Ted Rule’s Scoop on the Script

Ted Rule’s Scoop on the Script — or

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Chinese Characters But Were Afraid to Ask!

On Friday, May 23, about 50 curious souls gathered for a talk by Ted Rule about the development of Chinese writing. We learned why the language is called Mandarin and exploded the myths that all Chinese write the same way, and that all Asians (Koreans, Japanese, Chinese) can read each others’ writing even when they don’t speak the same language. Rule also spoke about the role of both, the Russian government and the missionary schools founded in China, in the development of  romanisation and simplified characters. The lecture was both entertaining and enriching.

Rule’s own fluency in Chinese is inspiring to those of us who are plugging along at our weekly Chinese lessons, wondering if we’ll ever be able to make ourselves understood. The questions/discussion period after the lecture also brought up some fascinating questions. For example, since it takes Chinese children, on average, two years longer than western children to learn to read (due to the amount of characters a Chinese child has to learn in order to be literate),  is there anything that needs to be removed from the Chinese grammar-school curriculum. This was an excellent forum that offered us the chance to enter into dialogue with our Chinese hosts here in Shenzhen.

Before and after the lecture, a scrumptious buffet of tapas appetizers and wine were provided by the local Tasca restaurant. There was a prize drawing at the end of the evening. The lucky winners received restaurant gift certificates and bottles of wine. It was a pleasant start to the weekend and we can only hope that SACS will continue to hold these kinds of events.

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