Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Traffic jam

More confusion in Chinese class today! Our textbook includes a sentence which begins

我们学校附近交通很方便...

"Where's the verb?" asked A, one of my classmates, "all I see is our+school+vicinity+traffic+very+convenient." And indeed, there is no verb. I'm used to verbless sentences from Japanese, but it's true that in English you need a subject and a predicate for something to count as a sentence - to actually say something. Yet surely a copulative is implied, and isn't the meaning here clear enough: that our school is convenient to public transit? (Our textbook does not provide translations of dialogues, etc..) A, however, insisted on a word by word reckoning, at the end of which the teacher said in exasperation that 交通 doesn't even really mean traffic in this sentence (as our textbook said), while by itself "it doesn't mean anything at all"! A was not assuaged.

I suspect there are going to be a lot more sentences the translating of which is like startling a flock of pigeons who noisily fly off in all directions before regrouping again.

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