Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Insights into the Culture through Language

Another insight into the culture through language (we find these interesting)—


Whereas we would say “We went to the movie last night”, they would say [literally translated], “We last night went to the movies.”

For them, it’s not so much what you do that is important, but how you do it. Consequently, the modifying phrase—the adverbial phrase modifying the verb—is emphasized with the words order.


For those of you who like this stuff and are grammar geeks, here’s one more. Let’s say you have the sentence, “I threw the ball to Ryan”. “Ryan” is the indirect object, meaning it’s the thing that is affected by the verb’s action.

But in typical Chinese grammar, you’d say, “I to Ryan threw the ball.” Again, in Chinese culture, the main point is not what you did, but WHO was affected.  


How fitting that the grammar reveals the priority of the culture—the emphasis is on how we do something and who is affected. Sounds like an emphasis we all should consider more…


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