The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oddities of Language: Chinese and English

I discovered something very strange today that, alone, might explain the low birth rate in China, if only they were better educated in English.

There is a phrase in Chinese "bei bi", which, as you probably noticed is pronounced in a very similar way to "baby" in English. There is one difference. In English the stress is on the first syllable; in Chinese it is stressed on the second. Now: why should I bother to post to you about this? Well, you see, there is something very odd in this coincidence of sound. The word "baby" on our tongue sounds like the word "bei bi" to a Chinese person - and what does it mean in Chinese? Well, one translation is "ignoble", another attempt at translation I have heard is "despicable".

I wonder what Mandarin speakers think, therefore, when Westerners use the word "ignoble" to describe their children. It is a funny world.

I could post on certain oddities I have noticed, in this part of the world, in addition to my mainstream on giftedness, prodigy and genius. If you found this comment interesting, please say so, so that I might choose to include observations I make on Asia, in future posts. Thanks very much.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:45 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very interested in knowing about any sociological differences, differences in the spirit of the time, differences in the beliefs of the cultures of foreign places. Its fascinating for me to think about things like the fact that Singaporeans apparently ignore fire alarms... As always, I want to understand how different sorts of people think, and Im definitely glad for the insight that your blog has given me.

- Kathy

11:36 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I shall take that, then, as encouragement to include the occasional observation as to the nature of Asia.

Thanks for the positive feedback.

Kind regards

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Kathy's opinion.

I lived in England for a year and, as the only American in the office, I learned an immense amount about the significance of linguistic differences.

I learned to call my own language American, not English and I learned what a 'braces and suspenders' job was. (And it had nothing to do with orthodontia.)

Your continued social and linguistic observations would be appreciated and enjoyed.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! It is! That would be awesome! :D

- Kathy

4:52 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your supportive remark. I shall, therefore, keep my mind open about including social, cultural and linguistic observations.

I hope you enjoyed your time in England.


4:55 PM  

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