Old habits getting in the way


There's this habit of using upward inflection at the end of a word to transform a statement into a question or request, or to reflect uncertainty. For example, how a person says "water" in certain contexts can mean "(Would you like some) water?" or "(Do you have any) water?" or "(Does that puddle on the kitchen floor next to your overpriced purse dog look like) water?" That's a problem in learning Mandarin. Everyone in my class so far has answered a question with "(answer)?" at one time or another, with a one in four or one in five chance of an accurate tone (and a correct answer). Visible acts of charity have been used to further other agendas. Putting money into a religious cause to influence a crowd from the pulpit? Have a look at European cathedrals or your own local iglesia. Providing a free meal to encourage political support? Sounds like bread and circus to me - or, depending on where you are, spaghetti and a basketball court. Vocal support for the opposing side? Quick, launch the benefit concerts and awareness days so we can Nelson-laugh at them and still look benevolent! What was that, last week? I know where I stand on these old habits, and have earlier posts about that stance; and while I may want to believe in the good intent of what I see onscreen, I believe in that intent as much as I do infomercials that say they're seminars (seen that one-time only offer before, thanks ever so). Nevertheless, I'll be right here watching, learning what I can, glorying in my commute and one less debt to worry about. Then I'm changing the channel back to something academic once I've got a better handle on the accents there.

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