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Poetry Magnum Opus



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Seven and forty days ago

you put impossible demands on me,

saying I could go to the bar you work

but I was never to talk to you,

you were afraid of losing your job.


I could call you at certain times

and you would be so happy and bubbly,

but I was never to meet you in town.

You said people were always watching

and you were a poor Chinese student.


You were so wraithlike so achingly lovely,

I rather reluctantly agreed to go along.

For seven and forty days, the phone calls

from me to you, from you to me,

and I’m thinking what the hell is this?


In the end I wrote you some e-mails

in Chinese, using Google Translate

and abruptly the phone calls ceased.

I can't decide to this day, whether

it was you, or those bastards at Google!

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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:blink: googlovely, but you have left me wandering how good/bad your Chinese is. I thought it was the other way around.

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Chinese is weird because you can read it without being able to speak it -- China has a number of separate languages and innumerable dialects but most Chinese can read the same things because the language is written in characters (pictographs) which everyone understands even though the phonetic values vary from place to place. You can look at a poem, for example, and you know what it means but you have no idea what it sounds like. The Chinese in Beijing, Canton or Shanghai will all understand the meaning of the same poem but will express the characters with different sounds. Think of India which also has a multitude of different languages but no common denominator apart from English because all their various languages are written phonetically. The Chinese don't have that problem. The Japanese borrowed/ stole Chinese characters but learned pronunciations from different areas of China with the result that a single character in written Japanese can have up to 4-5 different sounds when combined with another character (also subject to change in pronunciation) . Francis Xavier called it the Devil's Language.


I can speak Japanese pretty fluently but have difficulties in reading it. I can read Chinese OK (with help) but haven't a clue how to speak it. Go figure!


OK, just had another thought. All over Europe we have standard road signs. Everybody from every country knows what they mean (if they passed their driving test!) but when asked to explain the meaning they will all come out with different vocabulary. The meaning or message of the road signs remain constant. That's kind of what written Chinese does.


Whew! That was kind of fun. Anyway, how are you? Long time no speak, pal .... !



Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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