Click here to access Round and Square's "Primary Sources" Resource Center
|[a] Li'l Westie 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.
To underline what I mentioned yesterday, animals play a large rhetorical role in the primary readers put forth by the Ministry of Education in the Republic of China. I can attest that they play almost the same role in the People's Republic of China textbooks, as well as those used in Japan. Similar points could well be made about elementary school books from all over the world. Let's think about that, and begin to tease out some of the implications. Let us not forget that this is the cultural tradition that gave us a certain monkey king "who" has transcended temporal, cultural, and social boundaries.
8—Come With Me, Little Doggie
|[b] Li'l doggie RF|
We'll compete, and see who runs faster.
Doggie, doggie, come with me.
I'll kick the ball; you'll chase it.
Where do I kick it?
Where do you chase it?
We'll see how far I can kick it.
We'll see how fast you can chase it.
看 看 小 小 八
你 我 你 我 我 狗 看 我 狗
追 踢 追 踢 踢 誰 們 小
得 得 到 到 球 小 跑 來 小 狗
快 遠 哪 哪 狗 得 比 狗 跟
不 不 裡 裡 你 快 賽 我
快 遠 去 跟 跟 來
追 我 我
小狗 小狗 跟我来
小狗 小狗 跟我来
|[c] Catch and release RF|
This series of posts is devoted to understanding primary education as historically and culturally configured, and it will be useful to think about the relationship between various images. That "nature," for example, figures prominently in these texts is telling, especially for a society that has a large percentage of its population in cities. The relationship to animals should not be dismissed as mere children's fare, either. I would go so far as to say that it echoed (and reinforced) what was only the beginning of a large growth in pet ownership on the island. This was not an unchallenged trend, and I find it very interesting that pet texts, as it were, are quite abundant in the K-6 curriculum (c. 1985).
That's enough for now. Remember: my aim in these notes is to raise issues that will circle back to us (over and over again) as we proceed.
|[d] Bavarian shepherd RF|
You will notice that I translated the title as "...little doggie" (小狗), but the first line as "doggie." As you know if you read a little Chinese, the "little" in front of dog works in something like the following manner: "Doggie" =sum (小 x .33 + 狗 x 1.0). In other words, 小狗 is a combination in which the adjectival modifier is a good deal more subtle (to the point of nonexistence in many situations) than something along the lines of "gigantic asteroid." I wanted to give English readers a little sense of the diminutive mixed with Roy Rogerian lyricism...but only in the title. From there, it's all "doggies," all of the way down.
It is worth noting a small translation challenge in the phrase 跟我來. If you have spent a little time with etymology—or have read enough to understand phrases such as 小孩兒跟著他 (the child is following him)—you will know that it would be possible to write "come follow me." I think it should be obvious that the tone of this text is somewhat more collegial in its friendly competitiveness.
|[e] 來 and 去 RF|
Notice the parallelism in the text. Yes, I blush to use that term—originally learned in hours spent with classical literature—in a story about a boy and his dog. It doesn't change the fact that it's there, though, and it should not surprise us that this powerful literary and cultural structure would be introduced early (and often). On top of that, take a look at how various lines rhyme (or not). The first three lines all rhyme (來賽快). Notice how the columns, after an echo of the first 小狗小狗跟我來 start to take on a number of patterns. To begin, 來 and 追 are a stretch when it comes to rhyming, and any attempt to follow through is gone by the time we hit the 裡s. This is not at all a criticism, of course, I just want language learners who are interested in these matters to pay attention to parallelism and rhyme. Watch for it.
|[f] Fetching RF|