Over the past two weeks we reviewed two Teochew language mobile learning app produced by overseas Teochews, namely 潮語作田人 (TeoAPP) app and WhatTCSay. This week we look at 新概念潮州话 that is a product from mainland China.
新概念潮州话 App Introduction
新概念潮州话 (literally “New Concept Teochew Speech”) is proclaimed as the first Teochew language translation, experience and learning software from China. Its developer MoveSky Studio has also produced language learning apps for Cantonese and Chinese/Mandarin (for English users).
Android users (2.1 and above) can purchase this app 新概念潮州話（完整版）in Google Play for US$1.50, or download a free version 新概念潮州话 that has some limits in functions. Meanwhile iPhone users can obtain the iOs version on iTunes App Store for US$1.99.
新概念潮州话 App Features
新概念潮州话 is rich in content and functions. First of all it claims to allow you to translate Chinese (Mandarin) text into Teochew. For new learners of the language, it provides also 22 categories of commonly-used vocabulary terms and 13 practice dialogues covering various situational topics at work and social settings, as well as lists of Teochew idioms, proverbs, two-part allegorical sayings, and humour.
All the above contents are displayed in simplified Chinese text and Teochew peng’im. You can also listen to them read out in real voice. You can choose to listen to the audio playback in normal-paced real voice (this is not available in the free Android version) or in slow-reading mode. To support learning and practice, there is word-by-word highlight of text as the audio readings are played (just like the lyrics of a song sung in karaoke) and a function for you to record your own voice.
There is a further section teaching the Teochew peng’im system (with audio), as well as daily contents pertaining to the Teochew culture that are written in Chinese. And for those concerned about data limits, the good news is that you can use the app even when you are offline.
新概念潮州话 App Review
The obvious strength of the 新概念潮州话 app is its range of content and technical features. Moreover the real voice recordings of words, phrases and sentences are spoken in accent and speed as commonly heard in the Teochew region itself. This is obviously helpful for anyone living outside China hoping to improve listening skills or wishing to speak as “authentically” as possible.
However in terms of preserving the language, this app falls short in using modern Chinese characters, instead of the old Chinese ones that the Teochew language is actually based on. This is not just a gripe about traditional verses simplified Chinese characters. For basic expressions like the second-person “you” (你ni, and not 汝le2) or the directions right and left (左zo2右iu6, and not倒手do8ciu2, 正手zian8ciu2), the characters used are simply taken directly from Mandarin and not traditional Teochew. Unfortunately this is a reflection of the “Mandarin-isation” of the Teochew language in China.
What is disappointing is that the app’s translation facility promised, is simply reading of the exact same Chinese/Mandarin words in Teochew without changing the language. For example, a short sentence like “you did not run”/你没跑 is “translated” as你le2没mug8跑pao2, which when spoken is incomprehensible. (Correctly the sentence in Teochew should be 汝le2无bho4走zao2.) Furthermore translation is limited to phrase or sentence of up to five characters, even though it is claimed that full sentence translation can be made.
Overall 新概念潮州话 would be recommended as a tool for anyone with an essential level of Teochew fluency to raise your standard of listening comprehension and oral speech. But one has to be discerning to differentiate what is Teochew and what is taken directly from Mandarin. And besides this, the fact that it is entirely in Chinese, precludes its use by anyone who is mainly a English language reader in the first place.
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