Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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

Fallows is a linguist, and this book is about how she learned and studied Chinese during her three years of living in Shanghai and Beijing. She writes about how learning the language gave her insight into Chinese culture. For example, foreigners use "please" and "thank you" much more often than the Chinese when they speak Mandarin. However, Chinese people rarely use these niceties because it indicates that you are speaking with a stranger or someone not very close to you. By omitting the "please" and "thank yous", you're actually saying something about the relationship - that we're close so there's no need for all that. It's not rudeness in the context of Chinese culture.

This book would had been really helpful when I was attempting to learn Mandarin and trying to understand some about the culture.

As a memoir, however, this book is pretty shallow. But as a supplementary tool to learning Chinese, I think it would be pretty valuable.

Recommended if you've ever tried to learn Chinese or if you're thinking of trying.

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