Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Weekend Work–A Preview

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I have never made a very good weekend worker. There is some sort of time device that makes Saturday speed by so quickly that it is essentially impossible to accomplish whatever it is that you set out to do. This phenomena is a crime against productive humanity! That aside, I tried to work my way through some of the homework assignments I got from my classes on Friday. The language homework is always tricky because I often don’t know how to properly phrase something. If I view it as a practice and not as a test or mortal kombat, I tend to loosen up and take more risks on potential misusing a sentence structure. I figure the comments and markings from the teachers will be more helpful if I stretch myself beyond my means a little bit.

Right now I am on the third lesson for Practical Audio Visual Chinese (Book 2!)–all of this can be shortened to PAVC. The lesson works through a restaurant situation to teach its grammar and vocabulary points. Trying to get what you want to eat when you don’t have the right vocabulary or making word salad can be next to impossible. The vocab list I have been slaving away at!

  • 給 gei for this chapter means for (the benefit), to
  • 介紹 jie shao is a verb for introduce or suggest
  • 魚 yu is a fish, I don’t believe it is necessary to add word for meat to make it the food.
  • 非常 feichang, an adverb ,meaning very or extremely
  • 對 dui in this instance is a coverb meaning to, toward, for
  • 牛肉- Beef, the first character by itself means cow or bull
  • 青菜 The second character is incorrect but I couldn’t find the actual one in my list : ( means vegetables, green ones!
  • 雞 ji is Chicken if you want it to mean like the meat throw the character “肉” at the tail end of it.
  • 湯 tang means soup and will often be the last word of a phrase describing what kind of soup it is!
  • 封 measure word for below word
  • 信 Letter, we’ve had this one in other books
  • 謝 when doubled it means thank you but by itself is a Chinese surname
  • 替 ti is a handy coverb meannig for, in place of, a substitute for.
  • 錢 qian–money but also a Chinese surname
  • 問...好 “wen….hao” is an idiomatic expression use to wish someone well or send your regards
  • 方 fang for this lesson is a Chinese surname
  • 自己 zi ji oneself or by oneself to make yourself for instance simply take on that character to ni and make “你 自己”
  • 碗 wan is the measure word for servings of food but can also straight up mean bowl.
  • 大家 da jia means everyone or everybody. If addressing an audience a speaker can say “大 家 好”
  • 慢用 man yong is an idiomatic expression meaning to enjoy your food literally translates as “Slowly use”
  • 水果 shui guo is the word for fruit, for specific types of fruit take off the “shui” and put the appropriate word infront of “果”
  • 刀叉 dao cha is a knife and fork set as opposed to the traditional chopsticks “筷子”
  • 湯匙–tang chi a soup spoon
  • 句 “Ju” measure word for sentences and phrases. This word is also seen in: 句子 meaning a sentence
  • 鉋 “Bao” character meaning full, typically dealing with eating so “to be full after eating”
  • 毛筆 The second character “bi” deals with writing utensils and the 1st character (字) let’s us know it is a brush

Pretty heft vocabulary list, but all necessary words. Often times it seems like I pick up a useless character but actually turns out to fit with a whole bunch of characters, thereby becoming handy to know. For the grammar it looks as if it will be straight forward, awesome. The first piece is a redux of a previous lessons work on using question words as indefinites. Now we can figure out how to give the idea of inclusiveness or exclusiveness. They show two patterns: (S)–Question Word–(S)都–V We can use this structure to say things like “He knows everything” or conversely another pattern, (S)–QW(S)–都/也–Neg-V “He doesn’t know anything. It’s a really handy technique to have in my little bag of tricks now. The idea of course is that we don’t literally mean he doesn’t know anything, rather that what he knows is so pointless or not meaningful that it is like nothing. The book gives tons of examples to go with it, most of which I had to sort out a little it in my head before I got it. I keep having to remind myself that the grammars don’t match each other! Exclusiveness intensified give the idea of not even a little bit. So we can throw this structure into our sentence, which I know is written 句子, “(S) 一 MW–N 都/也 Neg-(AV) V. This gives us something like “I can’t sing any song at all.”Alright sweet but what if I don’t want to use a measure word in it at all. Instead of using a measure word we can drop 一 點 兒 into the mix which will still give us the same general “at all” feel.

We are now talking about how to use less and more as adverbs instead of what is termed as a stative verb (if you just raised your eyebrow at that we can touch on it later). The structure here is: 多/少 (more/less) V (Number-MW) (Obj) It gives you the ability to say “East a little more, Drink a little less…etc.” While that may not seem like much it can go a long way. Oh I bought less paper than I need…things like that. Even though we could maybe find simpler ways of phrasing things, we have to move away from a childish language to more dignified, complex ones. The final piece that we will be looking at for the first half of the week is using certain words as coverbs and setting up indirect objects, although I think the setup can do more, details as I get them. We have five words that the book gives for right now (跟,給,替,用,對) These words can help give more clarity about what we use to eat, where something is directed to, substituting for someone, all sorts of goodies tonight! The tricky thing will be internalizing these aspects and making use of them in everyday speech.

Onwards to finishing up a forgotten piece of homework!

Directional Click

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

My second class of the day with Liu Laoshi and I finally got my head around using directional terms and a little bit of geography. It’s sweet knowing how to say something is east of another thing, or that I live on the eastern portion of the US and think that Baltimore (which is also in the North east-ish) is beautiful at least in the Inner Harbor. The tricky part about the maps lies in the flipping of terms Northeast is more like Eastnorth in Mandarin. Once you get the hang of the idea that the east v west component is more important than north v south, it makes sense. The school is offering a free lunch/welcome party for students. Time to boogie down!

June 25.09 Vocab and Grammar!

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I created some new flashcards using a program called Wenlin (although I am also looking into Anki). The words we are using for today’s vocabulary are:

  • 旅行社 (Lvxingshe=travel agency)
  • 影本 yingben photocopy
  • 送 (song)to send; to deliver; to give something as a gift; give a ride **tons of definitions
  • 傳真 (chuanzhen) to fax
  • 傳真機 (chuanzhenji) fax macine **the word “ji” is their word for machine (e.g. airplane= feiji, flight machine)
  • 哎呀 (ai ya) A sort of “oh no!” phrase following surprise or dismay
  • 壞了(huaile) something is broken or if huai is by itself can mean bad, to be broken “This student is really bad”
  • 沒關係 (mei guanxi) “It doesn’t matter” typical phrase used when someone says they are sorry.
  • 郵局 (youjv) post office “you” can be combined with other words to create a word dealing with mailing etc.
  • 費用 (feiyong) is a noun meaning fee. we can take off the yong and put any other word to create bill (dianfei=electric bill
  • 市區 (shiqv) urban district or city proper. “shi” can also be found in the word “chengshi” which just straight up means city
  • 別的 (biede) Noun giving the idea of others “biede ren” other people
  • 台(臺)中 (taizhong) Tai can be written two ways the first form is an easy short hand. This is a city name in Taipei

So those were all the vocab words from Far East Everyday Chinese (hereon called FEEC). The “v” I use to represent the weird German “u” with the two dots on top of it. V is just an easier symbol to type (considering Chinese has no “v” sound) The second set of vocabulary I have for the night comes out of Practical Audio-Visual Chinese Book 2. There is some overlap between the words, I pulled out those words.

  • 然後 (ranhou) works as a conjunction using the word “then” or “afterwords”
  • 先 (xian) is an adverb meaning first, in advance, seen in grammar structure indicating first one action then another.
  • 離開 (likai) “to leave” in the example PAVC gives it means to leave a place.
  • 起飛 (qifei) a more nuanced verb meaning “to take off ” the fei let’s us know it is related to planes (re: feiji)
  • 不客氣 (bukeqi) If someone tells you thank you (xiexie) you tell them “bukeqi” your welcome
  • 南 (nan) a directional word meaning south, can be coupled with words like region or side
  • 海 (hai) deals with the larger bodies of water like seas and oceans
  • 高 (gao) adjective (actually a State Verb) to be tall, or to be high (height, not drugs!)
  • 河 (he) this noun is the word for river
  • 條 (tiao) Measure word–word required between a number and noun–for objs such as: roads, pants, and fish (long and narrow objects
  • 左(zuo) left
  • 右 (you) right –I’ve been getting this flip flopped a lot recently.
  • 街 (jie) word for street as defined as being smaller than a road (lu)
  • 吧 (ba) a suggestion particle, indicates a request or suggestion such as: “Let’s go!”

The grammar for the most part today was really straight forward. The lessons in PAVC give very straightforward definitions for grammatical constructs in Chinese. So for instance we have this thing called a coverb which works with the main verb of a sentence. This isn’t exactly the equivalent of a helping verb though. So the coverb we are working with is “往” which translates to “to go toward” The toward is the key part of the definition and we need something else to complete the action, toward what? how? etc. So the structure looks like this: (from (從) Place Word (PW) 往 PW/Direction V) 從 我 家 往 左 傳,我 就 到 師大 路 了。”From my house take a left turn and I’ll be at Shida Road.” **Please Note I’m still learning and if this wrong feel free to write a comment correcting it!!** The next piece of grammar (fawen or 法文)is a discussion of the difference between similar words 部 和(he, the word for “and”) 邊. 邊 represents a side or border, a line not an area. 部 on the other hand deals with parts, sections, and areas. So the word for center is “zhong” we cannot say “中邊“ because there is no such thing as a middle side. The book also gives a description of the difference between the American way of telling direction (North, South, West, East NW NE SW SE) Instead of N or S being the main components, Chinese focuses on whether it is west (西)or east (東). So when trying to say something is north east, we have to say 東北. That second character is bei and means north. The last big piece for PAVC from tonight is the idea of an adverb being used as a correlative connector. I, like the book, hesitate to use conjunction to frequently since Chinese doesn’t connect sentences like that. You won’t see S v OBJ AND (S) v OBJ. It just doesn’t happen. This piece of grammar creates an “if-then” statement. You state the potential conditions and then continue talking about the consequence of that condition. You can often start these sentences (word for sentence is juzi or 句子) with the word “if” 要是 but it isn’t always necessary however, the other part of this structure “就“ very rarely gets dropped from the sentence. The structure looks like so: (要是) S1 V1 S2 就 V2. It’s pretty straight forward as compared to some other constructs. So an example would be: 要是 他 生病 了,他 就 去 看 醫生。If he gets sick, he should go see the doctor. The final grammar for tonight comes from the same section but deals with creating a “First…..Then….” scenario. 我 媽媽 先 給 我 錢,我 在 去 台灣。“先。。。在。。”

The big thing I am struggling with is maintaining my cool in class. I get very nervous, but I’m sure it will fade. For now I am tired and need to get some rest for tomorrow’s ventures into Chinese!