Monday, May 29, 2006

Sidebar: Alcohol and the Art of Language Aquisition

"After one beer I feel more fortunate, after two I couldn't care less. "

Apparently Lady Bracknell said this in The Importance of Being Earnest, though I am paraphrasing slightly. Wilde, being an Irishman, clearly understood the role of the pint in Irish life. And Brendan Behan's muse was practically fuelled by the stuff.

I'm not advocating getting smashed before your lessons. Definitely a no-no. But if like 90% of Irish people you are to some extend repressed, then a little bit of social lubricant can go a long way to loosening your foreign tongue.

But don't go too far! For starters, this would only make sense in a social setting where alcohol fits in - hence my suggesting that you don't get tanked before turning up for your next lesson. Another problem is that while the first drink will help you forget your inhibitions, the next few will help you forget your Chinese.

I have never tried this technique with Chinese, but I can attest to its value in a number of other European languages. German in particular (though this may have a lot to do with their beer).


hei long said...

What cork! I think your living in the wrong place if you want to learn Chinese. Move up here to dublin, where you can just walk around town and see thousands of Chinese, and all the resturants on parnell street speak pu tong hua. I learned how to speak chinese this way, would she a nice girl, would talk to her with a little zhong wen, go home learn some thing new and do the same thing the next day. I could speak well after just 3 months. Now 2 years latter I have a chinese wife and I win prizes at chinese karaoke competions here in dublin.

Brendan Lawlor said...

Marrying a Chinese girl: that certainly is the ideal way to learn the language (overnight, so to speak). It is tough to find the chance to practice Chinese here.

Chinese karaoke prizewinner. Now that's some feat. (I never new such a thing existed). Are the lyrics displayed in hanzi or pinyin?

hei long said...

It was part of the Culture week last september. China town radio were holding the event. I love Chinese music so learning wasnt too hard. I learned by watching music videos from VCD, the writing was in old style han zi, but I got my Chinese friends to help me translate it into Pin Yin. On the night we had no words, just sang from memory. I sang the song 'Shi Nian'. which the chinese said was good because it was a newish song.