Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

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Querneus
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Querneus » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:41 pm

Flickserve wrote:
Axon wrote:
Mandarin pronunciation before 1950 wasn't THAT different from today, but in very old recordings you can definitely hear something quite removed from modern speech. Here's Sun Yat-Sen.

Has anyone come across courses with audio for Chinese in a pre-Standard Mandarin era?

Had a listen. Don't take this as being Mandarin. It's heavily accented Cantonese.

I think this is an attempt at speaking Mandarin, but he does pronounce some words as straight Cantonese. I think this because too many of his pronunciations are straight modern Mandarin and also unlike Cantonese.

For example, his 文明 sounds just like Mandarin by beginning with w- (instead of m-) and with mid-rising tones for both morphemes, his (來)朝 also ends in -ao with a mid-rising tone (instead of Cantonese -iu or Hakka -eu in a lower-register tone), and he pronounces 這一個時候 with a perfect Mandarin zhe4 yige shi2hou4, with clear high-falling tones for 這 and 候.

However, his (世)界 is straight Cantonese gaai3 and unlike Mandarin jie4, and so is his 到. I also find it surprising he doesn't use a mid-rising tone for 國 (using a level tone instead as in Cantonese), considering 中國 is obviously a key word to know the sound of.

It is also curious that at 1:31 he pronounces 現在 as something like "sanzaa" [sɐntsaː], but a few seconds later at 1:36 he pronounces it more like Mandarin xian4zai4 [ɕjɛn tsai].
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Axon » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:18 am

Yeah, having spent the two years since the beginning of this thread regularly exposed to Mandarin, I would now say that Sun Yat-Sen's speech doesn't sound terribly different from the speech of many middle-aged folks today, only a little bit more stilted because he's giving a speech. Plenty of teachers even now, in very rural areas, might teach lessons in their local topolect, and so the only time you'd be expected to speak standard Mandarin at schools like that would be when reading aloud in the literature classes. I've even met college students who strongly prefer speaking Southwestern Mandarin over standard Mandarin. Although the numbers are lower for other varieties, I'm sure they exist in other places around China too. He's speaking Mandarin, but strongly influenced by Cantonese.

I suppose I'm still wondering how and to what extent Sun Yat-Sen and his contemporaries would have been formally instructed in Mandarin. National Pronunciation was a brief experiment that never really produced any fluent speakers, as far as I know. So how did it work in practice? I'm guessing that if they weren't able to pick it up naturally from people living nearby, they would have hired tutors or searched for people that had lived in Beijing that could teach them. Were there private schools? Of course, most people just didn't need to know Mandarin and so they never learned.
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Flickserve » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:46 am

I think they would have just picked Mandarin up organically from the environment. I.e. listening to how other people speak it and then trying to copy the words, but without having the benefit of recordings to reference from. I see this happen a lot in Malaysia where the Chinese there might pick up words in another dialect.

All Chinese learning to read and write would learn standard written Chinese so that's a good basis to work from.
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Axon » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:20 pm

These aren't quite vintage, but still really, really cool.

https://www.bilibili.com/video/av62002848

https://www.bilibili.com/video/av79793577

These are in the style of official Chinese university course video series, presenting the phonology of Beijing Mandarin as it was spoken in the Republic of China period (1912-1946), spoken entirely in that accent of Mandarin. It's like if someone today recorded a detailed lecture on how to do the Transatlantic accent while only speaking in that accent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIl2zqlbk64

This one is the same principle but with a reconstruction of what Mandarin may have sounded like at the very beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). I've spoken with the creator and he said that he used tone representations from the 19th century and consonant/vowel reconstructions from different missionary accounts in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties.
Last edited by Axon on Tue Apr 26, 2022 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Axon » Tue Apr 26, 2022 4:37 pm

During the last two years since my last entry in this thread, the history of Mandarin in the last few hundred years has been one of my main areas of interest. I am fortunate that, during this period, more and more enthusiasts have posted videos online, almost all on Bilibili, performing songs or speeches in reconstructed historical pronunciations.

In this post, I'll link some of the more hard-to-find vintage Chinese recordings.

In 1900, Léon Azoulay made some wax cylinder recordings at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, including some in Chinese. My favorite is this one, though barely audible: a conversation in Mandarin as a second language, spoken by a native of Nanjing and a native of Guangdong. I can't make out very much, but at one point I think I hear one person say "He wants to hear what Mandarin sounds like, so I guess we should talk Mandarin."

Here is the audio for Linguaphone Chinese of the 1920s, spoken by Lao She. The owner of this channel is the same one who recorded the "old Beijing accent" course I linked above.

There are a few flashes of dialectal Chinese in this video from the 1920s here (linked is a sentence in Southern Mandarin)

Some heroic efforts have resulted in all of the surviving audio for the original National Pronunciation (老国音,旧国音) course being put online with transcripts and Pinyin here on Wikiversity.

Here's a YouTube link to Y.R. Chao's Mandarin Primer.

Much more hard to find is the audio for the Cantonese Primer, though I managed to track it down.

Recordings from the 1950s and later are still quite rare, but can be found with some searching on the websites I've listed in this post - even some in astonishing quality that sounds like it was recorded yesterday. I know that from the 1930s through the 1960s, linguists were studying Chinese dialects spoken all over the Chinese-speaking world. Those recordings, if they survive, are now invaluable for the study of phonetic change over time. How I would love to hear them!
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby lowsocks » Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:46 am

This one is from the end of the time period you are searching for (1944). But it may not have enough audio for your purposes:

"Spoken Chinese", by Charles F. Hockett and Chaoying Fang (1944), two volumes. Published by Henry Holt and Company. Page images can be found on Hathitrust:

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/0 ... hinese&ft=

As for the audio, it does not seem to be available on any public sites. You may be able to buy a copy from Amazon or Ebay. Or you can find it (along with pdfs of the two volumes) on one of those "other sites", that we are not allowed to name here.

Some notes about this book: It was one of the intensive language courses developed by linguists, for teaching languages to U.S. soldiers during World War II. And it is not a mere phrase book. It seems to be a pretty thorough grammar (though in some of the courses, the linguistic terminology can be a bit unorthodox). It would take a lot of work to learn everything here. But I think it would give you a good command of the language.

They were originally published by the "United States Armed Forces Institute", and were brought to the civilian market by Henry Holt. Decades later, I think in the 1970's, the Spoken Language Services (SLS) company was created, with the main purpose, I suspect, of bringing these books and recordings back into print. Sadly, SLS appears to have ceased operations a few years ago.

Because of the high cost of producing records in the 1940's, they only made audio recordings for the first volume. So that may also limit their usefulness to you. Also, pinyin was not developed until the 1950's, so this book uses another romanization system. As well, these linguists believed quite strongly in the primacy of speech over writing, and that speaking should be learned first. So you will not find any chinese characters in the book.

An aside: These courses seem to have been the forerunners of the audiolingual FSI courses. But even so, the methodology is rather different. With FSI, one has constant constant structure and substitution drills, all rather disconnected, trying to create an automatic response in the student via stimulus-response techniques. These World War II era books, on the other hand, seem to place more of an emphasis on connected situational dialogues. Which technique is more effective, is something each learner must discover for themselves.
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Lao_She_Fan » Tue May 09, 2023 9:10 pm

@Daristani
Re: Old Linguaphone Chinese Course 1920's

Could Daristani show the link where he downloaded the two volumes of the Linguaphone Chinese Course ? I have Volume 2 but lack Volume 1. They were written by a Sinologist named Bruce.
As they were printed almost exactly 100 years ago, a copyright problem is unlikely.

Thanks
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Lao_She_Fan » Wed Jun 07, 2023 7:42 pm

re: Coursebooks to Accompany Old 1920's Linguaphone Chinese recorded by Lao She:

Volume 2, Chinese Text to accompany the 30 lessons, is available on Scribd.

Volume 1, English and grammatical notes for the Lessons, I can't find anywhere unless one wants to spend $171 and buy it on one of the book selling sites.

The author of these books was a London based Sinologist and Professor named J. Percy Bruce.

Anyone know where to find Volume 1 ? As it was written about 1920, it is likely the copyright has long since expired on both text and audio.
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Re: Vintage Chinese Language Courses or Recordings

Postby Lao_She_Fan » Sat Jun 17, 2023 9:08 pm

Addendum:

A terrific overview of the circumstances, motivations, intent and details of Lao She's work in creating the first phonograph Chinese course at London Univ., (Linguaphone Chinese (about 1925), can be found at the following linke:
(in Chinese, English speakers just use your Chinese -> English translator)

https://www.zz-news.com/com/wenxuejiaoy ... 31160.html

If anyone knows of a vocabulary, or guidebook for reading Qing era medical works, in particular Golden Mirror of Medicine, please post.

Thanks!
LSF
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