Monday, July 12, 2010

Men trouble...

This is my favourite Mag:
A good mix of fashion/ art/ design
Well I don’t know about you guys but I have been trying madly to think of ways to keep myself interested in Chinese study while I am outside of China. Because I have a habit of over-committing myself to hobby clubs and my interests in Chinese I barley have any spare time to think of. As a way to combine my need for downtime and my desire to study I thought why not COMBINE these into one activity.
So I got a Chinese men’s magazine, there's  an impressive range of Mens (and Womens) magazines at Kinokuniya, in the Sydney CBD. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a very rough few weeks!

Open To Page One

I was having such a hard time, I was struggling through every article and it would take me 40min to work though a single paragraph! I thought to myself “this is a fashion magazine! I usually find fashion magazines bland and simple- surely things can’t be that different in Chinese”. The worse I got the less confident I became in myself.

Now this is probably a lesion for all of you out there; As it turns out such Fashion magazines are not exactly made ‘for the masses’ (大众化) as they are in Western cultures. Chinese magazines seem to be a self indulgent exercise in the literary finesse of the Chinese language to add an extra layer of decadence to the fact anyone buying the article has any leisure time to speak of to engage in the act of reading a magazine… let alone the education to understand the language that is used.
That said, these magazines are widely distributed and surely, only a certain demographic would be interested, but anyone could pick one up and make sense of it. What is at play here is the shift in Chinese Middle class, mixed the esteem and pride they have in their own language in it's written form.


The Moral Of The Story


Or branch out with
one don't know
Pick one you might
read in English
This is not to be particularly hard to the Chinese people. China’s economic boom has created a vast middle class, the divide between rich and poor in China is becoming sharper. Fashion magazines are just a sign of that. For all you language learners out there however, please, DO get a magazine. They are a tonne of fun and it is great to peruse them and see what I am able to understand if you were to select material for serious study… leave this to a little after you are past the upper intermediate level!
My tutor recommended a novel. Unlike a magazine or newspaper that use specific language- or perhaps simply use language differently- certain novels are designed to flow well and have a simplicity in language they is less about culturally laden expressions, or 成语 style phrases, they can often express a real way that language is used in everyday China.