Apr 062012
iOS app for 清明节 Qīngmíngjié

This week was 清明节 Qīngmíngjié, known in English as the Tomb Sweeping Festival or, more literally, the Clear Bright (or Pure Brightness) Festival. The story of its relation to the 寒食节 Hánshíjié (Cold Food Festival) is told in the iOS app from Rye Studio called 清明节. This app has features similar to the Rye Studio Beast Nian app, reviewed in a previous post. The characters are: 晋献公 Jìn Xiàn gōng Duke Xian of Jin 重儿 Chóng’ěr one of his younger sons; later 晋文公 Jìn Wén gōng Duke Wen of Jin 骊姬 Lí Jī a favored concubine  (妃子 fēizi) of Jìn Xiàn gōng 介之推 Jiè Zhītuī a devoted subject, who followed Chóng’ěr into exile Here is some other key vocabulary: 祭祖 jìzǔ to offer sacrifices to one’s ancestors 扫墓 sǎomù to sweep the tombs (of one’s ancestors) 国君 guójūn monarch 太子 tàizǐ crown prince 流亡 liúwáng to force into exile; to be exiled; in exile The 清明节 story app is available … [read more]

Jan 232012
Nian again

If the Rye Studio version of the story of Nian discussed in the last post was a little advanced for you, try the iOS app by 5QChannel, Nian is Coming 年来了. This one has a fully animated version as well as an illustrated storybook. The 5QChannel apps have a few other nice features: Choice of hanzi or hanzi with pinyin. For English speakers, there is a vocabulary list in the app. There is also a transcript with paragraph-by-paragraph hanzi and and English translation. The reading is more dramatized, with different voices for different characters. There is an icon that lets you choose pages by thumbnail (rather like the new navigation feature in iBooks textbooks). Export individual pages to e-mail and Facebook. The text size on the page seems designed for children to read themselves, whereas the text in the Rye Studio apps seemed meant for an adult to read. Cons: … [read more]

Jan 212012
Chinese New Year and the beast Nian

春乐节快!/ 春樂節快! Chūnjié kuàilè! 新年快乐!/ 新年快樂! Xīnnián kuàilè! It’s nearly Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). The word 年 nián ‘year’ is said to be the name of a legendary monster who used to terrorize people at this time of year. You can hear or read the story in any number of places, but a cute version is the iOS app The Beast Nian by Rye Studio. Here are a few useful vocabulary items for the story:   繁 简 pinyin English 除夕 chúxī (New Year’s) Eve 獸 兽 shòu beast 凶猛 xiōngměng ferocious 躲避 duǒbì hide, avoid 鞭炮 biānpào firecrackers 驅逐 驱逐 qūzhú drive out This is a good opportunity to review the Rye Studio apps. Rye Studio has released a few dozen RyeBooks on the App Store. The ones that I’ve seen are all children’s picture books with text and optional audio storytelling (both in a choice of languages). … [read more]

Aug 292011
iBook: A Vat of Water

A Vat of Water is a free iBook. The story is very brief, but, as the author notes, it makes a nice little exercise for students who have studied Chinese for about a year. The story is a traditional one about the calligrapher Wang Xizhi (王羲之 Wáng Xīzhī). For more on him, see Wikipedia and the links thereon. The iBook includes interlinear pinyin and English; there is also a vocabulary list at the end. As you can see form the image below, the vocabulary list includes more than just simple glosses for the words, but also helpful information like the fact that  出名 chūmíng is essentially synonymous with 有名 yǒumíng, which students often learn earlier. Personally, I don’t approve of interlinear pinyin except perhaps at the very earliest stages of study. It’s simply too easy to look at the pinyin, even when you’re trying not to. But that’s just my … [read more]