Tuesday, 12 July 2016

British sense of humour 01 (England)

A railway company covering the south of England has been beset by problems: staff sickness, industrial action, to name two.  Delays are so bad that some commuters have apparently lost their jobs because they regularly fail to get to work on time.

To solve the crisis, I read in one paper last week, the company decided to cancel 341 trains (per day).  The heading for the report in the paper said:  Better never than late!

(England, 2016)

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Chinese heart versus the Chinese brain

Re-reading Valerio’s comment of 07 Dec 2015, on my blog Why do we say someone is "ratty" when they're in a temper (London)

QUOTE Just yesterday I was listening to a radio show where they were talking of "functional medicine" as being the new trend, and this made me think that it may be just traditional Chinese medicine rediscovered… UNQUOTE

has just made me recall something on this front.

I tend to say outrageous things in the course of my teaching, because it makes students laugh, which leaves a deeper impression, in turn helping them remember the word more easily.  

Some 30+ years ago, when I was teaching newspaper (formal register) Chinese, we’d come across constructions such as 进行发展 jìnxíng fāzhǎn / "carry out development", using 发展 as a noun, when they could've used 发展 as a verb.   I'd tell the students that Chinese journalists got paid by the word count.  Time after time, I'd repeat this joke whenever we came across such usage of language in formal register Chinese.  A decade later, a student said she'd read somewhere that Chinese journalists DO get paid by the word count!

Another joke I used to apply to my teaching: in Chinese, one says 心里想 (xīn lǐ xiǎng / "heart inside think”)  for thinking something to oneself (“inside the heart”, without saying it aloud).  I'd say to the student, "The Chinese heart does all the emotional and intellectual processes.  The Chinese brain doesn't do any work.”  (I often say outrageous things because it’s more effective as a mnemonic, apart from making them laugh.) A couple of years ago, I heard a programme on BBC’s Radio 4 saying scientists had discovered the human heart does more than just pumping blood around the body.  So, if it is true that language usage reflects thought/cultural processes, the Chinese must already have known long ago that the heart is in charge of all the intellectual and emotional processes as well.