Wednesday, November 12, 2014

40 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 4

Side note: Chairman Mao's son died as a result of an air strike during the Korean War (he was serving as a Russian translator), not the Vietnam War--must remember to clarify this with my ESOL student next week!  The guy didn't know anything about World War I, either. To quote The Magician's Nephew, which some of his schoolmates are reading, "What DO they teach them in these schools?" Little history in China, it seems.

Today, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn and to teach language.  I am so grateful to have studied French and Russian, and Polish and German (though I recall very little of these last two).  Knowing where I tend to mess up, where I've gotten lost in translation, has really helped me to appreciate where non-English speakers tend to get stuck in our language. Our articles are wicked, but at least not gendered like those in French.  Would that we had only to add a past-indicator word to a whole sentence like Mandarin does to indicate tense rather than conjugate a bunch of irritatingly irregular verbs.  One of these days my Chinese vocabulary will extend beyond Shehsheh-ni and Dobochiye.  And there is so much lexical cross-fertilization from English these days, from wholesale lifting of terminology to the "naturalization" of foreign words in pronunciation and spelling.  Explaining roots and relationships between words takes me on an historical tour through Greece, Rome, and terra Franca and Germanica.  I hope that my enthusiasm for language and history will be absorbed by the single Chinese student who remains to me (the Russian lady quit--truly, she didn't need me, just real-world practice), and that he will learn to see a world beyond just basketball and video games!

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