I haven’t been making any substantial posts to Frog in a Well of late even though I have been buried in fascinating historical materials as I write my dissertation. I have decided, however, to share the occasional short anecdote that pops up in some of the secondary and primary sources I come across.
If you have studied Chinese you may know how hard it is to maintain memory of those characters. I remember being impressed with a friend who attached little labels on everything around the house to help his girlfriend learn German vocabulary. Looks like this is a method with a lot of history behind it. In a section talking about literacy in Communist controlled areas of wartime China, Dagfinn Gatu brings up a patronizing anecdote from Jack Belden’s China Shakes the World I don’t remember coming across describing one way to remember the Chinese characters:
“A farmer plowing his field would put up one character on a big board at each end of the field. Thus, going back and forth all day, even his primitive mind could grasp the complex convolutions.”1
- Quoted in Dagfinn Gatu, Village China at War, p. 77. Originally in Jack Belden, China Shakes the World, p. 117. [↩]