Tags: cantonese

Les Miserables: Enjolras/Grantaire

(no subject)

As of this week, I've been studying Chinese for two years. I mean, I guess it's probably more like 2¼ years if we count from the time when I first started writing down words from Hong Kong movies and trying to remember them. It feels like it's been a lot longer than that. But anyway I've been studying flashcards on Anki for almost exactly two years now, every day, except for one stretch of ten days last winter, and that was during my trip to Hong Kong. At this point, I've learned a bit over 2,600 single characters, and 8,000+ compound terms, phrases, idioms, etc.

I've continued to be sort of a weird accessory to the Cantonese language Meet Up group. I can consistently recognize more literary terms, and read more characters in general, than the other Canto-speaking group members, but I still often can't figure out how to form basic sentences or, in some cases, identify everyday objects like "spoon" or "pencil." Or else I turn out to only know some super-archaic literary word for "spoon" that nobody actually uses in real life. :P

Meanwhile, I guess I'm actually working on my dissertation now, more or less. By a very odd and perhaps fortuitous coincidence, one of my advisers at the university happens to teach in China regularly, at a few different universities. A week or so ago, he asked me if I wanted him to ask around among his colleagues about Collapse )

I guess one of my more immediate goals needs to be to make the jump from "almost conversational" to "can actually hold a conversation." >_>

It's strange, though -- people do seem to be really amazed if you can speak Collapse )

Anyway. I guess I'm going to try to finish my dissertation by December, since that's what my adviser is telling people I'm doing. He wants me to try to start teaching somewhere in China by February of next year, but. Uh. I sort of have a prior commitment in February. Namely, Andy Lau's rescheduled concert series, which theoretically will be happening then.

In a lot of ways, I feel like the possibility of that falling through is even greater this year than it was last year (when it actually did fall through), given that Hong Kong is kind of exploding right now, and has been for the past two and a half months, with pro-democracy protests and marches (and, in response, escalating police violence and threats of military action from Beijing). Last Monday there was a city-wide strike. A couple of days ago they had to shut down the whole airport and cancel all flights. It's not impossible that the protests will still be going on six months from now.

Incidentally, I've been watching live news streams of some of the protests, and have seen some quite remarkable moments. That is, even apart from all the various dramatic standoffs with police clad in full riot gear, and suchlike. One quieter moment that stood out to me in particular was when, during the prelude to a rally, a musician with a flute got up on stage and performed an instrumental version of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from the Les Miserables musical. I don't know how many people in that Hong Kong audience recognized the song, but for me, at least, it was very -- poignant and surreal. I wonder what Victor Hugo would have thought. I suspect that few things would have pleased him more than to know that this particular legacy continues to impact people, not just in the West, but around the world. But of course, we know what happens to Hugo's revolutionaries. And many of the people leaving comments on the Hong Kong news feeds, every day, simply post a number: 8964 -- a reference to June 4th, 1989, which is the date of the massacre in Tienanmen Square.

I guess I should have known that studying Chinese wasn't, in the long term, a good strategy for avoiding the subject of politics. Turns out all the police vocabulary I've been learning from Hong Kong crime dramas is suddenly relevant for just watching the news.

Well. Anyway. That's my update for now.

Back to today's flashcards.

[This entry was originally posted at https://grayswandir.dreamwidth.org/283725.html.]