S3 ~ 05 ~ Forget the past 忘記過去

Mandarin From the Ground Up

04-07-2023 • 24 mins

We can't understand a language outside the context of the people who live it and speak it. A human language cannot be contained in an artifact like a dictionary or even a database, because it is a living thing, which exists through the people who live by it.

From the standpoint of learning a language, this point is essential. Not incidentally, rare cases notwithstanding, the human brain is not particularly good at memorizing facts or data. Consider how many things you learned in school that you've already forgotten.

The kind of information that we do tend to remember, indeed that we may absorb and retain permanently without even trying, is how things make us feel. Feelings are how we make meaning from experience.

This makes all the difference, because if we view a language as a collection of symbols that have no personal meaning for us, then learning it becomes an almost impossible task. But if, during the learning process, we allow the language to move us, to make us feel something, to change us personally, then we start to tap into the source of our language genius.

When learning a language, pay attention to how what you are learning makes you feel, and seek out resources and people that make you feel something... anything!

Lesson Outline:

  1. [00:21] Introduction
  2. [03:36] Magic Phrase
  3. [04:22] Break down and practice the Magic Phrase
  4. [09:55] Dialogue
  5. [12:23] Translation of the Dialogue
  6. [20:52] Dialogue, Slow Version


Magic Phrase (4-4)
This phrase is composed entirely of words that use the 4-4 tone pair. We use it to practice identifying and then pronouncing the tones, hearing how they interact with each other in context.

忘記過去,注意現在
Wàngjì guòqù, zhùyì xiànzài


忘記 / wàngjì / to forget
過去 / guòqù / the past, passed, over, finished
注意 / zhùyì / to pay attention to, to be careful of
現在 / xiànzài / now

Transcript of the dialogue (Chinese characters only)

阿明,你在幹嘛?
我在看電視。
不要浪費時間!我們要去上課了!
我不去了。
什麼意思?當然要去啊!你的作業做好了嗎?
我忘記了。
你忘記了!這很重要欸!教授說今天你要上台報告!
你先去吧,我要睡覺。再見。
阿明,這樣你要怎麼畢業?
抱歉,小李。
阿明,你怎麼了?
你看!
看什麼?
你看見了嗎?電視上的報導。
我沒看到。
它說這個社會…
這個社會怎麼了?
變化的速度太快。一定是世界末日!
就算是,你還是要繼續活下去啊!不能放棄!阿明,你多久沒去外面?
戶外嗎?
我們去附近散步,好不好?你要運動一下。
但是,我害怕遇到教授。
那我們不要往教室的方向,我們就去… 動物園吧。我們去看大象,好不好?你最愛的大象!
你確定這樣OK嗎?
可以啦!我也來翹課。
謝謝小李。
不客氣,阿明。
我好鬱悶!
會過去的。來,你先穿你的外套。


Transcript of the dialogue (w/ pinyin and translation)
Use this as a visual listening guide, or if you want to check your tone comprehension. Tones are indicated by marks above the letters in the pinyin transliteration, as follows: (1)  ā  (2)  á  (3)  ǎ  (4)  à

  • 阿明,你在幹嘛?
    • Ā míng, nǐ zài gàn ma?
    • A-Ming, what are you doing?
  • 我在看電視。
    • Wǒ zài kàn diànshì.
    • I’m watching TV.
  • 不要浪費時間!我們要去上課了!
    • Búyào làngfèi shíjiān! Wǒmen yào qù shàngkèle!
    • Don’t waste time! We need to go to class!
  • 我不去了。
    • Wǒ bú qùle.
    • I’m not going.
  • 什麼意思?當然要去啊!你的作業做好了嗎?
    • Shénme yìsi? Dāngrán yào qù a! Nǐ de zuòyè zuò hǎole ma?
    • What do you mean? Of course you’re going! Did you finish your homework?
  • 我忘記了。
    • Wǒ wàngjìle.
    • I forgot.
  • 你忘記了!這很重要欸!教授說今天你要上台報告!
    • Nǐ wàngjìle! Zhè hěn zhòngyào ēi! Jiàoshòu shuō jīntiān nǐ yào shàngtái bàogào!
    • You forgot! This is really important! Professor said today you need to present your report!
    • Note: 上台 (shàngtái) literally means "to get on stage."
  • 你先去吧,我要睡覺。再見。
    • Nǐ xiān qù ba, wǒ yào shuìjiào. Zàijiàn.
    • You go first, I’m going to sleep. Goodbye.
  • 阿明,這樣你要怎麼畢業?
    • Ā míng, zhèyàng nǐ yào zěnme bìyè?
    • A-Ming, how are you going to graduate?
  • 抱歉,小李。
    • Bàoqiàn, xiǎo lǐ.
    • I’m sorry, Xiao Li.
  • 阿明,你怎麼了?
    • Ā míng, nǐ zěnmele?
    • A-Ming, what’s wrong with you?
  • 你看!
    • Nǐ kàn!
    • Look!
  • 看什麼?
    • Kàn shénme?
    • See what?
  • 電視上的報導。你看見了嗎?
    • Diànshì shàng de bàodǎo. Nǐ kànjiànle ma?
    • The report on TV. Did you see it?
    • Note: Pay special attention to 報導 (bàodǎo), which means "report." Can you hear how the 4-3 tone pair differs from the 4-4 pair?
  • 我沒看到。
    • Wǒ méi kàn dào.
    • I didn’t see it.
  • 它說這個社會…
    • Tā shuō zhège shèhuì…
    • It said, this society…
  • 這個社會怎麼了?
    • Zhège shèhuì zěnmele?
    • What’s wrong with this society?
  • 變化的速度太快。一定是世界末日!
    • Biànhuà de sùdù tài kuài. Yīdìng shì shìjiè mòrì!
    • The speed of change is too fast. It’s definitely the end of the world.
  • 就算是,你還是要繼續活下去啊!不能放棄!阿明,你多久沒去外面?
    • Jiùsuàn shì, nǐ háishì yào jìxù huó xiàqù a! Bùnéng fàngqì! Ā míng, nǐ duōjiǔ méi qù wàimiàn?
    • Even if it is, you still have to keep on living! You can’t give up. A-Ming, how long have you not been outside?
  • 戶外嗎?
    • Hùwài ma?
    • ...Outdoors?
  • 我們去附近散步,好不好?你要運動一下。
    • Wǒmen qù fùjìn sànbù, hǎobù hǎo? Nǐ yào yùndòng yīxià.
    • Let’s go for a walk nearby, ok? You need to get some exercise.
  • 但是,我害怕遇到教授。
    • Dànshì, wǒ hàipà yù dào jiàoshòu.
    • But I’m afraid of running into the professor.
  • 那我們不要往教室的方向,我們就去… 動物園吧。我們去看大象,好不好?你最愛的大象!
    • Nà wǒmen bùyào wǎng jiàoshì de fāngxiàng, wǒmen jiù qù… dòngwùyuán ba. Wǒmen qù kàn dà xiàng, hǎobù hǎo? Nǐ zuì'ài de dà xiàng!
    • Then let’s not go in the direction of the classroom. Let’s go… to the zoo! Let’s go see the elephants, ok? Your favorite elephants!
    • Note: Pay special attention to 方向 (fāngxiàng), which means "direction." Can you hear how the 1-4 tone pair differs from the 4-4 pair?
  • 你確定這樣OK嗎?
    • Nǐ quèdìng zhèyàng OK ma?
    • Are you sure that’s OK?
  • 可以啦!我也來翹課。
    • Kěyǐ la! Wǒ yě lái qiào kè.
    • It’s fine! I’ll skip class too.
  • 謝謝小李。
    • Xièxie xiǎo lǐ.
    • Thank you, Xiao Li.
  • 不客氣,阿明。
    • Bú kèqì, ā míng.
    • Don’t mention it, A-Ming.
  • 我好鬱悶!
    • Wǒ hǎo yùmèn!
    • I’m so gloomy.
  • 會過去的。來,你先穿你的外套。
    • Huì guòqù de. Lái, nǐ xiān chuān nǐ de wàitào.
    • It’ll pass. Come on, first put on your coat.


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