Showing posts with label chinese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chinese. Show all posts

09 April 2009

grad school plans

emphasis on plans. minimum 5 years later. i want a break from school, I need some life experiences doing things! but i already have many ideas for what I want to research for grad school.

oh yes, i forgot to mention, as of right now, i don’t want to go to grad school for art. mainly because those programs are aimed at people who want to teach art a college level or are serious conceptual artists who are truly making art. There are a few people at my school right now that are like that, and I know for sure I’m not like that. I'm not a very conceptual person, i prefer to focus on form and design, and I don’t feel as if the contemporary art world direction is right for me. It doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about it, only that my interests don’t match up with the graduate programs. and plus, the art related things i do like to do, i don’t feel as if i need school as much as I would need it for linguistics. but perhaps the more realistic reason is that i'm just a little bit tired of art school and would like a change. remember, i prefer small bites of everything over one big bite of one thing.

My interest in languages goes very well with many linguistics programs. Plus they still bring in my passion for art and food.

Topics I enjoy and would perhaps pursue:

1. How the choice of words we use reflect who we are as a person. (this may not be the correct title, but its all I can think of at the moment.) For example, in our photography class, my professor, Lawrence McFarland, became very passionate about the difference between shooting a photo, taking a photo, and making a photo. In the end, the same thing happens: a new photo exists.

Shooting a photo implies the photographer is forceful, rude, invasive, and harsh. Shooting is for guns and weapons. When you shoot a photo, its aligning yourself with those objects of destruction. And that is not what photography should be about.

Taking a photo implies you know nothing about what you are doing. You’re just mindlessly pushing the button. Harmless, but no real thinking involved.

However, when you make a photo, you are thinking about what you are trying to communicate. You are creating something in the form of a photograph. There’s a level of skill and thought involved here that the other terms can’t imply.

Another example is from p. 116 of teach yourself linguistics by Jean Aitchison. (I know, i know, i’m a huge dork for reading this book willingly, but I always regretted not taking a linguistics class in college). She (or he?) talks about these 3 phrases:

I should be grateful if you would make less noise.

Please be quiet.

Shut up!

All three of those end in the same result: a person making less noise, but the way you request it makes all the difference. And plus it tells you a lot about the personality of the person making the request.

2. How new words are formed related to culture and food. (again, a terrible title, but I'm not too concerned with naming my topics yet)

Let’s start with the Chinese word “餅” pronounced “bing3”

This character is used in the words:

cookie, 餅乾, “bing3 gan1”, “biscuit”

deep-fried pancake, 油餅, “you2 bing3”, “crêpes chinoises aux oignons”

moon cake, 月餅, “yue4 bing3”, “gâteau de lune”

In other words, there is absolutely no way to translate bing3 concisely. It is anything that is round and flat made from a dough. However, just look at the huge variations in english and french:

A cookie in America is always sweet. A “bing3” can be savory! It can be baked, fried, dried, etc. It can even be a flat bread (for the deep-fried pancake). However, although it is widely accepted to call it a pancake, it actually is a flat bread! Yet you could absolutely not call it a type of bread in Chinese. And yet it is not a pancake, because pancakes use a batter, and this uses a dough. And in French, they call it a crepe, but a crepe is also from a batter and much thinner than the bing3. And a moon cake is most definitely not a cake. You also could not call it a cake back in Chinese. It’s a bing3. The word “cake” in Chinese is completely different

See how 1 word is so confusing? But so fascinating to me.

Another example is “fry.” There are 4 ways to say “fry” in Chinese. However, only one word exists in English for “fry.” And so when Chinese food started to trickle over to the western world, new words were created (and old words adapted) in English to help differentiate between the Chinese definitions of “fry.” Stir-fry, pan-fry, deep fry, and sauté.

3. Ancient phrases that people have adapted to contemporary times. I love how the essence of a phrase never loses it’s meaning regardless of the centuries that pass. And I think it would be nice to study those changes. In Chinese we study a lot of proverbs, and the majority of them are from ancient classical chinese culture, where it was all about emperors and conquering lands and what not. However, the lessons of these proverbs continue as people have updated the context into situations that are of today’s times. The timelessness of them is what makes me so attracted to them.

My current French prof brought up anthropology today when I mentioned language, culture, and food. I hadn’t even considered that topic because I thought I was going into the sociolinguistic realm. But who knows. I’ve got many years to figure out what exactly I want to do!

22 October 2008

French and Chinese

It's very funny how things work out in the end.

I took French for the first time last semester. And then I studied it on my own throughout the summer and up until now. I knew for sure I had mastered and learned everything in 2nd semester French, but I needed to prove it so I could take the third semester. So, I took the French placement test, and 65 dollars later I neverously waited for my results. What if I didn't even place out of beginning French? What if this was a huge waste of time? Is it even possible to skip classes? I felt like out of place when I took the test with a bunch of freshman who had taken years of it at high school, after all, what was a senior doing taking a placement test? I got my results back... and I placed out of the first four semesters of French.


I didn't mean to do that.

I only wanted to skip one semester! Not three! It didn't seem plausible that I could possibly be ready for 5th semester upper division French, and I thought to myself that something must be wrong with this test, it was too easy and put me too far ahead! I decided to go talk to the French undergraduate advisor. He basically confirmed what I feared... that based on my test scores, i should enroll in 5th semester French. And if it was too hard, then to drop it and enroll in 4th semester. But that I definitely did not need to enroll in 3rd semester (which was my original plan.)

After that I went to speak to a professor who was teaching 4th semester, I trekked to his office and asked for his opinion. He said he couldn't really judge me yet, and that his only concern for me was writing since the placement test was entirely multiple choice. I mentioned I had penpals I wrote to, and he said if I sent him a writing sample he'd be able to judge better.

So, I sent off an email that contained as many grammar points as I could fit without interrupting the content of the message:


Je suis l'étudiante chinoise qui vous a rendu visite hier, lundi
après-midi. Je ne peux pas vous montre une lettre que j'ai écrite à ma
penpal parce que j'écris toutes mes lettres à la main. Donc, je vais
vous écrire une nouvelle lettre. Je sais qu'il y aura beaucoup
d'erreurs, mais j'espère qu'il est possible que vous puissiez
déterminer mon niveau plus précisément. La semestre dernière, j'ai
appris un peu de français et je l'ai aimé beaucoup parce que le
français a ouvert des portes et des fenêtres culturelles pour moi. Et
après la fin de cours, je continuais mes études français durant mes
vacances quand j'ai décidé que les langues étrangères étaient devenues
mon autre passion. Je pensais que mon passion était seulement les
arts, mais en ce moment j'ai deux passions dans la vie. (Peut-être
j'ai trois passions, parce que j'adore aussi les pâtisseries! Des
gâteaux, des macarons, des tartes - le style raffine du pâtissiers
français m'intéresse!) Je ne veux pas oublier tout ce que j'ai appris.
Je pourrais écrire plus, mais je ne pense pas vous voudriez lire un

Quel niveau est-ce que vous pensez que je devrais prendre?
Merci beaucoup d'avoir pris le temps de me parler.

A plus tard,

PS: Je dois admettre que je consulte le dictionnaire souvent quand j'ecris.
PPS: J'espère que vous passez une bonne journée!

And I received this reply:


J'ai lu avec intérêt votre lettre. Oui, il y a quelques petites erreurs, mais je pense qu'elle est suffisamment bonne pour vous permettre de vous inscrire dans le 320E pour le semestre prochain avec d'excellentes possibilités de réussite. N'ayez donc pas peur: vous êtes bien préparée pour votre entrée dans la "upper division!"


! I'm reassured more now that an actual professor believes I am ready for upper division. I still feel nervous over the fact that I'm skipping so much... but if a placement test and two people believe I am ready for 5th semester French, then ready I will be! And my favorite part about his letter is from the first sentence: avec intérêt. With interest. My letter was interesting to him! And that's just a reminder, as important as grammar and correctness is, content and idea is always more important. It gives your work heart and appeals to people to actually want to read what you want to say.

Now... Chinese!
I've taken one accelerated Chinese course, which covers two semesters of Chinese in one semester. And I am currently in the second level accelerated Chinese course, which also covers 2 semesters. So when I take Chinese next semester... i'll be taking 5th semester Chinese. Isn't that a funny coincidence?

I never ever thought I'd be taking 5th semester French and Chinese at the same time, during my last semester of college! It's going to be challenging but I am so excited to pursue these two passions of mine.

06 September 2008

où vais-je? where am i going? 我是到那裡去﹖

If I don't write this down, my brain will explode. I've been thinking so much, and it needs to be organized in writing - or else I cannot think new thoughts, must let the old thoughts out!

I think, finally, at the age of 21, I've narrowed down what I want to do in life. Or maybe not. But this is a much stronger feeling than I felt at 18 when I began college. For the past 3-4 years, I've always questioned why I chose studio art as my major. And for the past 3-4 years, I never had a good answer. And I still don't. Except that I love making. But I could really care less about the critiques, the shows, the galleries, the conceptual thoughts, the scene, etc. All I really cared was that my hands more moving and creating. Which is why I also love baking. But no real university offers a culinary degree, that's what culinary school is for. However, I am always active in baking as I do it any chance I get when school is not busy. I always figured I'd graduate, and get a normal job and continue to make stuff on my own. Because I have never wanted to be an artist artist, as in a person who lives solely off of their creations. I've never had an urge to go in that direction.

In the Spring of 07, I applied for a scholarship to an artist residency program called Ox-bow, in Michigan. I got runner-up. And since I did not receive the scholarship, I signed up for Photography I and U.S. History at Tarrant County College. I took Photography under a nice teacher called Oscar. amazing guy. And I learned a lot. Completely reversed my hatred of it from high school. And there, I saw an ad for Photogaphy II in Italy, and Expressive Photogaphy in France. A study abroad course I was finally interested in! I was set on going, even though it was not to happen until summer 08. (Funnily enough, it turns out that the person who I was runner up for dropped out of school. however, the school decided to still give him/her the scholarship even though he/she was not a student and was no longer eligible to receive it. and he/she went, complained the whole time, and left on the 2nd day. so in the end... it was a wasted scholarship. of course i was a little piqued when I heard that, but... now i'm so glad it happened because it set the stage for everything else!)

In the fall of 2007, I decided that it was time to finally attempt to go back to something I once hated and dreaded with a passion: Chinese. I hated Chinese when I was little because I was the only person of chinese descent in my school (and in high school I was maybe 1 of 4) and I was forced to go to school every saturday morning to learn things that I could not use anywhere except that chinese school on saturday mornings. I fought and eventually got my way, quitting in 6th grade. And I don't regret quitting at all - at the time, it was of no use to me, nobody around me spoke it, and there was nothing to make me love it.

As I grew older, my mother took me to Taiwan more and more often. summer 03 (i think), summer 06, summer 07, winter 07/08... and there, i loved it more and more. when I was little, i loved it, but now i really loved it. the culture, the food, the people, the way of life... it appealed so much more to me now that I was 20 instead of 14 or 10 or 7. (How much and why I love Taiwan, now that is another story.) I began to fall in love with things that required me to know the language: beading, food, etc. When I was younger, there was nothing to connect me to the language, except for the fact that I was chinese. But now, I loved the city, I loved the stores, I loved the books... and I needed to know the language so I could continue this immersion!

And so, I decided to take Chinese 604 in the Fall of 07. I was petrified. It was a grueling course, but it was fantastic. I bonded so well with the group of students in that class (probably because we were all of the same ABC situation), and was genuinely sad when it ended. I wanted to take the next level class, Chinese 612. However, at that time, I was not willing to sacrifice my 8-12 ceramics class for a class that met M-F at 10AMs. It would mean I would have to give up ceramics, the one art I had taken since high school. And I wasn't going to do that - yet.

I was ready to register for Italian, since many of my art history classes had links to Italy. And not to mention that one of my most favorite professors at UT -ever-, Louis Waldman, spoke Italian. (He is another story as well, I could go on about his amazingness!) However, my roommate was taking French and set on it. And that is tempting - to take a language class with someone you know, especially your roommate, would make the class fun. Not to mention, practice and homework = easy! 5 seconds away. My mind still wasn't set, until I began looking into the individual programs. And I made up my mind the moment I found a syllabus online for Italian that mentioned having to spend additional time in a language lab. Physically going into a computer lab to listen to files and practice. No, no, no! And then I saw the francais interactif website, which had all the vocabulary, pronunciation, videos, and practices online... And I decided that the French program seemed better organized and structrued, so I signed up for French. (Since I was signed up for the study abroad class in France and Italy, either language was a win-win for me. Had it been between Italian and Russian or Italian and Greek, Italian would have won regardless.)

And I am so glad I did. I loved my French class, a big reason being that we had a visiting lecturer from France. A French person! I realized I had never met a real French person, so it was fascinating to learn about his culture and country. I also realized how much I enjoyed learning from a native speaker. All three of my Spanish teachers in high school were not native speakers. Fluent, yes. Good, yes. But the culture part, that you must be born with. Living there for 10, 20 years does not count. I like to learn from people who grew up there, not studied there. It doesn't mean they were bad, but the native part makes a huge difference to me.

In the beginning of the new spring 08 semester, I was a little bit miserable. Not because of anything related to my French class, but because I sorely sorely missed Chinese. I had developed a true fondness for it, and I had chosen not to take it. Not because I couldn't. But because I chose not to. And that decision was killing me. So once registration rolled around, I finally made the decision that I hadn't been willing to make for the past 3-4 years: to not take ceramics. Maybe a small small part of me deep deep inside a long time ago wanted to be a ceramicists - and I think I wasn't willing to let go of that small dream until now. However, I never really wanted that dream, it was more of an easy answer to "what else can I do with something I love?" and not "what do I really want to do?" And I did love ceramics, and I still do - but I needed to pursue what else was consuming my heart, which was Chinese.

Then in the summer of 08, I went to France (and Italy & Switzerland). that is a whole novel. But it obviously only confirmed my direction in life as well as my love for the French language. And it really is a whole different story that I don't feel like typing up now - or even thinking about. But many things happened in France that for sure are pointing me in a specific direction.

Now that I am in chinese again (fall 08) -I am so so happy! I miss French, but there is a huge difference between French and Chinese for me: I need someone to push me to memorize and learn Chinese because it is so easy to give up on. French is very easy to learn on my own. Many French words exist in english, and vice versa. If I don't understand, there are context clues and I can guess. I can use the alphabet and easily figure it out myself. Chinese? If I don't know it, it is a pain to look it up and I become lazy. The grammar is finicky in that since I am a native speaker, I often think something sounds right when in fact it is completely wrong. French is just much easier to keep up with, and I don't need another class to push me. Plus, French was so slow for me! I wanted to learn more in a shorter amount of time, but the class wasn't structured that way since it was the basic beginning course. I much prefer the accelerated courses.

I haven't even mentioned my art classes or geology. they get their own posts, later, when I get to organizing my thoughts about them. but, they are still very important nonetheless!

All that leads up to now. and what will happen next. and i'll save that for a later post.

On a side note, here are my goals for this semester (in no order)
1. Cook once a week
2. Exercise every day. Allow myself 3 miss days for the entire semester. And they better be real good excuses. The best would be zero miss days. But we'll see!
3. Listen to rfi every day.
So far I have managed to do all this since I started it on 23 august 2008. And I don't want to stop.