150-Year-Old Book Reveals How Chinese People Learned English

A collector from Chengdu has revealed how Chinese people learned the English language 150 years ago.

Apparently, citizens from the Qing dynasty used textbooks that provided translations.  The collector, identified as Mr. Yao, unveiled pages from one textbook last week noted with “Emperor Xianfeng’s 10th year of reign,” Chengdu Business Daily said.

The Qing dynasty ran between 1644 and 1911. Emperor Xianfeng ruled between 1850 and 1861, which means the material in Mr. Yao’s hands was from 1860 — exactly 156 years back in time.

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Translations were arranged in tables of three columns and four rows for every page. Above English phrases were the corresponding Chinese characters while phonetic guides were included for reference below.

Many of the book’s phrases were related to trade. Here are some:

“You want cheap go buy other man”

“Other man want buy I unwilling”

“This is not good man”

“This affair have mistake”

“To do with my friend”

“You can add more price”

“Why you not make profit”

Luckily, learning English may be a little easier these days.

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