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I Can Read That: A Traveler's Introduction to Chinese Characters [Paperback]

Julie Sussman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1994 0835125335 978-0835125338
This book teaches travelers many commonly found Chinese characters: Know which toilet to use, read numbers and prices, recognize common place names, decipher dates, and much more. Written in a fun, easy-to-learn style, this book will teach even the most linguistically-impaired tourist the basics of written Chinese.

Frequently Bought Together

I Can Read That: A Traveler's Introduction to Chinese Characters + Essential Chinese For Travelers + China Survival Guide: How to Avoid Travel Troubles and Mortifying Mishaps, 3rd Edition
Price for all three: $25.80

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Chinese

Product Details

  • Paperback: 161 pages
  • Publisher: China Books & Periodicals (November 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835125335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835125338
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun book to learn a few Chinese characters December 12, 2001
By A Customer
For the most part, Chinese is really two languages - a written one and a spoken one. One really cannot "sound out" written Chinese Characters, like they can with English. Most books for travelers to China dwell on the spoken language. This is actually a very good idea, because it helps you communicate and get around. But this book is different and fun, because it concentrates on Chinese characters which are beautiful and interesting.
I lived in the city of Shenyang, China for almost a year and a half. I dealt with a lot of Chinese people and Westerners that had been there for varying lengths of time. The Westerners had varying levels of oral Chinese language skills, but it was very rare for me to find a Westerner who knew how to read Chinese. The Westerners that I knew who could read Chinese were for the most part long time scholors on the topic or they learned it from their Chinese relatives.
I read this book, and learned most of the characters in it. I could not even come close to reading a magazine or newspaper, even those for children. But, I knew more Chinese characters than 95% of the Westerners that I knew in China. Most of these foreigners would be impressed when I could read the little I did. For most of the Chinese people I met, I was the only Westerner that they ever met who could read even a few characters. I'd figure a sign out, and they could not believe it. This skill was a great conversation topic, and I soon learned several other characters in the conversations that I had with the locals.
For the most part, this book is not required reading for someone who travels to China. In places where a lot of Westerners travel, many signs are in English, or pin-yin, or "Chinglish" (poor translations from Chinese to English.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It In China October 23, 2001
I stumbled across Julie Mazel Sussman's wonderful little book in a local bookstore (sorry, Amazon), and not only read through it several times before going to China in October 2001, but took it with me. She selected for presentation about 70 Chinese characters that are relatively simple but commonly encountered in China. I saw every one of them on my trip and was tickled pink to be able to read them. (In places like Taiwan and Singapore the more complicated traditional characters are used, but Sussman's book provides a comparison on p. 132.) The book identifies a lot of other characters in passing so if you are attentive, you can probably learn 150 or 200 characters from this slim book of just 161 pages. Chinese has a strong tendency to use two characters for some unit of meaning, and the book provides many such pairs made from the characters learned. For example, zuo-you (left-right) means "approximately," which I recognized instantly in a Chinese subtitle in a movie shown on the plane. Being able to read, if just partially, the signs and other things you see in China adds to the enjoyment of your trip. But even if you never go to China, you will enjoy this fun book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to characters February 18, 2000
This easy book does exactly what it claims to be able to: teaches you a small vocabulary of chinese characters. You won't be able to read much with it, but you will be able to pick out enough characters to get the jist of what some things are getting at.
Well written. Very accessible. Excellent compliment to chinese language tapes for anybody trying to learn basic language skills before a trip.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly good book for a traveller April 9, 2004
By mkt
This is a remarkably good book for a non-Chinese speaking tourist to have. The reviews which say that this book is not for the student of Chinese are correct. It's not a very "deep" book, and it doesn't teach you very many characters. But that's not who the book is meant for.
I travelled to China last year, not knowing a word of Chinese and certainly not having any ability to make out the characters. Prior to that trip, I might occasionally read an article or website which would show me the characters for, say, "China", but they'd so to speak go in one eyeball and out the other -- I simply couldn't retain or learn or even really *see* the characters.
A travel article recommended _I Can Read That_ so I bought it, and it was a miracle. Literally on the first page, in the first few minutes of reading it, I at last started to realize "oh, there's a system behind all these characters". I could now look at Chinese characters, and though I couldn't truly read them (since I don't even know Chinese), I could start to truly see them, recognize them, and learn them.
After 5 minutes of reading, I'd learned 5 characters. After another 5 minutes, 5 more. After that, well there's a limit to how much information my brain can take in at once, but I kept reading the book and learning characters.
It was as exciting an experience as learning to read must have been (I actually don't remember).
And, to return to the first theme, this could all be done without "studying" per se, or taking a class. It can be done on the run, while travelling in China (or on the plane to China).
So, the book is no substitute for actually taking a Chinese class or learning from an in-depth book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I can read it too!
This is my third copy. The other to have "disappeared" after friends have had them in their hands. A coincidence? I don 't think so. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dale Ray Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for advanced beginners!
even if you aren't ready for characters - the book also includes the pinyin and lots of interesting comments and photos about China in a conveniently-small package. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cynthia Berger
5.0 out of 5 stars purchased for trip to Taiwan
I bought this book for a trip to Taiwan and read it on the plane. I was able to learn about 30 characters this way and picked up a few more while in Taiwan. Read more
Published on June 28, 2012 by Margaret Kipp
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligently written, fun to read
This book introduces and organizes Chinese characters in a useful and fun manner. It explains things in a way that logically fits many pieces together, and therefore makes them... Read more
Published on March 31, 2012 by El Moro
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book,Very helpful and easy to understand,if you are wanting to learn to read Chinese characters,then this book is a good investment!
Published on January 12, 2012 by Galen
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute poket book
This book is nice for travel and inquisitive minds who like to see how language works and where it comes from. Read more
Published on September 2, 2009 by Patrick D. Cameron
4.0 out of 5 stars helpful for travellers but not for students
When one travel to China for a meeting for exemple or make a visit as a tourist and has never studied Chinese before this book can be a good and useful help to reduce the fear of... Read more
Published on July 10, 2008 by Szendile
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!
I highly recommend this book to anyone traveling to mainland China. It can be overwhelming to be surrounded by unfamiliar Chinese characters, but it really does help to be able to... Read more
Published on November 8, 2007 by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and it Works!
I just got back from a month in China. I bought the language tapes, podcasts, the whole bit. But nothing seemed to stick in my head language-wise, except what I learned from this... Read more
Published on August 4, 2007 by World Traveller
5.0 out of 5 stars Can be really helpful for travellers to China
This book is intended for people traveling to China who want to master some basic characters so that they can find it easier to find their way around. Read more
Published on October 27, 2004 by Laura De Giorgio
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