Luò yè guī gēn.
“Fallen leaves return to the roots.” -Chinese proverb
In the last few weeks, I’ve been getting deeper into the Chinese language. Part of this is due to the fact that I have such a good tutor…who entertains most of my rabbit trails. The other part is that I just freaking love languages.
They are like a puzzle, but much more significant because languages hold a multitude of keys to unlocking many subtleties within a culture.
In all reality my Chinese is limited…very limited, but I understand more now than I did three months ago. However, I cannot help but marvel at how archaic the language sounds sometimes. At least when it’s translated literally. It is unique in that traditional understandings of the words are still present, despite modern connotations. Upon pointing this out to my tutor, he stared at me as though realizing it for the first time himself. We had a moment of appreciation for the whole thing because…well, it’s really cool to put it simply.
For example when talking about the weather (天气), one is literally talking about the “sky air.” That is what the characters mean anyway. Another good example is talking about when it is raining (下雨). You can still see the pictographs in the characters. The first character is a verb xià, which has conjures an image of going down. If you look closely at the character it is indeed pointing down. The second character yu, looks very much like rain with the dashes within the outer lines. Together they mean rain that is coming down. It sounds strange when translated literally, but I can’t help but think it enriches the language, making it more vivid and engaging. In my opinion, you really have to have an imagination to understand Chinese.
Until next time!