Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grammatical error: "Even if ... but"

> even if today is sunday,but we have to work.

That's a common mistake Chinese make in learning English. If you have "even if", you don't need "but". Drop one of the two. The same is true for "although".

As always, capitalize the first letter of the sentence. It makes people feel you're not writing English too casual.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Attitude thing

Educative comments from an online forum. Not just for Japanese.

Are Japanese natives generally exclusive?

"but I've met the people (some from Japan, some from China, although I'm sure it's global) that strike up a conversation with you in English but totally lose interest when you transition to their native language. That attitute would be language rape."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Off-topic: Message to My Neighbors

We're going to have a neighborhood night-out gathering and emails are sent to everybody. Neighbor's dogs used to bother me at night. So I took this opportunity to post the following message to the email list:

"I want to borrow this thread to send a friendly reminder to this wonderful neighborhood, that dog owners need to keep their best friends quiet late at night. While I need to train myself to tune out, the dogs need to be trained to only bark outdoors perhaps before 10pm or after 7am, or indoors to their happy owners' hearts' content at any time. This is a friendly neighborhood so I hope this message is taken with a friendly smile!"

As a result of this, I haven't heard any dog barking at night since then. One neighbor's email to me said "we don't have a dog...your lovely message would have been taken with all due respect and kindness. It's almost as if you were writing poetry!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How could some old time Chinese scholars learn foreign languages?

> 一开始就学中等或高级学习者的教材或看适合他们的难度的
> 文章,这样欲速则不达。(If from the beginning you
> study the textbooks suitable for an intermediate
> or advanced student or read articles whose difficulty
> matches their level, it's Haste makes waste.)

I agree. But one thing that has always bugged me is that some well known scholars in the 民国 times (about 100 years ago) learned foreign languages by directly reading classic literary works. For example,
他曾仅靠一部词典,一本凯撒的《高卢战纪》,就学会了非常复杂的拉丁文。(He (Jin Kemu) learned the complicated Latin language solely with a dictionary and a copy of Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War.)
到了英国,在布朗的指导下,辜鸿铭从西方最经典的文学名著入手,以最朴拙的死记硬背办法很快掌握了英文、德文、法文、拉丁文、希腊文 (Upon arrival in England, Ku Hung-ming, under the guidance of Brown (Forbes Scott Brown?), started from the classic literary works in the western world, and quickly mastered English, German, French, Latin, Greek by the most simplistic rote learning.)