Getting All Academic
11 Mar 2005
This morning I went to East China Normal University and sat in on the class of Professor 刘大为 from 8:30 to 11:00. It was a first year graduate course on cognitive linguistics. It was some pretty abstract stuff, touching on the nature of time and perception and what it means to cognitive linguistics, for example. The professor was surprisingly engaging, and I was able to follow most of it without much problem. Obviously, not having read (or even owning) the assigned text beforehand put me at a disadvantage… I didn’t find out until after class exactly what 类推 and 范畴 meant, exactly (they mean “analogize” and “category,” respectively), but I was able to follow OK anyway.
It surpised me that there was a foreigner in that class. From Macedonia! Her spoken Chinese wasn’t too polished, but she seemed pretty sharp. In a class of 18, she was one of only 4 people that responded to the professor’s questions during class.
After class I talked to the professor about my enrollment. I had spoken with him on the phone before, so he knew about me. He said they’d set up a time sometime soon to test me. I was really hoping to finally dispense with the vagueties and hear something concrete about the testing. No such luck. He merely said that my Chinese seemed very good, that I should have no problem, and even hinted that the testing was nothing more than a formality.
Then I talked to the lady in charge of admissions. She was also very nice, and surprisingly casual about the whole thing. “Oh, just get your application in to me sometime before May is over.” This is grad school! She and another teacher were also all complimentary about my Chinese, almost to the point of being annoying.
What they didn’t realize is that tests in written Chinese make me really nervous. Just before, in class, I had blanked on how to write the 普 in 普通. That’s not a hard character! Pressure seems to affect, more than anything else, my ability to recall and write out characters. That means I’m still nervous about this whole Chinese grad school admission thing.
Still, it looks like getting in is going to be pretty easy. I almost feel like it should be really arduous, and that they shouldn’t let me in so easily. Maybe it’s because I compare myself to Chinese students that go to study in the States, studying English for like 20 years before they get in? Yeah, I’m a bit short of 20 years’ study.
Speaking of academia, I was perusing my recent blog entries on the front page, and let me just say I can see why my family doesn’t comment much. The Chinese language/linguistic slant has been pretty strong lately.
Anyway, I’ll finish this nerdy entry off with a link to a really awesome post on a blog called 化境神似. I’ve been meaning to research this ever since 1999 when I first learned of the Communists’ unsuccessful 3rd attempt at character simplification doing research for my senior thesis. If you’re very into Chinese characters, don’t miss “Even Simpler Than Before.”