Archive for February, 2012

Chinese movies float not the western boat

February 27, 2012

I was reading an article the other day which claimed that despite the robust growth of the movie industry in China, Chinese movies were still somewhat unpopular in the West. In a way, they haven’t ‘cracked’ the market like some other countries have – though what those countries are, I cannot actually guess. While we see a variety of movies from places like France, Germany, Japan and the like, they’re still usually only as part of film festivals – certainly not mainstream.

The problem with Chinese movies is that there are just plain and simple too many damned period martial arts epics! Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good martial arts epic as much as the next guy, but they all become a bit of a dime a dozen. If I see another movie with the word ‘Assassin’ in the title coming out of China…I’ll spit. Reign of Assassin’s, Empire of Assassin’s, Assassin’s Assassins Assassin’s!!

I have a keen interest in Mandarin movies. Not only are they a terrific study aid, but it also gives me a buzz whenever I recognize familiar words. It’s a challenge and a half finding Mandarin movies as is, considering so many of the international releases are coming from Hong Kong – which of course is Cantonese, to which I have absolutely zero interest. The biggest problem with most Mandarin movies; the big ones that are actually subtitled, is that they’re all period epics! While I loved the movie Red Cliff, I’d rather be watching current day dramas such as Beijing Bicycle.

I regularly check the Xin Hua bookstore in town, looking for new release Mandarin dramas, but unfortunately, many of them simply aren’t subtitled – or as I said previously, are Hong Kong cop movies in Cantonese.

I am also a big fan of these movie documentaries, such as Last Train Home. These are always depressing, but always offer a very familiar look into China, and always have me craving to return. These will pop up on the television from time to time, and always seem to be based around a migrant worker girl whose headed to the city to follow her dreams, and has instead ended up in a jeans factory.

Any other Mandarin movie fans out there want to share some title names?


Mandarin continues…

February 16, 2012

Two Chinese classes down and it feels really good to be back involved with language study. I was a little worried after the first class that I was of a much higher level than the other students, though this second lesson had us covering things that I did not actually know. We went over various occupations and the like, looking at the words for things such as Architecture, Hair-dressing and the like, and I found it quite interesting the way the words broke down.

For example Architect is jianzhushi – where if you take the jianzhu by itself, it means Architecture, the shi on the end referring to a professional skill, or the like. Same deal with kuaijishi – accountant, the first component of the pinyin kuaiji is simple accountancy (or similar), the shi on the end again referring to a certain skill. This kind of thing, while sounding somewhat mundane, is nonetheless very interesting. (Please excuse the lack of tones :))

I have a bit of an advantage over my fellow students in that I have been studying the language since 2007 and have a firm understanding on the pronunciation of pinyin. For anyone learning Chinese, I cannot recommend how useful it can be to learn and practice the pinyin pronunciation early.

For myself however, I have another 10 weeks of study ahead of me. I really hope this time I can continue with it – might have to even fire up good ol Skritter again!

Back to Mandarin I go.

February 7, 2012

So I finally did it, I finally returned to Mandarin study. Last night I attended the first of 12 classes in level 2 Mandarin. It became immediately obvious that I was too high for the class, but I will stick with it for a few just to see how it goes. Despite knowing most of the things covered, there was still a few things here and there that I didn’t actually know-  for example, something as simple as I’m thirsty (wo ke le), yet I knew I’m hungry (wo e le).

No matter how much Mandarin I learn, there’s always other ways to say the same things that I come across. I knew wo bu cuo (I’m ok), but not wo hai keyi – which apparently means the same thing. It’s all good though, the more the merrier.

For the past few years I studied in quite intensive bursts and retained most of the language knowledge that I had learned – yet I have gone through a lengthy period of retaining it, but not actually learning anything new. Hopefully, by attending this class; even if it is too low a level for me, it will motivate me to continue. I have a real passion for foreign languages, I don’t know what it is but as I have gotten older they have become fascinating to me. My goal is to eventually learn a few other languages, so I can speak as much of them as I can Chinese. I think that when travelling to other countries, it adds considerable depth to the experience, and an extra appreciation of the culture if you can speak a little of the language – and I don’t mean just hello and goodbye.

I will be travelling to Europe in May, going from Copenhagen to England to visit my brother, then off to Rome for a week, down to the Amalfi Coast then home via Bangkok and Koh Samui. I hope to write about it as I go – perhaps shelving the China theme for just a few weeks.

In the meantime, I am tired as hell from lasts nights lesson. It amazes me just how head-tired language study can make me. When I was flat out studying characters on Skritter – I felt like a zombie.

Anyhow, wo dei shi pei le, wo you hen duo gong zuo yao zuo 😉


*edit – and wow, that was post number 150! I remember when I first started writing in this blog, having returned from China at the end of 2008. I wanted to get a few posts under my belt as there’s always that awkward period at the start of launching a new blog where it either continues indefinitely or simply fails. Next stop 300!

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