我的四種語言 ~ My Four Languages

我的四種語言
作者:史杰輝
編輯:紀壽惠、張如瑩

我生來對語言有興趣,可是因爲在家鄉接觸外國文化的機會很少的緣故,所以我本來的夢想只是當作家:簡單地說,無論題材為何,一輩子寫作是我當時的目標。大學三年級在西班牙留學的時候才發現我對學外國語言有潛能。從那時起,我開始以語言為主要的學習方向。到現在為止,我先念了一年的西班牙語,又在大學四年級的時候念了一年的中文,後來在日本教了兩年的英語,同時學了日語,最後爲了提高中文程度而來到臺北。

這三種語言比起來,以日文最為複雜。怎麽說呢?就是日文語法跟英文語法似乎相反。一個人聼得懂或看得懂多少日文,並不能代表他自己會流利地說或流暢地寫多少日文。其次,因爲中文跟日文都用漢字的緣故,學中國字的時候,我的日語程度跟著提高,不過這並不表示所謂的「漢字」指著同一件東西。進一步地說,日文字的發音類似漢語的聲音,但所謂的漢語並不是現代的普通話,而是中古漢語。此外,拿一個字做多種詞的代表,一個音節也好三個音節也好,是日文的特點之一。舉例來説,「下」這個字能代表至少八個聲音(目下的ka、下旬的ge、shita、sa(geru/garu)、kuda(ru/saru)、oro(su)、ori(ru)跟shimo)。除非看上下文要不然會唸錯。此外,中國的文言文很深奧,好像有無限的成語與辭彙,不過日本作家不但使用日文的成語與辭彙,而且也引用中文,所以不能不說這兩種語言正式文章的語彙都很複雜。

西班牙語跟亞洲語言差得很遠,較像英語,可是我有時候仍然會混淆西班牙文跟日文或中文,因為我不知不覺地把語言分成兩種,「母語」和「外語」。因此即或住在國外幾年,也無法忘掉母語習慣,因此需要繼續不斷地練習每一種的外語,免得說錯。

課文上説,所謂的語言就是傳達思想的工具。我的觀點在原則上是一致的。一般而言,我們不了解旁人的感情或看法,就聼得懂他所說的話,其實,這種智慧對聽力也許是一種幫助。就學好語言而論,我認爲不但要分析語音、文法與詞彙,了解人們的思想跟禮儀,也可以增加學外國語言的速度。

My Four Languages
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Ji Shou-hui, Lizzie Chang

Although I’ve always been drawn to language, there weren’t many opportunities to interact with foreign cultures in my town, so my original dream was to be a writer: it didn’t matter what the topic was, I just wanted to spend my life writing. When I studied abroad in Madrid my junior year of college, I finally discovered my talent for studying foreign languages. That has been my focus ever since. From then until now, I’ve studied a year of Spanish and a year of Chinese at college, taught English in Japan while studying Japanese for two years, and moved to Taipei to further improve my Chinese.

I think the most difficult of these three languages is Japanese. Why? Japanese and English grammar are practically opposites. If a person can read or listen to Japanese, that doesn’t signify he can write or speak at the same level. Because Chinese and Japanese share written characters, when I’m studying Chinese, my Japanese also improves, but that doesn’t mean hanzi and kanji are the same. When Japanese pronunciation of characters resembles Chinese, that doesn’t mean modern Mandarin: it means Middle Chinese (think Middle English). Besides that, using the same character to represent several different words of varying syllable counts is one of Japanese’s special features. For example, there are eight different pronunciations of 下: ka (目下), ge (下旬), shita, sa(geru/garu), kuda(ru/saru), oro(su), ori(ru), and shimo. You have to know the context to read the character correctly. Classical Chinese is very deep, and it seems like there is a limitless amount of proverbs and expressions to learn, but Japanese writers not only use their own language’s vocabulary and expressions but also appropriate Chinese; hence, formal compositions in both languages are very complex.

Although Spanish is very different from Asian languages and relatively similar to English, I sometimes confuse my Spanish with my Chinese or Japanese. I unconsciously divide languages into two categories: my mother tongue and “foreign languages.” I’ve lived abroad for several years but can’t break my English habits; I have to continuously practice every other language so I won’t make mistakes.

According to our textbook, language is a tool for expressing thought. I agree with this principle. Understanding one’s neighbor’s facial expressions or way of thinking won’t guarantee one comprehends every word he says, of course, but such wisdom is a big help. Successfully learning a language doesn’t just mean learning pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary; understanding a people’s thought and etiquette also streamlines one’s study.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Schoolwork, 中文

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