Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Guo, Xiaolu (郭小橹) "Language"

Guo, Xiaolu (郭小橹) "Language" - 2017

The story of a Chinese girl who moves to England.

I found this little book at the till when paying for another book (or two or three ...) and it sounded interesting. It really is only an extract from another book, "A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers" which certainly must be interesting, as well. Anyway, our Chinese girl has learned some English but she really doesn't know much when she first comes to England. It must be quite daunting living in another country and not knowing the language, especially if you are from a completely different culture. I have lived in several countries in my life but always knew the language and the cultures between some Western European countries are not all that different.

The book is written like a diary of the young girl who comes to England and at first, her English is rather limited. But you can tell by the time you get to the end that she gets better all the time. I quite liked that.

Anyway, I have learned more about the Chinese customs in this book than about the English language and that is exactly what I like. Nice short read.

From the back cover:
"Have you ever tried to learn another language? When Zhuang first comes to London from China she feels like she is among an alien species. The city is disorientating, the people unfriendly, the language a muddle of dominant personal pronouns and moody verbs. But with increasing fluency in English surviving turns to living. And they say that the best way to learn a language is to fall in love with a native speaker…
Selected from the book A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo"


  1. I've twice lived in a country where I didn't know the language. The first time was when we lived in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. I was only 20, pregnant and very intimidated by the formal German people. Took awhile to learn enough German to feel comfortable.
    The next time was when we lived in Izmir, Turkey. It was under martial law at the time and was quite an intimidating place to be. I took Turkish classes, but never became comfortable with the language. The Turkish people were wonderful and made us feel at home.

    1. Actually, I'm from Northern Germany and even I'm intimated by the formal people in the South, so I'm not surprised. LOL At least you tried to learn and, as you said yourself, learned enough of the language to feel more comfortable. I think not knowing anything of the language must be very daunting.

      As to the Turkish people, I totally agree, they are ever so wonderful, I have always met lovely people from there. It is a tough language to learn, so different from ours, the whole flow of the language, the composition, not easy. And I wouldn't have wanted to live in Turkey during that time. I wouldn't want to live there now, either, though there have been times when I think I would have liked it. As I said, lovely people.

  2. I don't have a gift for languages. I took French and Latin in high school but without the chance to actually speak French or read Latin after I was forced to in school, they did not stick with me. Great review!

    1. There are several reasons why you might think you don't have a gift. First of all, you really need a good teacher, preferably someone who comes from the country and/or who has lived there a couple of years. Second, and that is even more important, you need a possibility to use your language. In Europe, it only takes you a couple of hours and you're out of the area where they speak your national language. Over here, within half an hour, I can speak to people whose native language is German, Dutch or French. And I take up the opportunity as often as I can.

      Another reason you might think that is that both French and Latin are Roman languages which might not exactly be your forte. You might have done better with German or a Scandinavian language first.

      Anyway, if you don't need the languages, I can understand that you are not tempted to carry on.