July 27th, 2009
And so I survived lesson 1 in book 1 of BLCU’s Classical Chinese series. Three short texts taken from Han Feizi. Two of them were completely new to me, but one of them… hey, hang on a minute, I know this story! It’s the one about how 矛盾 (spear-shield) came to mean contradiction!…. oh, well, yeah, it’s that story, but of course Han Feizi wasn’t telling it to coin a word, but to mock people who defy all logic in their boasting.
See, there was this guy in the state of Chu who sold spears and shields, and he used to boast that his shields were so strong that nothing could pierce them and that his spears were so sharp there was nothing they couldn’t pierce, so somebody piped up and said, “Well, what if I use one of your spears on one of your shields?”
And of course there were comprehension questions, which I took about as seriously as I ever do. And a grammar section. I’m not entirely sure I understood that too well, but it’s early days yet.
So I’ve set a rule for myself: 10 o’clock every morning get offline, turn off the computer, and study for at least two hours. Managed that alright this morning, now all I’ve got to do is continue. Afternoons I intend to spend on a variety of stuff. I really should get out more, for starters, spend a bit more time in other parts of the city. I have plenty of reading material- in fact, I’ve lost count of the number of books I have on the go- and a fair portion of that reading material counts as study. And of course, some afternoons can be spent at least partially on extra study.
Still, 10 am was painful this morning. There’s a huge stack of vocabulary to be learnt/relearnt, and a lot of it is stuff I know from modern Chinese, but which just doesn’t seem to work the same way in Classical. But once I got into the swing of things, working through the texts phrase by phrase, noting down words, nutting out the grammar, it started to feel good. Two hours flew by. I added an extra hour early this evening, and that’s it, lesson 1 done. Sure, I’ve only just started, but lesson 1, at least, was considerably less painful and much more enjoyable than I expected. I’ll do lesson 2 tomorrow, which takes its readings from the 山海经 (English name? Classic of the Mountains and Seas?).