Friday, December 7, 2012

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Penpal

This blog has been in existence for a while and I feel like we're practically old friends by now, so I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm taking mandarin lessons. Yup, yup, I'm trying to learn a new language.

Of course, "learning" a new language implies that I'm actually learning something. When in actuality, it's just me staring blankly at the teacher and drooling on myself in confusion. To add insult to injury, my niece and nephew are in Mandarin immersion and are picking up the language faster than Superman can fly. They like to regularly correct my pronunciation and tell me how wrong I am. Have you ever been schooled by children? IT. DOES. WONDERS. FOR YOUR. SELF. ESTEEM.

I've spent the last week watching a lot of awesome Chinese martial arts movies to see if my mandarin lessons have been paying off. Turns out that Chinese actors like to do this completely ridiculous thing where they talk at a normal speed. It's absurd. I mean, if these actors thought about anybody other than themselves, they would know to speak really slowly (like one word every 20 seconds) and enunciate. REALLY ENUNCIATE. Course, it would make movies like 16 hours long, but it's only the polite, right thing to do.

Seriously though, I LOVE Chinese movies, especially martial arts ones. These actors defy gravity (who needs Elphaba?!) and contort their bodies in ways that make my body hurt just thinking about it. They're amazing! I often think about becoming as awesomely limber and fit as them. Then I realize it would interfere with my very strict regimen of eating unhealthy foods and being lazy so I just go back to my candy. EH.

Anybody else learning a new language too? Got any tips for me?

Incoming:


Incoming from Nora

Mail from the new married Natasha!
A letter from Santa...I mean Veronik.

Mail from Vanessa for Armitage Place!

Elves hard at work from Nicole

A postcard from Marissa

A week without mail from my Sushi is no week at all!!

Outgoing:


Since it's the first week of December, I decided to use all my Holiday/Winter themed envelopes while it was still appropriate. Course, I could have sent them out in the middle of July just to be randomly trippy (and that certainly seems like something I would do), but I figure that people should be appropriate at least once a year. So this is my time.

Blitzen, Donner, Rudolph, and um, er... Steve? I dunno, it's a lot of names and they're hard to remember so... the aforementioned reindeer plus a bunch of other ones are coming for Katri!

Snowy trees for Jay

Cold Hands, Warm Heart for Jona

Oh, and one quick shop announcement: I only have one pack each of the Skeleton Keys and Sheet Music envelopes left so if you were eyeing them, be sure to pick them up before someone else does! I don't know when they'll be in stock again.

And that's it from me, have a happy week everyone!

16 comments:

  1. Simple advice for you: Keep practicing and soon the language will come out from your mouth like a waterfall! :D I'm quite surprised to hear that you're learning Mandarin. I won't call myself an expert in Mandarin but I'm a Chinese alright. Feel free to ask me anything about the language! I'm happy to help! Great mail! Love the postcards! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the advice Bree! One of the sounds that I struggle with the most is the "zh" sound. That one is a doozy!

      Delete
  2. Squirrel, we're definitely connected. I didn't even know that you were watching martial arts movies and look at the postcard I sent you! And then I send you my longest white hair and what do I receive the very next day?! A note from you telling me about your longest white hair! Connected, I tell you.

    Oh, and did you know that Martin probably thinks that your name is "ma correspondante préférée"? Whenever I tell him things about you (like I just did about the Chinese martial arts movies since he watched so many of them a few years ago), I always say "my favorite penpal". You're not Laura, you're my favorite penpal. Or Squirrel. Which one do you prefer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connected! You are the yin to my yang.

      Oooohh, I love this. Well, in English, I prefer "Squirrel." I always vote for the option that has the fewest syllables because I am that lazy. However, in French, there is a certain "je ne sais quoi" about "ma correspondante préférée," isn't there? What is the french word for Squirrel? [Laura opens up another tab in her internet window and does a google search...] écureuil!! Lovely, but I definitely prefer "ma correspondante préférée." How can you argue with that? It already has the word "prefer" in it!

      Delete
  3. Don't feel bad about learning something new. It's hard learning something new. Even if it is a language. It take's time to learn something like Japanese, French, Chinese, German, Spanish. Even if kid's tell you it's wrong so it feel's bad.

    But they had to learn it over and over too just like you. It's more easy to teach children then adults.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sammy. Absolutely, it is much easier for children to learn things than adults. They have brains like sponges! :)

      Delete
  4. Yes, it doesn't please your self-esteem to be taught by children! But it may help though. At least they give you a opportunity to practise, and a motivation to learn faster because you don't want to be corrected by them any more :D
    I'm also in the process of learning a new language, not Mandarin, but Norwegian. I don't have any kids to "teach" me, but I don't know if I wish I had ;)

    By the way, nice mail :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tari! You're learning Norwegian! How awesome! Are you finding it difficult? Hopefully you have the opportunity to practice with someone too. Preferably someone that doesn't school you all the time though. :)

      Delete
  5. I went to Korea last summer and my friend was teaching a few kids English. We tried to communicate.. I'm over here mumbling in Korean with them staring at me thinking "what is she trying to say?" They defaulted to speaking English to me... The English they've been learning for about a week. SCHOOLED.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH, I am so glad that I am not alone in being schooled by children. I get it, I get it, they just learn quicker than us adults, but do they have to rub our faces in it so much?! :)

      Delete
  6. I'm absolutely crazy about languages. I've been studying Arabic for six years and now I can speak and read it (more or less. But now I need to learn an Arabic dialect to communicate with my neighbours, as standard Arabic is really far from daily spoken Arabic). In my firs travel to an Arabic country I only spoke with some children: "What's your name?" and it was all. But I was really happy!

    I think that learning a language involves a lot of time and effort (and probably Mandarin is harder than Arabic!), but it's also gratifying. In my opinion, learning languages opens your mind, do you agree?

    So don't give up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome! I think it's great that you had the opportunity to go to an Arabic country and actually practice the language. I'm sure that really helped. Good for you for your diligence as well! Six years is a long time and that's great that you stuck with it.

      Absolutely, it takes a lot of time and effort. One of my biggest issues is that there are certain sounds in Mandarin that have no English equivalent, so in addition to opening my mind, it's also forcing me to learn how to move my mouth and tongue in a new way to get the proper sound. It's challenging, but ultimately very rewarding as you pointed out.

      Delete
    2. Ha ha, also in English and Arabic there are sounds I don't have in my mother tongue! But I'm afraid I'm better pronouncing Arabic than English. English pronunciation is very difficult for me, I'm better at reading and writing. Or maybe I need find a good teacher... :)

      Btw, did I tell you I like your blog a lot?

      Delete
    3. Well, I can't attest to your English pronunciation, but your written English is excellent! I know for a fact that your written English is even better than some native English speakers I know (which is totally awesome, though not for them. :)) I can't even begin to imagine reading and writing Mandarin. Let's tackle one challenge at a time....

      Aw, thanks so much! I really like your blog too! Such great mail!

      Delete
  7. My friend Alana gave me a really good pep talk during my I'm-pretending-to-learn-Spanish phase earlier this year (it helps that she works teaching English as a second language...although weirdly, I don't have a problem with English!). According to her, there's something a window for children to pick up a language easily and perfectly, but by the time you're about thirteen years old, that window's pretty much closed and you have to work a little harder to learn it. So don't worry if it takes a while to really pick it up. She also said that you should learn to *think* in that second language, because by the time you get to the really conversational stuff, it'll be much longer and more awkward if you have to translate in your head first before you can actually formulate a response...which you then have to translate again (I guess that might be part of full immersion makes sense a way for some people to learn?).

    You could always try youtube? There are probably a few helpful intro videos at least to help fine tune pronunciation and such. ^__^ And maybe some silly commercials in Mandarin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an excellent suggestion to *think* in that second language to help learn the vocab easier. I need to start doing that. Did that help you with your Spanish lessons?

      I should definitely youtube silly commercials in Mandarin. I know an awesome Spanish video that'll teach me my numbers....

      Delete