Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heisig - book 2 (halfway)

Just a quick note to let you know that last week Thursday (20 June) I reached character 2250, which puts me halfway through Book 2 (1501-3000).

As you know from my post earlier this year, I have set myself the goal of finishing the book by the end of the year, and arguably - since I hit the midway point on 20 June - I am 10 days ahead of schedule.

So, I'm definitely on track!

As a reminder, you can find the full collection of Heisig posts I've written (and some reference pieces) summarised in this popular article here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Luke, SHE is your father

I'm sure you've noticed, when talking English with native-Chinese people, that they sometimes mistakenly interchange 'he' and 'she'. And although I noticed it in China, it is certainly more common in Hong Kong.

In Mandarin, 'he' (他) and 'she' (她) are both pronounced 'tā'  (same sound and same first tone). And I had convinced myself that because the two words sound the same, that in the mind of Chinese people it must be easy to confuse the translation into English.

But there were two things that kept bothering me ... (1) I figured Chinese people were more likely to think in terms of characters than pronunciations (since so many words sound the same), and (2) Why was the confusion of he/she so much more common in Hong Kong than mainland China?

Clearly, this wasn't the explanation I was looking for.  (*)

And it was only a couple of weeks ago that I found out!  Which surprises me since I've been living in HK for nearly three years already.

It turns out that in Cantonese they actually use the same word for 'he' and 'she' - 佢. In Mandarin, this is pronounced , and in Cantonese it's pronounced keoi5.  Yes you can find both 他 and 她 in a Cantonese dictionary (both pronounced 'taa1'), but it's not the one they use. So now we know.

佢 ... Yes, the force is strong with this one. (*)