finally

March 8th, 2008

And finally I start writing stuff in Chinese again. Yesterday, having just about torn up the textbook in frustration with its sappy, sentimental, saccharine-laden texts, and having reviewed and then studied a few paragraphs of 《活着》/To Live (yes, I know, I’m taking a long, long time about it), I decided to see how much I could write and how often I needed to reach for a dictionary to remind myself what the characters were supposed to look like.

Well, apart from a few mistakes (including one I seemingly can’t stop making: leaving that little pie off the top-left of  知) and one buggered-up sentence (the last one), I seemed to do alright. I only needed the dictionary a few times, and I was impressed with how many characters I could write without checking (mistakes included). So here it is, with corrections by lzh (and as always, constructive criticism is welcome):

我今天学了一个特别有用的单词:闯荡。我看余华写的《活着》的时候,读了这句话:“龙二说话时南腔北调,光听他的口音,就知道这人不简单、是闯荡过很多地方、见过大世面的人。”

那,我不是龙二的那种人。我不赌博,我又不是骗子。可是我年轻的时候离开了家在非常远的地方找工作了。好像是入了一种“江湖”里。

我在长沙,太原,天津闯荡过,现在在北京。我也流荡过香港,深圳,广州,桂林,阳朔,昆明,大连,挪威… 光听我的口音,很少的人能听出来我是哪的人。有的时候我也是差一点忘了我是从哪来的。看一下我的护照,就知道我是新西兰人。

呵,我在新西兰长大好像是前生。

And after looking over my messy characters, lzh tells me that “闯荡” (chuǎngdàng, to work away from one’s hometown) is something done by people of some kind of heroic stature, and that all I do is 流浪 (liúlàng, to roam about, to wander). I said, no, I’m 乱七八糟 (luànqībāzāo, messy and chaotic). She said, yes.

Anyway, gotta ditch that textbook and start using these HSK books and practice tests I have sitting on my bookshelf, and if the HSK I sit is the new one, then I’ve really got to keep writing in Chinese (and remembering to put that little pie on the top-left of 知- sure, my wife understands what I mean, but HSK examiners are going to deduct points for that sort of sloppiness).

Oh, and yesterday morning I finally followed up on a colleague’s suggestion and joined him in the BeiGongDa library to study. Now there’s one huge problem solved: the tables in the main lobby area around the huge fake tree next to the main service desk are big and wide and comfortable and it was quiet and a long, long way from crowded, and it was generally a good place to study. The only worry I have is that I saw students taking their laptops there: If that’s a sign that the library has wifi, then it could still prove to be dangerously distracting. And even if it doesn’t, my colleague said that it had broadband-looking sockets in the floor on another storey. Yeah, I know, just don’t take the laptop. Anyway, one huge problem solved: I now have a comfortable study spot. And another problem taken care of, provided I can drag my lazy arse out the door on the Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings I don’t have class: A lack of distractions.

Now, get into the habit and go those mornings and mix up textbook, novel and writing….

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