One year ago on Round and Square (26 April 2011). Evan Connell's novel, Mr. Bridge (the ending).
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|[a] Early RF|
I encourage readers of Round and Square to follow these posts whether or not they read Chinese. It is clear enough where I begin speaking to language learners (the section called "Language Notes" at the end). Everything else, with the exception of the actual Chinese text, can be understood by anyone who takes the time to think about what an entire education from the ground up might be like. The introduction to this series explains these matters thoroughly, and will be posted soon. In the meantime, take a look at how first-graders (for that is where we begin) started to read their world in Taiwan a generation ago. This is "textbooks from history," and there is much to learn.
Getting up early won't go away. We are into our third primary school text (out of 276 over six grades), and the focus on nuclear family relations and individual gumption just won't quit. Everyone is Ben Franklin...except this is (the Republic of) China...in 1985.
And everyone gets up early. Period.
As we head into our first "review" period (there is a review and a significant test after every three language texts), it is worth considering the social, familial, and gendered implications of the lines we have read thus far. They are weighted toward the women of the family, and only three figures...figure...so far. The only challenge is that daddy is reading the paper and mommy is sweeping the courtyard. Put on your seat belts. This is going to be a bumpy gender ride through sixth grade.
3—Who Gets Up Early?
Mama gets up early and sweeps the courtyard.
Who gets up early? Father gets up early.
Daddy gets up early and reads the newspaper.
Who gets up early? I get up early.
I get up early and go to school.
Text in Simplified Chinese (简体字)*
*A simplified text is unthinkable in an ROC worldview. I don't "work" for them, though, and am including it for two reasons. First, an almost disturbingly large number of my students these days can't read traditional characters. This is a travesty, but I acknowledge (grudgingly) the reality. Second, it should be an eye-opener for students on either side of the "simplified/traditional" divide. Just look. Finally, if you want to read anything written before 1950, you need to learn traditional forms. Get over it. It's not political. It's literature...and politics and history. If you can only read simplified forms, you can read what (Mao) wrote, but not what he read. Think about it.
History and Culture Notes
|[b] Waking RF|
The "grammatical" translation issues are not formidable here. In fact, they all surround the nouns at the end of the "couplets." Mother (mama) beats the broom (打掃). I say that she sweeps the courtyard, and I make that decision based on the picture and the context of other elementary school texts which will follow. Father reads the newspaper (書報). I really want to say "morning paper," (as I do in the notes, below), but I held back and did not interpret whether daddy is reading last night's late-edition or the very-early edition of today (in 1985, both were readily available).
The last "couplet" is easy. I go to school. The only thing challenging the reader is the cadence. The flow is just a bit "off" from mom's and dad's lines, and that is because it has only one character, while 媽媽 and 爸爸 have two. I still wonder why they didn't "even it out" a little bit. This would not be difficult. Maybe it is because we are reading and not chanting here. I don't know. I find it mildly jarring.
|[c] Up RF|
|[d] No time RF|