Groundbreaking French-Cantonese-Mandarin book hot off the press

Shiona Mackenzie and Grace Ho


A comprehensive, trilingual phrasebook with CD, Guide Pratique de Conversation Français  - Cantonais -  Mandarin, was launched at CityU, 18 February. The book serves as a useful reference for visitors, business travellers and students from French-speaking countries, the mainland and Hong Kong. It covers a wide range of daily-life situations and is organized in three columns for quick and easy access.

“I wanted to create something that didn't exist; it is actually the first book ever written in those three languages on the market in Hong Kong,” said David Santandreu Calonge, Lecturer in the Division of Language Studies of the Community College of City University of Hong Kong and author of the book, which is published by the City University of Hong Kong Press. This is the first practical, pocket-size conversation book offering up-to-date vocabulary and expressions and including sections on SARS and on trendy extreme summer sports. “I also had to select which user-friendly cultural topics the book should focus on,” Mr Santandreu explained, “so I included notes about France, such as famous brands and the latest prices, wines, and cheeses.”

Informal discussions about the French cultural and economic presence in Hong Kong – the largest French community in Asia – were held at the launch. Invited guests include: Ms Wanda Lau, Head, Division of Language Studies of the Community College of City University of Hong Kong; Monsieur Michel Guyot, Consul (Culture and Science), Consulate General of France in Hong Kong; Mr Morio Matsumoto, Director, Public Relations & Cultural Affairs of the Consulate General of Japan; Madame Pascale Dutronc, General Manager, French Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Madame Evelyne Siréjols, Head of Studies, Alliance Française de Hong Kong; and Mrs Madeline Progin, Managing Director, Parenthèses-Continental Books Ltd.

Mr Santandreu considers Cantonese of great importance, both in terms of economics and culture. Furthermore, as 2004 was declared the “Year of China in France”, interest in Chinese language and culture increased exponentially. “If this little book can help promote Cantonese among French speakers, and even Mandarin speakers, I will be delighted,” Mr Santandreu said. This is the first in a planned series of similar language books to be published by the City University of Hong Kong Press.

Established in 1996, City University of Hong Kong Press is the publishing arm of the University. Its mission is to contribute to the generation and application of knowledge, to raise the academic standing of the University and to promote understanding among institutions and cultures through publication of works of scholarship, pedagogy and other works of excellence.


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