Welcome to today’s class readings and discussion.We’re going to build on our ability to express and exchange views about our likes and dislikes by discussing which of the following mid-term holiday options we should choose:
- the (Australian) beach
- the (Italian) city
- the (Chinese) mountains
.Let’s read the descriptions below together, sentence by sentence. First we are going to Australia (Àodàlìy?), to go to the beach (h?it?n)
Part One: Some popular Australian beach activities
Most people in Australia live along the coast (b?n), so the beach plays a key role in their way of life (h?nghuó f?ngshì).
Many Australians like to swim in the ocean (h?iyáng). Some people the surf (ch?nglàng), and enjoy bodysurfing (túsh?u ch?nglàng).
Some swimmers like the board sports (b?n qiú yùndòng). Children and less advanced swimmers like the boogie boards you can use to catch a wave, lying on your belly (dùpí).
Wave skis (b?làng huáxu?) are used by paddling (xì) in a sitting position and can be used for traveling across flat water or for catching waves.
Surfing – which started as a male sport (yùndòng) but now increasingly includes women –takes great strength and balance (lìliàng hé pínghéng).
All of these surf sports, swimming, surfing, wave-skiing, stand-up boarding, boogie-boarding, and surfing are very good exercise.
People also like to use the beach for running and walking. Running in the soft beach sand is very hard work, and good for making strong legs. Running on the hard sand near the water is much easier, and it’s nice to run or walk through the cool shallow water.
Australian people like to play sports like beach volleyball (sh?t?n páiqiú) or beach cricket (sh?t?n b?n qiú).
A beach is a good place for spiritual [j?ngshén] (or meditative) [chéns?] practices like yoga (yúji?) because it is a very peaceful (níngjìng) place. The beach is the place where the land, sea, and sky (lùdì hé ti?nk?ng) meet, and the rhythmic (y?ub?ny?uy?n) sound of the waves crashing is soothing (f?wèi de).
Walking along a beach and picking up the small shells (bèiké), sponges (h?imián), corals (sh?nhú), and driftwood [fú mù] (flotsam and jetson) is delightful (y?) because these small items seem like interesting or beautiful gifts (l?p?n) from the sea. This is known as beach combing (h?it?n sh?l?), which literally (Ànzhào zìmiàn) means combing the beach for treasures (zh?np?n).
Other people like under-water activities like snorkeling (fú qi?n) and scuba-diving (shu? fèi qiánshu?).
On some of the quieter and more remote beaches in Australia, you can meet some of the continent’s interesting animals and birds (dòngwù hé ni?o lèi).
These little marsupials (y?u dài dòngwùare) called “quakkas” look pretty happy and are quite tame. The kangaroos (dàish?) below are much shyer (hàixi?) and unlikely to come near a person in the wild (làng).
So all in all, there are many reasons to love a beach. However, some people might prefer to spend the mid-term holiday in a nice cultured city, like …
Part two: Florentine architecture, history, art
Tuscany is an Italian province famous for its history and culture. The region’s capital is the medieval town (zh?ngshìjì chéngzhèn) Firenze, which the English call Florence. Florence is renowned (wénmíng) for its beautiful architecture, including the bridge — the “Ponte Vecchio ” — which means the “old bridge” (l?o qiáo).
The Ponte Vecchio is lined by small shops (xi?o sh?ngdiàn) which originally (b?nlái) included butchers (túf?), fishmongers (yú fàn), and grocers (záhuò diàn). In the 16th century the ruling Medici family built a covered passage called the “Vasari Corridor” over the shops so they could walk safely and privately from their residence (zhùzhái) on the southern bank of the Arno river.
The wealthy (fùyù) Medicis using the corridor complained about the smell of the food shops and had them replaced(g?nghuàn) with Goldsmiths (J?n jiàng) and Silversmiths (Yínjiàng) shops. To this day the bridge remains famous for the jewelry shops (zh?b?o diàn).
At the end of the Ponte Vecchio is the 13th century “Piazza della Signoria”, (which meant the square [gu?ngch?ng] of the ruling body [zhízhèng j?gu?n]).
The square is overlooked (h?shì) by the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace, G? G?ng), originally named the “Palazzo Popolo” (Palace of the People). The Palace, which was completed in 1322 gave the square a key role in the city’s political life (zhèngzhì sh?nghuó). At this time Europe was ruled by wealthy city-states (shì-zh?u) like Florence and Venice, not nation-states (mínzú guóji?) like Italy or France.
Florence is also famous for its art. If you walk around the “Piazza della Signoria” you can see some of the historical sculptures. The most famous one is the statue (di?oxiàng) of David by Michelangelo, sculpted around 1501-1504. The statue represents the biblical hero (y?ngxióng) David, famous for defeating (jíbài) the giant (jùrén) Goliath, an enemy (dírén) of King Saul. Because of the hero it represented, the statue came to symbolize (bi?ozhì) the defense (b?owèi) of civil liberties (mínquán) of the Republic of Florence (1115-1532).
The Square is also overlooked (h?shì) by the Uffizi Gallery, whose art work (yìshù p?n) display continues (jìxù) through the Vasari Corridor:
Maybe the most famous art work in the Uffizi is the Birth of Venus:
Caravaggio is another famous Renaissance painter with works housed in the Uffizi Gallery. His oil painting (yóuhuà) emphasized darkness (h?i’àn) and light (gu?ng). Many later artists were influenced by his style (yàngshì), including the female artist (yìshùji?) Artemesia Gentileschi.
When you’ve tired of galleries, you might like to stroll down one of the old streets to look for some “gelato”, a kind of ice cream (b?ngqílín) ….
or enjoy coffee or wine or….
a little Italian fashion shopping.
So, who would want to go for a boring old beach walk when they could absorb hundreds of years of Italian history, culture, fashion and food by walking across the Ponte Vecchio and around the squares and galleries of Florence?
But, perhaps, neither of these is your cup of tea. If so, you might like the beauty and art of the Chinese mountains.
Part Three: From the mountains to the lake: Huangshan to Hangzhou’s painting, poetry and silk
Huangshan is famed throughout the world for its “four wonders“, including twisted pines, oddly-shaped rocks, sea of clouds and hot springs. Many of the features are delightfully named, including the Tipsy Rock, Cloud Dispersing Pavilion, Nine Dragons Peak, the Jade Pavilion, Tried Sword Peak, The Immortal Pointing the Way, Falling Over Rock and the Monkey Gazing at the Sea of Clouds.
You might also like to explore some of the ancient villages, like Xidi, below.
Huangshan is the scenery of Chinese legends and it is seen in a lot of Chinese art and wall hangings. The Huangshan schools of painting formed part of China’s Mountain-Water Painting (Shan Shui Hua) tradition. It was made famous by Ming and Qing artists such as Shi Tao, Jian Jiang and Mei Qing who lived alone in the mountains, drawing nourishment from the beautiful landscape to enrich their art.
A gravestone epitaph to the painter Yuan Meng-hui, expresses the painters’ love of mountains and water and the essences and emotions each represents.
In the mountains
In water, wisdom.
A poem by Li Bao (701-62) invokes the heavenly realm of the mountains
Temple at the Summit –– Night has come.
Reaching Up, one could touch the stars;
But hush! let us not raise our voices,
Lest we disturb those who dwell in heaven.
The common saying “heaven above, Hangzhou and Suzhou below” might have taken the yellow mountains as its heaven. The lakeside cities and water towns lie a few hours trainride east of the mountains.
On the placid waters of West lake, Hangzhou is one of China’s most celebrated historical and cultural cities.
Hangzhou’s Song Yi Jie is a beautiful street to walk along.
Slightly north west are the city of Suzhou and its surrounding water towns …
and famous gardens and museums.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou is subtle, peaceful, and delicate. The garden design mirrors the mountains, pools, rivers and undulating terrain of surrounding area.
Suzhou museum is a modern masterpiece that invokes southern China’s historical arts and architecture.
Class Discussion: Descriptive adjectives
- Let’s see how many features and adjectives we can use to describe a. the Australian beaches b. the Italian city and c. the Chinese moutains and lakes.
- Now, how many verbs can we use to show the activities we could enjoy in the three places.
- Next, let’s make a list of words or phrases that express the feelings that those experiences might engender.
- Last class-group tasks. a. A quick vote … which do you prefer, the beach, the city, or the mountains and lakes?
Break into your small groups (3-4 people). The Department of English has generously and wisely decided to fund our mid-term travel expenses for an English conversation fieldtrip. The Committee of Professors have asked us to choose from the three suggested locations, and expect us to give a spoken word presentation about the trip on our return. They want us to choose on the basis of cultural learning, language development and value-for-money.
- Discuss them choices in your small groups, comparing the places and their possibilities.
- Rank them in order of your preference and explain your reasons.
- Then decide how you will explain your preferences in a way that seems reasonable to the Professor’s Committee.
- Can you think of another place that might be preferable for a group trip? Can you tell us why?