like at all . . . For all words in this Dictionary they use the BOLD typeset, which makes a lot of words simply unreadable -> Very bad idea ! Second thing which is a downer is no use of pinyin in the example sentences. Since this dictionary is probably mainly used by people who are studying the most basic building blocks of the Mandarin Language, having to look up most characters in the example sentences also makes it less practical. Other than that i am happy to have this dictionary, So 5 stars minus 2 stars = 3 stars !
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
a good supplement 6 July 2009
By Parker Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is strickly a supplement for intermediate learners. Do not start off with this dictionary! The glosses are very basic, even with an example sentence, so use caution for some of the high frequency word tokens that require a lot of context.

A book like this is important to have in Chinese because it seems that no course covers most of the words that are actually used, or you learn the rare version only to find out most people use another more popular word. This dictionary solves those problems.

However, their corpus only contains a small percentage of spoken Mandarin. Therefore, expect a high percentage of literary and very "newcast" sounding words such as "consist", "consistute", "arms (in war)", "war front", "treaty" etc. All of these are relatively low frequency, which is obviously due to the corpus. Further, taking this, and adding that they remove all of the proper nouns, it seems rather verb heavy.

All in all, it is a great resource for the intermediate learner, but just use it wisely.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Exactly what it promises 16 Aug 2013
By Cultural ghost - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rare in Chinese learning materials is there any real order. Textbooks are obviously not designed with frequency in mind and typically introduce usage patterns in a haphazard way. Seemingly on every page of a textbook one confronts the question of "is this only a verb or also a noun?" The average Chinese reference materials pale in comparison to the materials students of English enjoy (even Middle English), though there are certainly a lot of them.

Thus this dictionary, aside from being a passable dictionary, is necessary for learners who are not full time or who lack a highly organized teacher. Use this book to show you plainly which characters, words, and grammatical usages (!) are very common in writing. Armed with these characters and vocabulary, you can get into the thorny task of reading. I recommend getting to an intermediate reading level quickly so that you can begin to assimilate vocabulary naturally, as Chinese reference materials are not designed to support you past beginner and early intermediate.
Good book that needs some fixing 19 Nov 2014
By Marco Buendia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here is a recent book for learners of Chinese, built on a good concept: most useful words first. And this means words, not characters. Moreover, some idioms are given as well. There are 5004 entries. The most common word in current Mandarin?

µÄ ***

At #26, we get:

ÎÒÃÇ ***

And in this format: simplified. However, the simplified form is followed in brackets by the traditional form

ÎÒ, ***

Along with a very rough-and-ready translation or description of grammatical function, as the case may be, we get a single sentence illustrating typical usage. Here the trouble begins. This exemplifying sentence had no pinyin (or other) transliteration. This severely limits the usability of the book for those who don't already know the readings for a lot of characters. My bet would be that this is a large number of those who pick up the book.

Moreover, the head words are in bold type. The font size generally is just adequate for those with some minor vision impairment, but the bold entry is sometimes too dense to be really legible for those who, again, don't already know the character.

There are some special lists which the authors call "Thematic vocabulary lists", thirty of them. Food, clothing, sports, animals, kinship terms, with pinyin. Great, but they are scattered through the book, rather like the sidebars that have infested the layout of so many books in the last generation. There's a list of them in the contents, though.

There is an alphabetical index, as well as an index by part of speech, e.g. auxiliaries, classifiers etc. The latter index conveniently repeats the pinyin with the character and gives the meaning or function as well. Finally, there is a character (i.e. not word) frequency index; it gives the 2112 most common characters, each with a list of their occurrences in the main file.

Guidance on how to write the characters is outside the scope of this book. It is not a book for beginners, by any means. This realization perhaps rationalizes a bit the drawbacks I have been so bold as to point out. Nonetheless, I would say that this is a good book that could be better. Increase the font size, and give pinyin for everything. Then it would be a "five-star" book.

*** Phooey. I see that my paste-overs didn't come through. I was trying to say "de" (the adjectival partical), "women" (we, not including the interlocutor) and the traditional form of the latter.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Awesome 25 Jan 2012
By Patricia Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Awesome! I have been looking for one of these for years! The layout is great and easy to read. This is a must have book for all Chinese learners!
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