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Say It Right Series

Translation and Language Learning

Posted by pearltowerpete June 19, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: translation, language, memory, learning, strategy

Hello, all

This post is intended as a place where people can exchange their thoughts on translation as it relates to language learning. Please share your own suggestions and experiences in learning Chinese or any other language. Here are a few suggestions for discussion:

  • Is it effective to literally translate every word in an article or story as you read? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • How do you choose the appropriate meaning, when a given character has many interpretations?
  • What is the role of cultural knowledge in understanding a phrase or story?
  • How do you preserve tone and clarity? 
  • How do we deal with profanity and slang? For example, a recent discussion dealt with the curse word 王八蛋 wángbadàn. Would a literal translation be effective here? How do you store the word in your mind?

This discussion is open to everyone, at all levels of Chinese. I'd be very interested to hear from people whose native language is not English. How did you learn English? How did that process differ from the way in which you are learning Chinese?

I hope that this discussion will shed some light on the ways in which we learn and, ultimately, master, foreign languages. I have my own opinions and methods, but I want to hear and learn from you.

Any thoughts you share will help me and the CPod team to understand your thinking better, with the goal of helping you learn Chinese.

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