In one week, Camila Daya and I watched 16 episodes of Boonie Bears! I don’t know whether we’ll learn Chinese, but we’ll definitely have good father-daughter memories to look back on. I pick up words and expressions here and there, but apparently she does much less so. So on the superficial learning level, the adult seems to be doing better. However, at that deeper natural neurological acquisition level, in which, according to my theory, the brain of itself adapts to sounds and patterns and gradually deciphers their meaning, I would still bet on her, IF she were to put in as many hours as I and stick with it over the months and years.
I don’t understand any full sentences and very few words, but I do comprehend slightly more than in the beginning. For instance, we have learned the bears’ names (“Swar” and “Shoulda”) and clearly distinguish them.
SWAR (left) and SHOULDA (right)
I hear the expression “lie la” several times an episode, and though I cannot (and do not care to) translate it, I’m fairly confident I get it. That’s a big advantage of learning by watching videos, as opposed to memorization or translation. You get the term in context over and over again, and avoid being caged in by translations, which are inherently misleading. I often say that you can never accurately translate a single word from one language to another if it is not in context, because all words have multiple shades of meaning and subtle connotations depending on how they’re used.
Anyway, “lie la” means something like “come on now” or “let’s go.” (That would explain what Simon and Garfunkel meant in that long repetitious ending to their song The Boxer, hahaha). The word or suffix “la” is also used with various other words. For example, I’ve noticed that it is often added to “how.” As I’ve mentioned before, “how” or “hao” means something like, “ok,” “good,” or “great.” So “how la” may mean something like “alright now.”
I pick up assorted words and expressions here and there that I often forget (temporarily) if I don’t hear them again in subsequent days’ viewing. But that’s part of the natural language acquisition process. I noticed long ago, especially in learning French and Spanish, that I generally have to hear a word some 10 times, in a variety of contexts, before I really incorporate it into my vocabulary. Today I definitely “acquired” a word that I had seen in an earlier episode, “moza.” I’m pretty sure it means “hat,” since episode 37 was all about the logger’s hats.
My other viewing source this week was the movie Lost in Thailand, which I watched in its entirety, by myself, with subtitles.
My colleague Helena had told me about it, as she recently traveled to Thailand and discovered that there is currently a huge influx of Chinese tourists as a result of this movie which was very popular in China last year. Watching Lost in Thailand was a welcome change of pace for me, but it’s a pretty lousy film and I would definitely not recommend it to non-Mandarin students who are looking for a fun, quality movie to watch. (Instead, if perchance you haven’t seen it, choose American Hustle, which I saw at the cinema with my wife last night before coming home and watching Lost in Thailand on my Kindle Fire). But it is interesting to have a Chinese blockbuster that is not a historical epic or full of kung fu and sword fighting, but rather a Western-style lighthearted comedy.
Through March 1, I am on pace and have watched an average of 29.8 minutes of Mandarin videos per days for 6 weeks. Daya has averaged a total of 14 minutes per day in the same period. However, she watched next to nothing in the first 3 weeks, but has pretty much kept pace with me in the latter 3 weeks.