We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this world map by Christoph Niemann (not drawn to scale), who writes Abstract City of the New York Times:
Tag Archives: New York Times
So I think I’m hitting a wall with my Chinese: I practice and practice and practice, and yet still, when given the option to speak English, I take it. And I think that if I keep this up, in time, I will merely be speaking English-with-a-little-Chinese, and not a-lot-of-Chinese-with-some-English-every-now-and-then to keep me sane.
So then this NY Times book review came along (thanks, Kim!), of a book called “Dreaming in Chinese,” by Deborah Fallows. When I read this book review over the weekend, I was struck by the cultural connotations and expectations implicit in each language. Also, I definitely want to read the book! And as I did my grammar homework last night, I began to realize that I was reaching the cliff of literal translation– at a certain point, trying to get a direct translation of this phrase, pattern, or grammatical structure is going to obscure and inhibit the sense that I was trying to make by learning the language at all. Today, we went over the grammar structures, and they began to feel more natural and smooth in conveying a universal meaning, even if we would choose much different English phrases to say equivalent things.
So I think I’m going to take the language plunge and jump off the cliff: go for immersion and speak only Mandarin for 2 weeks! Continue reading
I am currently in the last days of a fashion diet—although not entirely by choice. The term came from a New York Times article about the benefits of living on 6 pieces of clothing for a month: a “fashion diet” of sorts. Women, primarily, decided to downsize their wardrobes to see what would happen— and the results were surprisingly good. They wore lots of black, felt less materialistic, and spent absolutely no time deciding what to wear each day. The best (or maybe worst) part? No one else even noticed.
I saw the article when I started packing for a year on the other side of the world. I am NOT a light packer. I never have been, my travel fashion philosophy being, “But what if I suddenly need another sweater/skirt/dress/pair of shoes?” This of course, with the disclaimer that nothing ever happens to me that would fortuitously require a backup evening gown or glittery sandals. (And of course, one could always go shopping—ahem, Pretty Woman?)
But the challenge struck me: could I live on 6 pieces of clothing for a month? Then I thought, maybe 12 for a year? Continue reading
To continue in the thread of learning languages– this time without eating– I read this interesting claim in the New York Times Magazine this week: While your native language, or langue maternelle, does not inhibit one’s understanding of the world, it may, shape it in subtle ways. As Guy Deutscher, author of the article “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?”, argues, “If different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.”
Is that so? Continue reading