September 9, 2009

How could some old time Chinese scholars learn foreign languages?

> 一开始就学中等或高级学习者的教材或看适合他们的
> 难度的文章,这样欲速则不达。(If from the beginning
> you study the textbooks suitable for an intermediate
> or advanced student or read articles whose difficulty
> matches their level, it's Haste makes waste.)

I agree. But one thing that has always bugged me is that some well known scholars in the 民国 times (about 100 years ago) learned foreign languages by directly reading classic literary works. For example,
他曾仅靠一部词典,一本凯撒的《高卢战纪》,就学会了非常复杂的拉丁文。(He (Jin Kemu) learned the complicated Latin language solely with a dictionary and a copy of Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War.)
到了英国,在布朗的指导下,辜鸿铭从西方最经典的文学名著入手,以最朴拙的死记硬背办法很快掌握了英文、德文、法文、拉丁文、希腊文 (Upon arrival in England, Ku Hung-ming, under the guidance of Brown (Forbes Scott Brown?), started with the classic literary works in the western world, and quickly mastered English, German, French, Latin, Greek by the most simplistic rote learning.)

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