Catching up with my Train of Thoughts


October 2015

Translation n’est pas always easy (English et Français) (Possibly Chinese)

Ever learn more than one language? Ever find that the second language might have (or probably has) too many grammar rules to remember? Ever been told that fluency means being able to speak to anyone about anything in that language? Ever hear of people who translate word by word, only to find that it actually doesn’t make any sense?

Chances are that, if you live in Quebec (and possibly Ontario), You might have been exposed to two or more languages. Here in Quebec, we learn English and French, and yet some of us can barely introduce ourselves in the other languages while sounding fluent.

Quand j’étais jeune, mon m’a corrigée les centaines de fois pendant l’école primaire et secondaire. C’était seulement depuis 4 ans que j’suis appréciative de ce qu’il m’avais dit en corrigeant mes amis internationaux qui veulent apprendre la langue. 

However, even with an educational background of both English and French, I still find it hard to translate between the languages, maybe because of all of des règles de grammaire. De plus, as I start to learn Mandarin and its rules of grammar, I start to quickly and frequently be reminded how translating n’est pas la même chose quand on le traduire mot-par-mot (That’s Google Translate… not the most accurate) and asking 中国朋友 are not as helpful since they suggest words a beginner wouldn’t know or recognize.

Funny thing is, while I might be considered as fluent in French, si tu me parles de la domaine de compatbilité, je ne te comprendrais pas un mot (If you were to talk to me about Accounting, I wouldn’t understand one word from you). It’s the same in English, where I wouldn’t understand anything in relation to physics.

When it comes to translation, word by word doesn’t mean that the context stays the same between languages. The closest is getting the equivalent from one language to the next with the least amount of context lost. And to be fluent? Practice in both familiar and new/foreign environments.


The giving tree, cut down

“If all you wanted was love,
why would you use me up?
Cut me down,
Build a boat and sail away?
When all I wanted to do is be your giving tree,
Settle down,
Build a home and make you happy?”
here’s something mesmerizing about watching leaves fall during the autumn. Maybe it’s because they each have different colours, or because they fall in different paths and in different ways. It’s almost like watching it rain rainbow-coloured raindrops. When the leaves have fallen, it’s like the field is beautiful mix of red, orange, yellow and green.
But then, I see people cleaning them up, blowing them away and putting them away into bags. Somehow, the falling leaves remind me of something sad. Trees once lived for decades, if not centuries, but with human intervention, only the lucky ones last. Now, it looks like someone took a long stick and knocked off all of the leaves from the trees to see the beautiful leaves fall, as though seeing it fall once a year wasn’t enough.
The song that I quoted above was what I thought of when I saw that a tree nearby home was being chopped down. It reminded me of the times in history class where I often heard that the land was once filled with tall trees and the fields filled with flowers and grass alike.
It takes decades for a tree to grow, yes, but it gives us access to oxygen. It allows us to have fruits, to have somewhere for animals to call “home” and a reminder that what we have on this planet is limited and finite, taking years to develop and cannot instantly grow back.

Learning Mandarin and then some of Montreal

Every take courses late in the night? Ever find that, as life starts to settle down into the homes, class might be just starting, as though day and night seem to have switched? That, going home at such odd hours, the night view might start to look like the daylight? And, in that odd daylight, a new city life emerges, one maybe not many would see?
During this semester, I started taking a Mandarin course that took place during 6 and 8pm. At first, I was unsure if I would be able to stay up until then, given that I would have a full day of classes up until then. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my other classes because of how late I might go to sleep.

But then, I started to go through living with a night course and I found that I was wrong on many counts – I was almost never tired (large break before), but I was hungry a lot; and I could keep up with the other classes because they in the afternoon or had a day with no classes. Moreover, I had the chance to see something of which I thought I would never get to see – the Montreal Night Life.

It was busy. It was noisy. It was bright in the night sky. It was energetic with dancers and performers at many corners. It was as though I had stepped into another city. My friends who lived nearby wondered why I was fascinated, but I couldn’t help but want them to see what I see – something new about the old city.

Taking the Mandarin course provides me with a refreshing view of the language along with the challenge of staying atop of the speaking abilities, which makes me more alert rather than tired. I get the chance to practice with many Chinese friends (中国朋友), improving slowly, but surely.

Going home, I have to take a train, which I have almost never taken beforehand. I found it to be noisy, a little rocky, and crowded, but the places we passed by were breath-taking, especially at night. There’s a place near Bois-Franc that resembles to a place that would generate electricity- the lights connected to the poles light up like a Christmas tree (it’s mesmerizing). There are multiple graffiti signs, each unique, and each fascinating in their own way.

However, as the days pass, and the midterms approach, I focus less on this new environment and more on school. As someone once reminded me, to relieve stress, it helps to ground oneself. To do so, take a moment and stop. Look around, hear, smell, touch, and appreciate that moment. Maybe I’ll take a few pictures and post them here some time.

Sunset at Train Station Montreal Downtown Gare Centrale Lane 12-13

Minions – the species that live to serve (Review)(Spoilers)

Normally, I start the posts with questions, to peak the readers’ curiosity, but with minions who are probably 3 feet tall, what questions would there be to pose?

The movie is about a species of small, yellow creatures of whom seem to have a lifelong goal to follow the most evil person around… all the while they have the purest of hearts. The movie takes place before they meet the “evil” villain Gru of whom is in Despicable Me.

Among the many minions, three rose to the challenge to find a boss worth following – Kevin, Bob, and Stuart. They looked far and wide, finally finding themselves hitching a ride to the Villain-Con and becoming underlings for Scarlet Overkill, named to being the first female super-villain.

Ignoring the fact that there aren’t any females among the minions and that they never seem to age, the minions can be reminder of certain human aspects.

I’ve heard some stories where some people almost always have a soft spot for bad boys, which is explained by the thought that that person could turn good given time. While the movie explains that minions live to serve, maybe they are just looking for someone in need of help. If anyone’s seen Despicable Me, the minions are assigned simple tasks, like cleaning or building, and Gru seem to have grown a soft spot for them. Minions seem to be social creatures, working together to get the job done and having fun while doing it (which Scarlet really doesn’t like).

I’ve also heard, since childhood, that we all need someone to look to, which the minions do by following and serving one villain after the other. Something I’ve noticed is that villains tend to be not only very resourceful, but that they’re also very creative in the development of plans (who else would think of creating a shrink ray to steal the moon? or to camouflage a pyramid to hide it in plain sight?). Minions, as silly as they might be, can learn – like children – and work hard to follow their idols and to maybe impress them with what the kids/minion had learned.

Despite the cuteness and the odd, gibberish-like language of theirs, they are learning from their idols and they have the potential to help others thrive as well. Thinking about it this way, kids having an idol, whoever it may be, learn quickly and try to copy what it is that they do in the hopes of getting a sense of accomplishment. Those idols would inspire them to investigate some aspect of the large world of which we all live. Being looked at by a child, being idolized by them, means that they are hoping that they can be like that idol sometime in the future, no matter how far that future is and no matter how hard it takes to get there. (Just remember, they need to be encouraged by the telling of stories like these)

(Child = 孩子)

Worst Start to a New Semester, with some odd lessons (Slight Rant)

Ever think of a plan to be started on a certain date? Ever find the motivation get higher than normal as that date would get closer? Then, ever get with something unexpected?

First, slight rant/complains/summary

This semester started on September 8th, and I started coughing on the 7th (Labour Day for some). By the third day, I had lost my voice and found myself unable to take part in a lot of discussions in class and among friends (I brought a notepad around with me for a few days).

Unfortunately, the cough continued into the second week of school, but by then, my voice had returned somewhat (I just wanted to bury myself in my bed). I found myself leaving the class so as to not disturb the lecture… much.

By the third week, the cough pretty much died down, but left me with a cold (Sneezing/Running Nose/Watery Eyes). In comparison to the first two weeks, I thought it wasn’t that bad, but still – nose was dripping like a faucet.

So, overall, worst first three weeks ever, but I found myself learning a few things.

While I sometimes call myself shy, when I had lost my voice, I found myself wanting to find creative ways to still get involved despite the no-voice. I even started writing a story in my head of someone of whom that had no voice, but could hear, living the life of a university student; I imagined her having pre-written cards in which she would show to new people and maybe even have a T-shirt that said that she had no voice (I can hear, but cannot speak). The story kind of stopped when I got my voice back, but maybe I’ll get to writing it one day (Among the many others).

Another I learned, this is coming from the Nurses at the Health Centre, is that it is possible to catch two colds sequentially (One after the other) and that it is possible for a single cold to last up to eight (8) weeks. Maybe I was just unlucky, but having those symptoms for three weeks seems like two different colds. I was advised to drink a mix of hot water and honey, which I’ve grown to like and find myself drinking it frequently over the week (In fact a found an article on Facebook that might motivate others to do the same)

In the classes, many of my classmates were growing concerned as they saw me leave the class room a few times, coughing. Times like these made me thankful that we students had a variety of technological tools to use in such odd and unlucky situations (Get creative, people).

My original plan at the beginning of the semester was to post every weekday, describing the daily events and possible reflections within the day. Given the events, my mind wasn’t in the best state to be sitting in front of a screen for 5 to 10 minutes when it prefers to be asleep (apparently, oversleep is suggested at such times). However, having gotten over the worst cold ever and seeing others catch a mild version of it, I find myself being thankful for no longer having it while being able to give advice on how to push through the seasonal misery.

(I’m learning Mandarin/Modern Chinese this semester, so maybe I’ll try typing in mandarin. 再见!)

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