Anki flashcards

rypervenche Posted in 新聞, 雜項

I’ve been studying languages for many years and one of the most common learning tools is flashcards. A very popular learning method and tool is known as SRS, or spaced repetition software. One such software is Anki. I have avoided Anki for many years thinking that it would be too boring for me, however I have recently begun using it and I have to say that it is quite effective. It is open-source and available on Windows, Mac, Linux/BSD, iOS, Android, and can even be used from a browser. On top of that, they have a website that you can sync your decks to, as well as your progress. That way, you can study on your computer, have it sync to the site, then continue studying on your phone without having to re-review flashcards unnecessarily.

I created my own deck of the 4808 most commonly used characters (according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Education) and cross-compiled it with the definitions from CC-CEDICT. While this deck will probably not be useful to most people, it is for my own personal goal of learning more 漢字. If you happen to want to use it, you may find it on the AnkiWeb site here or here.

You can learn more about Anki and its many uses here: Many other people have also uploaded their own decks, so you can very easily find already-created decks for Chinese here:


Here are a few screenshots of the Android app for Anki:


anki_糞Click here to enlarge


anki_盧Click here to enlarge


anki_努Click here to enlarge


As you can see, I am using Bopomofo (注音符號) for my pronunciations, however I have also included pinyin in my deck if you want to use it.


While learning single 漢字 is great, I am a firm believer in learning character compounds when learning a character. That is why while I am studying each character, I learn compounds that go with each one. For example:

For 糞 I learned 糞肥 and 糞便.

For 廬 I learned 結廬 and 廬舍.

For 努 I learned 努力 and 努嘴.


Anki has been a great tool for me so far. I hope you find it useful as well.

Mandarin Radio

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Well, I don’t have too much to post at the moment. Been very busy working full-time again. But I’ve been listening to the radio in Mandarin again. Because I am interested in Taiwan, I have been listening to Taiwanese radio stations.

However, since I am using Linux I cannot use the site properly since there is DRM-protected material there. So I have made 2 scripts to listen and record the online radios.



Please leave some comments with ideas as to what you would like me to make posts about.

敖 vs. 敫

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

So I’ve had this finished for quite a long time now, I just haven’t posted it because I wanted the picture to be better. In the end however, I decided that I didn’t care and I’ll just post what I’ve done…which isn’t much^^;

So I’ve always had trouble remembering how to pronounce characters with the graphemes 敖 and 敫. I have never found a good mnemonic device for remembering them. So I took the most used characters and grouped them all together by pronunciation.

Click to enlarge

So that’s about it. Just a little helpful chart just as much for you as it is for me. I’ll hopefully be writing more soon. I just started a new job so I don’t have as much time as before.

Anyways, enjoy!

Etymology of 載

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Many Chinese characters are difficult for learners to remember, especially those with many strokes. However, if you learn them properly, i.e., you learn their origins, memorization becomes much simpler.

Today we are looking at 載.

載(zǎi/zài) means “to load” or “to carry”, among several other meanings. It is a 形聲, below are its components.

So we can see it is made up of 車(car), its semantic value, and “zāi”(to cut), its phonetic value. We can break “zāi” down even further to see where its origin.

“zāi” is made up of 才(cái) for the phonetic component, and 戈(gē, halberd/spear) for the semantic component.

As we can see 才 has become 十 through the evolution of the characters and scripts. The center character at the top is an authentic scan of 載 from the 說文解字; you can see the top has a 才 and not a 十.

Knowing that at its origin it was a 才 will help you, however, to remember the pronunciation of both of these characters.

Explaining how easy Chinese is to others pt.2

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Spoken Chinese

Ok, so you’ve seen how a sound in Mandarin (and other Chinese languages) can mean many things. You have also seen how when written there is no confusion as to the meaning of each sound. However, how does this all work when you’re speaking? Surely native speakers don’t draw each syllable that is not understood and show it to the listener.

In Ancient Chinese and/or Classical Chinese monosyllabic words were no problem. There were enough sounds for the amount of words that they had in existence. However, with time and evolution the number of possible sounds (in Mandarin at least) came down to about 400. With tones this brings us to approximately 1600 distinct sounds, (English has many more than this, thus most words are easily distinguished from one another).

Let’s take a look at how Sinophones have overcome this hindrance.

The answer is simple: bisyllabism, i.e. using two syllables for one word.※ Two morphemes with either identical or similar meanings are used to create a word, whether it be a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, etc. With two syllables the chances misunderstanding a word are much lower.

例子 Examples

(thing, affair, matter)
事(thing, affair, matter)
情(emotion, situation)

There are literally hundreds of “shì”s in Mandarin (not to mention the hundreds of others that have different tones). Yet 事 is still used in its monosyllabic form. However, to distinguish it from the countless others this bisyllabic form is used and is the only word in Mandarin with the pronunciation “shì qíng”.

驚(to startle/frighten; to be startled/frightened)
訝(to be surprised)
Not only are synonyms used, but descriptive characters are also used.

視(to look at)

There are several words that are pronounced “chuāng”, however there is only one “shì chuāng”.

I just realized I had planned on writing this for people who are not (yet) learning Mandarin, but I ended up writing it toward those who are learning the language. I didn’t focus on “easy to understand” either… oops, my bad.

※There are other methods used to do this, but I am focusing on the most common. Another common method is adding a nominalizer, e.g. 子、頭、阿. While 孩 may be ambiguous if used alone, 孩子 is always understood. Same with 木/木頭 and 姨/阿姨.

Explaining how easy Chinese is to others pt.1

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Written Chinese

The written Chinese language is very intimidating and/or confusing to most who do not know how it actually works. Here is a very brief explanation of how Chinese characters are a very efficient and easy system, arguably easier than languages that use the Roman alphabet.

Over 97% of all Chinese characters have only 2 parts, a meaning part and a pronunciation. When looking at a character that you don’t know, you can use these parts to know a lot more about it.

Imaginary example

Let’s pretend that the words “maple”, “mother”, “river”, “hate”, “silver”, “shout”, “grab”, and “leg” are all pronounced “foo” in an imaginary language. They are all homonyms. However, when written each one has a little note next to it giving you a hint to its meaning.

Maple = wood-foo
Mother = woman-foo
River = water-foo
Hate = emotion-foo
Silver = metal-foo
Shout = sound-foo
Grab = hand-foo
Leg = bodypart-foo

This is essentially how Chinese works. Each character has a specific sound, which is given to us by a specific group of strokes that is known to the reader. In addition, there are 214 standard meaning parts which give us hints to characters’ meanings.

Real-life example

The phonetic part 辟 (bì). I’m going to ignore the tone for now, but just know that all of characters that follow are pronounced the same way and with the same tone.

(Click to enlarge)

This phenomenon is much like suffixes in the English language, except that it is only used in the written language. Imagine if almost all words in the English language used a list of standard suffixes.

New Tong Wen Tang 新同文堂

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Would you like to view this page in Simplified Chinese? Want to see Baidu in Traditional Chinese? No problem! Get New Tong Wen Tang (新同文堂) for your browser and you will be able to read any website in your preferred script.

**Click on the 繁 and 簡 to convert webpages, and the “S” and “T” to convert the clipboard.

**Click on the 同文 icon to toggle between Simplified and Traditional, right-click for more options.

**I have no experience with this browser, if you have tried it please let me know how to use it and I will update the post.

All other browsers
**Drag the 繁 and 簡 characters into your bookmarklets (tabs), then click on either one when on a webpage to convert it.

SPECIAL NOTE: As with all automatic converters, New Tong Wen Tang is not without fault. With characters that have multiple conversions, such as 斗 in SC, is both 斗 and 鬥 in TC, I believe it either uses the most common version or it has specific vocabulary in its database.

Either way you should learn these characters by heart, as you will encounter this problem all over the Internet. You can find a very complete list of these characters, here, 簡繁一對多.

More examples of 被

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

Here are 2 more examples of 被 that I have found in my daily studying.

海綿寶寶(Spongebob Squarepants)

(Click to enlarge)


“The wire has been cut, how annoying.”(lit. very annoying)


(Click to enlarge)


在…後 → behind …
他身 → his body
也就是 → is also
鹿群 → deer herd
之前 → before
待 → to stay (first tone)
地方 → place
一大圈 → a large ring, a large circle
樹和草 → trees and grass
都 → all
燒焦 → to burn, to scorch
許多 → many, a lot of
松樹 → pine tree
光禿禿 → bald, naked
立著 → standing (站立著, but when object has no feet, you use 立著)
在…外面 → outside of …
焦黑 → burned black
圈子 → circle, ring
壓平 → to flatten

So literally this gives us, “Behind his body, is also previous deer herd staying place, a large circle of trees and grass all been burned, many pine trees nakedly standing, grass that is outside of burned black circle all been flattened.”

In normal English we have…

Behind him, where the deer herd had just been, a large circle of trees and grass had been burned. Many pine trees stood bald and outside of the blackened circle the grass had been flattened.

There you go, as requested a longer sentence from Eragon, as well as 3 real-life examples of 被. I hope you have enjoyed this post.^^

Fun ways to learn

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

I know a lot of you out there think, “If I’m not learning from a textbook, or studying with flashcards, then I’m not learning.” Well I’ve got news for you, you don’t HAVE to learn that way!

You are not learning a foreign language to be able to take a test well, you are learning it to be able to communicate with others. Have fun with it! Don’t just sit there mindlessly memorizing vocabulary, taking tests, and killing yourself when you forget something. Go out and do something IN the language. You’ll be surprised, you can learn a lot from doing that.

Click to enlarge

I learned 2 new 成語 today from 海綿寶寶.

I’ve already beaten this game, but playing video games is a great way to learn.

Click to enlarge

I don’t often play MMOs, but you can learn a LOT of characters from them. What’s more, you can speak with native speakers in a fun environment.

Click to enlarge

Put your Facebook in Chinese. With the help of a Chinese Reader, you can learn a lot of very useful vocabulary, as well as sentence structures. But why stop there? Put your Skype in Chinese, put your MSN in Chinese. Put your entire computer in Chinese!! If you’re on Mac or Linux, it’s very easy to do 🙂 If you’re on Windows, you can make it happen with a little money or a bit of unlawful activity.

Do everything that you love to do normally, but in Chinese. If you’re learning another language, do it in that language then. This is a great method of learning for any language!

Passive voice with 被

rypervenche Posted in 雜項

There are a few ways to make the passive voice in Mandarin. We are going to focus on the most common way, by using 被.

I thought I would try something new in this post. Instead of writing my little lesson for 被 here, I decided to make a PDF explaining it. I made a simplified and traditional version, so choose whichever you like.

After clicking on the link click on the “Download” button on the top-right of the window. You cannot use Chinese Readers on the preview, you actually have to download the PDF.

Traditional Chinese

Simplified Chinese

I did not include any pronunciations because I expect all of you to be using some sort of dictionary or Chinese Reader. If you are not currently using one, get one HERE!

※ A little side note, the conjugated forms of the verb “to be” in the PDF should actually be considered part of the verb, but I chose to make them blue to help beginners get the concept of creating and understanding the passive voice.