Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mandarin Book One - Complete!

With my teacher - Ryan's dad was so thoughtful to think to take a picture of us while they were visiting
Last week, I finished the last of ten sections in the first Mandarin book. An exercise to sum it up was to write an essay introducing yourself in Chinese pinyin (the non-character, phonetic way to write it). It was neat to see how much I could say in Chinese, though I still have trouble remembering everything (tone and pronunciation and structure!) and saying it confidently on the spot when meeting people. ;)

I thought I'd write the translation in English here, to give an example of what I've been learning. I had to look up some words (like the word for sewing and the last paragraph about Christ) but everything else we covered in the first book:

Hello! My name is Anna Wolfe. I am American. I am a house wife. I clean the house, wash and iron clothes, cook food, and look after my daughter. Her name is Hadassah. She is one year old. She likes going outside and walking. She also likes look at books. My husband is an engineer. His name is Ryan. His office and our home is in Shanghai. I speak English and a little bit of Chinese. My teacher is very good.

I like sewing, and my husband likes playing guitar, but our most important thing in life is Jesus Christ. We are Christians. We read the Bible, pray, and go to church. We want Jesus to define us.

The Chinese is actually a lot simpler than the English. For example, while we have different words for he, she or it, they only use one: . And while we have to remember whether to use I or meWǒ covers it for them. It's a lot easier to remember, and explains why Chinese people often refer to our daughter as "he" accidentally even though they know she's a girl - they don't have a distinction for pronouns in their language!

The sentence structure is also very simple, with fewer words. They don't have any word for a, an, or the and often don't have to use prepositions. A complete sentence can be made up of a subject and an adjective. The verbs don't have any tenses - it can be past, present, or future based on the sentence structure, but the word itself doesn't change. It's pretty cool. But it does make me often feel like I'm leaving something out when I'm speaking, without all the extra words English requires!

There are plenty of confusing things, though. I often completely butcher the tones in my nervousness, but people are very kind and seem to appreciate the effort. I am beginning to understand more and more, or at least pick out words I know when people talk to me, which can be good and bad. ;)

It's fun to be a student again, as it's been 5 years since I was last officially one. My teacher is very encouraging, and seems impressed at my progress, though I still feel I'm going very slow. It was encouraging to take the level one test and realize I knew almost everything in, though. Slowly but surely, progress is made!

Today we finished the first section in the second book (all about the weather), and she explained some characters as well. How up (shàng) looked like a tree coming out of the earth (上) and how down (Xià) looked like the roots under ground (下). If you think of the straight line in each character as the ground, it makes a lot of sense. She showed me how some of the old characters used to be more pictures, with round and flowing lines, but that now it all has to be in a box shape, to be more standard. It's all very interesting, and I feel I'm finally ready to learn some of it and not be completely overwhelmed. So, she said each lesson we'll try to do some if we have time. It should help things make sense, too, as we're starting to run into words that are completely the same - pronunciation and tone even! - but have different characters and thus different meanings.

Finding/taking time to study continues to be hard. But, the exercises and reviews with my teacher helps the important things stick, and I try to review on my own as I can.

Lord, thank you for this opportunity to learn. Help me to use what I learn well...

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful accomplishment! Congratulations! -- Donna Jo