Feed of posts from useful sites

Sinica - Edmund Backhouse in the Long View of History

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sat, 10/03/2015 - 06:14

Edmund Backhouse, the 20th century Sinologist, long-time Beijing resident, and occasional con-artist, is perhaps best known for his incendiary memoirs, which not only distorted Western understanding of Chinese history for more than 50 years, but also included what in retrospect can only be seen as patently fictitious stories of erotic encounters between the British Baronet and the Empress Dowager Cixi.

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to be joined by Derek Sandhaus of Earnshaw Books, who has recently produced an abridged edition of Backhouse's memoirs for the Hong Kong publishing house. As an expert on the facts and fictions of Edmund Backhouse, Derek joins us for a discussion of what is real and less-than-real in Backhouse's deathbed reminiscences, and what we can and should learn about Qing-era China from his memoirs. [standalone mp3 download]

PRC’s official rules for Pinyin: 2012 revision — in traditional Chinese characters

Pīnyīn News - Fri, 10/02/2015 - 04:59

Last week I put online China’s official rules for Hanyu Pinyin, the 2012 revision (GB/T 16159-2012). I’ve now made a traditional-Chinese-character version of those rules for Pinyin.

Eventually I’ll also issue versions in Pinyin and English.

(Note: The image above is of course Photoshopped. I altered the cover of the PRC standard simply to provide an illustration in traditional Chinese characters for this post.)

Pinyin font: Chispa

Pīnyīn News - Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:39

Today’s Pinyin-friendly font is Chispa, by Joan Alegret of La Tipomatica. It’s freeware.


Pīnyīn News - Tue, 09/29/2015 - 02:48

I tend to think of Hanzi being used to write English words as “Singlish,” after John DeFrancis’s classic spoof, “The Singlish Affair,” which is the opening chapter of his essential book The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy. But these days the word is mainly used for Singaporean English. So now I usually go with something like “English with Chinese character(istic)s.”

For a few earlier examples, see the my photos of the dog and the butterfly businesses.

Today’s example is “Crunchy,” written as ke3 lang3 qi2 (can bright strange). Kelangqi, however, isn’t how to say “crunchy” in Mandarin (cui4 de is); it’s just an attempt to render the English word using Chinese characters, probably in an attempt to look different and cool.

Crunchy, which is now out of business, was just a block away from the Dog (dou4 ge2) store, which is still around.

Pinyin font: Chonburi

Pīnyīn News - Mon, 09/28/2015 - 04:01

Chonburi, by Cadson Demak, is a Pinyin-friendly font that also covers Thai.

Because of its relatively small size, it could work well on Thai-language Web pages that also include Pinyin. Maybe there aren’t many of those now, but eventually….

It is available through Google Fonts.

Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 002: Elias Ek

Chinese Learn Online - Mon, 09/28/2015 - 03:56

In this episode, I interview Elias Ek.

Elias is from Sweden, but has lived in Taiwan for the past 25 years, where he runs his own company, Enspyre.

Listen to find out about:

  • Elias’ first encounter in Chinese in Taiwan
  • His first job in Taiwan
  • Experience of working as a foreigner in a Taiwanese company
  • His breakthrough in learning Chinese
  • His experience on learning speaking without characters
  • His use of Chinese while running his own company in Taiwan
  • How he prepares for giving speeches in Chinese
  • His approach interviewing new employees
  • Why classroom language learning is broken
  • Difference in western versus Chinese business culture
  • How he elicits ideas from his staff
  • What he would change about his strategy learning Chinese
  • How Chinese compares in difficulty to other languages

Xin Tang 10

Pīnyīn News - Sun, 09/27/2015 - 06:40

I’ve just added to Pinyin.info the tenth and final issue (December 1989) of the seminal journal Xin Tang. I strongly encourage everyone to take a look at it and some of the other issues. Copies of this journal are extremely rare; but their importance is such that I’ll be putting all of them online here over the years.

Xin Tang 10

Although I’m giving the table of contents in English, the articles themselves are in Mandarin and written in Pinyin.

    • ZHOU YOUGUANG: The Next Step of Language Modernization
    • CHEN ENQUAN: Experiments Should Be Carried Out on the Phoneticization of Chinese Characters
    • LI YUAN: Romanized Chinese Must Be Finalized
    • LI PING: To Be a Promoter of Script Reform
    • ZHENG LINXI: Wu Yuzhang and Chinese Phonetic Spelling
    • ZHANG LIQING: How Should the Tones of Chinese Spelling Be Indicated?
    • LIQING: Elephants
    • CHEN XUANYOU (Tang Period): The Wandering Soul
    • WU JINGZI (Qing Period): Third Daughter Wang
    • LU XUN: On the Collapse of Thunder Peak Pagoda
    • RUI LUOBIN: The Adventures of Chunmei and Mimi
    • COMIC DIALOGUES: Toad Drums
    • WEI YIJIN: Dreams at Twenty
    • DIAO KE: In Praise o f the Spirit of Bees
    • GE XIAOLING: A Song to the Disabled Children
    • YBY: The Story of the Magic Square
    • DIAN EWEN: Interesting Tidbits about Script Reform Abroad
    • LI YUAN: A Few Statistics on Tones Notations in Romanized Chinese
    • Asking the Way
    • Farewell to Our Readers

Sinica - Hip Hop in China

Popup Chinese Lessons - Thu, 09/24/2015 - 02:13

Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined today by Jerry Chan and Matt Sheehan for a look at hip-hop in China. Both guests should be familiar to long-time listeners in Beijing. Jerry has been involved with the local music scene for over a decade and now works as marketing director for True Run Media. Matt Sheehan is the Beijing correspondent for the Huffington Post and has recently written on rap in China as well. [standalone mp3 download]

Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 001: Joe Westerhof

Chinese Learn Online - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 04:56

In this first episode of the new Learn Chinese Insights Podcast, I interview Joe Westerhof.

Joe came to Taiwan 17+ years ago from Michigan, US. He initially began teaching English but now works in a trading company in Taichung, doing import / exports.

In this episode, you will find out:

  • What brought Joe to Taiwan in the first place.
  • His background learning Chinese – what worked and what didn’t.
  • His initial impressions of Taiwan.
  • The benefits of living in a small town.
  • How he transitioned from teaching to working in trade.
  • Issues that westerners have, when working in Taiwanese companies
  • Why Taiwanese companies don’t hire western employees
  • What to focus on, when trying to get a job with a Taiwanese company
  • What it’s like to be married with kids to a Taiwanese
  • On dealing with the Taiwanese language versus Mandarin
  • Joe’s theories on westerners who are fluent in Chinese
  • Joe’s advice on learning Chinese (or any language)

Sinica - Parading around China's Military Legacy

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 09/11/2015 - 01:00

The interpretation of history is an inherently political act in China, and the struggle for control of the narrative of the War of Resistance Against Japan—World War II—has heated up during the approach to the September 3 parade commemorating the Japanese surrender. Joining us to talk about changing interpretations of World War II and the big miitary parade in front of Tiananmen is Rana Mitter, professor of modern Chinese history at Oxford University and the author of two books on twentieth century Chinese history: China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival and A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - China's Millennials

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 09/04/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn record from San Francisco, where they interview Eric Fish: long-time China resident, writer at the Asia Society and author of the recent book "China's Millennials: The Want Generation". Join us as we talk with Eric about the stereotypes and realities surrounding the millennial generation in China. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - Bill Bishop: The Exodus

Popup Chinese Lessons - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 09:50

As anyone who reads the Sinocism newsletter knows, Bill Bishop is among the most plugged-in people in Beijing with an uncanny ability to figure out what is actually happening in the halls of power. But as casual readers may not be aware, he is also an excellent podcast guest due to his habit of bringing first cupcakes and now amazingly smooth bottles of Japanese whisky to our recording sessions before trading the latest gossip about the goings-on in Zhongnanhai.

On today's show we mark Bill's departure from China and his return to the United States where he plans to live for the next few years with his family. While not exactly your requisite "Why I Am Leaving China" blog post, this show gives Kaiser Kuo and David Moser the chance to talk to Bill about the reasons behind his decision, and explore why he sees an increasingly strained relationship between China and the United States over the next few years. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - The Tianjin Explosion

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 01:00

Insurance scam? Industrial accident? Political machinations? After August excursions to lands of clean air and English-language media, the Sinica team is back this week with a show covering the astonishing explosions that gutted the Binhai economic development zone in Tianjin last week. As the Chinese government struggles to deal with public pressures for greater transparency and conspiracy theories mount, we take a closer look at what we know and don't about the port explosion.

Enjoy Sinica? Join Kaiser Kuo and David Moser this week as they talk with two journalists who covered the aftermath of the Tianjin explosions in person from the Chinese equivalent of ground zero: Julie Makinen who heads the China bureau for the LA Times and Fergus Ryan who covers China for The Guardian. Please feel welcome to listen online or download our show as a standalone mp3 file and share with friends and colleagues.

Changes to Course Outline Page

Chinese Learn Online - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 11:44

I recently made a couple of small changes to the Course Outline page.

The “Complete” links have been renamed as “Transcript” and have moved to the front of every lesson. I feel “Transcript” is a more descriptive label than “Complete” and moving it to the front better reflects the progression that most users make with the lessons: Start with the lesson, while following along with the transcript, then move to the Vocabulary page, followed by the Activity and other pages that follow.

Hope that makes sense and doesn’t cause too much disruption in your lesson navigation.

Sinica - Beijing's Great Leap Forward

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 01:00

Great Leap Brewery is an institution. As one of the earliest American-style microbreweries in China, not only has the company rescued us from endless nights of Snow and Yanjing, but its also given us something uniquely Chinese with its assortment of peppercorn, honey and tea-flavored beers. So as much as we love the other microbreweries in Beijing and throw our money at them too, it's no accident the Great Leap taproom is our most frequent destination most evenings after recording a show.

Today on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo sits down with Great Leap founder Carl Setzer to talk about his story in China: why Great Leap got started, how the company fits into the beer industry in China, and what it's like to run a food & beverage startup as a foreigner. This is a surprisingly intimate look at one of the places we've grown to take for granted, filled with details on their touch-and-go early years and the bureaucratic run-in that almost crippled the business. We hope you enjoy hearing their story as much as we did. [standalone mp3 link]

Pleco Flashcards Support for iOS

Chinese Learn Online - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 07:28

One feature that many users have asked for, is the ability to export flashcards to Pleco, the popular dictionary app.

This could always be done of course through the Export page. However this required multiple steps.

I’m happy to announce that if you’re using an iOS device (iPhone or iPad), then head on over to the flashcard page and select the lesson range you want.

You’ll now notice a new button at the bottom called “Export to Pleco”.


Clicking on this will directly open the Pleco app (assuming you have it installed already). After a few seconds, you should see a message like this:


You’ll now have a list of CLO lessons inside Pleco that you can choose from.


Inside each lesson is the vocabulary, that you can then use to create your own flashcard lists inside Pleco.


Hope this is useful for you.

At the moment, Pleco says this function only works on iOS devices. We can add Android support when they do.

Sinica - Good Riddance, Monsieur Epstein

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 01:00

We're not surprised that Gady Epstein is moving on. We used to buy the papers for his "Telegrams from the Orient", but then he took that Economist gig and his productivity plummeted and it has become hard to even remember what his writing is like anymore. "When are you going to come out with something new," we'd needle him over Chinese Twitter, only to be met with the vague insistence that he was "working on something" or "rushing to press" and "stop bothering me please." And then not a single byline for months....

Given this track record, it may be surprising that we even have him back on the show, but we figured it might help kick Gady out of his rut, and maybe also work as a sort of therapy session in which we try to get into the mind of one of the China Greats. Also, beyond discussing his future plans and long history of covering China, we also wanted to know what's he's learned on the beat and where in his opinion one can find the best Sichuan food in Beijing. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Who will save us from the self-help revolution?

Popup Chinese Lessons - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 03:11

Someone desperately needs to call a fumigator, because China's self-help bug is eating up the woodwork. Train station bookstores may always have served the genre's trite pabulum to bored businessmen legging it cross-country, but in recent months the popularity of the cult has spread more widely, to the point one can't go to a party these days without being accosted for one's thoughts on "the Secret", or hear co-workers fume over where their cheese might have gone and which of their colleagues has probably taken it.

Drowning in this morass of anti-Enlightenment thinking? Join us on Sinica as we excoriate the self-help movement in a show featuring an almost unanimous bewilderment, tempted only by the fascinating insights of Eric Hendriks, Peking University postdoc and lecturer and researcher on this fascinating topic. We welcome all listeners to share their feedback and thoughts in the comment section below, and encourage everyone to download our standalone mp3 file to share this show with friends and colleagues who may have fallen victim to the self-help bug.

Sinica - The Brother Orange Saga

Popup Chinese Lessons - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 01:13

The story started when a Buzzfeed editor lost his iPhone in an East Village bar in February of last year and blossomed into the Sino-American romance of the century, and probably the most up-lifting and altogether unlikely China story that we can remember. It features Apple products, global crime networks, human flesh search engines, the draw of instant celebrity, and Ellen DeGeneres. Who can resist the cross-cultural romance of Matt Stopera and Brother Orange?

Joining Kaiser, Jeremy and David us to talk about this phenomenon and its backstory and are two guests who've seen it unfold from the inside: Matt Sheehan, China Correspondent for the Huffington Post, who wrote this piece about the saga, and Cecilia Miao, agent for Brother Orange and creator of Channel-C, a community for Chinese students who have studied abroad. So listen in online or download our show as a standalone mp3 file and share with friends.

Sinica - The People's Republic of Cruiseland

Popup Chinese Lessons - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 14:44

We have enough favorite writers on China that we've had to develop a sophisticated classification system just to keep track of everyone. That said, one of our hardest to place somewhere in the long-form taxonomy is Chris Beam, who you may have heard on past episodes talking about his experience in Chinese ping-pong bootcamp, or maybe his account of the birth of American football with the saga of the Chongqing Dockers.

If you liked those shows as much as we did, you'll be delighted to hear that Chris is back this week to talk about his latest essay, an entertaining and surprisingly sympathetic look at the international Cruise Industry and its attempts to romance one of the least sea-faring countries on the planet. And considering the phenomenal timing of this show -- taking place almost exactly as Jeremy Goldkorn "goes native" in America and enjoys his very first mega cruise -- we hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.

Enjoy Sinica? Add our show to your favorite RSS reader using our customer feed. We also welcome all listeners to write us at sinica@popupchinese.com with suggestions on guests you'd like to hear from and topics you'd like to hear us cover. And feel free to download the standalone mp3 file of this show to share with friends and colleagues.

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