In the tradition of reading above my level, I got the Chinese version of The Restaurant at the end of the Universe // Douglas Adams from the library and, so far, I’m up to page two.
Not sure why I’m doing this, I have some of the Sherlock Holmes kids series in Cantonese to get through, but for some reason they’re not sticking, so here I am, pushing the rock up Mt Sci-fi.
Previously, I attempted So long and thanks for all the fish in Portuguese, and it’s already clear that, language-wise, I’m about to start having the same problems.
Problem 1 – idioms
This is also an issue I have with the kids books in Cantonese…they use a lot of idioms, some easy to guess, others impossible. Like in English, if a character says they’re a bit under the weather, you probably won’t know what it means unless you’re fluent. Same problem here, only worse, as Cantonese idioms are more localised and non-existent in western culture.
An example, the four characters highlighted in green below:
The best way I’ve found to get through it, is to skip them. Skip the whole sentence and aim for an understanding of the paragraph as a whole. If the idiom turns out to be foundational then go back and look it up.
Problem 2 – logic
In my experience, when you’re a non-native speaker of a language…anything up to high intermediate, possibly higher…you have to rely on logic and context to understand what people are saying.Continue reading