Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

by Deborah Fallows
3.5 19

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Overview

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

Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people,and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language—a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar—became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China.

Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones—the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning—is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them.

In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802779137
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 08/31/2010
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 8.28(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Deborah Fallows has lived in Shanghai and Beijing and traveled throughout China for three years with her husband, writer James Fallows. She is a Harvard graduate and has a PhD in Linguistics, and is author of A Mother's Work (Houghton Mifflin). She most recently worked in research and polling for the Pew Internet Project and in data architecture for Oxygen Media. When in the US, she and her husband live in Washington, DC. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law.

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Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
TeechTX More than 1 year ago
This is an enlightening insight into the inner workings of the Chinese language, but it will delight anyone who loves languages and how they work. Written by a professor of linguistics who hit the "Great Wall" of how Chinese really works and must be learned, the book is totally accessible to non-specialists as well. It is a memoir of Fallows's own experience in China rather than a "scholarly study," and it runs the gamut from clear explanations to wonderfully funny anecdotes. I highly recommend it.
BookMaven526 More than 1 year ago
Ms. Fallows uses her 3 years in China and training as a linguist as fascinating lenses for approaching the country, the culture, the people, and the language of China. She approaches the Chinese honestly, but with an obvious warmth and affection. She also makes admirable use of her academic training in linguistics to elucidate without ever talking above or down to her readers. Those who know China intimately and those who have never visited will be equally rewarded by this perfectly constructed gem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nice mix of personal reactions to China and Chinese, and fascinating tidbits about the differences between English and Chinese uses of words.
jazzNYC More than 1 year ago
This is very short book and consists mostly of a discussion of the finer points of the Chinese language. The author does include some fascinating information about the Chinese culture which I had not known before. But as a non-linquist, I found a lot of this book inaccessible. Disappointing!
Who-dy More than 1 year ago
I bought this book as a pre-publication order, and when it was published I found it did not properly display either the Chinese characters or the pinyin characters with first or third tone marks. After four calls to the service center and four days' wait I got my purchase price refunded and was assured that the book had been reissued in a corrected version. Trusting as I was I went ahead and bought it again and was disgusted to find the same problem with the new one. At least B&N agreed with me that the e-book ought to be as good as the print book, but it doesn't look like they're able to achieve that standard. I'm pretty disappointed. I hope it doesn't take another four days to get my money back on this one.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My granddaughter who has been to China found the book interesting and her husband who is now studying Chinese with her also read the book when it was available. Both seemed satisfied with the book.
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