精读第六课的文章: 我看中国人的生活 My View of Life in China

Part of my Intensive Reading class in Chinese is to write an essay using various vocabulary words and grammar patterns that were covered in the chapter. Seeing as how these are possibly the most interesting (and fun to write) assignments I have had both in China and in general, I figure I’d post them up here (with the English translations). This way, I can not only see how my own writing has progressed and how I can learn from my mistakes, but I can also provide you with proof that I am actually learning something over here.

The translations are not always verbatim–sometimes things just don’t translate perfectly between languages, and a lot of seemingly laconic four-character sayings in Chinese carry with them an intrinsic connotation that needs many more words in English to convey. Some things just sound a little bit better when embellished in English. I did, however, strive to stay as close to possible as the original Chinese as I could.

This one is the most recent one, which I actually just finished writing.

中国人的生活-象棋

我走访了好几个中国城市,了解到中国的各种文化特点。每个我去的地方有自己的特色,比如说河南省有开封的中国犹太人,浙江省的苏州有所谓在中国最漂亮的美女(其实我不同意),四川省有九寨沟,竹子,熊猫,云南省有二十多个对游客分外热情的少数民族。从我旅游的经验来看,中国真的有举不胜举的习俗,虽说每个地方有自己的独特习俗,但是我发现了一种无比有意思的现象:在中国,不管你在一个纳西村子或成都的一个茶楼,到处都有象棋。所以有的时候我在想,中国人这么的遵纪守法是不是因为他们是依照象棋的规矩来生活的?

在北京,什么样的人都有。有的人太富有了——除了天天大吃大喝,他们甚至在豪华轿车安装了三四个电视。 有的人则连吃都吃不饱。我各种阶层的人都遇到过。不管是男女老少,也不管经济地位如何,他们绝对都会下象棋。离我家最近的十字路口每天从早到晚都有一群老百姓在下象棋。特别是一位老年人不管风吹雨打每天都在那儿。他常常说:“谁要挑战我,谁就坐下来!任你谁来,我也有可能输”人们接连地来竭力地想要打败他。 最讽刺的是越把时间浪费在吹牛上的人,越容易输掉比赛。其实我从来没有仔细地监督他们,但是我今天问他有没有输过,他从容地回答“我向来没输过。”

总的说来,象棋不仅是中国的一个很普遍的标志,而对中国人民万众一心的自豪感也有很大的贡献。

I have been to myriad different Chinese cities, all in the pursuit of better understanding China’s diverse cultures. Every city I have been to has its own special unique characteristics–for example Henan Province’s Kaifeng City and its Chinese Jewish minority, Zhejiang Province’s Suzhou with its so-called most beautiful women in China (though I personally do not agree), Sichuan Province with its Jiuzhaigou, bamboo, and pandas, to Yunnan Province with its more than twenty extraordinarily friendly and inviting minority groups. From my travel experiences it has become evident to me that China truly has an innumerable amount of different customs and traditions, but despite each place’s own unique customs, I realized that there is one phenomenon that persistently presents itself: In China, regarldess of whether you are in a Naxi village in Yunnan or in a teahouse in Chengdu, there is always somebody playing Chinese chess. Seeing Chinese chess played no matter where I go sometimes makes me wonder whether or not the reason the Chinese follow (most of) the rules and laws of their country is in light of the fact that Chinese chess plays such an intrinsic role in daily life?

In Beijing one can find literally all types of people. Some people are almost too rich–besides eating and drinking to gluttonous levels every day, they have multitudes of televisions installed into their limousines. On the other hand, some people don’t even have enough food to get them through the day. I have met people from both extremes, and from every echelon in between. Whether male, female, old or young, and regardless of socioeconomic status, every person knows how to play Chinese chess. At the nearest intersection from my house there is a group of old Beijingers who play xiangqi from sunrise to late night. Especially of note is one elderly man who regardless of wind or rain is out there every single day. I often hear him say: “Anybody who wants to challenge me, just take a seat! No matter who you are, you still have a chance to beat me!” People come one after another and try their absolute best to beat him. Ironically, it is the ones who waste the most time bragging that they can take him that lose the easiest. Honestly, I’ve passed this table for a year but never closely paid attention to his record, but the other day I asked him if he has ever lost, to which he looked me tranquilly and replied “To this day I have never.”

In short, Chinese chess seems not only to be one of the most widespread symbols of Chinese culture, but also one that contributes to the unity of the Chinese themselves.

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