Monday, December 03, 2007

A Cantonese Book (Review)

I picked up this package when I first arrived in HK. At first, I was pretty disappointed that the box was much bigger than the book and 2 CD's that were included; deceptive marketing and all that. Anyways, overall, I enjoyed the set. It didn't cover much, but I did feel like I got a decent grasp of what there was. First the good stuff. Everything was written in characters. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I had romanization when it is not accompanied by the corresponding characters. There were also plenty of chances to learn to read and pronounce and practice the different grammar structures. There were also a variety of exercises. I'm not sure of how useful they are, but at least I never got bored going over them.

Now for the bad. This book is pretty thin with some big fonts. In other words, it doesn't go over much. A lot of the grammar wasn't very clear and seemed to go for the learn by intuition approach. I've been around enough textbooks to get an idea of what they want to get across, but for someone starting out fresh, I can see how they might get frustrated. Another point of contention is that there were no translations given for the example sentences. I was about 98% sure of the meanings, but that last 2% does a lot for peace of mind.

I don't think it is the best book to learn Cantonese from, but I do think it is a good book to start from, especially when considering the lack of variety and quality in other Cantonese materials out there.


chansavang said...

Well I don't know whether we have the same version of the book but I've personaly loved this book and regret that it's a bit too short (and expensive though).

Maybe it's because I've already have some solid Mandarin knowledge that helped me to understand everything very clearly and quickly (the grammar is sometimes similar , I say sometimes). The pronounciations are close too, and most of the characters are used in Mandarin as well.

In conclusion, it may be hard for a total "Chinese" beginner to tackle this book , but in my case it was just too good ^^

Good luck

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Joaquin said...

In the scope of Cantonese books, this is the best book I have come across. I have seen others, but they have no Hanzi (Chinese characters), which makes the book worthless. I already have a year of Mandarin with strong exposure to Hanzi, so this book was great for studies. As a companion book, the Lonely Planet book will help supplement things that are missing, even if they have their own homegrown romanization scheme.