Back to It

Andrei Marks · January 30, 2009

Wow, this has been a long break.

I’ve finished up with a semester of law school, but I’ve done very little in the way of language study since I returned from China. But that’s going to change, because today I received a nice solid kick in the ass.

I had a phone interview in which my ability to read and translate on the fly were called to task. Just two paragraphs from two different news sites (Xinhua and a Taiwanese site). They were from two articles, one a science article and the other an economics article, and all I had to do was recite the first paragraph of each, and follow it up with a translation. But I kept stumbling, and failing to recall words, and totally blanking on the meaning of some traditional characters. It was embarrassing. The recitation wasn’t that bad, it was the on the fly translation that was the toughest.

So now I’m going to redouble my efforts. I’ve got a subscription to Chinesepod that I will be using to actually go over the lessons, rather than just listen to the mp3 class. In addition, I will be doing newspaper reading and spoken translation drills every day. If I run into the same interview situation I will not be left with this feeling of disappointment again.

And for parting words, here’s a very cool 歇后语 I learned from a Chinesepod lesson:

泥菩萨过江...自身难保.

Literally, clay Bodhisattva crossing a river…finds it difficult to protect itself. It was used in a line of a dialogue in which a statement about how China might be able to overtake America economically, by way of the current financial crisis. The xiehouyu was used as part of the reply, the essence of which was that it would be difficult for China to do that, because her hands are tied simply taking care of herself at the moment.

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