2 years later, different job, and many Chinese (and other Asian) movies and TV shows later I felt a growing compulsion to know more. I printed out a list of the 150 most common Chinese characters and,on my lunch break, started to write them out and try to remember some. Ironically, Right Beside Me were 4 Chinese ladies having their lunch together but there was no way that I had enough nerve to ask any questions. Insecure? you betcha! but I was on my way …
Firstly, I have to say “yay for the internet !!” – it brings so much good information to my doorstep (It also brings plenty of stupid, useless stuff but I filter THAT out pretty quickly). Since the world came to Bejing in 2008 for the Olympics I think that China and entrepreneurs around the world used the internet to develop online language services.
Into this rich linguistic field came … me!
About 3 years ago I was chatting in the company lunchroom about tea with Wendy (Wei), a Chinese co-worker she showed me her package of loose tea. She pointed out that some of the Chinese writing indicated where it came from. I noticed the character “山” and asked if it referred to a mountain. When she said “yes”I was really impressed! In subsequent conversations she pointed out a few more letters and gave me the correct pronunciation which I proceeded to screw up completely. I’m sure she thought to herself “oy vai, I’ve created a monster“.
In other non-linguistic conversations she showed me her considerable artistic skills drawing characters from a popular Chinese drama called “Three Kingdoms” – whatever THAT was! I looked around the internet and found some episodes of this show and was immediately hooked, by both the high quality of the show and the story itself – I love Chinese history! I hunted down all 95 episodes and enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly.
While reading the subtitles I noticed, eventually, an inconsistancy. The name of the central character, Cao Cao, was not pronounced “Sao Sao” but more like “Tsao Tsao” – huh?!? The led me to search more and I stumbled on XiaoQian’s Pinyin course on youtube. aaahhhh, that cleared up so much. I watched Three Kingdoms again. The subtitles made more sense to me now.
I have been interested in China’s history and culture for my whole adult life. In college I specialized in Chinese and Russian history. But life, wife and children intervened and I gave priority to practical matters.
3 years ago I rekindled my interest by being introduced to Chinese TV and cinema by a coworker
My actual journey began about 8 months ago when I began to study Chinese characters and use language learning tools – all self-paced. One problem encountered was that my very limited time was mostly used up in searching for resources. What little time remained was used for learning.
About 4 months ago some terrific Chinese ladies at work took pity on this pathetic character trying to figure out a Chinese children’s book. They gave me encouragement and helped me focus on some things and leave less productive things alone.
This is a little place where I can post my experiences and thoughts on learning Mandarin. I live near Ottawa, Ontario Canada and started out in the fall of 2013 with no particular direction or plan. I just decided that it was time for me to explore this language.
I have an avid interest in Chinese history and culture dating back to my youth. Life somehow got in the way of my interest – spouse and kids tend to do that. I gave priority to them and it was the right thing to do. But now the kids are out of the house and I have a bit more flexibility in time to pursue this interest. So bring it on!
If you have an interest in China’s language or culture I hope you’ll find some benefit in my experiences or observations.