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Reviewed by Emilija Ryks for Readers' Favorite
Mandarin Chinese: An Explanatory Guide to Key Language Issues is written by Orna Taub. This is a resource for Mandarin students by someone that has painstakingly sought the help of native speakers and masters, and seeks to impart her knowledge to anyone that can benefit by it. The book contains clarifications of particles, common words, words for special occasions, slang etc. It is full of examples for each point and it includes the Chinese characters as well as the English letter spelling and the translation in English. Cases where the term used is not usually said are noted in the text. If you already have some learning under your belt about how to speak/read/write Mandarin, this is an excellent guide to some things they likely didn’t teach in the grand scheme of the lessons. There is a fair amount of material that would be natural to a native speaker, but not common if you didn’t grow up in that culture since formal learning tends to be more formal in style.
This is not a 'teach yourself Chinese' book - it is an aid for furthering one's understanding and Orna Taub has given us a great deal to look into in this book. It is like reading someone’s advanced language notes and that really is what it is. I very much enjoyed the range of the examples used for each item in the vocabulary section that takes up most of the bulk of the last section of the book. Orna gives multiple examples of how the words work in a real sentence, though sometimes the sentence is more for an example and, while I don’t think I would ever use it in real life, they are rather entertaining. She includes some pictures as well to further clarify several points. It is a good book to have as a permanent fixture if/when learning Mandarin. Mandarin Chinese contains a lot of information that will take both time and practice to get a handle on, but the benefit to the speaker is great in the long run.