Archive for April, 2013


April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

According to Google translate, the title means: “Re-learning Chinese”.

From 1996-1997, I spent eight months studying Mandarin Chinese. The Chinese call this language 普通话, or Pu Tong Hua, meaning “Common Dialect”. There are lots of languages spoken in Chinese, and Pu Tong Hua is the universal language used to understand others.

My studies were not successful, and after parting on very amicable terms with my teachers, I was given the option of studying either Russian or the language of Iran, Persian Farsi. I chose Russian. Then, I made the very bad mistake of giving away all my text books and my dictionary to a fellow soldier who was enrolled in Korean but wanted to learn Chinese. At the time, I was very stressed and burned out, and it felt natural.

Now, as I reflect, I’ve thought the past few years that eight months is far too long an investment of time to just quit and never do anything with Chinese again.

So, I am now learning the 214 radicals that are the building blocks of Chinese. I’m also jotting down the characters of anything that fascinates me, such as place names, countries, famous Chinese people (such as 孔子) and things involving astronomy (The Chinese call Astronomy 天文学, or Heavenly Language Study). I can use chopsticks and ask for them, and I can say a few phrases.

Ultimately, I would like to gain a strong understanding or even a fluency in the three languages I’ve studied formally (Spanish, Chinese and Russian) and my great-grandfather’s language (German).

Time will tell.

Richard Zowie’s name while studying Chinese was 左瑞查. He also likes the Chinese name for Richard: 理查德. Post comments here or e-mail them to