Saturday, 12 July 2014


Title: Dreaming In Chinese by Deborah Fallows
Pages: 205 p
Publisher: Short Books
Available: Amazon, Kindle
Amazon Link:
Rating: 5/5  

If anyone has ever struggled with the Mandarin Chinese language, they might enjoy this book as it is a window into Chinese culture we might never have known if it wasn't for Deborah Fallows, a Harvard linguist who had lived and worked in China for three years. With an introduction designed to give you an idea of how much Fallows has  researched to be able to bring us these points of note.

These can be a source of humour for those who already know about Chinese language, but are also useful to the novice. There are fourteen chapters in all. These chapters amaze as much as they interest with the fact that the Chinese find it hard to say I love you, why the Chinese hear tones and we don't, the amount of dialects there are among a billion people and the rules that must be followed and others that can be broken without consequences.

In Chapter 9, Think Like the Chinese Think, Fallows the Chinese use certain compound words that are placed together to make literal translations. These form the words that in most cases only the Chinese would completely understand. Fallows breaks them down into bite sized pieces so the reader can understand them a bit more, and thus understand how the Chinese think.

Kaixin= kai (open) + heart = Joyous

Fangxiu = fang (put in place) + heart = set your mind at ease

One of the most intriguing words I found in this book is:

Mamahuhu = ma (horse) + hu (tiger) = horse horse tiger tiger or "so so" as in "How are things going at work? Well, mamahuhu."

The Chinese characters for good fortune is as auspicious as it sounds, but even better upside down!

Other books:

A Mother's Work

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