Growing up Mongolian in Jilin

Zhū Hǎijuān (朱海娟) is a native Mongolian speaker living in Songyuan, Jilin Province.  She was born into a Mongolian speaking family and attended 1st through 3rd grade in Huanaoer Tun in one room with one teacher and all three grades mixed together, a total of about 15 students.  All classes were taught in Mongolian.  (Though of course as always, Chinese class is taught in Chinese.)  Now the little school is no more.

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Passing notes

I caught two sixth grade girls passing notes in class today (which I think is far better than just chatting and disrupting the class), and they unexpectedly didn’t try to hide the note when I approached them when the class was over.

I was quite surprised at what I saw.  I recognized the script, and had long thought it would be perfect for this sort of thing because I haven’t found many people in China who can identify it, let alone read or write it.

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Healthy Teeth Sanzijing

One thing that struck me early upon arriving in China and immersing myself in the language (almost ten years ago!) was how modern Chinese is permeated with classical Chinese.  I soon came to the horrific realization that if I were to learn Chinese beyond a basic level, I would have to accept this fact.   Of course the most common way this shows up is in chengyu, but we see references to this older language everywhere, especially if we examine how school kids are taught.

One thing that horrified me as a parent was that my kids were asked to blindly memorize many long classics.  One of these is the Three Character Classic.  Because of its three character limitation, it has less possibility for variation in syntax.  There are only these four possibilities for phrase structure (where a repeated letter represents a multi-syllable word (the number of letters equals the number of syllables) and a single letter represents a one syllable word):  XXX, XXY, XYY, and XYZ.

I’m not opposed to studying these things; there is a lot of wisdom in them.  But the way they are normally studied is ridiculous:  they are memorized with very little explanation and recited in a banal rhythm at high speed.  And that’s that.  And they seem to be brainwashed into thinking that by doing so, these treasure troves of ancient wisdom will become part of them, slowly infusing them with beneficence throughout their lives.

Colgate seems to have picked up on this, and has made their own version. Continue reading

New Chinese grammar wiki

John Pasden of Sinosplice has a Shanghai-based company called AllSet Learning that focuses on helping foreigners learn Chinese.  He discovered that since people have different learning needs, especially when it comes to learning grammar, it would be a good idea to have an overall framework available to learners.  Since the only things that presently exist like this are textbooks, and there is nothing really like this on the web, he decided to make an online source.

And since the best kinds of online sources are those that keep up to date and can be corrected, he made it a wiki.

And since he’s an open-source kind of guy, interested in making things that are beneficial to all, he put it under a Creative Commons license.  Check it out here. Continue reading

Standunder and grok

I just got back from a nice rainforest hiking trip with my kids in Wuzhishan, Hanian. We managed to hike up to the first peak and even got back down before eleven o’clock at night! The locals were very impressed that an eight- and a ten-year old could make it up there (and after sundown, they were kindhearted enough to call every 30 minutes to see if we were still alive).

When we were on the bus on the way to Wuzhishan City, the 车长 (bus stewardess?) looked at my kids and asked me “Tāmen dǒng tīng hànyǔ ma?” Continue reading

大山’s “Chinese college” English

A friend pointed me to a discussion on Quora about why foreigners in China don’t like 大山 (dàshān), [I was going to describe who that is, but if you don't know who that is, go read something else].  I clicked on a link to Mark Rowswell’s (the guy who “plays” 大山) activity page and started reading some of the things he had to say, being very interested since he was saying them as Mark Rowswell, and not under the highly-censored-by-the-Chinese-media character of 大山.

I was shocked by how much one of his answers read like a perfect Chinese undergraduate English major’s writing assignment. Continue reading

ჯუჯები ქართულ!

ხურო ჯუჯები

დილიდან ხურო ჯუჯები გამალებით მუშაობენ თავიანთ პატარა სახელოსნოში.  ქუჩაში გამაყრუებელი ხმაური გამოდის.  იცით, რამდენი საქმე აქვთ?!  ჯერ ციყვს წიგნის თაროები უნდა გამოუჩარხონ, მერე ეჭედელ ჯუჯას – მაგიდა და სკამები.  იმ კუს კი, ხუროებს ისე რომ ამხიარულებს, ახალ სკეიტბორდს უმზადებენ.

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