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Chineasy:The Easy Way to Learn Chinese (英語) ペーパーバック – 2014/1/1
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Learning Chinese is notoriously difficult and has long put off the most linguistically savvy Westerners ...until now. Breaking down the Great Wall of language, ShaoLan Hsueh has unpicked Chinese characters and created a simple system for quickly understanding the basic building blocks of the written language. Working with renowned illustrator Noma Bar, she has developed a unique set of illustrations that are engaging and delightful, and offer a glimpse into the wonder of the Chinese language and culture. The books main section introduces the radicals the key characters on which the language is built and reveals how they can be combined to form a wealth of more complex words and phrases. In fewer than 200 pages, readers of all ages will have made the first steps towards a genuine appreciation of Chinese, loving every new character they learn.
“These cute images make reading Chinese characters ‘Chineasy.’” (NPR's "Code Switch" Blog)
“In her delightful book...Hsueh offers an inspired approach to learning more than 400 Chinese characters.” (San Francisco Chronicle Blog) --このテキストは、Flexibound版に関連付けられています。
Unfortunately for the learning side of things, it's not very good. I'm writing this review only because I think folks should know what exactly they're buying. While the pictures are clever, many times, the associations are a stretch and they just don't seem effective as memory devices. Also, the book switches between traditional and simplified characters seemingly to facilitate the illustrations, which can be confusing for students who would actually like to read one or the other. On top of that, some of the words that are illustrated are just not used any more (nuan2 - argue or xuan1 - shout, for example). Definitely helpful though if you're reading ancient Chinese poetry, which I'm sure, most folks are not. Of course, for that, it's not enough content.
I don't think this is a good resource for learning Chinese characters. Honestly, if the pictures thing works for you, I'd highly recommend Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters since they actually put together more of a system with their images and a LOT of great explanations of how everything works. I do,however, think that Chineasy is a unique coffee table book. Unfortunately, I don't have a coffee table.
It is virtually impossible to read on a tablet because of the small print (and inability to increase the size), the colors used (example, dark orchid background for small black font), and the navigation. Tried to read it in the alternative on my computer. No dice.
I've purchased several hundred Kindle books in the past couple of years. This is the first one for which I've requested a refund.
If they fix the electronic version, I'll also remove this Kindle review upon request.
In short, avoid the Kindle version like the plague. The print edition should be fine (knock on wood). If I get the print edition, I'll update this review to address the content.
March 20, 2014 Update.
I purchased the print edition and have taken the time to go through it before writing this update.
The substance of the book is good. However, the design gets in the way of using it for its intended purpose - learning Chinese characters.
It's clear after seeing both the Kindle and print editions that the Kindle edition consists of imaged pages from the print edition rather than doing formatting for the Kindle. For that, the person in charge of layout for the Kindle should be sent to the woodshed with a dunce cap.
Unfortunately, the printed pages suffer from some of the same issues that afflict the Kindle. Specifically, the many pages with dark-colored backgrounds with small black font are difficult to read. In some cases, it requires taking the book to different lighting or using a magnifying glass to figure out what's written.
In other words, the purpose of learning Chinese characters is actually frustrated by the author's efforts as an artist.
In short, here's my rating unless and until the book is fixed.
0 Stars for the Kindle edition. It's horrible.
3 Stars for the Print edition if you want to actually learn the characters.
5 Stars for the Print edition if you want a colorful book to put on the coffee table to impress friends but have no intention of actually learning Chinese characters.
It's quite a different approach from another book which I bought a few months ago (Tuttle: Learning Chinese Characters). Tuttle gives you twice as many characters in their book, but it seems that it is slapped together a bit more sloppily. Tuttle gives you a little original story for each character which is supposed to act as a mnemonic. I definitely understand the value in that method. Another resource I bought did the same for Japanese kana, and that became a real breakthrough for me in my memorization. However, as a person who is just starting out with Chinese, I'm just more comfortable with ShaoLan's straightforward visual method with a solid foundation based upon the meanings of each radical.
The only complaint I have is that the author hasn't yet made ten more books, each with 400 more characters for me to learn. I hope those will be published soon.
As others have stressed, I would also advise against buying the Kindle version of the book. I initially bought the ebook for my first generation Nexus 7, but the book was painfully slow to page through (because most of the pages consist of images, rather than plain text). One of the joys in this sort of book is that you can quickly flip back and forth to compare various characters with each other. I found I just couldn't do that easily with the electronic version of the book. I returned the ebook for a refund, and bought the physical version, instead.