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San Francisco, USA

 

Hong Kong Fertility Rate

The news is out. Hong Kong's fertility rate is now under 1%.

My wife once returned to Hong Kong for a visit after living abroad for over a decade. She went to meet many old friend and many childhood places for old time's sake. She made a remark that the kindergarten she went to has now become a senior home. In a city where things are eternally in flux, few people would have raised an eyebrow about this change. I, however, laughed hysterically because I see too much irony there. A kindergarten has turned into a senior home, this is probably the best epitome of the aging of population in Hong Kong.

The population pyramid of 2006, published in the Demographic Trends In Hong Kong by the Census and Statistics Department, look more like a wacky diamond than a pyramid. Few people talk the issue of severe population ageing, as least not as much their concern about stock price or real estate value. But it is a silent problem that only going to get worst.

What will the demographic of Hong Kong looks like in 30 years, a society with predominantly old people? How different it would be compare to the society 30 years ago when I grew up?

2007.12.28 comments

 

Book Review - River Town

River Town
Two Years on the Yangtze
by Peter Hessler

As a Peace Corp volunteer, American author Peter Hessler has spent two years in a remote part of Sichuan province in China as an English teacher. River Town is a book about this fascinating experience.

The town of Fuling on the Yangtze river is far from the bustling Chinese costal cities. He found himself and fellow volunteer Adam the only Westerners in this place where few foreigners have set foot in. This started a long process of adaption. It was frustrating initially. The English speakers found that it is difficult to function well in a Chinese city and they have always drawn too much unnecessary attentions. But over time, with much persistence and determination, he has picked up Chinese language. This opens him up to many wonderful dialogs and relations with local people, like his college students, his Chinese language teachers, local families, the kafkaesque communist officials and even desperated woman pursuers.

To most people, Fuling is just an unremarkable place and the people are nothing out of ordinary. But to Hessler, this is a place he has called home and they are the people he knows. In his eyes they all become very interesting. Everyone has a story to tell if only you show interest in them. With good knowledge of Chinese history and politics and a great understanding of Confucius value, Hessler has the ability to look beyond Western prejudice and see things in Chinese's perspective. This does not mean he admires everything Chinese, but he is well aware of the different value system and all the trade off between them. Thoughout the book you will find many great insight on China and Chinese through this his observant eyes.

On the personal level, I find Hessler's experience very inspirational. To immerse in and to discover a foreign culture and to associate with people from all walk of life, it is a life live to the fullest.

2007.12.18 [] - comments

 

學習粵拼 II (Learning Jyutping II)

繼續談一下學習粵拼的心得,我對拼音掌握得不好,常常分不清正確的讀音。粵語裡面有oe和eo兩個音我便分不清。幸好用oe和eo的韻母只有六個,我便編了一個口訣來幫忙,就是「靴雙腳,居鄰出」。這六個字正好用了全部六個含oe和eo的韻母,

靴hoe1
雙soeng1
腳goek3
居geoi1
鄰leon4
出ceot1

這個口訣有點是《鄰居穿了鞋子出來》的意思。當我不肯定某字是否用那個韻母時,唸來看看是否跟其中一字押韵便知道了。

2007.12.07 [, , ] - comments

 

學習粵拼 I (Learning Jyutping I)

前幾天開始應真練習粵拼,不過幾天已經很有成果,現在打一編長長的帖子已沒有什麼問題。以前用簡易倉頡,就算一百字之中懂打九十五個字,就是偏偏有三五個字特別難打,特別是一些筆畫少,但又不易分拆的字,真是絞盡腦汁也想不到怎樣拆。於是就是為了幾個字一編短編打了半天也打不成。現在用粵拼,固然不時會遇到不會拼的字,但是猜下猜下總會猜到。很少像倉頡會被某些字難到。現在練得多了就更得心應手,今天正是要用中文來寫這篇網志,以使學以致用。

現在的學習方法是這樣,我編了一個簡單的程式,可以把中文加上粵拼音標。然後我每天找一篇一二百字的文章標音後練打,除了一些難字以外我盡量避免查看粵拼音標,真的不懂才看。那幾個難字再記下來,明天再試打。這樣不用幾天已經掌握了粵拼音法。

2007.12.06 [, , ] - comments

 

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