Shake Your Dragon Tail
A recent New York Times piece (not in the humor section of the paper) told of a banner unfurled at The Forbidden City in Beijing where some poor sheikh (pronoucned "shake") of the police tribes made a grave error. In the Chinese equivalent of a spelling mistake (they don't really spell words here, they "characterize" them), the banner glorified the successful return of stolen artifacts through diligent police work, “To shake the great strength and prosperity of the motherland and to safeguard the stability of the capital.”
“The pronunciation of the word for “shake” — han, with a falling tone — is exactly the same as that for “guard,” even though the written characters are different," reports the Times. While I cannot affirm this declaration--my vocab and dictionary skills being insufficient--my favorite Chinese dictionary website does not back up this claim. The word Han means, in a usage that I am familiar with, Chinese man of the Han race (all ethnic Chinese except the 56 minorities) and, in a usage which I am only now coming to be familiar with, it can mean "sweat." It can also mean South Korea, simply "man", or be a surname. With a rising tone, it can mean cold, poor or tremble with fear or, if you use a different character, to hold, contain or "keep...in the mouth."
Rosetta Stone vs. Kyle
|Zongzi is the traditional food of the |
Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on
June 6th this year.
Rosetta Stone is an over-priced, annoying piece of software, reputedly used by the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies that don't have time to send staff to Middlebury College or the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Those of you who follow my Facebook posts know already about some of my complaints. They are petty, but when one spends 500 US dollars, you hope for something flawless.
First of all, Rosetta Stone takes forever to load all the extra games and things. There is no community to speak of, despite this advertised advantage. There have been problems with my mouse not lining up with what I am clicking on so it thinks I am choosing the wrong answer. It is interminably slow on start-up if I decide to operate it without being connected to Internet...which is a real pain in China where Internet connectivity is intermittent. My newest set of problems include getting it to advance from one lesson to the next and not repeat. I have spent a fair amount of time wrestling with their technical support staff to get it working smoothly.
For all of the bad things that I have said so far, it is a great program. The methodical, carefully researched program is top-notch. Once I overcome my desire to blame its shortcomings for my own, I am sure that I will gain some proficiency with the language. (That said, if I am asked to repeat nü ren one more time into the headset, I think I might turn into a misogynist.)