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Language Skill Atrophy

weather: cloudy
outside: 8°C
mood: feh
I'm taking a Classical Chinese Medicine Studies course that's taught in Cantonese. I'm incredibly interested in the material, but I have a really hard time taking notes. I understand the lectures, but having to write things down in English is slow at best and sometimes impossible. It's not for credit, there are no exams, it's just for personal interest. But still.

And copying stuff from the whiteboard in Chinese... half the time I can, half the time I can't. I don't always know what the character is with whiteboard penmanship (read: little balls of scribbles). So, I hope that my little scribble balls are enough to jog my memory later.

I'm finding that I'm grasping for vocabulary and grammar in Cantonese lately. I'm resorting to thinking in Mandarin, then literally translating instead. I actually forgot that "pineapple" was 菠蘿 in Cantonese and said 鳳梨. That's not a good sign.

This post was brought to you by:
The Arabic letter "Feh".


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2004 02:40 pm (UTC)
language and how it is comprehended in the brain is really interesting to me.

I realized last year that I still have a lot of latent abilities to understand Cantonese (the first language that I learned, which was completely replaced by English by the time I was 7 or 8). I always knew I could understand conversational Cantonese, but it wasn't until last year that I realized I don't translate it into English in my head; I just understand it. Sometimes, it can be hard for me to translate stuff into English for Robin.

When my grandparents visited our family from Hong Kong while I was in high school, I had a very hard time being understood. While I can understand it when spoken to me, I have a very hard time pulling vocabulary out of my head in Cantonese. So I kept speaking in a garbled combination of Chinese and French (which I was taking in school). Really unfortunate, as NO ONE understood me; I am the only member of my family who knows any French!

So yeah. That was my long and rambly way of saying I understand.
Nov. 4th, 2004 03:12 pm (UTC)
I always knew I could understand conversational Cantonese, but it wasn't until last year that I realized I don't translate it into English in my head; I just understand it. Sometimes, it can be hard for me to translate stuff into English for Robin.

Especially the language puns =\ It's like, "Oyeuh? Why is that funny?"
Nov. 4th, 2004 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, definitely. There was an instance in which Robin and I were in a room with my mom and aunt, and they were laughing about something (making fun of someone) and I had a very hard time trying to tell him what they said. It's almost impossible to translate those insults.
Nov. 4th, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC)
I can totally understand this, because I have more or less the same understanding of Mandarin. I can understand when spoken to slowly (and I emphasize SLOWLY!), but when I actually have to speak it, I end up just kind of either saying things in Cantonese with a "mardarin tone of voice" or using Chinglish (which I do on a regular basis anyway). Same problem with French too, which I studied for many years. I can understand it, but when it comes time to speak it, all grammar and vocabulary are out the window.

Nov. 4th, 2004 03:02 pm (UTC)
omg - *squint*!

I hope the instructor goes sloooowly!
Nov. 4th, 2004 03:10 pm (UTC)
Most of the class are Cantonese-speaking folks... ie. from Hong Kong, so I'm probably the only one. =P
Nov. 4th, 2004 03:39 pm (UTC)
You are amazing, bride.
Nov. 4th, 2004 03:44 pm (UTC)
Ha, I did not know that. Thanks =D
Nov. 4th, 2004 06:38 pm (UTC)
Wow, taking notes in Chinese (or at least trying to), that's really admirable!!! I can understand the translating though, because it's a very slow task, translating things from Cantonese into English to put on paper.

Nov. 4th, 2004 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I hope I'll improve as the course goes on. But add some of the assumptions they make of everyone's cultural background and some lectures, I'm totally lost.
Nov. 15th, 2004 06:30 am (UTC)
How about sneak in a digital camera?
I hate reading hand-written Japanese since I've never learned any of the rules for that handwritten chicken scratch. Maybe if you snuck in a digital camera and took pics of the blackboard you could examine the chicken scratch later?

Nov. 15th, 2004 09:28 am (UTC)
Re: How about sneak in a digital camera?
I wouldn't have to sneak, they record all the lectures and put them onto VCD for their library. I can borrow them.

What I'm hoping to do, when I eventually work up the courage, is to ask if I can help make presentation slides for future lectures and/or help with the course material for the translated English classes that they're planning for the future.

I have a feeling I'd learn it much better that way.
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:03 pm (UTC)
Huh - funny; I've always heard "pineapple" as 菠萝 in the mainland. Maybe 凤梨 is Taiwanese usage?

And yes; whiteboard Chinese sucks. I had to deal with that shit when I was at Beida; if the teacher was writing with chalk on a blackboard, I could usually understand their personal interpretation of 草书, but when there was a whiteboard up front, I was totally screwed.
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe 凤梨 is Taiwanese usage?

Oh, it must be then.

I do know that in Taiwanese (ie. the Minnan dialect), 鳳梨 sounds like 往來 which is why they give pineapples as gifts for business associates.
Nov. 8th, 2004 09:26 am (UTC)
ha! i LOVE the 'feh' at the bottom!! :)
Nov. 8th, 2004 01:31 pm (UTC)
Hehe, yeah, I thought it was pretty funny when I found it by accident while doing some research for Work. Any alphabet that has a letter for that is cool in my books =D
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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