Chinese learning – Around the Web, 21st of May 2010

What was hot/熱門 in the world of Chinese learning on the web this week? In this Around the Web series we will be having a weekly look at the most popular, controversial or useful blog posts and articles that are related to learning Chinese and/or living in China or Taiwan.

Language Power Struggles

Surely the most popular blog post regarding learning Chinese on the Internet this week, at least in terms of comments and discussion, must be Sinosplice’s post about ‘Language Power Struggles‘. A language power struggle occurs when both parties in a conversion are determined to converse using their chosen language and are unwilling to yield to the other party, which ultimately results in a conflict. The post analyses the various reasons that might causes a language power struggle, and also the main cases within which one might take place:

At the heart of the struggle is expectations. Each party has an idea in his mind about what language the other party should be speaking in that exchange of information we call communication. I’m going to split these expectations into two groups: pre-contact expectations and post-contact expectations.

Pre-contact expectations are a big, messy bag of preconceived notions about people. These include sweeping generalizations such as “foreigners can’t learn Chinese” or “there’s no way this Chinese farmer can speak English.” These are important, because before either party opens his mouth, they’re informing choice of language for the exchange.

The post is worth reading if only for the huge discussion in the comments, which is currently at 47 comments at the time of writing.

The Beauty Of Typography: Writing Systems And Calligraphy Of The World

An absolutely stunning article, and not just in relation to Chinese. Smashing Magazine, which is well known for articles on design, takes a look at the various writing systems of the world, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and more:

Chinese characters are symbols that do not comprise an alphabet. This writing system, in which each character generally represents either a complete one-syllable word or a single-syllable part of a word, is called logo-syllabic. This also means that each character has its own pronunciation, and there is no way to guess it. Add to this the fact that being literate in Chinese requires memorizing about 4,000 characters and you’ve got quite a language to learn. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to learn Chinese in order to appreciate the beauty of its writing.

Social Mandarin

If you are learning Chinese, or even just interested in Chinese culture, then Social Mandarin is an essential bookmark. If you find a decent website of blog post, submit it to Social Mandarin where the community can vote on and discuss it. The current homepage of Social Mandarin features the following websites: Neat tool with flashcards, sentence examples and more, Sexy Beijing – entertaining video podcast, Comparison between 就 and 才, Sleeping Cat’s Guide to Pinyin among others.

How To Survive in China as a Foreigner

While technically not from this week, as it was originally posted on the 10th of May, How to Survive in China as a Foreigner is a really brilliant blog post, and since this is the first of our Around the Web series, we’ll make an exception and include it. A humourous list of dos and don’ts for foreigners living in China:

Try not to think in terms of right or wrong, rude or polite, dirty or clean.  Ask as many questions as you can.   Don’t talk about politics.  Eat lots of noodles.  Eat lots of fruit, but always clean them before hand.  Don’t be shy.  Go to karaoke.  Don’t talk about Japan.   If you like basketball play a pick up game with some strangers.  Despite the fact that they don’t, look both ways before crossing the street.  Bring your own ear plugs.  Bring your own dental floss.  Never pay full price.  Don’t expect to get laid.  Don’t do anything that could land you in jail.  Find out what can and can’t land you in jail, you’ll be surprised.

And also the follow-up post, How to make the most of your time in China:

Do your best to learn a little Chinese; it’s easier than you think.  Ask your friends for a cool Chinese name. Something involving tiger, dragon, or yellow-hair is preferred.  Don’t wear a watch.  Don’t worry about missing out on Facebook, your friends will be twice as happy to hear from you when you get back home.  Ask questions.  Ask lots of questions.  Practice using chopsticks, this will impress the locals.  Talk to the old people.  They have seen more than you can imagine.  Talk to the young people. They will see more than you can imagine.  Get used to eating noodles for breakfast and eggs for dinner.

If you know of a blog or website we should keep an eye on, or if we missed a good blog post of article from last week please let us know below:

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