As a diversion from my normal study I have spent the past couple weeks listening to every dialogue from the Intermediate and Elementary lessons. While listening and reading the dialogues I recorded in a notebook every character that appeared, according to pinyin. My observations:
1. There are about 2000 characters that appear in these lessons. There would be a somewhat greater number of words, but I did not try to estimate that.
2. Over 10% of the characters (about 225) have more than one pronunciation. That was more than I anticipated.
3. According to the pinyin chart there are about 400 sounds. 28 of these were not represented in the 2000 characters.
4. Another 62 were represented by a single character, meaning that 3 of the possible tones were not found. Examples: 开 kāi, 日 rì, 能 néng, 让 ràng
5. Others were vastly over-represented: ji had 39 characters, including 15 for jì
shi had 36 characters, including 17 for shì. I find that words made of 2 such characters can be harder to remember:经济 jīng jì (economy)
6. The Intermediate lessons starting in August 2006, especially with the series on 张亮Zhāng Liàng and 陈丽Chén Lí, seem to be of a higher technical quality, and the dialogues are generally more interesting. This seemed to correspond with the appearance of Connie's voice (and others) in the dialogues.
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