Reviews - What do customers think about Mandarin Chinese Picture Dictionary (Berlitz Kids)?
Pretty book but riddled with errors Nov 30, 2008
At first glance, this book looked great... pretty pictures and a decent collection of words, each with English, Chinese (simplified) characters, pinyin and a sample sentence in English, Chinese characters and pinyin.
But the pinyin seems to have been done by a VERY stupid machine rather than a Mandarin speaker. Examples (based on just several minutes reading this book):
1) The pinyin sentence for "piano" translates "plays" as dan4 when it should be tan2. That character has two pronunciations. Dan4 is a noun meaning "bomb" or "bullet." The verb "to play" is tan2. No Mandarin speaker would make this mistake. Yet the same exact mistake is made for the sample sentence about playing a xylophone, which is why I suspect a computer did the pinyin for this book.
2) "To plan" is translated as ce4hua2 when it should be ce4hua4. The same character can be pronounced "hua2" ...if you mean "to row/paddle a boat." This is a horrible mistake even for a computer because hua4 is obviously follows ce4 and does not mean "to row."
3) Amazingly, this book doesn't seem to know that some words (including some very frequently used words) have neutral tones. The "de" in mine ("wo de"), yours ("ni de"), etc. is neutral in tone, but this book makes it fourth tone. The character that ends a question ("ma") also has a neutral tone but instead (in this book) is often first tone. The sentence-ending particles "le" and "ne" are also neutral tones, but are also printed in this book as fourth tones. These are all blatantly wrong and occur MANY times in this book.
As inexcusable as this book's countless tone mistakes are, the problems hardly end there. The sample sentence for the very first word of the book ("a/an") gives the measure word for apple as li4. That's just wrong. Li4 is a tiny grain or speck of something. An apple is not a grain or speck (esp. since the picture shows a whole unblemished apple). The correct measure word is either zhi1 or ge. The very first sentence in this book has a mistake that must be blamed on the sentence's author, not the computer.
After the above, it's unnecessary to quibble about lesser problems, but I also found some strange words. For example, in the real world, "wan2" is used for "to play" FAR more often than "wan2shua3," but the translation for "to play" is wan2shua3.
I bought this book for my mom and nephew but plan to return it because there are just too many mistakes. The book has real potential, but the execution was horrible.