The only way to really learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture. In other words, skip Berlitz and find a boyfriend.
In A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, novelist Xiaolu Guo tracks the grammatical and emotional progress of 23-year-old Z through her ever-improving vocabulary:
n. One who is creative yet emotionally stunted. (Upon arriving in London, Z meets her moody artist beau, who rarely takes her to dinner.)
n. Talk with no meaning. (Z is confused by chitchat about the weather. Why mention the cold when you’re outside?)
adj. A feeling one gets when alone. (Removed from the collective mentality of China, Z struggles with loneliness.)
n. An action Westerners seem to partake in without shame or guilt. (Z is curiously titillated while watching a show in the Red Light District.)
n. The Western concept of wanting to be alone. (Z is hurt by her lover’s need for space and his insistence that she travel Europe solo.) See also: lonely.
Despite the language barrier, nothing gets lost in translation.
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