20140330【英译中】汉语学习之记忆游戏

yukisunshine (百里潇湘) 路人甲
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发表于:2014-03-30 21:51 [只看楼主] [划词开启]

Learning Chinese:The memory game

HUNDREDS of millions of children and adults across China are learning English. Yet despite the country’s growing influence, rather fewer people outside the Middle Kingdom are learning Chinese. One obvious reason is that the language is notoriously hard.
Two things make the two main Chinese languages, Mandarin and Cantonese, so fiendish to master. First, they are tonal, so a rising, falling or dipping pitch changes a word’s meaning. Second, they have no alphabet, relying instead on ideograms, or characters, to represent each word. To be literate requires memorising thousands of characters, compared with manipulating no more than 33 letters in most other major languages.

A new book, “Chineasy”, aims to change that by offering an approachable introduction. Shaolan Hsueh, its Taiwanese author, developed her system after watching her British-born children struggle with characters. With striking illustrations by Noma Bar she has conceived an appealing, if not exactly easy, primer for foreign audiences learning Mandarin.
Her method uses a technique already popular with Chinese schoolchildren to turn many of the basic characters on which the language is built into illustrations. The character for “person” is easier to remember if the student imagines a head and two feet on it. “Mouth” gets a tongue and teeth, and “soil” a sprouting leaf. Since many of the more complicated characters combine basic ones, Ms Hsueh’s idea is for learners to create stories for each ideogram. “Person” becomes “big” with the addition of a line, like “a man stretching his arms wide”. This can be turned into “sky” by adding a further line to represent “the spiritual level above man and earth”; and so on.
Many of Ms Hsueh’s engaging explanations will be familiar to those already learning the language: “to sit” is “two people sitting on the soil”; “disaster” is a fire under a roof. The book also brings in history: the character for “beautiful” is made up of “sheep” and “big”, apparently because sheep were considered auspicious in ancient China; “good” combines “woman” and “son” because a good woman was thought to be one who bore a boy.

“Chineasy” succeeds in making these familiar ideas memorable. It gives the beginner, confronted by a seemingly random scrawl of ideograms, somewhere to start in deciphering them. But nothing can downplay the sheer number of characters that anyone studying the language must learn—or the leaps of logic that face them. It is easy to remember that two mouths together mean “shout”, for example, but the word’s pronunciation (xuan) bears no resemblance to that for a single mouth (kou).

At the beginning of “Chineasy”, Ms Hsueh talks of the “Great Wall of Chinese” that stops East and West from communicating effectively. As alluring as it is, her tome cannot break down that wall, or even provide a door through it. But it does at least give keen learners a few footholds as they start to climb. As a Chinese proverb famously notes, even a journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.

 

打小没练过字的惨不忍睹。。。


最后编辑于:2014-03-30 21:57
分类: 英语

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