motivation / daily study
Leave a Comment

Inside that dictionary (In memory of those hours lost in the keys)

Years ago, I studied Chinese. It was not that long ago, but if we compare the learning tools we have now and what we had at that time, I started Chinese in the Medieval Times.

To read a text in Chinese, I had to look up words I didn’t know and the only way to do it was to use a dictionary (the one with pages you have to turn).

What I do now when I’m searching for a word in Japanese is:

Take my iPhone
Draw that character using the handwriting in-put
Choose ok

What you had to do at that time was this:

(Warning: I know it may seem extraordinary, but it’s true, I am talking from experience)

Step 1:

Find what you think is the key of the character
Count the number of strokes in that key
Find your key in the key table of your dictionary
Go to the page indicated in front of the key
Find the key on the A4 format page of your dictionary full of characters, keep a finger on it
Count the number of stroke of the remaining part of the character
Look at your finger, search for the good number, search for your character

If you are lucky, go directly to Step 5, if not, proceed to step 2

Step 2:

Cannot find your character on the list
Check the list again
Realize you’re not even sure how your character looks like
Check the character
Check the list

If you have the same problem as I have, proceed to Step 3, if not, go directly to Step 4

Step 3:

Check the character again
Check the list once more, just to be sure

Step 4:

Realize that, what you thought was the key of the character was not the key of the character

Go Back to step 1, repeat the whole process until you find the good key

Note 1: This process can be repeated as long as you can identify possible keys in the character

Note 2: In extreme cases, you go as far as suspecting the first horizontal stroke to be the key, which is rarely the case.

Note 3: Sometimes, you end up realizing that the whole character is a key in itself

Step 5:

Find your character on the list
Look at the page number associated with it
Go to the page indicated

If you are unlucky, proceed to step 6, if not, go directly to step 8

Step 6:
Can’t find your character on the page
Check again the page, slowly
Go back to the character table to check the page number again
Realize you removed your finger from where it was and lost the page
Try to remember on which page you were by using your mental power

Repeat process and go back to step 1 (normally – if it’s not 3 in the morning – you should be remembering what was the key of the character, if not, go to bed)

Check the page number
Realize you were on the good page
Check the page
Realize you don’t even know which character you are looking for
Check the character
Check the page
Ask yourself if you are not suffering from an unknown illness
Rub your eyes
Realize that there is a pagination mistake and that your character is ten pages further

If you are secretly enjoying all this, proceed to step 7, if not, go directly to step 9

Step 7:

Hate the publisher
Hate the world
Cry and/or call your mom and/or bang your head against the wall and/or throw your dictionary through the window

Step 8: 

Find your character (either on the good page or ten pages further)

(Additional mid-step:
By reading the definition, realize you actually knew the character.
Hate yourself)

Proceed to the next character (if you have thrown your dictionary through the window, first fetch dictionary, then proceed to next character)

Step 9 (optional):

Give up Chinese

If you know what I am talking about, tell me I am not the only one! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s