Home / People / Nostradamus Made Me Do It 明代法国预言家迫使我学习中文

Nostradamus Made Me Do It 明代法国预言家迫使我学习中文

I’ll kick this ChinaChris.co.uk blog off with ‘Why I study Chinese’ – one of the two speeches I prepared for the oral ‘paper’ of my final exams in 1999.

I am often asked “Why are you learning Chinese?” It’s not an easy question to answer as there is no single straightforward reason. There must be up to around eight reasons, but there’s not the time to go into them all now, so here now I can only briefly explain three of the reasons. Firstly there’s money.

Before starting university I was a variety entertainer. After eight years of following that line of business I decided there was not enough money in it, and so felt a need to acquire a new money-making skill. I’d been hearing that western companies were eyeing up China as a huge new market for their products, so I reasoned, given the scarcity of westerners with expertise in Chinese, were I to knuckle down and get to grips with the language, I could land myself some lucrative commissions. Generally I’m not that pushed about earning serious money, but now and then it occurs to me that were I to marry and have kids, lack of funds would be a problem. Most of the time, however, I feel it’s pretty good not having wife and kids – there’s just yourself, no need to earn money to provide for others, far more scope for doing exactly as you like.
我上大学前的职业是表演者.当表演者八年后我觉得钱不够,所以应该学习能挣更多钱的新技能.听说西方公司认为中国是很大的推销地区.他们都想把产品卖到中国.我认为会说中国话的西方人很少,要是我学习汉语变成中国专家,那些公司也许愿意付很多钱顾用这种专家. 平常我对挣很多钱没有兴趣,可是有时我想如果一旦结婚了,生孩子了,没有钱真麻烦的.不过大部分的时间我认为没有爱人和小孩子也不错;只有自己,不必替别人挣钱,可以多做你自己喜欢做的事情.

One activity I enjoy is studying Eastern philosophy, especially the wisdom of the Book of Changes by King Wen, the Duke of Zhou and Confucius. I have long been interested in this book, it being twenty-four years since I began reading an English translation of this ancient Chinese tome. The Book of Changes is a divination manual. In times of doubt advice can be obtained from those sections of the book indicated through manipulation of a set of divination sticks. I feel that whenever I have used the Book of Changes this way I have invariably got helpful information. Naturally I found the book very interesting, and thought it would be ideal to be able to read the book in its original language, and so I took up Chinese.
我喜欢做的事情当中一个是学习东方哲学,尤其是文王周公和孔子写的易经.我对那本书感兴趣已经很久了.二十四年前我开始年翻译成英文的这本古代中文书.已经是一本卜书.有疑问的时候可以求助于这本书中卜枝表示的章节决定怎么做. 我用卜枝和易经的时候觉得总是能获得有帮助的消息.当然我对易经很有兴趣.决定最好能看懂易经的原装书以我开始学习中文.

These two reasons for studying Chinese perhaps sound a bit pedestrian, so to spice things up a touch, I have a third, more colourful reason.

nuositeridamosiFive hundred years ago there was a French fortune-teller named Nostradamus. He said that early in the twenty-first century yellow people would invade Europe. The majority of yellow-skinned people speak Mandarin, so I reasoned that if I were able to converse with them, and say for instance “You and I are good friends. Come in! Come in! Have a cup of tea.” then they wouldn’t kill me.

(More on the life of Chris in the ‘Personal‘ posts.)