2010年 1月 19日, 星期二 - 格林尼治标准时间17:17

Emmet's Student Diary 伦敦学生博客第十五周

Emmet Conlon O'Reilly

Wednesday 20th January 2010 – Back to School

After two weeks of freedom we have just completed the first week of our second term back at university. It wasn’t easy getting back into the routine. Early mornings and hours spent in the library are so quickly forgotten about when you are on holiday. This week’s lesson was also a tough one so there was no easing back into it.

The lesson was about the particle 了. When I started studying Mandarin someone told me that one of the best things about studying the language was that you don’t have to deal with complicated rules and grammar points like tenses. You don’t have to spend hours memorising all the irregular verbs that you would have to do if you were studying many Indo-European languages. The flip side of this is that these particles pop up so often and can be interpreted in several different ways.

When my tutor was first explaining the different interpretations of 了 to the class she was probably 对牛弹琴。 After a week’s study, however, I think I’ve gotten my head around the idea. It’s just a matter of placing it in context and working out whether 了 indicates a change of state, imminent action, a completed action in the past or progress up until the present. Putting this into practice is a different matter and will take lots of hard work.

Emmet studying in his room

Emmet studying in his room

On Tuesday I managed to catch a public lecture by an author and lecturer at the London School of Economics called Martin Jacques. He has written a book called When China Rules the World. It’s a dramatic title, I know.

Just when I was getting bogged down with grammar during the week it was encouraging to hear his views on how he believes China’s economic boom will spark the dominance of Mandarin. It will even challenge English as the world’s leading lingua franca (a language used to communicate when two people do not share the same mother tongue).

If I needed a bit of motivation to keep putting more hours of work in, this certainly provided it. It’s not always easy but I never thought it would be easy to study what Jacques called “the language of the future”.

routine 惯例性的日常生活, particle 辅助性的小词, tenses 时态, irregular verbs 不规则动词, Indo-European languages 印欧语系,flip side反面, pop up 出现, interpreted 翻译,解释, context 上下文, change of state改变状态, imminent 即将发生的, dramatic 引人注意的,戏剧性的, spark 引起, dominance 优势,统治, lingua franca 通用语, motivation 动力

If you’re trying to get your head around something it means you’re trying to understand it. For example, “I just can’t get my head around the fact that my girlfriend has left me!” Emmet says that it’s harder to put something into practice. He means that it can be easier to understand some grammar than it is to actually use it. This phrase can be used in other ways, e.g. “I know that I should eat healthily but it’s hard to put it into practice.” He says that he managed to catch a lecture. To catch something, in this context, means to go and see it. E.g. “Do you want to catch a film with me on Saturday?” Finally, Emmet says he was getting bogged down with grammar this week. If you get bogged down with something, it means you get so involved that it slows you down. E.g. “I keep getting bogged down by the details and can’t move forward.”

Question of the Week

What motivates you to keep going when you are finding studying English difficult? Can you give me any tips on how you keep focused?

Email me and you might see your answers at the bottom of this page.

Email Emmet at 按键 chinaelt@bbc.co.uk

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