Chinese Newspaper Story - 立志學好中文 (Determined to Learn Chinese)
Here is the thematic story article (by Feng Renzhong 馮仁忠/冯仁忠) I found from World Journal newspaper. It's about a narrator who was driven from experience to learn Chinese.
Comments: Since this story comes directly from the Chinese newspaper site (focusing mainly on Chinese-fluent readers), the reading can moderately challenging to some intermediates (or below) who are not well accustomed to variety of Chinese writing styles and grammars. Some of the phrases contain multiple characters that are combined together to imply a meaning, which is why translation can be either ugly or messy.
Warning: Even though this story contains basic vocabularies from Duolingo, some do not appear in the lessons. Also, do not rely on the translators since they do not offer all natural/intelligent translations in English form.
Other than warnings and notes, enjoy the story!
When I was a kid, I felt Chinese was not an easy language to learn. Although my mother sent me to a Chinese school, I lacked my interest. During class, I didn't pay attention (to the lecture/listening), so I always secretly chatted with and passed notes to my classmates.
One day, I suddenly realized I wasted my time and also my mother's money. I felt very sad.
Once more, I had a meeting with my parents. I just met a boy from mainland (China) who cannot speak English. He hid in the corner and played with his mobile phone; he seems very lonely and boring. I thought: if I were to be in a Chinese-speaking party, my situation would be like that. How pitiful I am!
Another thing that drove me is that I noticed my father is busy every day, treating patients from different countries, because he is capable of speaking five languages with patients, so that their relationships become closer. I admire him (my father) so much, because his language-speaking ability makes patients feel convenient. He is my "mirror" [see Remark], which influences me to be more determined in learning languages, especially in Chinese.
There are so many great examples of learning Chinese, and I want to be very capable with Chinese. I am more (and more) interested and confident in Chinese. At the same time, I also understood Chinese culture, which helped me be the "present me" ... [flashback ends because of two dashes ──] a good child with a creative ability and maturity.
Remark. 他是我的鏡子 does not literally mean that a father is actually the narrator's mirror. It symbolizes him as a positive facet of being the great language-learning motivator.
This is actually the "transition" of how the narrator describes him/herself. There are many examples that indicate complex combinations of characters that do not have to literally describe a person i.e. 開心果 can mean either "pistachio" or "happy fruit [figuratively person]"
Also, since Chinese does not have to literally base on word-by-word translation, the meaning does not have to be truly exact as it shows.
I decide to write in English instead for readers to understand.
...but the way the sentence is described here is not the type of metaphor...of what you think in Chinese...
Yes, but the huge problem for learners is that statements, like 镜子 sentence, can trip how they think of the translations. Since Duolingo is limited to teaching elementary conversational topics, they do not go far beyond how they will encounter certain materials. It would be much simple and convenient to show the whole structure of the story instead of missing hidden details for certain sentences they would not get. Knowing literal and common translations is not the same as knowing any translation since majorities of translations can surprisingly be generic (basing on context). In any sense, those who are not fully exposed to writings like this can be "context-blind" in studying the purpose of each part of the passage.
Since some natives are inspired by literatures and works, (with most experience in newspaper-reading) I am very sure that they do not really mean to utilize "describing" nouns in a literate way. One can treat the block of text as the chain of related ideas, so that they do not miss some important connections.
Consider newspaper titles for instance. Editors wrote that in prosy way to demonstrate emphasis as to how the subject is relatively described to the context. Just because the title can easily be translated literally does not mean it's not a metaphor. The "special" phrase's translation has "more than meet the eye" type of reading, thus giving readers complexing thoughts as to why an editor would write a sentence like this. At least, excellent writers have some important purposes in mind!
That always happens. You know in Chinese sentence, we often put the attributive clause in English in front of the noun. For Chinese, "碰到一个男孩, 他刚刚从大陆来、不太会讲英文" emphasis on “a boy”. But "碰到一个刚刚从大陆来、不太会讲英文的男孩" is usually translated into and lay more emphasis on “just came from China cannot really speak English”.