Feed of posts from useful sites

Sinica - In Conversation with Mara Hvistendahl

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 01:00

Kaiser and Jeremy are joined this week by Mara Hvistendahl, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and long-standing resident of Shanghai, to discuss her two main works. Along with discussing the twists and turns of her murder novel, And the City Swallowed Them, we also touch upon on law enforcement in China, the global modeling industry, the parallel lives of ex-pats and migrant workers in big Chinese cities, and the different philosophical approaches to punishment. Also, we look into sex-ratio imbalances around the world and its diverse adverse social repercussions, the topic Mara explores in Unnatural Selection.

You like listening to Kaiser and Jeremy as much as we do? Subscribe to Sinica through our private RSS feed, or download this show as a standalone mp3 file to share with your friends. If you have questions or suggested topics, feel free to reach out to us anytime by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Quiz Night - The Mysteries of Taobao

Popup Chinese Lessons - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 01:00

With the Alibaba IPO throwing daytraders worldwide into a frenzed adulation of all things China, and the press going wild over Jack Ma and his Chinese e-commerce engine, this week's show takes a closer look at Taobao - the jewel in the Alibaba crown - with a hard-hitting quiz covering the most important things no-one seems to be able to remember about our favourite shopping site. Also on the show: questions about Beijing and the secrets of Uighur time....

Quiz Night is a regular feature here at Popup Chinese that we've put together for intermediate to upper-intermediate students. And our goal is not so much teaching anything in particular so much as producing a half-mandarin, half-english show that features higher-level vocabulary you won't run into in other learning materials. Today, join us and learn everything from the name of Goldman Sachs in Chinese, to the essential catchphrases needed to outsource your thesis to somewhere south of Wuhan.

Free Hanzi Reader for your Smart Phone Camera

Laowai Chinese - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 23:30

Yesterday a friend showed me Waygo, an app that uses your camera to read hanzi off menus in restaurants, etc. (By the way, that feature is called an OCR = Optical Character Recognizer.) What impressed was that it’s free!

Here’s the catch: you get “10 daily translations” with an optional paid upgrade to “unlimited translations for life.”

Of course, I won’t be getting it because Pleco (my favorite cell phone dictionary) has a paid upgrade that includes an OCR (which I already bought and love). But I wanted to make sure to spread the word about the free one for those who might be content with only 10 translations per day.

By the way, does anyone else know of any other apps I should know about? Please let me know.

Sinica - LGBT China

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn and David Moser are joined by Fan Popo for a discussion of the way life works for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community in China. For those who have not heard of him, Fan is an accomplished film-maker and social activist, best known as author of the book Happy Together, a complete record of 100 queer films, as well as the director of the China Queer Film Festival.

If you like this show, give a thought to subscribing to Sinica through our private RSS feed, or download this show as a standalone mp3 file to share with friends. Finally, if you have questions or suggested topics for the show, please feel welcome to reach out to us anytime by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Tally Marks in Chinese

Chinese Learn Online - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 04:38

Do you know what tally marks are?

They are used when counting with a pencil and paper.

In western societies, a common way to note tally marks is like this:

You mark down a single stroke, each time you’re counting an item. After you have 4 strokes down, on your 5th stroke you cross off the first 4. That way it’s easy to count a group of 5.

In Chinese they use the same concept, but instead of vertical strokes, they try to build the character 正 as follows:

As you can see, each complete 正 character uses 5 strokes. So a series of 正 would each represent 5, just like the English ones above.

So where else can you see 正 tallies?

When you are ordering items from a menu, you can use 正 to indicate the number of dishes you want to order. Start with 一 for one, and work your way up.

So the next time you see the above strokes, you’ll know what its purpose is!

Qing Wen - 后悔 VS 遗憾

ChinesePod - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 13:00

Video of Q & A Broadcast with Yangyang

Laowai Chinese - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 23:33

As I mentioned before, on July 17 Yangyang and I did a live broadcast answering viewers’ questions about learning Chinese. We had a GREAT time (and I hope the viewers did too).

Just so you know how the technology works: viewers type in their questions, and then other viewers can vote for the questions they like the best. Then, Yangyang and I just worked our way down the list of questions.

There were some technical difficulties at the beginning, so I’ve cued the video to 4:09 where it gets sorted out.

(blocked in China, but is cued to 4:09)

(works in China but has a minute of ads at the beginning, and I couldn’t figure out how to cue it)

Absolute Beginners - The Public Security Alarm

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 01:00

Through many countries and over many seas I have come, dear brother, to this futuristic society in which you live, only to find myself astonished and humbled by its paradoxical embrace of social monitoring tools which seem to assure social order, yet also remain respectful of individual privacy and democratic rights. But alas! What is that pale cry? From whence comes that demonic shriek which fills the air with groans of woe, and strikes my soul with fear?

Learning Chinese? This is a fairly easy beginning lesson that covers the basics of asking and answering questions, such as asking what things are. We also give you a great phrase you can use to make yourself seem more understood, and help you apologize as you push yourself off the subway. So if you're just getting started with mandarin, check it out!

Why I Love Laokang Lookup for iPhone

Laowai Chinese - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 11:23

Yesternight, I was on the bus and saw this fairly typical sign:

I’ve taken this same bus lots of times, but never really paid attention to this sign. I found I could read every character except the one I’ve circled in blue. I also couldn’t use my usual trick of guessing from the context (because this is a kind of formal way of saying “get on and off” the bus).

So, zěn me bàn 怎么办? I could use Pleco’s awesome hand drawing thing and sketch in the 15 (or whatever) strokes. But I don’t do that as much anymore now that I have my friend Paul Condrell‘s beta version of Laokang Lookup on my iPhone. I was able to find the character in only 2 steps.

Here’s How it Works

Boom! Luo and behold, the first character in the result list was the very character I was looking for!


This is similar to (and is perhaps better than) my idea of Hanzi Craft. It’s certainly way better than the Dark Ages before smart phones, and even before online dictionaries, when I would have had to look up all unknown characters by radical in a paper dictionary.

I use the app all the time when I’m out and about. On the same bus trip, I saw a restaurant that specialized in  huàn (a kind of carp), which I couldn’t read. The Lookup app says that it’s in the top 6500 characters (very infrequent). But I was able to find it from the moving bus having only glanced at it because I knew most of the components (the first of which is just yú).

The only downside to this method is you have to learn all the components and their variations, and that takes some doing. But I like it better than radicals because the components seem to be bigger “chunks” of characters than radicals (although, some are the same as radicals).

More on this later, but for now, I just wanted to mention that I love the component search idea and can’t wait to see how the app develops.

Teachable Moment

Here’s the full text of the sign (click on the hanzi to see pinyin and translation):


Qing Wen - 考察 and 考查

ChinesePod - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 05:00

Sinica - Islamic State Sinica

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 01:00

With the recent capture of a Chinese ISIS solder triggering speculation about the involvement of Chinese citizens in the Iraqi civil war, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are joined in our studio by Edward Wong from the New York Times and Prashant Rao of AFP, both of whom have spent considerable time reporting from Iraq. Their discussion starts off with an expose on the nature and identity of IS before moving on to China, talking about the ways in which the rise of the militant Islamic movement has affected Iraqi perceptions of China, and then a look into how these events relate to the broader crisis in the Middle East and US-China relations.

As always, if you enjoy Sinica, let us remind you that you can download this episode as a standalone mp3 file. Everyone is also welcome to subscribe to our Sinica RSS feed through iTunes, or get in touch with us at sinica@popupchinese.com with suggestions about topics and guests you'd like to see on the show.

Intermediate - Beijing, 2015

Popup Chinese Lessons - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 01:00

The government had first dismissed rumours of the city's impending water scarcity, yet as the months dragged on and the supply trucks grew less and less frequent, public denial morphed into slow acceptance as the city baked. In time, even the moat around the Forbidden City drained to nothing, its dry stones picked clean by the dessicated husks of those who remained, parched shadows of their former selves.

Learning Chinese? This is an upper-level recording that features an original movie trailer. If your Chinese is getting up there, take a listen and see how much you understand. While we don't walk through the recording line-by-line, David and Grace do point out some of the more difficult bits, including some revolutionary language you may not yet know. So take a listen and let us know what you think.

Sinica - Ghost Cities to Luxury Malls

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 01:00

Remember the good old days when people did not talk obsessively about real estate and housing prices, and dinner parties would feature conversations about art? Well so do we, but with those days long gone, we're delighted to host two experts on the real estate market in China, who join us for a show that looks into the current state of China's most famous ghost towns from the last decade as well as the retail space with mall development and more.

Joining host Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are Rob Schmitz, China correspondent for the American Public Media's Marketplace show, who shares his personal experience visiting famous ghost cities like Ordos and who will tell us what they are like these days. Also in the studio is Timothy Coghlan, a long-time China hand who is an expert in the luxury and fashion industries and currently works as an expert on the real estate market for Savills real estate consulting company.

Please note: all listeners are warmly invited to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. We also encourage anyone who wants to be notified when new episodes are released to subscribe to our custom iTunes feed. Questions and comments are also always welcome at sinice@popupchinese.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Qing Wen - Get "Famous"

ChinesePod - Sat, 08/23/2014 - 13:00
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