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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Object vs Context

Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought is a very interesting read. Asians and Westerners are so different in so many ways, and they live in literally a very different world.

He discussed the language effects which I find really intriguing.
Western languages force a preoccupation with focal objects as opposed to context. English is a "subject-prominent" language. There must be a subject even in the sentence "It is raining." Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, in contrast, are "topic-prominent" languages.

I don't know Japanese or Korean, but I do know "It is raining" in Chinese is "xia yu le!"

It's indeed very different. It shows that to learn Chinese, at least for English speaking people, it's much better to learn through context than to memorize a dictionary. And be prepared, learning Chinese can change your world, literally!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Learning a language is too expensive to waste

Learning a language can be very expensive. Not only the money you paid to school or your tutor, but also the time and energy you committed.

If you started with two weeks program, and four weeks later you forgot everything, all the effort your have made is wasted! It's better that you didn't start it at all. You can use the money, the time and the energy to do something more beneficial, like go hiking or read a book.

My advice is that if you are not sure, don't start. If you have committed, you should carry on for more than one year to not waste anything.