Here goes… I’m studying Mandarin on my own. Only my family and close friends have known I do this for fun. It’s been six months since I started sitting down with books and recordings, sporadically studying when I have time. It’s as fascinating as it is frustrating in the way of delicious puzzles, just like music. The language is tonal. It feels like singing when I speak, and learning to read and write feels like my first lessons in reading notes on a staff.
I am many, many years away from being able to communicate with any fluency… Wo3de Zhong1wen2 bu4 hen3 hao3… 我的 中文 不很好… but I still feel the push to try. I write. Like making music, it’s what I do. So, here goes my poem in Mandarin about music. I only used words that I actually have in my vocabulary, but I had to look up the characters, cut and paste via Google Translate and verify via my Pleco app. The second set is without tones indicated and with my rhyming translation.
他们不听我. Ta1men bu4 ting1 wo3.
(They do not listen to me.)
我不要骂. Wo3 bu4 yao4 ma4.
(I do not want to scold.)
为什么我要说. Wei4 shen2me wo3 yao4 shuo1
(Why would I want to speak)
言辞说太大了? Yan2ci2 shuo1 tai4 da4 le?
(Words too loudly?)
我不会. 不教导苦. Wo3 bu4 hui4. Bu4 jiao4dao3 ku3.
(I cannot. I don’t teach suffering.)
请, 那么给我音乐. Qing3, na4me gei3 wo3 yin1yue4.
(Please, then give me music.)
孩子, 你们唱歌. Hai2zi, ni3men chang4ge1.
(Children, you sing.)
我是你们的音乐老师. Wo3 shi4 ni3men de yin1yue4 lao3shi1.
(I am your music teacher.)
Tamen bu ting wo. (They do not listen.)
Wo bu yao ma. (I wish not to scold.)
Weishenme wo yao shuo (Why would I want to speak)
Yanci shuo tai da le? (Words so brash or so bold?)
Wo bu hui. Bu jiaodao ku. (I cannot. I don’t impart suffering.)
Qing, name gei wo yin yue. (So give me melody, then.)
Haizi, nimen changge. (Sing for me children.)
Wo shi nimen de yinyue laoshi. (I am your mentor in music.)