The first thing my mother said when she saw my new haircut was, “You must be feeling pretty comfortable in Taiwan, if you chopped off that much of your hair!” I suppose she was right. Also, I conducted the entire exchange with my stylist in Chinese, just about. So I got what I deserved. Continue reading
Tag Archives: speaking Chinese
Greetings, dear GMF readers! My recent absence has been due to a recent flailing attempt at immersion in Chinese language, a perhaps ill-advised challenge I recently posed here. It has been one week, and somewhere between losing myself in Chinese grammar, abandoning the experiment all together, and losing my mind, I have come to some conclusions about language pledges:
1. Above all, do no harm. (Like the medical oath this means to myself, to others, to the poor electrodes in my brain. Really, it’s just not worth it!)
2. It’s easier to speak Chinese (or your chosen foreign language) to strangers, classmates, or those who cannot or will not speak English to you. It is IMMENSELY tricky to speak it to good friends who do speak English, or in any situation where you really need something specific and important.
3. It is also very difficult to speak solely in a foreign language if you lack certain vocabulary, especially such relevant and vitally important words as “need,” “shoes,” “whiskey,” “valium,” and/or “return flight home.” (Just kidding! And I actually know that last one: 直飛到紐約, I think!) Looking up several unknown words at a time in a dictionary, in public while people are waiting expectantly, can get frustrating real quick! 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
I’m finally here!! My first day in Taipei was spent eating and not getting hit by cars, not necessarily in that order.
I arrived in Taiwan safely and without too much fuss. It was 19 hours total travel time, one layover in Anchorage, Alaska, and several hours spent sleeping, thanks to a potent combination of sleep deprivation prior to the trip, a double vodka tonic served up by a bartender in New York (that tasted like rubbing alcohol), and some NyQuil (taken after the layover, NOT with the cocktail, don’t worry). I was met by a friendly woman who works for the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan), who made me feel very welcome and helped me check in to the hotel.
I didn’t feel too jetlagged, so after securing some WiFi and checking in with my family via Skype, I decided to take to the Taipei streets and seek out some lunch and temporary groceries, like fruit or snacks, to keep me on the right side of hunger and foreign-country-distress. Continue reading