Last week I was reading the forum thread about what else people use to study Mandarin and wanted to put in my own two cents here about using Tom and Jerry cartoons as study materials. If you’re a fan of Tom and Jerry cartoons you should definitely check out the Chinese dubbed versions. In Chinese the cartoons are called 猫和老鼠 (māohélǎoshǔ) which literally means Cat and Mouse. You might remember that there is almost no dialogue in the original American version. Not true in the Chinese dubbed versions which have Tom and Jerry talking almost non-stop. The talking is a little distracting at first, but after you get used to it you’ll see that it adds a whole new dimension of humor to the cartoons.
If you log on to one of the popular Chinese youtube knockoff sites like youkou or tudou and do a quick search for 方言 (fāngyán, dialect) you’ll see that some of the results that pop up on the first page are Tom and Jerry Cartoons dubbed in 四川话 (Sìchuānhuà, Sichuan dialect). If you surf for a while longer you’ll see that the cartoons have also been dubbed in tons of other dialects as well. Here are some links to a bunch of different 猫和老鼠 clips dubbed in different dialects:四川话: 河南话 东北话 兰州话 陕西话 潮汕话. Be forewarned that the video quality is generally not great on these sites. It would be awesome if they get up to speed with youtube sometime soon and start offering higher quality clips. If anyone knows of better Chinese video sites please share the links with us below.
About halfway through my first year at 山西农业大学 (Shānxī Nóngyè Dàxué, Shanxi Agricultural University) I decided to take a stab at learning some 四川话. So I asked around for students who came from Sichuan province that might be interested in tutoring me in some Sichuan dialect basics. Within a couple of weeks I had found myself a tutor. His English name was “Neat”. Neat and I used a couple of elementary 中文 textbooks and read through the dialogues in 成都话 (Chéngdūhuà, Chengdu dialect). I recorded my lessons and prepared a dialogue or two before each following meeting. After a while I asked Neat to speak only in 成都话 during our lessons, even when explaining the meaning of words or phrases. I enjoyed this type of instruction based on textbook dialogues, but I realized that I still didn’t have enough basic vocabulary under my belt so I asked Neat to bring in some cartoons and other movies.
After a while Neat and I started using Tom and Jerry cartoons as our main study material. We also watched a bunch of feature length movies featuring 四川话 (浮生, 疯狂的的石头, and 沿江而上) . An average lesson consisted of us watching the cartoons bit by bit, doing a lot of stopping and starting, giving me time to mimic the lines back and for Neat to correct my mistakes and explain the difficult parts. This method was great for learning some really basic phrases like “我饿了！(wǒ è le, I’m hungry), 这是什么？(zhè shì shénme, What is that?) , and 谁呀？(shéi ya, Who’s there?)”. It was also useful for learning a select group of phrases that tend to reoccur in slapstick cartoons like, “我要打死你！(wǒ yào dǎsǐ nǐ, I’ll beat you to death!), 我要收拾你！(wǒ yào shōushi nǐ, I’ll teach you a lesson!), and 打你的屁股！(dǎ nǐde pìgǔ, kick your butt!”).
There are a couple of problems with watching a whole bunch of Tom and Jerry cartoons as a study method. It doesn’t necessarily help you to learn many phrases that are actually useful in daily life. Another problem is that the voice actors in the cartoons don’t always speak a very standard style of the Chinese dialect. In the 四川话 Tom and Jerry cartoons there are three different voice actors who according to my teacher Neat, all sound like they come from different places in Sichuan, near 成都, but they sound fairly 土 (tǔ, not standard-speaking in a way that sounds like they come from a small village out in the country somewhere). The three voice actors often will have different pronunciations of the same word within a couple of seconds. For a good example of this check out the 四川话 version of 会飞的扫把 (huì fēi de sàobǎ, the flying broom) and listen carefully at 4:00-4:05 for when they say the word 飞 (fēi, fly). Tom says “huī”, then a second later Jerry says “fēi”. Apparently switching f and h is a fairly common occurrence in local dialects of 四川话. It is interesting to make note of small things like this when watching cartoons with a bunch of different voice actors who each speak their own type of non-standard dialects.
Watching dubbed cartoons can be a fun way to enhance your study program, but I wouldn’t suggest relying too heavily on it because of the limitations in vocabulary and the non-standard voice actors. Do any of you Skritter users out there use video as part of your study method? Are any of you working on Chinese dialects by way of cartoons or other videos?
Monday, March 29, 2010
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