Aww, yay! My love of the Chinese language (and culture) is something I haven’t talked about here as much, for reasons of self-confidence and practicality. This is already a Kdrama/books/inspirational?/writing blog… I don’t need to throw my beloved 中文to the mix as well. But it’s in the index (bless my initial list making skills!) so it gets at least one post.
Chinese. 中文。汉语。普通话。 啊，我永恒的爱情！How I love you. I live and breath and dream you! (Seriously. Dreaming in Chinese has been my goal for years now. I think I’ve succeeded… I just can’t remember it). Here are my three favorite things about the language.
- The Grammar. Oh, blessed simplicity! No more verb conjugation, no argumentative case and nominative and perjarrallitanigalaftric case–just some words and a sentence pattern. STPVO. Subject, time, place, verb, v. object. Remember that, and you’re halfway to fluency (that’s a lie, sorry). But I do love how easy the grammar is to learn. Sure, there are a few harder patterns (把 [ba3], 将 [jiang1] and 之一 [zhi1yi1] come to mind), even those are easier for me to learn than the French conjugation sound boot (yes, that is a thing–and who decided to spell their third person plural -er verbs with twice as many letters and no change in pronunciation?!).
- 成语 Cheng2 yu3. I don’t really know how to describe them in English, because to me they’re more than just idioms. They’re moments of history frozen in a language, lending insight to a people. I believe what Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” To study a language is more than just memorizing syllables. It’s learning the hearts of a people. 成语 generally have four characters, because four character phrases just… sound nice in Chinese. They have their own usage rules and I’ve found that many “Chinese proverbs” actually hail back to a 成语。Fun stuff.
- Radicals. You don’t have to go back very far in the English language before it turns into something unrecognizable, mostly German with a bit of French and the odd… Scandinavian? I dunno. Thrown in. Sure, we have root words–but radicals are something more. The very way they’re written lends insight to their meaning. Most radicals began as a pictoral, after all. I love reading something in Chinese (第七天， anyone?) and puzzling out the meaning of a word based purely on how it looks. And while yes, there is no written pronunciation for Chinese, the radicals often sneak you clues on what the character sounds like. It’s more fun than a crossword, at least.
Thanks for indulging me in one of my favorite past times ever. I’ll leave you with a list of my favorite 成语 cheng2yu3 (idioms):
津津有味 (Jīnjīnyǒuwèi) to do something with gusto (like you’re really enthusiastic about what you’re doing).
乱七八糟 (Luànqībāzāo) In a total mess, complete chaos (like a state of affairs, or your heart–not generally your room.)
不可思议 (bùkěsīyì) Inconceivable! (read in the voice of the Sicilian, of course.)
入乡随俗 (rùxiāngsuísú) When in rome… (lit. enter the town [ie hometown], follow/however [their] custom)
一路平安 (yīlù píng’ān) Have a safe trip! (lit. One road/the whole journey, safe)
Thanks for reading,