Sunday, November 25, 2012

Procrastination method #25

Randomly browsing in a dictionary.

There's nothing like a big clunky volume of paper that you can physically flip through to read entries at random. Typing and clicking just isn't as fun. My excuse is usually "I'm looking for cool words that I can use as character names." (I keep a file with a list of names that I want to use someday.)

Today, for me, it was my good old Chinese-English dictionary. Chinese is full of fun four word sayings (many from ancient literature). I only know a few of them because I own volume 3 of a series of books explaining these idioms. Other than that, I have no clue unless someone explains it to me or I look it up specifically. But the dictionary conveniently lists them in the entry for each word (so it has all the phrases that start with that word.)

Amusing ones for NaNoWriMo:

While browsing the entry for word 4761 in my dictionary: "卧薪尝胆" ("Wò xīn cháng dǎn"), which Google tells me is "Stooping to conquer", while my dictionary says "(literally) to lie on faggots and taste gall --- to goad oneself ahead by depriving oneself of all daily comforts and subjecting oneself to life's bitterness (a reference to Kou Chien when he was nursing vengeance)". Ok, so NaNo isn't exactly a great conquest, but we goad ourselves by depriving ourselves of... uh... TV? and subject ourselves to the bitterness of... hmm... pounding out the daily word count and seeing the "At this rate you will finish on..." date get farther and farther away.

Then there was word 4763, which gave me: "临渴掘井" ("Lín kě jué jǐng"), which Google says (as definition #2) (I'm not sure why #1 is KMT - Kuomintang. Not gonna google to find out about THAT...that would be another hour wasted in googling irrelevant topics) "need for last minute frantic efforts". Mwah ha ha ha ha! My dictionary says "(literally) to dig a well when one feels thirsty --- to do something too late and without preparations; to make no timely preparations". I guess traditional Chinese culture frowns on "pantsers"!

Well, the second one is very fitting. I aim to be at 35K tonight. And then if I can do 5K a day for the next few days, I may even reach 50K by November 30. Frantic efforts! Frantic efforts! Not to be confused with the English expression about "digging oneself deeper into the hole".

P.S. Note how word 4763 "临", just 2 after word 4761 "卧", is pronounced completely differently and (in simplified script) doesn't look anything alike. Damn the simplification for messing with the radicals! Why simplify one but not the other? Just how was I supposed to look up the word if I don't know how it's pronounced or what the radical really is?! Stupid f***ing Chinese dictionaries.

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