My English Journals

A letter to the head of Music Department



Thurs 11th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

Dear Professor Giblet,

I hope I would have been exempted (豁免) from the choir singing on Thursday evening because I have to give guitar lessons in a school, German and Swiss International School, on the peak every Thursday afternoon.

I have been taking this job since 1986. I didn't know we should attend choir practice in Thursday evenings before I made the promise to the school. Everything has been scheduled and is proceeding accordingly and it's impossible to make any change now.

I had been a choir member for several years and had participated in performances when I was a student in Hong Kong Music Institute. Am I eligible to be free from this subject in our department?

In case you don't grant me exemption now, may I request to join the choir next year?

Thank you very much.

Yours faithfully,
Cheung Sau Yu.

The difference between Chinese and English

Fri. 12th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

A simple sentence in which there are more than one finite verb with only one subject: S+V+O+V+O......is a grammatical mistake very often made by Chinese students. Here is one example: "I went to Monkok buy a book yesterday."

Chinese language is a pithy (簡結的) one. We don't need a subject for every sentence. It will be time wasting both for writers and readers if we do so. In many cases, we have more than one finite verb in a sentence and it is perfectly right, such as the above example.

We even deliberately (故意地) don't use subjects in poetry writing. Let me try a partial translation of a famous Chinese poem literally:

------------"On bed moon shine, (床前明月光)--------------------------------------------- -- --Suspect frost on floor." (疑是地上霜)

English poets will put it as follows:

------------"The moon was shining onto my bed.
I_suspected that there were frosts on the floor."

The subject "I" and the possessive pronoun "my" will be insipid (沒趣的) to the readers because these words state that the events in the poem do not concern the readers but the writer only. Chinese literary critics call this "a barrier" (阻隔), which prevents readers from getting into the scene. In English it's totally wrong without them.

There is so great a difference between Chinese and English.


Don't give up English as the instruction medium in secondary school

Sat. 13th Oct.,1990. 28. Sunny.  

Teachers don't ever use Chinese as the instruction medium instead of English in the secondary school.

English is a scientific and academic language. It is the most suitable language for school subjects and it gives a feeling of advance (先進) to people who use it.

Youngsters have the best adaptability. If we don't let them get in contact with English in secondary school, then when will be the appropriate time to do so?

If the golden chance of getting to know English of our next generation is deprived of (剝奪), Hong Kong will become another Chinese town or Taiwan, where people usually feel shy because they know little of English.

The Education Department should modify the current syllabus by adding more English lessons to it and reducing the contents of other subjects in lower forms, and does the other way round in higher forms.

English is used most widely in the world. You can imagine how limited a person is if he doesn't know English, especially in this era (時代).


Watching Fireworks

Sun. 14th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

-- -----Fireworks shoot up into the obscuration (冥茫),
--------giving off different colors of sparkles (火花).
--------It is the inspiration (靈感) that comes from human lives.

--------Look! This one is so brilliant (極明亮的);
--------It is Lee Pai (李白).
--------That one is dazzling our eyes (耀目的);
--------It should be William Shakespeare (沙士比亞).

--------There are also Picasso (畢加索), Michelangelo (米高蘭基奴),
---------Lincoln (林肯) and Napoleon Bonaparte (拿破輪).....

--------Fireworks shoot up into the obscuration,
--------giving off different colors of sparkles.
--------They are portraits (肖像) of men.

--------This one is specially loud and bright;
--------It must be Beethoven (貝多芬).

Men to the universe (宇宙) is some what like the brightness given off by fireworks to the long darkness of the night: they come out, give off a shine, and then disappear.

I can be a columnist

Mon. 15th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

I think I can be a columnist (Chinese) after finishing Mrs Bond's English course.

Two pages of journal (日記) is my daily routine assigned by my English lecturer, Mrs Bond. It is not just a report of what I have done during the day, but a passage of how I feel, what I think or comment on things that happen around me.

This is why I have to seek (找尋) materials (材料) for my journal from the moment I open my eyes every morning.

To write down how someone feels needs a lot of vocabularies (詞彙); to present what someone thinks has much to do with reasoning power (分析力). If someone wants to make comments (評論) on an event, he must get to know that matter well so that he can list out the facts to support his point of view.

If I can do this assignment well, I shall be keen in observation, thinking and writing. Then it will not be hard to write an article of five hundred words every day for a Chinese newspaper.

I had better be serious and pay attention to the vacancy column (招聘欄) because there may be a job for me!

A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein

Tues. 16th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

There are no voices or loudspeakers (揚聲器) that can be so powerful as his baton (指揮棒)!

It was the music under his baton that told Heaven above and people all over the world that the barrier (阻隔) of the unification (合為一) of human beings -- the Berlin Wall (柏林圍牆)-- was removed in December last year.

It was only he who could have the charm (魅力) to fulfill that mission (使命):-

Leonard Bernstein, one of the greatest conductors (指揮家) of our time, passed away (逝世) yesterday!

Let us be silent for a while as a mourning (悼念) for him......

Men are mortal (不免一死的); there is no alternative (選擇). The life of a human being is just like a candle emitting (發出) light, which will gradually shortens its life and finally extinguishes (息滅).

Bernstein, you had shone extraordinarily (特別地) bright already.

Reading the First English Fiction

Wed. 17th Oct., 1990. 26. Sunny.

Last week our English lecturer assigned us to finish reading a story book and present it after Christmas. I chose the book "Sons and Lovers" by D. H. Lawrence.

I could see the greatness of Lawrence in writing after reading the first chapter. There is a short paragraph expressing the view of live that I have always been feeling. I quote it here:-
--------"Sometimes life takes hold of one, carries the body along,
---------accomplishes (成就) one's history, and yet not real, but leaves
---------oneself as it were slurred (草率處理) over." (冥冥中的主宰)

Another beautiful description of Walter Morel by Gertrude Cowards, the main roles, was "and his face the flower of his body" when their romance had just begun.

Flowers are the most beautiful and the representing part of plants. Mr Lawrence uses the similes so subtly that gives an impression of the vividness of human beings.

Apart from these "wise lines", there are also a lot of expressive words, such as "elation, candor, reverentially, frowned," etc., which are rare in the books about music I have read.

I think I shall come across many of theses kinds of nice expressions when I go on reading it.


Quality is much more important than quantity.

Thurs. 18th Oct., 1990. 26. Sunny.

I have written, including this one, eighteen journals in a breath!

To write, undoubtedly, will improve one's writing skills and the language used; but too much writing may slave (奴役) a student and will only effect a little.

Writing a journal every day, not just reporting what I have done during the day, is a great burden (負擔) to me, and under which I feel that I can hardly breathe! In fact I can't even remember what I wrote just the day before.

I think it would be much better to have a rest after two days' writing, or to write every other day (隔日). Doing in that way, we can have time to plan, to do modification (修飾), and most of all, to have a chance to gasp (喘氣) in the breaks between.

And besides, our lecturer will have her work-load reduced, so that she can return our journal books to us in time. That will save us from making the same grammatical mistakes or whatsoever. A close follow-up is always good for students.

Quality () is much more important than quantity ().

Writing my first paper

Fri. 19th Oct., 1990. 26. Sunny.

I have spent most of my free time finding materials in the libraries for my music history term paper (學期論文): Motet (清唱的經文歌) Singing of the 13th & 14th Century (世紀). This is the first academic paper (學術論文) I ever try to write.

At first, it was so hard that I didn't know from where to begin. So I turned to the helpful hints given by my lecturer, then I learned the procedures.

In fact all the materials are stored in the libraries. Reference books are such a helpful tools to us.

I found a lot of bibliographies (參考書目) and journals (雜誌) in the Music Index, RILM-Repertoire (表演曲目) de Literature and Music, and the New Grove Dictionaries relating to my paper.

I suddenly realized (醒覺) the role (角色) of libraries in universities.

It has been a lot of fun rushing upstairs and downstairs to get those books and journals. But I have to go through all that I have found and to draw out the useful lines from them to form a presentation:-

Oh, I am a university student!


The master is correct, I believe

Sat. 20th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

There is a minor rhetorical (修辭的) weak point in the first chapter of "Sons and Lovers" by the famous writer, D. H. Lawrence.

It is on page 10 and 11. Mr Lawrence used the word "wretched" twice on these two pages. It first appears as an adjective describing Mrs Morel's eight-year-old son, who has just came back from the fair:-
-------------"At about half-past six her son came home, tired now,
--------------rather pale (面色蒼白), and somewhat wretched (可憐的)."

The same word recurs on the following page depicting (描寫) Mrs Morel's bad feeling:-
--------------"...her home was there behind her, fix and stable.
--------------But she felt wretched with the coming child. The
--------------world seemed a dreary (荒涼的) place ... for her."

The looking of an innocent child after an exciting moment should be quite different from the feeling of a woman with an unhappy married life.

If the word fits the boy's looking, then it must be too "light" for the woman's complex (複雜的) feeling, or the other way round.

Is there a lack of vocabularies in English language?


<--To Journal Index.回到日記目錄~ ~繼續 Continue-->