Since my focus for learning Chinese has now switched to reading, I’ve been paying more attention to signs in Chinese. There are a few signs in particular that are along my routine walk home. It’s been really rewarding as I study more, the signs are beginning to come alive. I had this same experience when I first learned Lao and it’s just as exciting now with Chinese. Learning to read a new alphabet is a very slow process, but noticing little improvements this way has really been helping my motivation.
I’ve also been listening to a blog started by a native Chinese person who moved to the U.S. and a native Canadian who lived in China for about a decade. They have vocabulary lessons, which are quite boring actually, so the only part I really pay attention to are their cultural lessons and comparisons. Here’s what they said about names in Chinese: when saying a name the last name is said first. This is thought to be because of the importance of the family. People are first identified by their family and then they, sometimes, are identified individually. – That’s a crazy idea to me, especially growing up in a generation with such a strong feeling of individuality. I love my family and am extremely close, so this would be fine for me, but I could just imagine how it would be for those who don’t feel very connected to their family or maybe feel their family represents something different then what they represent. Also – Apparently Chinese given names are quite profound and in some cases can sound quite arrogant. For instance the guy’s given name on this blog is “super healthy”. I’ll be excited to figure out what my name will be and how over-the-top I can make it without stirring up too much.
Also through my character identification app, I have been learning about the history of some of the characters – The word Mandarin means high government official and the language name comes from this. The language used to be only spoken by those high officials, until that was now changed to be the standard language everywhere in mainland China.
Lastly, I learned the difference between Peking and Beijing. During this time of the name change the romanization of the name did, but the Chinese character and the pronunciation stayed the same. That means that the only thing that changed from Peking to Beijing was the English interpretation of the pronunciation. After reading the Pinyin and hearing native speakers say the word, I think Beijing is much closer to the actual pronunciation. It’s also much easier to break it down into it’s smaller meaning. Bei, means north and jing, means capital. The name is literally “North Capital”. So, now whenever I see the spelling Peking, I’ll know it is meant just to be Beijing. That also means that whenever I order the duck I won’t call it Peking duck, instead I’ll call it Beijing duck, which sounds delicious by the way.
This is really fun for me to look into all this material and start to learn about China before I even go there. I’m sure even if I have been studying about China my whole life, I still would have plenty to learn, so I’m just really trying to brush over the basics and be all less offensive and ignorant as I can be when I get there. Then, the REAL stories and meaning will come out when I get to dig to the bottom of things.
Last exciting China announcement is that I went to the consulate and received my 10 year visa. After many hours of research preparation and one immediate rejection, I finally did it. For the next ten years, i can enter China whenever I want, can stay there for 60 days, and enter as many times as I need to. That is unless the immigration officer is having a bad day, then I could just be rejected for no reason. Regardless, I have a sticker that says I can enter China, sometimes, if they’re feeling like it, have good relations with the US, and if I don’t look too dirty. I still feel like I should create an immigration routine to get through the China boarders. The routine I found was the same in Ghana and Laos, so we’ll see if that holds true for China as well.