Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_lvl(&$output, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /hsphere/local/home/ackerfors/snigel.nu/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 0 Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /hsphere/local/home/ackerfors/snigel.nu/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 0 Olle Linge - Languages, literature and the pursuit of dreams · 風車編輯群

風車編輯群

You are currently browsing articles tagged 風車編輯群.

????? – ????

Title: 中國寓言
Translated title: Chinese Fables
Author: 風車編輯群
Year: 2005

Once upon the time, I thought that the best way of reading some extra Chinese was to buy lots of fairly small books, presenting numerous even smaller stories of various kinds, often related to Chinese culture and history. At that time, I bought a truck load of those books, which means I still have lots of them, although I’m tired of reading them.

This book contains a huge number of stories, even compared to other books I’ve read recently. Each explains the meaning of an idiom and where it comes from, along with a story illustrating the main point. It feels good that I actually know quite a few of the stories already, meaning I’m beginning to get some grasp of what most Taiwanese children have read, heard or watched.

However, reading hundreds of disconnected stories is exhausting in the long run, I crave something more coherent. A book like this one would be perfect for classroom use or for reading just a few minutes before going to bed, but as serious reading, it really doesn’t work. To give you some idea of the diversity of the content, the book spans around 280 pages, averaging close to 120 characters per page, which means roughly 35 000 characters in all (i.e. not that much). Still, there are more than 130 stories in the book! The book is almost as long as the longest book I’ve read in Chinese, but due to the odd format, it felt a lot longer.

The level is okay, meaning I can understand most of the text without a dictionary, even though there are naturally a great number of adverbs and adjectives I have never even seen before. Still, the content is perhaps a little too close what I’m already familiar with, which isn’t necessarily the author’s fault, but which nevertheless forces me to set a rather low grade on this otherwise quite enjoyable book.

Tags: , ,

Title: 福爾摩斯: 綠玉皇冠
Translated title: Sherlock Holmes
Language: Chinese
Author:
風車編輯群
Year: 2008

This second book about Sherlock Holmes is of course very similar to the first one I read earlier this month (血字的研究), so for more detailed impressions, please refer to that entry. In the same way, it presents three short stories focused around the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (according to the foreword, the children are supposed to learn something from reading about his deductive abilities, but to be honest, I can’t quite see how this is possible since Holmes’ abilities are more magical than anything else).

Still, the stories are simple enough for me to follow what’s going on, even though the level is still a little bit too high. Since each story is short, it means that there is less redundancy. Also, since a detective story by nature is a bit complicated (otherwise there wouldn’t be any mystery), it makes it a bit too difficult at times. For instance, I might understand what they do and what they say, but because I lack vocabulary here and there, I might actually miss the key ingredient of the mystery. I will probably buy the two remaining books and read them this summer, but I have more suitable books to read before that (a Chinese version of Journey to the West coming up soon).

Tags: , ,

????? – ???????

Title: 世界偉人:牛頓
Translated title: Giant Biography – Bach
Language: Chinese
Author:
風車編輯群
Year: 2006

Since this book is part of a series of books and I’ve already introduced Newton’s biography, please refer to that review for general comments about the series. This is the third book I read in Chinese this month and it’s also the best one so far. I’m not sure why, because it’s the same group of people who churns out these books, and there should be no significant difference. First and foremost, the contents in this volume is much more balanced, describing the important bits of Bach’s life without dwelling endlessly on the minutia of his childhood.

Bach’s life itself might also be more interesting than Newton’s, even though that might be due tot he presentation rather than due to the life the actually lead. Today, Bach is primarily known as one of the most brilliant composers of all time, but during his lifetime, he was primarily a famous organist, and people regarded his compositions as somewhat old-fashioned and boring. Still, he was a genius in more than one regard and reading about such people is always interesting (I don’t know if this is just me, what about you?).

I also like the way this book is educational without being overtly moralising, which I have found is true for other Chinese children’s books (such as 小故事大道理: 民間故事). Throughout the book, the reader becomes convinced that being a genius is certainly a bonus, but it’s not enough on its own to achieve true greatness. Even though people constantly praise Bach for his achievements, he’s never satisfied and always strives to enrich his music and fine-tune his skills.

Language-wise this book is equal to the previous one, but since it is the fourth book I read in Chinese instead of the second, I find it a lot easier. There are of course numerous characters I don’t understand, but as long as I understand or can guess the general meaning, I’m satisfied. I haven’t decided what to do with the rest of the series (there are ten more books), but it’s not unlikely that I’ll read at least a couple more.

Tags: , ,

Title: 福爾摩斯: 血字的研究
Translated title: Sherlock Holmes
Language: Chinese
Author:
風車編輯群
Year: 2008

After having finished reading 世界偉人傳: 牛頓 (the one about Newton), I immediately decided to read the first of two Sherlock Holmes books I picked up at a nearby super market. I bought them because I thought it would be good practice to read stories I was already familiar with (see A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four among others), as well as for the nice pictures (it’s nice to read Chinese books without the manga for once).

It turns out that even if I feel that the stories are familiar, as well as the characters, I don’t quite remember the actual mysteries. I can recall parts of the solution, recollect some details about characters or setting, but I can’t say it felt like re-reading something. The stories themselves are shortened and simplified, but I think that isn’t such a big problem. Sherlock Holmes was never about the story or the mystery for me, but rather the character and his manners. This is of course difficult to appreciate in another language, especially when the text is simplified so there might not even be much character left (Holmes’ opium is definitely not there, for instance).

The level of the Chinese is unexpectedly higher than that of the book about Newton, even though the book spans only 90 pages, giving a total of around 12 000 characters (compared to 30 000 for the Newton one and 7 000 for my first book). With larger characters, more pictures and fewer pages, one would assume the text is easier, but that isn’t the case. However, the more relaxed layout makes it a bit easier to read and since this is more or less exactly what I want, I’m satisfied. Perhaps I would have liked to get more characters for the money I paid (all books I’ve reviewed so far cost below NT$100/25 SEK/3 USD).

It’s a bit annoying that proper names are not underlined, which makes the reading a lot harder. This might not be obvious for those of you who haven’t read Chinese, so I’ll try to explain. Since Chinese is written in one long sequence, without gaps between words, it’s sometimes difficult to know if a character is supposed to be read together with the previous one, the next one or solely on its own.

Proper names are a pain because as a beginner, I can’t easily distinguish them from the narrative. It mean that I might look in a dictionary for a while before realising that the word actually is a transliteration for “Camebridge”. The prime example here is Sherlock Holmes himself, whose surname in Chinese is 福爾摩斯. The characters themselves don’t mean anything in particular put together like that, but since they are pronounced “fu er mo si”, some brilliant mind thought they could represent “Holmes”. How they got from “Holmes” (one syllable, beginning with an “h”) to “”fu er mo si” (four syllables, beginning with an “f”) is totally beyond me. I have seen bad transliterations of English names before, but this is probably the worst.

Still, this is pleasant reading, although perhaps I would have preferred longer and more fleshed out stories (there are three right now, competing for only 90 pages). I have already finished reading the second book and will provide a review shortly. There are more books in this series, but since I have a couple of books present Chinese classics to children, that seems a bit more interesting. Stay tuned.

Tags: , ,

????? – ?????: ??

Title: 世界偉人:牛頓
Translated title: Giant Biography – Newton
Language: Chinese
Author:
風車編輯群
Year: 2006

At the end of last month, I decided that I should try to read more Chinese. More specifically, I said that I would read more without focusing too much on language, grammar and new words, but simply read because it’s nice and because quantity really is king when it comes to learning a language. This is the second book I read in Chinese, after 小故事大道理: 民間故事 and even though I would not say that it is more difficult, it is certainly different in many regards.

The purpose of this series is to introduce giants of Western history to Taiwanese children. The series comprises twelve biographies and I decided to start with Newton, simply because I had quite a good grasp of what he did, but almost no notion whatsoever what his personal life was like. Since that is the goal, this book is fairly suitable, because it mentions almost nothing about Newton’s professional life or his achievements. It also focuses a lot on his childhood, which is a bit irritating because it means there is no room for his adult life. Still, I find the contents interesting and fairly well-balanced between being entertaining (dialogues, for instance, which are probably not historically correct, but makes it a lot easier to read) and educating (elaborating mainly on Newton’s attitude towards learning, studying and experimenting).

What about the Chinese, then? The biggest difference between this book about Newton and the previous book I read is the volume. 世界偉人:牛頓 contains over 200 pages and approximately 30 000 characters (compared to only about 7000 in my first book). The language might be a bit more difficult, but since the setting is a little bit more familiar, it’s not that hard to understand. Also, I read to understand the basic concepts, not to fully comprehend the meaning of every single character. This picture is from the book I’m currently reading about Bach, but it gives you an idea of what the books in this series look like:

On the whole, I’m very satisfied with my choice, because this level I can read without a dictionary and I can also learn a little bit about Newton at the same time. After reading the one about Bach, though, I will try to read books that are related to Chinese society and history, but I might return to this series later.

Tags: , ,