Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, And Language
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 decipher
Fallows seems to spend the bulk of her t...more
One of my favorite stories was “The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den.” T...more
Deborah Fallows, 2010
Reviewed by Graham Mulligan
Deborah Fallows is a linguist married to a journalist, James Fallows. They have lived in Shanghai and Beijing and struggled to learn some Mandarin. This is her collection of fourteen useful, commonly-heard words or phrases and some cultural tales that they inspired her to relate.
Wo ai ni – I love you! (the grammar of romance)
Bu yao – Don’t want, don’t need! (When rude is polite)
This was the first time I read a book about a different culture that approached it from a linguistic perspective. Because of this approach little was written about the author or her family, the food, the architecture of their home, or other routinely discussed elements in travel books. It inspired me to picture a different country from a novel perspective.
I appreciated the...more
#1: No book under 100 pages deserves to be published in hard cover unless it’s a photo book of my trip to Vancouver for my parents or its poetry. And don’t tell me this book is 18...more
The book was written in a quasi-diary format, and each chapter focused on a different language concept. Tone, diction, dialects, etc. I am a person who's g...more
Deborah Fallows, who has a...more
Deborah Fallows has a PhD in linguistics, and recently spent three years living in Shanghai and Beijing. She talks about the difficulty of learning Chinese (Mandarin), and weaves in and around her language growth some of the life experiences she had while living there.
It's a short book, and gives some interesting insights into the Chinese people and culture. I'm glad I read it. I think it will enhance my experience while I'm t...more
Personally coming from a bilingual background, being able to speak and understand both English and Chinese since young, the book provides an interesting insight as to how Westerners might approach this daunting language and uncovers the quaint little details of the language that disappears once assimilated with it.
But it gets rather heavy towards...more
And yet you really don't have to be a language buff to enjoy reading this little (188-page) book. If you like to take mental vacations to exotic places; if you want or need to learn more about Chinese culture, perhaps to make it easier to wor...more
In this slim volume, Fallows presents language oddities through a memory or anecdote, and then considers some of the implications. You don't need to know Chinese to enjoy it; at the same time, when I discussed this with my mother, she was delighted by some of the observations Fallows made that a...more
Prior to this book, I hadn't really thought about how language helps shape a culture, and vice versa. The author had some great antecdotes that illustrate this relationship between language and culture.
I especially fou...more
The author is a linguist, so presumably she is better at this than I am, but I could have told you after 10 hours of studying Cantonese why Chinese people mix up the words "he" and "she" in En...more
The first half of Fallows novel is wonderful. Her mishaps provide...more
Each chapter is basically a short essay based around a particular Mandarin word or phrase, and Fallows generally includes anecdotes relating to the word or phrase from her t...more