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Customer Review

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an "easy way to learn Chinese", but still a great introduction, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese (Paperback)
'Chineasy' is not, by any means, a book for learning Chinese, as most of its critics (judging from the negative reviews here and elsewhere) seem to believe. This fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and function of this book can be blamed squarely on the author and publishers for promoting it as such (in TED talks, etc.), taking a charming little concept and hyping it up well out of proportion.

What this is, first and foremost, is an art book, something you can admire not just for the beautiful illustrations on the inside, but also for the way the book was put together and laid out. Secondly, if, like me, you are starting out on the nerve-wracking challenge of learning Chinese, this is a great way of demystifying the subject, presenting the logical thought processes behind what may seem like arbitrary and complicated symbols, and giving you an insight into the Chinese mentality. For these purposes, I couldn't recommend this book highly enough, and I've already memorised quite a few of the characters in its pages without applying any real effort.

But you can't possibly rely exclusively on this book to teach you the language. Aside from presenting an extremely small sample of Chinese characters, there's also the fact that they're mostly all traditional forms (most learners of Chinese will want to simplified characters, but even those who are after the traditional characters will find that some of them in here are simplified, as the author/illustrator picks whatever looks best for her purposes). Also, some of the characters (e.g. “argument”, p.47) are extremely rare or archaic forms that nobody uses anymore, as more than one of my Chinese friends pointed out to me when they looked inside. So, great book if you want to appreciate the art or use it as a supplement with real Chinese textbooks, but forget about it if you think it will be an “easy” way to learn the language.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 May 2015 13:50:46 BDT
Mrs M Holley says:
but I like the idea of having 'potted' Taiwanese as a helper language for shortish visits to Taiwan. I have been struggling for years on visits to my 'adopted' family and now feel ashamed I'm still battling with even the simplest forms of communication. I had meant to buy this for my son who lives in Taiwan but maybe a more traditional form of learning would be better.
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