Maria Holland


In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 12:16 am

The particle 了 is perhaps one of the hardest parts of Chinese.  It indicates something that has already happened, unless it is indicating a new, changed situation.  Or unless it’s just there for funsies, as it often seems.  I try to mimic the way native speakers use 了, but usually end up just throwing it in my speech occasionally.  The complicated conjugation of verbs in most languages is a mixed blessing perhaps – it may be hard to produce output, but it makes interpreting input much easier, I think.

Reason for this grammar lesson?  Today is one of those precious few situations in which I know exactly how to use 了.  Yesterday I was 21, and I honestly don’t know if that requires a 了 indicating a past event.  BUT today I am 22 了, indicating a new situation.  Today I am 老 (old) 了. 

I felt a little old this morning, waking up after barely 2 hours of sleep.  I met up with Jelle, a Dutch friend who wanted to go to Mass with me, and we headed over to Gulangyu.  When we got there, the congregation was doing the Stations of the Cross before Mass, so we joined in for the end.  Today is Palm (or Passion) Sunday, when we remember Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem – greeted by disciples waving palms – shortly before his crucifixion.  Thus, before Mass started we all went out into the courtyard to receive palms, have them blessed, and process into the church.  It was interesting celebrating Palm Sunday on a tropical island; the palms were different than the imported ones we use back home!

The other special thing about Palm Sunday Mass is the Gospel, which is the complete account of Jesus’ passion, from the Last Supper to the crucifixion.  Unlike the Gospel every other Sunday, this one is read in a narrative form with a narrator, Jesus voiced by the priest, and the other parts read by the congregation.  The Passion narrative is exceptionally long (13 pages today, compared with half a page on a usual Sunday), but I really appreciate it every year.  It’s a powerful experience – yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!”, denying three times that you know Jesus, asking Him to remember you when He comes into His kingdom – playing the roles of jealous Pharisee, unfaithful apostle, and repentant thief.  This year was like every other year, only that when I condemned Him to death, when I denied Him, and when I asked His forgiveness, I was joining the rest of the congregation in Chinese. 

In the afternoon, I joined some friends for lunch outside – like a picnic, but our food was delivered from the Caiqingjie restaurant about 20m away.  It was a little bit windy but the sun was out in full force and thus a beautiful day.

Last night’s lack of sleep caught up with me around 3 in the afternoon, when I barely got myself to my bed before passing out for a few hours.  Both yesterday’s and today’s naps were actually longer than the sleep I got last night!!

Aleid and I went out for a late dinner tonight.  It was delightful except for the Chinese guys at the next table who kept trying to buy us beer.  I have come to the conclusion that there should be an entire unit in each class on getting mad, being forceful, or refusing effectively.  This is a serious hole in my Chinese language knowledge.

Back at my dorm, I received several visitors – Carlos to eat my peanut butter cookies, and XuLei and XiaoYang bringing more presents.  Our conversations included such topics as whether or not you can turn baozi into mantou by removing the filling (which apparently you can’t); the significance of a guy asking for a girl’s number in China (possibly nothing, but in this case we think there might be something between LiXiang and DongWei); whether or not XuLei is the worst person ever at keeping track of her cell phone (a resounding yes – even worse than me!); and how to say ‘bra’ in Chinese (which they wouldn’t tell me in front of Lester).  My friends here make me smile.

  1. Enjoy reading your blogs so much. Sent this one on to Marcia also.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweetie. Hope you do as good the next 70 as you have done the first 22. You’re a wonder!!! Love you, Grandpa H.

  2. Your account of Palm Sunday was BEAUTIFUL!! Well thought out and moving…………….

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