Fun is one word with as many definitions as there are people you ask.
And in Chinese it has yet another definition: rice.
The second character, 飯, often following the first, is pronounced very similarly to the English word “fun”. During lunch with the staff at She-Zih Elementary School, when I first learned this second word, it struck me that in two very real ways we were “having fun”. Since then I haven’t had a hard time remembering either word for rice.
Sometimes the written characters include phonetic hints but not always. Thus written and spoken Chinese seem to us like two languages instead of one and with about 3000 common characters, the undertaking is a good test of our determination but I remain convinced that it will be best to learn them simultaneously. While, for me, the glory of the written language particularly is barely beginning its colorful sunrise, it is very rewarding to be able to recognize a character or two on paper and understand their background. Here are some examples.
* “Also” or “both” pictures a hand holding two grain stalks
* “Order” is derived from grain stalks lined up in a row
* “Morning” is represented by a sun coming up over some “grass”
* “Japan” is known in literature as the land of the rising sun
Week by week our appreciation builds and we look forward to each Wednesday lesson. As we are reminded in I Corinthians 8, knowledge puffs up but charity builds up, so pray for us, that our acquisition of some language skills would not be in actuality a self-centered pursuit, merely another skill. The potential of communication and service to others through the language is enormous. The enormity of the language will be manageable (even fun I would say) if we keep comparing it with that.