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Is the Chinese language breaking down? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-1-10 17:58:20 |Display all floors
I'm not particularly good at English myself, but I do know a little.  It does seem, however, that some ideas are more difficult to express without ambiguity or misassumptions due to the change in meaning of certain words in the language.

For instance, how to distinguish between the following words in colloquial speech:

'English' and 'Western':  I've actually heard many a Chinese refer to cultural traits, literature, etc. which were chiefely English in nature as Western.  So how does a Chinese distinguish between these two terms normally?  After all, Italian culture is western too.

'English' and 'foreign language': I remember telling a neighbour that I was a foreign language teacher, and that I also taught it on weekends.  She immediately asked if I could teach her English on the weekends, too.  I expleained taht I don't teach English on the weekend.  She looked at me puzzled, saying that I had just daid that I teach English on the weekend.  I responded, no, I teach other foreing language on the weekend.  Another friend even advised that I don't mention that I'm a foreing language teacher on my namecard, but rather just a language teacher.  Although that leads some to conclude that that means Chinese.  Knowing that I can't poccibly be a Chinese teacher, however, they then look at me puzzled.  But if my name card should say that I'm a teacher of other foreing languages it sounds funny.  Thus the only real option is to say that I'm a language teacher on the name card, and then explain it verbally, or put the languages I teach in brackets underneath the title!  Although I do teach English too, but just don't want people to misunderstand my Chinese to suggest only English.

'native speaker of English' and 'Anglo': The phrase 'native speaker of English is often used euphemistically to refer to 'Anglo'. Many chinese, for  instance, won't acknowledge a 'native speaker of English from India' as a native 'speaker of English' according to their definition of the word, which thus becomes a kind of Chinglish definition of words.

While all these cases relate to the English language rimarily, are these examples unique, or is it a general trend in the Chinese language right now that the original meaning of words is breaking down and overlapping with other words?

[ Last edited by tianyuanedu at 2006-1-10 05:59 PM ]

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Post time 2006-1-10 20:23:34 |Display all floors
Some words are actually quite clear, but I'm afraid those people's mind are not...

'English'(ying guo) and 'Western'(Xi fang)...= = the origin of Western culture is ancient Greek if I'm not mistaking...wait, the two words has nothing to compare with...English < Western ...and English ∈ Western
They usually say ou mei(Europe and American) refering to the whole Western

'English'(ying yu) and 'foreign language(wai yu)---could be German, Flemish...or Korean, but people who are stereotyped, refering  wai yu to English.

language teacher---yu wen jiao shi...the one teaches language, but in China, yu wen means Chinese so it's a bit confusing, we got yu wen course, perhaps just write foreign language teacher on the card, less confusing.

'native speaker of English' ---speak English as mother language---ying yu mu yu zhe

But I don't know what you meant by  comparing 'native speaker of English' with 'Anglo'---Do you mean Anglo-Saxon??

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Post time 2006-1-11 12:33:56 |Display all floors

Yes.

I meant Anglo-Saxon.  Many would not consider a native speaker of English from India to be a 'native speaker' as far as they're concerned, even though English might be the language that person spoke from birth in the home.  So if by 'native speaker' they do in fact mean Anglo, then why not specify, rather than leave everyone in confusion.

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Post time 2006-1-11 12:43:18 |Display all floors

And another question...

Why are so many thus stereotyped.  I ask this because it's so common, or should I say universal... almost!  I've come across references to Western culture when half the content was uniquely Anglo!  I've come across 'foreign language' training centres which only teach English and hav no interest in teaching other languages either.  I've come across even some of the more reputed universities in China hiring only caucasians for their English courses, while still procaiming English to be the universal language and that they hire any qualified 'native speaker'.  By qualified I assume they mean caucasian?  And by "Universal language", I take it they mean the rest of the world's nationalities and races don't exist?

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Post time 2006-1-11 13:18:41 |Display all floors
They were blunt....the only reason..I guess they meant English-speaking countries, but they forgot there are many English-speaking countries besides Britain, USA, Australia..etc.
And I think Anglo this word is a bit confusing...it's transliteration, people usually don't say that unless they specially mention Anglo-Saxon. But I know some people confuse "British" and "English" as well...

Yes, too many stereotyped views refering to the "foreign" and "Western", I think it's because, all the way during middle school to university, English is considered as an important course, not German, not French,naturally British culture(and American) is taught, actually I think Britain is quite different from European continent

They have no interest in teaching other language--because other languages are not demanded in exams in Chinese schools....
So only those "other language" lovers, or someone will study abroad go for it, Last time I was having German classes, someone asked why I learn German if I didn't mean to study there...I told him I love it, then he's surprised...

Anyway, unlike Europe, you could border with so many different countries and got to know each other, unlike American where there are many immigrants where you got to know different people, mainland of China is still more like a big encircled city, where normal people don't know the outside world well enough.

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Post time 2006-1-12 00:46:43 |Display all floors
""Last time I was having German classes, someone asked why I learn German if I didn't mean to study there...I told him I love it, then he's surprised...""
:)
That's the response I get in the US when I say I am learning Chinese. Here, the most common foreign languages in schools are Spanish, French, German, Italian... it's still new to see Chinese offered. So when people hear I am learning Chinese, the first thing they ask is "Why?". They are surprised to hear I'm learning it for my own interest and because I want to go to China.
Some of them are not surprised, and say "oh, yes, learning Chinese is getting bigger now. You're learning it for your job?"  No...... because I *want* to....!
Then they're surprised too.
...so they all end up surprised. :)
I am not rich.  :L

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Post time 2006-1-12 12:43:20 |Display all floors

Yes!

You're learning it for your job?"  No...... because I *want* to....!

And that's a very good reason to learn Chinese... because you want to!

If only those Chinese who wanted to learn English learnt it, it would be so much more enjoyable.  Yet, since so many Chinese learning for the most materialistic and selfish reasons, it just makes the language unpalatable!  The materialism attached to the English language in China is palpable to say the least.

Now I'm not saying that all Chinese who can speak English are so shallow; I acknowledge there are exceptions, and I can easily tell them apart.  While the others will ask me to help them with their English test, and seem to care nothing for me, or insist on a particular accent, etc., this particular group is usually interested in meeting friends from everywhere, regardless of accent or even language, are interested in learning other languages, and are not just looking for personal benefit all the time.  Whenever I meet this type, it's as if I've just come across a refreshing breeze blowing away the stench of the rest.

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