Dreaming in Chinese and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$0.76
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Dreaming in Chinese: And Discovering What Makes a Billion People Tick Hardcover – April 1, 2010


See all 12 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, April 1, 2010
$38.36 $0.76
Best%20Books%20of%202014
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Year-End Kindle Daily Deals
Load your library with great books for $2.99 or less each, today only. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906021554
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906021559
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,334,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fallows manages to take the relatively dry subject of translation and create a warm and witty memoir. Dwelling less on her own feelings then on the intricacies of language mastery, she shares experiences after she and her husband moved to China that taught her just how complex Mandarin can be. Such as the fact that there are 400 syllables in Mandarin as opposed to 10 times that number in English, making tone crucial in conversation. Fallows makes all this fascinating by writing in a thoroughly engaging manner that not only invites readers into her experiences, but also delights them with her discoveries. There is confusion with a Cantonese cab driver, the manicurist who envisioned “almost perfect happiness,” and the employee at Taco Bell who thought Fallows wanted to hug him (she was inquiring about takeout). From observations about maps, naming children, and the struggle over one language for a nation where over 300 million speak something other than Mandarin, Fallows takes readers on a ride through Chinese culture that is as entertaining as it is informative. --Colleen Mondor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In Dreaming in Chinese, Deb Fallows opens up a window onto Chinese urban life through its notoriously difficult language. A charming and insightful book." Susan Shirk, author of China: Fragile Superpower

More About the Author

Deborah Fallows has lived in Shanghai and Beijing and traveled throughout China for three years with her husband, writer James Fallows. She is a Harvard graduate and has a PhD in Linguistics. She most recently worked in research and polling for the Pew Internet Project and in data architecture for Oxygen Media. When in the U.S., she and her husband live in Washington, DC. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law.

To learn more about Deborah Fallows, please visit www.deborahfallows.com.

Customer Reviews

Although the book is VERY interesting, it is frankly too short.
Joseph D. Seckelman
Using insights she gained from her language studies, this short fun book explores Chinese culture through the idiosyncrasies of Mandarin, China's most common language.
Jaylia3
All in all, it is a good book that you should pick up and read before going to China or on your way to China.
dhydavid

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Thom Mitchell VINE VOICE on September 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Fallows does an admirable job breaking down and explaining what learning Chinese is all about - and does this in a very engaging fashion. Her skill as a linguist gives her the skill to provide insight covering not only the language aspect of learning Chinese, but more importantly into the cultural aspect of learning Chinese, which I think is even more valuable and much rarer. For example she discusses the ramifications of using a single spoken word "Ta", but different characters to mean he, she, it and the history of the word. Her chapter on direction, orientation and maps is especially interesting because of the difference between how the Chinese arrange maps and the Western world arranges maps.

I could continue talking about the specifics, but her book overall provides valuable insight and is a great foundation for anyone trying to learn Chinese, understand Chinese culture or is planning a visit to China. I wish Ms. Fallows book had been written five years ago when I started learning Chinese - it would have vastly shortened my learning curve. Get this book today - you'll be glad did.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Emily on October 8, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I quite enjoyed this book. Like the author, I am a linguist who has studied Chinese, though I've only had the opportunity to make one short visit to China. This book was a chance to vicariously visit China with someone whose perspective I very much admire.

However, the type-setting in the Kindle edition was VERY disappointing. About half of the Chinese characters show up as little boxes. Another 25% are weirdly big and pixelated. It's as if they weren't aware that the book had non-Roman characters in it, or didn't proof-read. I expect better from the Kindle experience.
7 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By LibraryThingLoaf on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dreaming in Chinese is a the story of how learning the Chinese language gives one a glimpse in the the Chinese way of life. It is written in a very straightforward style but is not without charm. Fallows can back the rather whimsical look at one of the world's hardest languages for western language learners with the poignant knowledge of a trained linguist. Her stories, which might seem to be light on content, are actually quick revealing and she chose each chapter's focus well as taken together, they do a decent job illustrating several key points of the Chinese mindset.

While language learners and linguists will enjoy the book, it might seem to others that the book is somewhat shallow. The author's life abroad, while a definite challenge, can come off sounding rather privileged. Learning a language is not easy and Fallows doesn't portray it as such, but she constantly references their travels and multiple homes which can make the trials of learning Mandarin seem like a luxury rather than a necessity.

As another reviewer mentioned, her presentation of Chinese varies and the lack of consistency can be disruptive to the flow of the text as well as the whole of book. If possible, the Chinese should be presented with the character, pinyin, and translation.

The book is very readable, mostly enjoyable, and well thought out.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Mariba on August 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Chinese can not be ignored due their sheer numbers, economic muscle & unfamiliar customs. Too much of the world one may say, the sheer scale of China : 1.3 billion people over almost 10 million square kilometres, whose languages, customs, beliefs and politics are so vastly different from most of western society's - makes China seem an impenetrable monolith. Using her own struggles & triumphs with the study of Mandarin as a guide, Harvard linguist Deborah Fallows manages to describe the workings of the language & the country in a way that is intelligible to the non-expert; and her anecdotes & stories illustrate how Westerners do have to think in a fundamentally different way to survive in China. Based on her experiences of three years living & traveling in China, "Dreaming In Chinese : And Discovering What Makes A Billion People Tick" is a book to appeal to anyone with an interest in China, be they first time tourists, seasoned business people or even the idly curious. This book is accessible, relevatory & entertaining, it is an able guide to discovering this extraordinary nation for oneself. A recommended reading if you like to learn Mandarin, learn Chinese culture or/and visit China.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By dhydavid on January 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book is moderately funny and informative. It should be useful to first-time travelers to China who do not know much about the Chinese language and culture. The tone of the writing is somewhat neutral, not very passionate or too negative. Actually I think it is a good thing. Then you know the author is telling her real experiences in China, which might be pleasant or unpleasant. Eventually, China becomes more real and less abstract.

On the other hand, if you have studied Chinese formally for a few months, you probably wouldn't learn much by reading this book. Many of the "surprises" that the author encountered are quite beginner-level knowledge, such as the order from big units to smaller units, the importance of tones, the lack of inflection, family name first, and the writing system. You would not have the same "surprises" as the author did if you took a formal course in college.

All in all, it is a good book that you should pick up and read before going to China or on your way to China. If you only have a vague interest in studying Mandarin, this book should be a good starting point.

Finally, pardon my nitpicking tendencies here.

The author mentions that the street signs in Xinjiang are written in four languages: Chinese, English, Arabic and Russian. It is actually wrong. Most street signs in Xinjiang are written in both Chinese and Uyghur only, as required by the relevant laws there. The Uyghur language uses a version of the Arabic script. So just as many languages use the Latin alphabet, they are not all "written in Latin". In some tourist destinations, you can see English signs. I guess that's normal. As for Russian, it might be for tourists only.

The author also tells a story about ordering takeout from a Taco Bell in Shanghai.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?