Monday, April 30, 2007

YCQ #7

Clean cup, clean cup! Move Down! The theme song of the day is 中国话[mp3], by S.H.E, a Taiwanese girl band. It's one of the most popular hits these days, occupying place number 7 in Baidu's list of most popular songs. Play it the video below, or open the mp3 link above.

So what is it about, you ask? Here is a complete translation, but the chorus says

The whole world is learning Chinese
Confucius's words are gradually globalizing
The whole world is speaking Chinese
The language we speak makes the world all listen carefully

It's celebrating the rise of Chinese as the next global lingua franca! (In case you missed the CCTV news, it's just a matter of time. China is doing a lot to promote Chinese language and culture worldwide, most notably the Confucius Institutes. Many of my students major in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, a field that is growing, but not as quickly as the government and these students hoped.) The more off-the-wall lines in the song are references to tongue twisters, classical tone scansion, and philosophy parables.

So what were we doing here again? Oh yeah, the question!
If you could live perfectly well without sleeping at all, what would you do at night?
Well, I have often wished I didn't have to sleep so much. I've never managed on less than about 8 hours of sleep average, unlike some older brothers we know. This means that they have dozens more hours each week to make bank working long hours, read lots of books, shop online, and still have time for a family/social life. All I seem to have time for is reading the internet and watching youtube movies. If I didn't have to sleep at all, I might find the time to grade papers, write a thesis, or even take a shower occasionally.

[Edit: 中国话 is actually the top song in the list of popular new songs.]

Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm coming to the party, and I'm coming as

a Computational Linguist, or a Corpus Linguist, or a Cognitive Scientist of Language, or a Luxury Car Salesman. And I'm moving to La Jolla, California. I am such an egotist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My 15 seconds of fame

I've said elsewhere that being a foreigner in China is a bit like being a minor celebrity. Well, now I really am famous. I'm mentioned a couple times in this news story, republished in the provincial education department news and Chinese university online news. Okay, so they decided to use a photo of a cute Korean girl instead of my lovely visage, and they didn't quite get what I said right, but this is clearly the most newsworthy thing I have done since the Golden West Pathfinder did the story about me that covered the whole back page.

The title, "我校留学生走进社区 体验中国“邻居节”" means "Our school's foreign students enter community to experience 'neighborhood festival'". The university's "International Culture Club" coordinated a neighborhood festival with a nearby residential community organization last Saturday morning. There were a bunch of presentations by the community residents and by university students.

来自美国的外教卢西恩第一个上台表演,他还客串了把主持人,将留学生们一一介绍给了观众。卢西恩与对外汉语专业的大一的女 生柴银赣一起合作唱了首中国的民歌《茉莉花》。演出前,两人一直在台下练习着这首歌。卢西恩告诉记者,10年前刚开始学中文的时候,他已经学过这首歌了。
This paragraph says,
Foreign lecturer Lucien, from America, was the first [of the foreigners] to go on stage to perform. He also acted as a host/announcer, introducing the exchange students one by one. [I actually introduced them as a group.] Lucien and first-year TCFL major Chai Yingan cooperated to sing Chinese folk song "Jasmine Flower". Before performing, they were off stage continuously practicing this song. [I think we sang it once.] Lucien told the reporter that 10 years ago, when he first started studying Chinese, he had already learned this song. [In fact, it's not been 10 years yet since I started studying Chinese, though I think I did say that at first, before correcting myself. And I learned the song the middle of my first year of Chinese.]
The story talks about the foreign students' performances, and then the last paragraph talks about me again.
For all the exchange students, it was their first time to come to a community and participate in this kind of activity. Foreign lecturer Lucien said that in America, only when he was a child had he participated in community festivals [I was actually talking about the activities in Lomalinda], and since coming to China he had even fewer opportunities to come into the community. [I'm actually not sure what the reporter means here.]
So, clearly, there were some communication problems. I notice the reporter didn't include my wittiest comment of the interview. When she asked what other talents I had besides singing, I said that actually my only talent is twiddling my thumbs. We had a hard time translating that though. These sheltered Chinese students don't know about thumb-twiddling. I showed them how to do it, but I was unable to explain the deep cultural significance.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Yellow Card Question, Episode 6

Some of my fans didn't care so much for my theme song, so by popular request, we have adopted a new one! It's from goldenox, and you should just hit the play button now.

powered by ODEO

Yes, that is correct. It is Reggaeton. In Chinese. Chinese Reggaeton. What will they think of next: Turkish Reggaeton? Uzbek Salsa? Apparently a couple of the lines are kinda crude though, so I wouldn't recommend singing those catchy lyrics in polite company.

Oh, so yeah, time for the show! w00t!

Today, without any pomp or circumstance, I draw a yellow card. But just before beginning to read I remember the exciting news! You can play now too! That's right, the best yellow card questions in the world are now in their first public beta release! Check it out! Practice your spoken English, entertain your friends at boring parties, or add content to your abandoned blog! (Yes, I'm talking about you.)

All right, where were we. Oh yes.

"If you had to choose, would you rather give up your sight or your hearing?"

I would certainly miss listening to good music, spoken language and the sounds of nature, but I don't think I could handle not seeing. So much information in my world is presented visually rather than auditorially. I'm color blind and near sighted, but also lacking musical sense, so I think I understand visual art better than music.

And I've been wanting to learn sign language anyway.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Truth

Originally uploaded by serapio.
So I thought I should clear some things up. My previous post, dated April 1, did in fact have a number of true statements.
  • The first sentence about thinking about what I want to do with my life is true.
  • At the time I wrote that post, the sun had come out, and in fact it had been over 30° C Saturday. Oddly, winter returned Sunday, and by Monday night it had dropped to 2°. Today it is spring time again.
  • I do kinda like it here these days. Posts about why are forthcoming.
  • My camera is broken. Sometime between celebrating Carnaval, Chinese New Year, and President's day in L.A. and when I arrived in Ningbo March 2, my camera decided to construct it's own reality.
The rest of it is nonsense. I am returning to San Diego in the fall.