Sunday, April 27, 2008

向左走 向右走 - Turn Left Turn Right

Last night, my tutor explained the first five lines of the book 'Turn Left, Turn Right' by Jimmy Liao. It was written in Traditional Chinese. My tutor explained the difficult words and gave me the Hanyu Pinyin for those words. I could manage the pinyin for the rest.
How nice, I thought to myself, if there were a tool that could convert Traditional Chinese to Simplified Chinese, I thought. Nowadays, thinking can be put into action at the touch of the keyboard. Through Google, I found the exact tool I was wishing from an excellent website for learning Chinese called

The conversion tool is here:

Here's how I was engaged in learning Chinese through the 5 lines of Jimmy Liao's book Turn Left, Turn Right:

1 Copy the lines from the book (handwritten) Got the Hanyu Pinyin and simplified Chinese for the difficult words from my tutor who also taught me how to read it in poetic style

2 Typed the lines in Traditional Chinese and did a conversion to Simplified Chinese using the online tools I have found

3 Copied the texts of both Traditional and Simplified Chinese onto a Word Document.
Added the Hanyu Pinyin

My effort is reproduced below:

向左走 向右走 (Turn Left, turn right)
Jimmy Liao (幾米)

Na nian de dong tian te bie han leng

Zheng ge cheng shi long zhao zai yin shi de yu li

Hui meng meng de tian kong chi chi bu zhao yang guang


Rang ren kan dao mo ming de ju shang

Chang chang zou zai jie shang jiu you yi zhong

Luo lei de zhong dong

The words in blue are Simplified Chinese characters.


Although it was like hard labour just to understand five lines from a story, I feel that it was worth it because I was totally engaged in the learning process. At the same time, I could not help but feel that the road ahead is really long and endless. There seems to be no end to the number of characters and seeing more and more of the characters while I was using the tools can be daunting.

How does one recognise and remember thousands of characters that cannot be pronounced? All I want is to be able to read Chinese well enough to step into another world and another culture that strangely is also my heritage. I figure that the only way is to immerse in the language through learning to read. For a start, I have found the reading materials that are enjoyable to me i.e. lyrics of songs and stories.

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