Tagged Gregory Taylor

Acts Full Gospel School to Teach Chinese

By Gregory
Taylor

Starting 2011 off with a bang, Acts Full Gospel School will add a Chinese language pilot program to its K to 3rd grade school curriculum.  Acts, a leader of many innovations, will be the first African American Church to implement a Chinese language program.
Through the dedication and astute efforts of Dr. Doris Limbrick and Acts Christian Academy’s Principal Stephanie Davis, the pilot program will consist of 15 students ranging in ages from 5 to 8 years old.  The lessons will be held after school twice a week for three months.
The classes will familiarize students with the four tones of Mandarin, the counting system, initial and final pronunciations, and character pinyin recognition.  Read more

The Chinese and all that Jazz 中國的節奏 zhōng guó de jié zòu

By Gregory
Taylor

The nightclubs in China rivaled any I had seen in the States only on a larger scale–I mean gymnasium size.
The music was contemporary and rhythmic summoning the crowds to the dance floor.
I heard R&B tunes from the O’Jays to Michael Jackson.  In more quaint settings, I heard a young man accompanying himself on the keyboard while singing the tunes of Nat King Cole.  The Mainland Chinese have discovered Black America, or should I say its musical art form.  Dare I say their interest seems to be more pervasive and intense than that of the American Born Chinese (ABCs).   It appears that Chinese love the rhythms of R&B and the free-flowing expression of Jazz.  Indeed, the latter might explain the Mainlander’s embracing of Jazz for its unfettered self-expression.
While I was studying Chinese I had a classmate named Victor Siu.  Victor was both a Music and Chinese major.  One day I heard him play the piano.  What he played astounded me.  Here was a Chinese person playing Jazz piano.  I was so surprised at what I was hearing that it encouraged me to start playing the piano again.  There was a bit of irony here, in between Chinese classes Victor would show me some jazz licks and I would show him what Chinese characters were what.
I recently interviewed Victor, who is now the music teacher at Lincoln Elementary School.  He teaches primarily Chinese music and its varying instruments from the erhu to the moon guitar.  His first love, however, is still Jazz.  When I asked Victor what attracted him to Jazz music he stated it was when he first heard Dee Spencer, a music teacher at SFSU, play the piano.  Victor stated, “I couldn’t believe it was the same instrument that I played; I couldn’t believe it was the same instrument, but with completely different sounds.”  Prior to that Victor had been trained to play classically.  His mother is a well-known music teacher in the Chinese community and his father and grand-father were also musicians.  So, it seems it was inevitable that he would be involved with music.
Victor stated that he took jazz theory classes and a lot of African American Studies courses.  He jokingly stated, “I like February, because of Black history month and Chinese New Year.”  His favorite piano player of all-time was Nat King Cole, everybody that performed on the Motown label, and he loves anything by Sam Cooke.  One day Victor will figure out a way to meld Chinese instruments with Jazz music .
Send comments to: gregoryktaylor@yahoo.com

The Chinese and all that Jazz 中國的節奏 zhōng guó de jié zòu

By Gregory
Taylor

The nightclubs in China rivaled any I had seen in the States only on a larger scale–I mean gymnasium size.
The music was contemporary and rhythmic summoning the crowds to the dance floor.
I heard R&B tunes from the O’Jays to Michael Jackson.  In more quaint settings, I heard a young man accompanying himself on the keyboard while singing the tunes of Nat King Cole.
The Mainland Chinese have discovered Black America, or should I say its musical art form.  Dare I say their interest seems to be more pervasive and intense than that of the American Born Chinese (ABCs).   It appears even the stoically reserved Chinese can’t resist the rhythms of R&B and the free-flowing expression of Jazz.  Indeed, the latter might explain the Mainlander’s embracing of Jazz for its unfettered self-expression. Read more

The Chinese and Education

Post Analect: It’s Conclusive. No Confusion About Confucius
對中國人來說﹐教育是重要的
duì zhōngguórén lái shuō, jiāoyù shì zhòngyào de

By Gregory
Taylor

“Confucius”

“If I hold up one corner of a square and a man cannot come back to me with the other three, I won’t bother to go over the point again,” conceivably an intemperate remark, but it is representative of a principle of instruction to those familiar with the teachings of Confucius.
Who was this man Confucius or as the Chinese would say Kongfuzi?  He was a beneficiary of an aristocratic education, and his objective was to be a key adviser to an important ruler.  Coming up short in that effort, Confucius turned to teaching to support himself. As with many historical figures who are often quoted, there exist no recorded writings by Confucius. His famous teachings were compiled after his death by his disciples and called “Analects.”
You know them, you’ve read them, you’ve seen and heard them on Saturday morning cartoons as a kid, “Confucius says, early to bed…etc.etc…”  Read more

Decoding Chinese Characters,Part Two

Part 2

By Gregory Taylor

yì mǎ hàn zì, dì èr bù fen

"Can you find the Radical?"

Would you be surprised to learn that the Chinese character writing system once dominated the societies of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam?  This is extraordinary, considering that the Chinese at different times have had armed conflicts with each of these nations. 

How did this happen?  What caused Chinese script to be adopted by its nearby neighbors? 

The answer is to be found in the Han (pronounced Hun) dynasty (140 BCE) when its writing system spread throughout northern Vietnam, the Korean Peninsula, and the length of the Japanese islands.  

The Hans are the majority ethnic group in present day China—the Han Chinese.  Just about every Chinese person you will see in America is Han Chinese.

China has various words to illustrate the Han’ness, if you will, of its society–such as, 漢語Hanyu, 漢俚Hanzi, 漢族Hanzu and 漢奸Hanjian representing the Chinese language, Chinese characters, Chinese nationality, and a Traitor to China respectively. Read more

Decoding Chinese Characters

By Gregory

Taylor

At some point in our lives, we’ve all looked at Chinese characters emblazoned on a store front sign or dinner menu and wondered what manner of people devised such an intricate collection of intersecting lines, dashes, hooks and dots to record their thoughts.  The answer would be a people that developed a pictorial based written language.  Not unheard of in early man—think Egyptians.  The difference with the Chinese images appears to be a more skeletal likeness, an outline if you will.  

The majority of Chinese characters are made up of two parts, the radical (root) and the phonetic (sound).  The radical usually has relation to the meaning of the character while the phonetic can often give a phonetic-clue to the pronunciation.  Often, the radical can be found either to the left of the main character, above the main character, to the right of the main character, or beneath the main character.  Below are four sets of characters, with the exception of one, the remaining three characters all have their radicals to the left of the main-phonetic component.  Study them and you will be able to discern the radical from the phonetic.  I have also included the definition of the character. Read more

Magnificent Performance

By Gregory Taylor

Pianist Leon Bates talks to students at Westlake school in Oakland.

 Music has always been a passion of mine, both as a practitioner and spectator.  So, when the opportunity presented itself to attend the Four Seasons Arts, 52nd season opener, last Saturday at Holy Names University, featuring pianist Leon Bates – I ran to get tickets.  

You see, I like to think that I’m fairly familiar with the mechanics and nuances of the Piano, and although Jazz and Brazilian sambas are more my style of play, I have recently come to appreciate the classical pieces of Beethoven, Chopin, and Bach. 

 I just love the ambiance of a concert hall and the behavior it demands.  It elicits a certain dislocation of time to a snootier era of knee-high stockings, bustiers, and white wigs.  I arrived a tad late and politely entered the auditorium during an applause break so as not to make myself anymore conspicuous than I already had.  

I  excused myself once, twice, and excused myself again as I passed one seated patron after another until, thank God, I arrived at my assigned seat and quietly shape-shifted my corpus into it.

 Mr. Bates was already performing center stage seated pro forma at the keys of a long-black gorgeous Steinway.  I cleared my head and allowed the harmonious chord sequences to enter my brain like one would do when studying something elegantly technical.  I’m not an easy sell when it comes to a piano performance.   Read more

A Mother Who Thought Outside the Box

盒子外面 hézi wàimiàn

By Gregory Taylor

There is a lady who, in her own words, has been thinking “outside the box” for over a decade.  A single mother who grew up in East Oakland, she attended Elmhurst Junior High and Castlemont High Schools.
Thirteen years ago, she did the inconceivable and placed her two-year-old son in a Chinese childcare center.  Her reasoning involved a mixture of convenience (it was close to her work), cultural diversification and  “language immersion.”
Five years later, while her son attended Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland Chinatown, a Chinese music teacher detected something unique in his singing voice and taught him to sing Chinese Operas.
The next 10 years saw this youngster perform at the State Department before Condoleezza Rice, sing arias at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, and for his crowning achievement, a solo New Year’s performance that was beamed to nearly 2 billion people in Asia.   Read more

8th Wonder of the World

Terra-Cotta Soldier
兵馬俑 bīng mǎ yǒng
ㄅㄧㄥ ㄇㄚ ㄩㄥ

There are many ancient sites to see in China, such as, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the Three Gorges.  If you visit only one place during your stay in China, I would recommend the city of Xi’an where you can marvel at the eighth wonder of the world buried about one mile from the first Emperor of China’s tomb.   Read more

Learn Chinese: The Mormons Get It!

By Gregory
Taylor

Sister Nebeker teaches English to Chinese immigrants in Oakland Chinatown. Photo by Gregory Taylor.

“Ni hao ma! Nuestra familia llegará a México en agosto despueés de 2 años de vivir en Malasia.”
After an initial greeting in Chinese, the above letter was written in Spanish by a mother whose family is moving to Mexico in August after living in Malaysia for two years.  She goes on to say that wants her five-year-old son to continue studying Mandarin in Mexico.  She would like the institution to provide her with necessary information regarding location, classes, price, etc. Read more

niu bu yinshui, nan an niutoudi

By Gregory
Taylor

Chillin’ in Chinatown.

The above title illustrates three ways to write “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”  The first version is character-based while the second version is a Roman/Latin alphabet writing system developed to aid the foreign speaker in its pronunciation of Chinese characters called “pinyin”. The third version, without tone markers, is based on a phonetic symbolic system called “zhuyin fuhao” used almost exclusively in Taiwan.  Chinese, like  English, has many pithy sayings expressing a general maxim.  However, the two languages when placed side by side, seldom have a word-for-word translation.  It is delightful to see how two  cultures chronicle  life’s truisms.
The above Chinese phrase uses a “cow” instead of a “horse” to make its point. It then reads, “The cow won’t drink water, it’s difficult to push the cow’s head down.”  Slightly different, but it effectively says the same thing.   Or, for the phrase “Fight fire with fire,” the Chinese say, “combat poison with poison.”  “It’s Greek to me,” the Chinese say, “It’s like heavenly script.”  “When pigs fly,” the Chinese say, “Unless the sun would rise from the west,” and “Straddle the fence,” becomes, “Feet on two boats.”   In either language with little difficulty the meaning is fairly obvious.
How often do we miss an opportunity because we didn’t recognize it as such?  How often have we been advised to do something only to regret not doing so later?  We all have been led to the water trough and for whatever reason chose not to drink.  Please, don’t miss this opportunity to give your child, your grandchild, your niece, your nephew, your neighbor’s child the opportunity to learn a language that can help them compete in the world economy.
According to the August 16 edition of the New York Times, China passed Japan in the second quarter of 2010, to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States. “The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is for real and that the rest of the world will have to reckon with a new economic superpower.”
I’ll leave you with another universal proverb about not seeing the forest for the trees–or as the Chinese would say, “The spectators see the chess game better than the players.”  Become a spectator and take advantage of this opportunity to bring the Chinese language to your community.
Greg Taylor grew up in East Oakland, became an Oakland Police Officer, moved to Taiwan for two years and traveled through mainland China.  He now wants to teach Chinese to the urban youth.
Send questions, comments to: gregoryktaylor@yahoo.com
Enroll in Chinese classes by filling out the registration form at:  www.gregschineseschool.com