I haven't written any long articles in English for a long time because I'm too lazy and reluctant to write in a non-native language. However, I have to admit that to keep the balance between the two languages I'm learning — English and Japanese — is not easy work. Here I'd like to share a fun fact with you. Before the announcement of my winter holiday English homework, according to an excellent person's advice, I made up my mind to do CNN10 dictation every day. Interestingly enough, a few days later, I found out my English homework was, in fact, to do a dictation of English news. I was already a bit ahead of the curve.
To master two languages seems like a lofty ambition, but regardless, I'm working on it. I've always seen language as a tool which can help me conquer steep mountain peaks. I even used English to learn some basic modern Greek, just for fun, and a little curiosity about ancient Greece. I am convinced that British and American countries have done sufficient research on Japanese learning. Sometimes I can just search the English-Japanese dictionary to figure out Japanese words I don't understand. What's more, nowadays it is super convenient to acquire the information you want through the Internet. It is interesting to read a text in different translations, too. I also benefited greatly from reading On Writing Well. It illuminated two main principles for me: warmth and humanity. Now I remember to make everything clear for the reader when he/she is reading my article.
When I was choosing books, Anthony and Cleopatra came to mind. I bought a copy in a second-hand bookstore in Qingdao several years ago, but I am not patient enough to read such a long play, so finally I chose Macbeth. It is short, and written in old English. I tried to read the first few pages and found it very difficult, so as a result, I looked to a modern English version. Not surprisingly, I can read it smoothly! I really marvel at Shakespeare's skill in writing—what a genius he is! Through a variety of psychological insights, expressions, and action descriptions, the mood and inner qualities of the characters are shown incisively and vividly. As Lu Xun (a famous Chinese writer) said, “tragedy is the destruction of the good”, and I think in this play we can see how human nature worked on a process to make the good into the evil.
Here are some excerpts from the adapted version (modern English) of Macbeth:
- But if it was good, why did it make him think about doing something so unnatural that it made his hair stand up on end and his heart pound furiously – knocking against his ribs?
It was totally silent. And pitch black. It was now or never. Macbeth stared into the darkness. And as he looked it seemed that a dagger hung there. He closed his eyes and opened them again. It was still there. He peered. It didn't waver. Was it really a dagger? Its handle towards his hand?
‘I go, and it is done: the bell invites me.’ He began walking. ‘Don't hear it, Duncan: for it's a knell that summons you to heaven or to hell.’
‘Oh treachery,’ he gasped. ‘Run, Fleance, run, run. Oh you devil,’ he sighed with his last breath.
The boy turned pale and blood trickled out of his mouth and down his chin. The shaggy haired man rubbed his shin. Lady Macduff stood with her mouth open, unable to scream.
Actually, you could imagine how Macbeth felt when he was going to assassinate the King, Duncan. He was deeply involved in a vortex of contradiction. I have just read Act 3, Scene 1 (Macbeth), and now I'd like to make one more note. Today, I watched a video, in which an English speaker was introducing Touhou project. As a Chinese saying goes, music can cross national borders, and in my opinion, the spirit world is the same. It's not too much to say Touhou project is sacred to me. Being Chinese, I have a wonderful feeling when reading articles about Japanese culture in English. Perhaps this is the expression of different cultures and languages blooming in one person at the same time.