Feb 12 2013

VBS 2013 Development Diary: #9: Chinese Language

As part of my ankle-deep immersion for his VBS I have been learning Chinese. I am using a number of apps, but mostly I am listening to podcasts from ChineseClass101.com. The podcasts are great for picking up the language and they have lots of notes about the culture, but they will email you incessantly, and you should really be careful about what paid options you are actually paying for and/or what options they will auto-renew your account for without telling you.

Contrary to what I expected, Chinese is pretty easy to learn so far–especially compared to Welsh, in my opinion.

The sentence structure, at least for the simple sentences I have learned is similar to English–subject, verb, object. Declarative statements become interrogative questions with the addition of a particle at the end of the sentence. The greatest thing–no conjugating verbs–verbs have only one form.

I can’t read a single character (besides the one for ‘middle’, but I can hear, identify, and speak several words and make a few simple sentences.

The hardest part? Probably learning the tones. According to the instructors there are only about 400 sound combinations in Chinese. However, there are 4 or 5 tones, and changing the tone changes the word, whereas in English changing the tone gives some auditory cues as to the intended meaning, or maybe whether the word or sentence is meant as a statement of a question.

I’m enjoying it a lot, and maybe eventually (after smatterings of French, Spanish, Welsh, Hebrew, and Greek) I could attain bilingual status.

Right now, I still just know enough to get me in trouble.

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Sep 12 2011

‘scuse me while I kiss this guy

I don’t know how long people have been mishearing lyrics to songs; I guess as long as there have been songs. Of course ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy,’ from Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze is probably the most famous. For years a female I won’t mention thought that song in Austin Powers was Secret Asian Man, and one of my old bandmates thought that line from the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was, ‘A girl with colitis goes by.’

My brother frequently misheard lyrics, though he tended to hear things that I won’t print on this blog. He even misheard bilingually. In Beck’s Loser, he thought for sure that soy un perdedor (I’m a loser) was soy un…something else.

A few years ago I was walking with The Bob and I mentioned the Casting Crowns song In Me.

ME: You know how it says, ‘I’d give my last breath for Your glory?’

THE BOB: Yeah.

ME: For a long time, I thought it said, ‘I’d kill my best friend for Your glory.’

THE BOB: Gulp.

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