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Why We Wrote This Book
We made this book so learning Chinese stops being a mystical mysterious language that is literally associated when people want to describe something hard to do or impossible to read. It can be done, and it is surprisingly simple once you learn that the trick isn’t to translate words but to shift your current thinking about learning a new language altogether.
What is the “Shift” I needed to make?
The shift that needs to take place is to put yourself in the traditional Chinese person’s shoes 5,000 years ago. You need to resist the urge that Chinese is structured in any way to English or any of the European languages you may have previously been familiar with. How can you get your message across when you live in an enormous land with multiple cultures who travel through your town and there is no centralized and formal library of literature to take your communication skills from? You need to begin using symbols to illustrate objects and events that an individual living far away can understand even if your dialect and education may have nothing in common. This is the root of Ancient Chinese Characters. When going into detail with each word, you will begin to see that nearly all of today’s characters evolved from a rudimentary drawing of what they originally described. Over the course of centuries, as culture evolved, the relationship between objects and characters changed and thus formed new characters that make sense only in relation to each other and the context they are in.
The Sleeping Dragon
While this may sound a bit intimidating, I challenge you to skim through the book and observe a few examples of the origins of some Chinese words and their meaning and return to this page to compare your previous notion of how you thought learning Chinese would go for you. It occurred to me about 5 years ago that China is an unstoppable growing force aka the “Sleeping Dragon” in the world economy and with it, raising the awareness and exposure of successful Chinese business people and the Chinese culture in general with America. I had a feeling that if I wanted to have any chance in being a part of the opportunities this would present as far as business and meeting amazing new people, I would have to at least have a basic comprehension of the Chinese language.
I googled for a few audio courses since those seemed the lowest investment methods to learn any new skill and then I took the course, which was very difficult to retain and gave up on this adventure about 3 weeks into it. When I saw Mark Zuckerberg give an entire speech in fluent Chinese and even had the ability to capture the audience’s imagination and be funny while giving a presentation I had an all-too-familiar feeling which can only mean the beginning of a journey. After being impressed, the normal cycle of thoughts crossed my mind when I witness anyone do something I am truly amazed by. First I wonder what steps he took to develop the skill, and the immediate confirmation that if someone can do it, then I can do it as well. I then thought about what other doors can this open up for me and if it is worth the time and energy I would have to put into this to make any worthwhile progress.
Meeting my Teacher
I had tried previously and nearly forgot about my original attempt. I let that idea float in my head for a few days until I walked into our factory where I manage a sales team and saw that we had brought in a technician from China to train our employees how to use our new machinery. Not only that, but he also had a translator who my coworkers said really seems to know her stuff. The second I met her, I immediately asked her if there is any way I could learn Chinese because I had tried before and failed and the fact that she was in our factory was the exact confirmation of the growth and interconnectedness I had anticipated would make learning Chinese so useful.