Category Archives: Language

Write. Speak.

Write

When it comes to written and spoken English, I want to ask you these questions:

Does writing a lot help you speak better?
Does speaking a lot help you write better?

Think about it.

If you ask me, my answer to both questions is no.

I have lots of theories when it comes to language, and this is one of them. There are four elements in learning a foreign, or any language: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Here are what I think of the four and their relations to each other:

  • Reading a lot help you write better
  • Writing a lot help you write better
  • Listening a lot help you speak better
  • Speaking a lot help you speak better even more

Familiarity with written words, through reading, helps you in the process of composing words in writing. Familiarity with spoken words, through listening, helps you in the process of composing words verbally.

And of course, ultimately, as we all know, the more you write, the better you write; the more you speak, the better you speak.

——–

On an irrelevant note, I think if you love writing, you most likely love talking too. So in that regard, most bloggers are big talkers.

:-)
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Chinese and English, Part 2

For people who appreciate the beauties of the Chinese and English languages, trust me, you are gonna LOVE these:

Fruit
Welcome sign
Shop sign
Hotel light panel

小心碰头
咖啡,茶,热奶
Guangdong hotel sign
Elevator sign

Park plant

There are a lot more at this site and I didn’t have time to see all of them. You can go check them out yourself and let me know if there are better ones.

Hope it lightens up your day, because it sure did for mine!

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Chinese and English: the Languages

I’ve always wanted to write something about the two languages I have learned and come to love. Or even, to write something about language in general. There used to be a debate between me and cc about how useful Linguistics actually is. I don’t remember the details but do remember that I took a very practical stand on the topic. In my eyes language is just a tool. And that’s all it is, a tool, a “means to an end“, a “device for doing work“. Linguistics is nice and interesting but I was not sure how much practical use there really is to it.

The only thing you should worry about a tool is simply how to use it, to achieve what it is intended for. You use a scissor in order to cut better (you don’t really spend lots of time studying its origin do you). A washing machine to keep your clothes clean. A video recorder, to remember a piece of your life.

In language’s case, it is to communicate.

And some people have more than one tool for this job (they are called bi-lingual or multi-lingual).

The interesting thing here is, no matter how many tools you have, at any given time you can only use one of them. And when you have stopped using one of the them for a very long time, you find it harder and harder to pick it back up and use it as effectively as before. This is especially true in the case where the tool, the language, was not born, but learned.

English is my learned language, Chinese, born.

There cannot be a pair of languages with bigger differences than these two.

When I think of Chinese the language, I think of words like “rich”, “poetry”, and “history”;
When I think of English, I think of it as the language of the modern world. The language to get things done. The language you never dwell on, rarely think much about. It conveys the same meaning in 5 words that takes Chinese 50.

Compared with Chinese, English looks straightforward and bland;
Compared with English, Chinese looks convoluted and contrived.

English is great for lovers, when subtlety is less valuable than candor;
Chinese is great for poets, whose spirit can never be limited by the richness.

If English is a song, Chinese is music.

Sometimes you want to sing to others;
Sometimes, you sit down and play for them.

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