Archive for July, 2011

Chinese couple sells kids to fund gaming addiction…

July 29, 2011

So I was reading an article the other day where purportedly a young Chinese couple has sold their three children in order to fund their online gaming addiction. Supposedly, the couple – both under 21, sold their first son for a mere 3,000 RMB, then the next daughter for 30,000 RMB, and finally another son for another 30,000 RMB.

I don’t know about you, but the story to me sounds like absolute crap. Actually, it reminds me of the quality of article which used to show up regularly (ok the only type of article) in the English newspaper China Daily.

For one, in a predominantly single child orientated country (unless you’re wealthy enough to pay for multiples), the chance of an unmarried couple, under 21, having not 1, not 2, but 3 kids, just stinks of bs. And top of that, the whole selling routine, well yeah.

China is quickly becoming one of those countries where modern myths are starting to evolve. I suspect that the greater world populace has actually little to no idea what life is like in China, and so it is let the creativity begin!
On the other hand however, having lived there myself, I also have to admit that it is a place where the above story could very well happen also. Just when you think you’ve seen it all in China, you see something else again…and again…and again…and again. In fact I think it was these laughably random occurrences which happened on a daily basis which have me so missing the place.

Studying Chinese destroys my head!

July 28, 2011

It’s been a reoccurring theme here that I have been lax with my language study. Almost every element of studying Mandarin makes me tired – even just thinking about it. I came close to re-enrolling in a Chinese class a month or two ago, but was at that point still on crutches, enjoying a broken foot.

So now I am still limping around, my foot slowly rehabilitating, I feel beyond tired in a new role at work. It’s funny how the train of excuses never stops. Oh I can’t afford it this month, oh I have too much on my plate at work, oh the temperature did not exceed 10 degrees this morning, blah blah blah!

I love language. It is a dream of mine to become not just conversational in another language, but close to fluent. I would like nothing more than to be able to travel to another country and converse with the locals in their own language – or hell, in my case, I could do that in my own town, considering Box Hill has so many Chinese living in it, its practically a Chinese province itself.

Why does language study have to be so difficult! Why can’t I just go to bed and wake up with a massive understanding? Because that is what we call fantasy, but I wish I wish I wish!

I was really quite hardcore into learning Chinese characters at one point. I was borderline addicted to a website called Skritter – which is simply amazing for practicing Chinese or Japanese characters. At one point I had around 100 under my belt and was progressing well. At that same time I also felt ridiculously tired…mentally tired. I actually felt like my brain was exhausted from working it too hard – a type of tiredness I can honestly say I haven’t encountered very often.

I think that learning Pinyin is the best way to enter into the Chinese world, and then supplement it with Character study. A lot of people say that learning Characters is an important way to understand the language as a whole and funnily enough they are right. I often found little comprehensions appearing all over the place as I studied the characters – particularly when you found the smaller parts of characters (called radicals) appearing in other characters. It slowly, logically brought things together – yet at the same time, I could never imagine myself ever actually looking at a wall of Chinese text – such as in a newspaper – and comprehending it. I could only imagine myself baby-reading it, one character at a time – where a month later, I would have finished the first page.

The other element to character study is that like the spoken language, the grammar is all over the place. The Chinese words do not follow the same structure as English – so much so that in order to understand even part of what is being said, you really need some colloquial knowledge.

I was listening in to a guy beside me on the train, yakking on in Mandarin on his mobile phone. Don’t you love people who sit amongst strangers on trains, happily crapping on about anything and everything? At least if you’re speaking another language, most people present will not have any idea of what you’re saying.  Well I guess I was culturally eavesdropping this guy and found it quite satisfying picking up different words.

I was understanding random things such as the word for Saturday, him answering in the affirmative, and a bunch of other tiny things that made no sense individually, but were satisfying to recognize nonetheless.

The point of this post is there is no point. Like my language study, it is a ramble. Hopefully next time I check in I can report on some advancement. I will say at least, that I am impressed with the amount of words I do actually know and remember. While I can barely string them together, and are not remotely conversational, some way, some how, I have retained practically every part of the language I have studied. My wife Courtney is similar – while she doesn’t think she knows it as well as I do, I am almost certain she has retained it all too. I only wonder if by pushing on and retaining, if that is the key to one day achieving fluency. It’s likely not the size of one’s memory, but one’s ability to commit to what has been a very tiresome path.


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