|03-26-2010, 01:24 AM||#16|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Device: Kindle 3 WiFi, Sony PRS-505
While they are useful language aids and can be used effectively to study, they're really designed more for productivity and convenience. In my experience, the mental investment in phrases, words, and grammar using super-convenient dictionaries is minimal, and retention is exceptionally low. They also bypass many of the larger language structures in favor of vocabulary (since that's the function of the programs), which is a bit of a pitfall for way too many learners of many languages.
I also agree that tones aren't too hard. For many students of the spoken language, the trickiest things are slang and idiomatic expressions (which are generally just memorized and only rarely logically discerned on the fly) and alternative pronunciations for characters that don't always appear in dictionaries (A simple and common example is "dice" which dictionaries will almost invariably list as 骰子 [tóuzi], but which a huge number of people call [shǎizi] which comes from a dialect reading of 色子 apparently. Use of "proper" Mandarin pronunciation will confuse a surprising number of native Mandarin speakers, especially in the south and in Taiwan). It's all doable, but those things are trickier to learn independently. Tones, tonal sandhi, the u|ü distinction, and the retroflex sounds seem to be hardest to many beginners, but among intermediate/advanced students, the problem quickly goes away. It doesn't mean they do it correctly, it just means they don't recognize it as a huge obstacle to learning anymore, and they have other problems to worry about.
Phew, sorry for the rant.
|03-26-2010, 09:55 AM||#17|
Join Date: Feb 2010
Device: Aluratek libre
BTW, regarding my comment on Plecodict.
You can input both by pinyin or handwriting. I just mentioned the latter since pinyin for me is slower to enter on PDA, and I don't text on my phone so am not good at it. Handwriting recognizes both traditional and simplified script. Output is in both also.
They have Chinese to English and English to Chinese dictionaries all of which exist in published book form. Their ABC Chinese to English by DeFrancis is excellent in my opinion. Includes slang and variant pronunciations and colloquialisms. The have text to speech pronunciation and flashcards capability also.
Sorry about my enthusiasm for the product, I don't work for them. Years of slugging through dictionaries almost killed my desire to learn Chinese, and wish I had found their product sooner.
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