Dreaming in Chinese by Deborah Fallows

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Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people,and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language-a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar-became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China.

Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones-the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning-is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them.

In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before.


About Deborah Fallows

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Deborah Fallows has lived in Shanghai and Beijing and traveled throughout China for three years with her husband, writer James Fallows. She is a Harvard graduate and has a PhD in Linguistics, and is author of A Mother's Work (Houghton Mifflin). She most recently worked in research and polling for the Pew Internet Project and in data architecture for Oxygen Media. When in the US, she and her husband live in Washington, DC. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law.
Published September 7, 2010 by Walker Books. 208 pages
Genres: History, Self Help, Education & Reference, Travel, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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On a three-year sojourn, Deborah Fallows got under China’s skin by immersing herself in its language.

Sep 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese


Deborah Fallows discusses her insights as she studied Mandarin Chinese over a four year period in "Dreaming in Chinese."

Jun 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese


By Deborah Fallows 208 pages;

Sep 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese

The Atlantic

I happened to have been home the day that they [the artists] came by to put them [the words] up and a lot of people in the neighborhood, they hadn’t read about it, and particularly my next door neighbor, she came out and was kind of just wondering what was going on and so I told her, and so the a...

Mar 21 2016 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese

The Atlantic

I came to know of her though a .

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese

ABC Perth

The rest was easy - kayaking in Santa Cruz, California and the isolated National parks in Alaska!!A fascinating, inspiring and entertaining read - Sean Smith is a real survivor.A perfect gift for Father's day.DREAMING IN CHINESEby Deborah FallowsPublisher Short BooksDist Allen & UnwinHardcoverpag...

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Dreaming in Chinese

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