Sunday, October 16, 2005

What everybody appears to have failed to mention to me is that Chinese is utterly, irreconcilably impossible. Before starting, I was informed that the word ma, can be pronounced in five different ways and have five different meanings. This is tough but not impossible. I now find that this is only the tip of the iceberg. It has five meanings that are used in everyday sentences. Looking up the word shi for instance, which means to be, it turns out that this has a few other meanings as well. These are:
/to lose/to miss/to fail/corpse/a division (milit.)/teacher/master/expert/model/distribute (alms)/to do/to execute/to carry out/wet/moist/lion/Xanthium strumarium/Achillea sibirica/louse/poem/poetry/verse/place name/Seriola qinqueradiata/yellow tail/turtle-dove/tenth (used in fractions)/ten/hen roost/really/solid/real/true/honest/pick up/ten (fraud-proof)/O'clock/time/when/hour/season/period/clear water/pure/rock/stone shrine/Peuceclanum gravelens/to plant/eat up slowly/eclipse/to know/knowledge/animal feed/eat/food/shad/Ilisha elongata/long-tailed marmot/to make/to cause/to enable/to use/to employ/messenger/hostory/begin/stool/feces/arrow/dart/hog/swine/
hasten/proceed to/sail a vessel/life/age/generation/era/world/lifetime/matter/thing/item/work/
affair/an official/attend to/conditions/influence/tendency/addicted to/fond of/devour/to bite/scholar/warrior/knight/angry/room/market/city/type/form/pattern/
style/murder a superior/rely upon/door pivot/wipe/is/are/am/yes/to be/persimmon/tree/clan name/maiden name/bank/shore/river/to show/reveal/divine by stalk/to lick/lap/to sting/raincoat/to look at/to regard/to inspect/to test/to try/experiment/examination/test/oath/vow/to swear/to pledge/examine/judge/confer such title/posthumous title/borrow/buy on credit/rent out/crossbar in carriage front/depart/die/to fit/to suit/explain/to release/cerium/adorn/ornaments!!!!

Don't worry though, it all becomes clear when the word is put in context! Two weeks to go, no problem.

2 comments:

Ahmed Truffle Jnr. said...

Your expansive definition of the word 'shi' reminds me of recent article from the Onion. Take a looky-see: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31051

Jonathan Shock said...

Ah yes, I remember it well. Another excellent Onion article