Lonely Planet Mandarin phrasebook

The introduction to the new Lonely Planet Mandarin phrasebook begins, “It may surprise you to learn that Mandarin is not really the name of a language.” Then comes the usual nonsense about “dialects.”

Talk about getting off to a bad start!

The book takes a few more wrong turns. First, it drops Hanyu Pinyin altogether in favor of a Lonely Planet romanization that seems to have been created for this volume.

For example, “wǒr hwáy‧shwōr ēe‧dyěn” for “wǒ huí shuō yīdiǎn”.

“Wor”? “Shwor”? The whole book is like this, making the unwary traveller speak like a parody of a native of Beijing, which is not the way most people speak Mandarin.

5 thoughts on “Lonely Planet Mandarin phrasebook

  1. I’ve seen strange romanizations like that before — must be written for a British English (or other final r-dropping dialect) audience. That’s too bad.

  2. This phrasebook is aimed mainly at people with good knowledge of mandarin and pinyin.

    I can say that after reading the book for a couple of hours I dropped it and came to the conclusion that it was worthless.

    You don’t know anything about the pronounciation of the words you see. Making reading it horrible if you don’t know your mandarin well. When you see a phrase, you have to start guessing what the pinyin, phonetics etc is. Basically, the probability you get it wrong is about 99.99%. If you can say it, you can’t write it and wise versa.

    Can strongly recomment Rough Guides Mandarin Chinese instead which contains both pinyin and pronounciation side by side in an easy to understand way.

  3. Pingback: Pinyin news » Lonely Planet switches back to Hanyu Pinyin for Mandarin phrasebook

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