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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 ]