So there were several topics I wanted to cover in this week’s volume of Reflection. What were they? That’s the problem, I can’t remember. I should’ve written them when I had the chance. Ugh, I hate it when I procrastinate. I end up forgetting. Now, I will just have to go with the flow and see what comes up.
After some debating between my two inner voices (the fellow with the white wings and halo and the fellow with a red pointy tail and trident), I finally joined WeChat yesterday. It’s an app that’s sort of like Twitter except you can use it for chatting. This app seems to be used by Asians (no offense). When I talked to my family a few weeks back, they kept asking me why I don’t have a WeChat account. I told them I don’t really know anyone who uses this app. Their response was, “Well, we use the app.” Good point but to me, that’s a kind of social media. I mean, it took me two years of self-convincing to join Twitter. My voices like to argue. So I s’pose it will take even longer to convince myself to join WeChat.
I want to be different, you see. I don’t want to fall into a specific circle. I want to stand out. I want to be labeled as me and not some transplanted Asian but apparently I can’t dodge that bullet because where I come from is forever stuck with me. I’m not saying I’m not proud to be Asian. I suppose I should be proud, after all, I come from one of the oldest civilizations in the entire world and that came with some pretty unique heritages. For some reason though, I just don’t like to be treated like one but it doesn’t look like it’s my decision. It’s my fate, it’s been decided, and I must now accept it.
Anyway, I am now on WeChat. I sent out five friend requests to a few of my family members yesterday afternoon. They all added me eagerly. I’ll bet some of them were surprised even. My aunt (mom’s younger sister) and I chatted a little and my other aunt (dad’s youngest sister) and I chatted a little before she headed to work. I was glad to end the conversation because frankly, I couldn’t keep up with switching between conversations and looking up just exactly what the heck they were saying in Google Translate. They use the Cantonese pronunciation and reading it in pinyin do not make sense at all.
Then I had to use pinyin to type every single word and apparently, the Chinese keyboard in my tablet came with limited words. It was frustrating, to say the least. I had to get on Google Translate to find out how to write the words as well as making sure all the words in the sentence are correct because that would be embarrassing.
The conversations started out pretty simple, with familiar Chinese characters. Then they just gradually got harder and harder. I wonder if they were testing me, whether I still remember my Chinese, whether I’ve lost my culture. I told my aunt (dad’s sister) I’m having rice, vegetable, and chicken wings for dinner and she gave me three thumbs up because she was glad I still eat Chinese food. Well, do I have a choice? I’d eat pasta everyday if I have the choice.
I also think they were forgetting though, I only went to school until the 4th grade and I focused mostly on English. I think what they also don’t know is that my Chinese is self-taught. I’ve been teaching myself a word or two, sometimes phrases, here and there, during the past several years, trying to improve my Chinese and translation skills at the same time.
I told my aunt (mom’s sister) about my blog because she mentioned something about life is better when it’s simple. I told her, “Who doesn’t know that? Even my blog name is that.” Then she immediately invited my other aunt to form a group, Life, the Simpler, the Better. I posted a few pictures and we talked, not write, about the large harvest we’re going to have this year. Yes, I’m glad there’s a talk button. That means I don’t have to write Chinese characters.
During the conversation, instead of replying, I wanted to click “like” but there wasn’t a “like” button. I’m too used to wordpress. Then once during the conversation, my aunt wrote something powerful and thought-provoking, I wanted to reply, “Amen” but I didn’t know how. I mean, she wouldn’t understand just like my other aunt didn’t know what the word, “Yup” meant or any of the slang terms meant. So I left the conversation hanging. My point is: there were so many times when I just wanted to click “like” and move on, I guess the “like” button has more or less become a crutch for me, huh.
I think if this “chatting in Chinese” continues, I will have to improve my Chinese. Maybe I should start writing in Chinese once in a blue moon or perhaps, I should translate some of my short stories to Chinese?
7 thoughts on “Reflection: Stalker”
Yes, keep the Chinese language and grow it along the way. I wish I were bi-lingual. Never such a thing as knowing too many languages. I least I guess not.
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I guess knowing more than one languages has its ups and downs and one of the major downers is getting the languages mix up in my head. Yes, there is no such thing as knowing too many languages. I guess the ups would be you can go anywhere in the world and still be able to fit in. Thank you for reading.
China was the most civilized society in the world when European were still living in rock houses with floorings of mud and when North America was still in the hands of the Indians. China invented the compass and most of the luxury items we have in our homes which were later brought back by the Europeans in their mother country.
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I admire your work toward a second written language. I know first-hand that it’s not so easy as an adult — though you may have more of a talent than myself.
I read the book I mentioned earlier several years back as a practice with reading Japanese. It’s considered at about a 6th/7th grade level in Japan. Regardless, it took several weeks to read in Japanese (much use of a kanji dictionary); whereas, I read the English version over a couple of evenings. And the latter included making several language comparisons to see how some idioms had been translated into English.
I still don’t qualify as literate in Japanese, and I’d be pretty slow in a text-chat. However, I can hand-write about half of what I recognize easily. A kinesthetic approach seems to help.
Not being familiar with WeChat, I don’t know how you’re getting character picks from Pinyin to hanzi. In the US, I just use the Windows IME editor for Japanese hiragana to kanji through a standard Western keyboard. It seems more than adequate for Japanese, although I know it takes about twice as many hanzi to be considered functionally literate, and Japanese doesn’t have to deal with inflections.
As for a social identity in the US, it seems that if your ancestors weren’t from a few places in Europe, then you’re pretty much stuck as a hyphenated-American. Offended me greatly when I was younger, but I’ve long since quit worrying about it. At any rate, it gives you some unique insights into things many Euro-Americans might never get a chance to understand.
Apologies for the long comment. Just something to which I could well relate. d(^_^)
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No need to apologize for the long comment. I’m glad you can relate to this post. 🙂 Absolutely, it is difficult to write in a second language sometimes. When one knows multiple languages, it becomes extremely easy to get the two languages mixed in one’s head. For me, that’s Chinese because I haven’t practice with that for a while. Most of the time, during my translation job, I just follow a list. If that word is translated in a certain way in another article, then I am to translate that word the same way. So it’s pretty technical.
When I’m chatting with my family in WeChat (a mix of instagram and twitter), on the other hand, it’s like I mentioned in the post, I have to know what they’re saying in order to reply. So the process of having to look up google translate becomes pretty tedious and slow. I type Chinese the same way you type Japanese, I think. I just input the pinyin and pick the character. Fortunately, some words come in phrase and if I type in the entire phrase, my tablet or my laptop will seem to know what I want to say and normally it’s correct. Thank god for that because I do not want to spend the time to pick out every single character.
As for social identity, I guess I’m just not there yet. Maybe when I’m older (maybe in my 30’s or 40’s 🙂 ), I may appreciate it but for now, a majority of me seem to just want to get away from it, at least for now. Thank you for reading. 🙂
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“…having to look up google translate becomes pretty tedious and slow.” Ah..yes indeed. My two weeks looking up a kanji every five-minutes while reading. I understand completely. 😉
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