Pat's Log
Sat, 27 Sep 2008

A New Chapter...
...or at least a new subsection? Life has been busier than ever since I last wrote. I meant to put a snap of something interesting from my trips to San Francisco and San Diego; something of my trip to Burwash on Labour Day, an awesome abandoned prison just outside of Sudbury. Maybe later. Is September really nearly over?

In all of the rush of life, I decided to take a night course in Chinese Mandarin. I normally pick up languages very easily: everything makes sense when I can look something up in the dictionary based on how it's pronounced, or otherwise pronounce a word found in the dictionary. Chinese has a complete separation of written and spoken language that prevents that. It's not phonetic. Without that ability, there really wasn't much point making anything of the several words picked up over the last several visits to Taiwan. Formal lessons seem like the way to go.

I don't expect to be fluent with Mandarin by the end of this, but I do expect to get a grasp of syntax and be able to pronounce Pinyin properly. The latter is actually quite easy. As it turns out, I picked much of it up on the subway in Taipei, where the text is shown in Traditional Chinese, Pinyin, and then pronounced over the speakers. There is a certain logic once the basic sounds are understood.

Nonetheless, it is a daunting task when the first sentence on page 2 of the Integrated Chinese textbook says this of the Pinyin letter "b": "b is a bilabial unaspirated plosive," and that "f is a labio-dental fricative." A what-now? That's alright, since apparently "d is a toungue tip alveolar unaspirated plosive." Yep, I've got a ways to go...

[] | posted @ 03:20 | link

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