Tales and Traditions Volume One

Anonymous's picture

Several months ago, I purchased the book Tales and Traditions, Volume One. It contains twenty-some stories about Chinese proverbs, historical figures, and myths. The book is suggested to be appropriate for Advanced Beginners of Chinese. I was thrilled to finally find this kind of book. After testing a couple stories with my students, I had them purchase it and we are using it as supplementary materials for this semester. Thank you to those responsible for putting together this series of readers, I look forward to seeing more of the beginning level variety in the future.

However, I do have some questions/comments. How was the vocabulary and grammar in these readers graded, that is, how was it decided if the vocabulary/grammar was truly 'advanced beginner' level vocabulary? I ask because I find that several words appearing in the stories that seem relatively 'advanced', on the other hand I find words in the vocabulary lists that strike me as being things even advanced beginners should know. I recognize that there is bound to be some disagreement on how to grade vocabulary/grammar, particularly with the task of distinguishing between common vocabulary vs. common characters. I imagine that no matter how much care goes into the process, some words that are less common will likely sneak into the stories without comment. Could I suggest that for future volumes, a bit more information could be provided about the process? It would be especially useful if the books would indicate what vocabulary items are NOT part of a core of 1000 or so characters/words, and where that standard core came from. If for some reason it seems unnecessary/cumbersome to include that information in the book, could it be made available on-line?

Thanks again for making readable materials with real cultural value available for our beginning Chinese students. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous's picture

I had purchased Tales And Traditions for my daughter (age 8).  I was pleasantly surprised that it was just right for her to read for understanding.  Just as a young reader learn to read English in context, so is this text.  My daughter could read and understand in context.  She's been studying Chinese for a few years, and this is a perfect book to add to our collection.  It's rare to find an interesting book like this.  Many books are either too basic or too advanced.     

Anonymous's picture

As I've been working with Tales and Traditions, several timesI have found it necessary to clarify its vocabulary lists for my students. Some of the word definitions seem just slightly off, some seem to stray more seriously from the mark. Considering that these lists may create a very long-lasting impression for students on how words are used and what they mean, I think a bit more care should have been used in selecting the English definition(s). Some examples:

In Story 2 ??????

"Bump into" is provided as the meaning for ? zhuang4. Rarely is anyone knocked unconscious by 'bumping' into something, nor does zhuang4 typically imply a light impact. "Run into," "collide" or even "crash into" would seem better choices.

The word 'laughing stock' is provided as a meaning for ?? xiao4hua4. While this works in context, it is not a typical meaning for ??, and it seems like 'joke' might have worked just as well, at least the two could be provided together.

In the fourth story ?????? 

'Surprised' is given as the meaning for ?? qi2guai4.  'Strange' or 'odd' are certainly better choices, and my personal feeling is that 'surprised' is rarely, perhaps never, a correct English meaning for this word.

'Actually' is given as the meaning for ?? gen1ben3. That definition would lead to a rather awkward English sentence such as, "Originally the cup had not snake it in actually." and makes it sound like 'genben' is sort of redundant. Actually, genben is stressing the extent of the contrast with the original situation. Much better as a definition would be something along the lines of 'simply' or '(none) at all.'  "Originally the cup had no snake in it AT ALL." 

I am very pleased with this book in general and hope more like it will be developed, however, the production of wordlists needs to be done with a great deal of care.

Laurel's picture

Thanks for taking the time to share your helpful suggestions on the vocabulary lists. We agree that it's very important to provide clear, accurate and useful definitions, and we will definitely take your feedback into account when we're considering future revisions.


Cheng & Tsui Editorial Department