I picked up a couple good books in Osaka last month. This is a quick introduction to one of the two.
This is a fantastic book. This is easily my favourite of all the different books which set out to teach you Shanghainese. It has a few great things going for it, which I'll explain below. First though, it's worth mentioning that this book cost a solid 6000円 (~370RMB, ~NT$1820, US$60). It's not cheap. Still, I was happy to pay it. Here's why:
1. IPA. The book skips over all the annoying romanisation systems that other similar books use, saving you from having to learn one more way to read Shanghainese. The International Phonetic Alphabet (though with A
in place of the more standard glyphs) is all you'll see. Of course, you need to be comfortable with IPA in the first place, but honestly learning IPA once is unquestionably better than re-learning multiple unique systems. Having to learn a new romanisation system pretty much kills my desire to use any such book.
2. Well formatted spaced dialoges where syllables line up between characters and pronunciation. I'm a big span of how white space is used in this text. A lot of similar books are over-designed. Here you don't feel like any space is wasted and it makes the price tag all the more acceptable since the book is dense with good information.
3. Appropriate vocabulary in an appropriate order. The dialogues follow ones you'd actually hear on the streets of Shanghai. No complaints there.
4. Tones done in a non-stupid manner. Lots of these kinds of books either skip tone entirely or give you too much information, either showing the underlying tone for every syllable or, even worse, showing the underlying and post-sandhi tones for each syllable. That's great for a dictionary. Terrible for this kind of self-study textbook.
The (not quite) bad:
1. It's in Japanese. But actually, even if you don't read Japanese, that's not much of an issue if you have any background in Chinese languages because you can still easily tell what's going on on each page.
2. Lots of information. This is also not really bad. This is the kind of book that I feel can be useful beyond the time it'd take to go through the lessons. There's lots of information on the underlying goings-on of the language and it doesn't shy away from linguistics. Really this means it's a steeper learning curve than a book like "Shanghai Dialect for Foreigners" that you might find in the subway bookshop. But in the end I think that's a good thing.
Well worth the 6000 yen.
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