RVEs. For those who have gone through ‘Chinese Made Easier’ this is something you know. This grammar pattern is one of the most common grammar patterns in all of Mandarin. It stands for Resultive Verb Endings. Basically it is when you put two verbs together. It can change the meaning of the verb, it can more fully express a verb, it can do a number of things I haven’t learned yet because I am brand new to the RVE grammar pattern. I have learned what I think is the most important lesson of the RVE grammar pattern: native Mandarin speakers don’t have a name for it, they just do it. It does make it hard to explain what you are learning and any frustrations you may have if you can’t name it. Just saying.
I’m starting off with what’s considered the basics where I’m putting sight and sound together with other verbs to express things like: I saw that, I heard that or I didn’t see that, I didn’t hear that. I have found that even after a year, I regularly mix up my “did” and “can” words. So as I am learning this new pattern I have said multiple times now: I can’t see rather than did not see, and I can’t hear versus did not hear. I am now a blind deaf missionary according to what I’ve told my teachers.
I was recently given a homework assignment where I was told to make sentences with some specific RVEs just to see if I had grasped how to properly use them. I did okay overall. I figured I’d try to make sentences that I may have to use later in my time here in Taiwan. In one sentence I told someone, “Do not lean against my car.” I don’t have a car but regardless, I don’t want you leaning against it. Another sentence I told someone to “Leave now.” When you work with at-risk individuals you may need to say that. Since Cheryl and I will be working primarily with youth I thought it would be good to learn to say “Those kids, we should separate them.” Acccording to my teacher that is what I said…literally, “We should separate those kids limb by limb.” I have been informed that dissecting the youth is not an effective ministry technique. Time for Plan B.
Lastly, since language learning has been so difficult I’ve decided to also include stories of when I got it right. So, last month our Taiwanese church small group had a Thanksgiving meal. It was nice that they invited the two Americans. Before the meal we pulled slips of paper from a box that had some relationship on there that you then had to explain why you were thankful for them. You had parents, siblings, kids, church leaders, and mine: Friends. First off, I knew the Chinese characters for friends so that felt really cool. Then I constructed three sentences, in Mandarin, that I planned to share on my turn. There were ten folks who shared before me so I had time to practice in my head what exactly I was going to say. My three sentences I said were: “I have very many friends. Some of my friends are now family. My best friend is Cheryl.” For some that may not seem like much but I needed a nap afterwards.