Posts about language

Why is the 'I' word capitalized?

100 most common English words

Take the challenge: name the 100 most common English words in 5 minutes – you’ll be surprised how many words you’ll miss! (via kottke.org)

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Hippopotomonstrosesquipedalianism

Stumbling with chinese

It didn’t took me long enough to realise my Chinese language of command have degraded substantially since graduating from secondary school. I hardly have the opportunity to “keep in touch” with it, less reading or even writing it. The only time I’m able to use it is during interaction with friends or family.

Our government have been actively prompting the use of proper mandarin, placing emphasis on the post-65 generation where the majority comes from English speaking family. Everyday, I read from the newspaper on how China is rapidly expanding into the global market and why is it important to master the Chinese language and even the culture to stay competitive. I have to admit that I dislike Chinese for the numerous strokes in characters and difficulty in using the words correctly. I’ve always barely passed my Chinese tests and exams while in school and I regretted not putting in more effort. Unlike English where one can roughly try to spell the words correctly by placing the letters around, Chinese requires a little more patience and understanding of the culture in order to master it.

With my current job, there’s almost zero possibility of using Chinese at work. All the presentations, briefs and even conversations with superior are in English. This made it tough for me to practice and master my Chinese language. However, I’ve thought of alternatives to counter this problem and could help me to improve or at least maintain my Chinese language standards. One of the most efficient and effective way is to read Chinese newspaper. I know it’s going to be tough as most probably, I would have to refer to the dictionary for every few words I read. (Yes, this is how bad I think it’ll be). Another way is to read from past Chinese textbooks and even well written composition books. I guess all of these would help to maintain my Chinese and speaking of proper mandarin.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to kick-off this idea and this shall be one of my new year’s resolutions for 2007.

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Proper use of language

I’ve been working on polishing my pronunciation, spelling and grammar and vocabulary standards in the English language by choosing to read from a wide variety of books besides fiction — my all time favorite. By doing so, I believe it will greatly help to improve my communication skills, which is important as I move towards higher education and eventually the need to communicate with colleagues and customers in the workforce.

Recently, I read from newspaper articles, which mentioned that the government has been trying to promote proper use of the English language. Personally, I think it is critical that Singaporeans speak and write proper English and put away with Singlish although many would argue that Singlish is a unique icon of true Singaporeans. Certainly, we can still use Singlish in our daily lives but I would say that we use it “for fun & entertainment” and not elsewhere.

Not to leave out Chinese, my mother tongue language. I have always avoided reading and writing Chinese characters because my mindset tells me it is tough to grasp as compared to English. Let me share a little cultural experience during my internship in North Carolina that changed my thinking on the Chinese language — There was this group of Chinese nationals from china living near my apartment. Just like us, there were there for a short stint with a well-known company. On one occasion, when my roommate and I went to the supermarket to replenish our weekly groceries supplies, we met some of them from the group. They offered to give us a ride back to the apartment since we live within short distance from each other. During the journey, I realized that we had a hard time trying to communicate with them even though we were Chinese and speak the same language. I thought that was a very embarrassing scene because we could not even speak proper Mandarin due to the lack of use.

This little incident has inspired me not to give up on Chinese but to use it or lose it. After all, it is not asking for more than simply spending 15 minutes a day reading articles and being familiar with the words.

PS: Despite attempts to write in proper English (correct grammar usage etc.); I have no idea how many mistakes were made in this entry. Practice makes perfect :)

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