Monday, December 5, 2011

中文 - Week 8 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Volume 1 of the book has 14 lessons. Target end date is April 13, 2012.

Hello, Earthlings. I’ve decided to register again for Saturday Mandarin lessons this January at the Ateneo Confucius Institute here in the Philippines. I’ve already attended Basic 1 two years ago, which covers lessons 1 – 8 of this book we are reading. I believe I could already skip that level because I already have a certificate of attendance. I will be taking Basic 2 (lessons 9 – 14) instead along with Basic 3A (lessons 1 – 8 Chinese characters). Because of this I would no longer cover what we would be tackling in the Chinese Characters class since we are already doing it here in advance. I will just continue with the book as is and we will still finish by April 13, 2012. By that time I would already be enrolled in Basic 4 which covers the second volume of the book. That’s the time when I sync this journal with the classroom activities.

MONDAY: Lesson Four - 认识你很高兴
This week we have ten characters and eight new words. For today let’s just focus on two Chinese characters. The number seven is written as and according to the illustration, it used to depict a woman seated on a bed with two arms stretched sideways. This is easy to imagine looking at the character. What I could not imagine is what the F it has to do with the numeral seven. Maybe they wake up at seven in the morning? Who knows! The second character means small and is written as . The original pictograph looks like a footprint of some small animal under a magnifying glass. Just imagine the character as a footprint, period.

TUESDAY: Lesson Four - 认识你很高兴
Our fist character for today means heart and is often seen as one of the characters comprising “you” both in its normal and formal forms. It is written like and was a pictograph of a heart before it underwent simplification. Somehow this one is easy for me to remember. It does look like a heart to me. The second character means water and is written as which is an illustration of flowing water sandwiched by rocks and whatever you could find on the banks of a river. The stroke in the middle is obviously the flowing water. We have eight new words but let’s tackle the ones whose characters we have already discussed. The first one is you which is quite popular in Beijing. We know that the character on the upper left is the one used for person while the one below is our first character for today. Our second word means to know someone and is written as 认识.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Four - 认识你很高兴
Today you have the moon on your hand. Or not. They are just the two characters for today. Okay, so I am corny. The moon looks more complicated than usual as a Chinese Character. When I look at the illustration it actually looks like a capital letter D, so drawing it that way would have been easy for us, but they decided to do it like this: . Anyway you only have four strokes so it won’t give you a migraine to memorize that. The other character is for hand, which at least resembles a hand to some extent, although it looks more like a twig: . The word for the day is friend which is written like 朋友. As you can see, you have two moons while the second group of characters contains a character we’ve already met before. In this case I think it is there to lend its sound instead of its meaning. Back read! Another work containing that character we are talking about is 汉语 which means Chinese language. There are many characters referring to the Chinese language and this is just one of them. I think this mostly denotes the spoken form. If you analyze, all those characters have already been tackled before. Think! Some of them are mutations because they are at the left of another character. Think hard!

THURSDAY: Lesson Four - 认识你很高兴
The character for field is easy because it does look like a field, and a window: . On the other hand, the character for white is really puzzling because it looks like .  I know, right. What the F is white about that. Anyway the authors of the book did not give an illustration from where this was based so we could only guess. But memorize that one because it seems to be high frequency because it is used in the particle (the first character) which is used to connect nouns so that they modify each other like adjectives would. Example? Refer to last week’s dialogues. Let’s throw in another new word before we end today’s lesson. To say your name you use the which is actually not that hard to write. It roughly translates to “to be called” like llamarse or heissen, I guess.

FRIDAY: Lesson Four - 认识你很高兴
Last day, yes! The first character means only and is written like . Yes, you’ve seen this character before as part of a verb that we discussed last Tuesday. If you are observant you would realize that this one lends its sound to that word instead of its meaning. I am getting the hang of this and I am liking it! So if you see a character, it either represents a meaning or a sound! As to why that character means “only” I really have no idea. The second one is also useful and is used mostly with compounds referring to language or speech: . Yes, you’ve also seen that one before and it is easy to recognize. It mutates into a weirder form when it is written to the left of another character. It might seem surprising, but it is both the characters to the left of the verb to know 认识. Surprise! It looks like a stylish letter i. And for our last two words before we wrap up this chapter, we have 语言 which means language. You know all those characters, believe me. The last one is for surnames 贵姓.

For next week I will be covering lesson five. We are making progress! The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in September 2012! =)

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