M is for…

…quite obviously Mandarin. My love affair with this language could be described at the moment as, brief, occasional, forgetfully engaged and challenging. Not really much “love” going on…I really want to dedicate more time to this but due to starting lecturing tomorrow, teacher training…PhD, work, ummmm opening an exhibition…yeah we know what’s going on, it’s a busy time. I really do need to start focussing on it more though. I now have a huge white board that leans up against the wall of my dining room/office to practice on everyday.

On Sunday,  it is the Chinese New Year (which is also Valentine’s day) –  Happy New Year (Xin Nian Kuai Le 新年快樂). 2010 is the year of the Tiger (hu 虎) – Courageous, active, and self-assured.  Optimistic, passionate and independent. Rebellious, dynamic, and unpredictable. Quick tempered but considerate.  Affectionate but careless.  The Tiger is a natural-born leader and symbolizes power, passion and daring.

Born in 1983, I am the year of the Pig (zhu 豬) – Fun and enlightening personality blessed with patience and understanding.  They enjoy life and all it has to offer, including family and friends. They are honest and thoughtful and expect the same of other people. Hardworking, giving, willing, helpful, easygoing, gullible, sometimes stubborn with an eye for detail.  They are great friends to have on your side.  They will nurture you, care for you and make sure you have everything you need.  They are loyal and good-natured.  Pig people are more comfortable giving of their own time or attention than they are to ask others for it. They can make something out of nothing. So those of you out there that do know me…is this accurate?

There are four session which I think I need to fill you in on since Christmas…and it is all slowly starting to make sense, in a grammatical way at least. The term started with an informal test…which I really did fail, well kind of. Some things I id recognise, others things I really didn’t. It was a recap of food and drink and if I remember correctly I was ill for that session last year. Further topics have been…he/she is taller/shorter/larger/smaller than me…I can/can’t write/speak English/Mandarin. Last week we spoke of hobbies and body parts and had to sing the classic children’s song head, shoulders, knees and toes. We were each allocated a word as part of the song…I got “and”, the most used word in the song. Needless to say this caused so much laughter….tears as well. Smiles all round. I always have a sense of fear going into these lessons. It is so, so tough sometimes, and completely inaccessible. Your brain just stops working somehow. When driving past a Chinese take-away last week in Coseley I got so excited as I knew one of the two words in the restaurant title. It was dou 都 meaning both or all, I remember the character as it has a B-like symbol in it. Anyway, it made my day.

Today’s session was all about the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and your timetable or schedule, what time do you get up? What time do you go to bed? So times got reintroduced. I have always found telling the so difficult, when it really isn’t that hard. I suppose it’s sentence structure. The verb always comes at the end.

Lilly, the Mandarin teacher, gave us each a red envelope (hongbao 红包) which is given to children on Chinese New Year, filled with money either in 6’s or 8’s as those numbers are seen as lucky. Remember, it is never in 4’s as 4 implies death, hence why there is rarely any 4th floors in China. So on Sunday, when it is Chinese New Year, say gongxi gongxi 恭喜恭喜 which means congratulations…and also say nian nian you yu 年年有余 which means Wishing you prosperity every year…I really do wish you all this in 2010 and in an American loving one-and-all sense as they say it to every man and his dog out there, Happy Valentine’s Day…everyone deserves to be loved.

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