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Very very much so!
Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:10

He was not sure that the labels were exactly 'helpful' to him. His textbooks were in English, and he was more likely to try to find ingredients by their English names. He was not even sure how to say some of the Chinese names, seeing as Chinese did not allow you to sound out or read a word that you did not already know. But the labels were comforting, and the labels were kind. He supposed, in some sense, being given happiness was helpful. If one had well-balanced emotions, one was likely to do better... He did not wish to contradict his professor though, or split hairs because the purpose of this conversation was not the exact semantics and philosophy of the concept of helpfulness (although he thought that was very interesting), the purpose was to let her know that her kindness was appreciated. And she was smiling, so evidently he had succeeded, and that just caused his own smile to intensify and he felt like they might get into a loop of perpetual reciprocal happiness because happiness was just wonderful like that.

"Thank you," he smiled, eyes shining at the prospect of borrowing books. He was a little afraid that he would not understand the Chinese ones very well. He did not particularly want to admit to this failing but he felt that an implicit part of any book lending arrangement was that one would then share their thoughts on the book. It was a politeness, a way of repaying the kindness of being lent something so nice. And so it was better to be upfront than to risk disappointing Professor Brooding later on. "My reading in Chinese is a little behind to my age. And more... I know more well my home words than my school words. But my history and poetry words are getting better and-" realising he was in danger of rambling, he cut himself off, "I mean, I will like to try reading your books, and hope that I can be..." he struggled to find the word 'worth' as in 'worth lending them to,' "good enough with them,” he finished, still looking excited but also serious, as befitted the lending of treasured books.

He listened carefully as Professor Brooding continued to talk. It took a moment for her words to sink in properly, unused as he was to hearing Chinese names and concepts with an American accent. But when they did, there was a monumental effect on Dorian. If he had looked happy and enthusiastic about the labels or the books, it was nothing compared to the reaction that these words produced. Dorian was, in his true self, a shining, happy and animated person. It just normally took time for those qualities to be drawn out. But it was taking less and less time, as the years went on, as he found himself settled and happy in himself. And Professor Brooding also seemed to have found some short cuts, and some powerfully magic words. Any hint of nervousness and reserve was gone, as a wave of enthusiasm bubbled up and broke like sunshine across his features.

"Yes! Yes, I do know about Dào<> and Lǎozǐ," he beamed. He wasn’t trying to correct Professor Brooding’s pronunciation, but his brain automatically slid into Chinese, giving the words their tones. “Lǎozǐ is-is" and for a moment his mouth stumbled wordlessly knowing only the Chinese words and knowing he couldn't use them, but finding that there was too much excitement in his brain to let the usual process get to work in finding his way around the words he lacked in a given language. "Lǎozǐ is very important ancestor," he managed, "He is start of the line that becomes Lǐ family and Táng dynasty. This is.. We have idea in China of affiliate dynasty, it does not translate well. And my mother is Lǐ. It… It is not a boasting claim," he added, because he wasn’t sure he was explaining it well in English, and he knew that claiming descent from someone in particular carried different connotations in Western society. He knew he was supposed to be… proud in some senses that they were descended from Lǎozǐ, but ‘pride’ felt wrong as a translation, almost as much as ‘descended’ did. It was literal, but also not literal… And there were many Lǐ. It was special, but it was far from unique... Or rather it was Lǎozǐ that was special? “It is not like saying he is my exact relative. It is more like… Like, if you imagine the original person that people come from, and how you would feel about them. They are so important, and you cannot exist without them. You do not try to say that they belong to you, but you say that they are important for you, and you show respect to them. I.. I learn a little about him,” he added, reigning himself in slightly, remembering what Professor Brooding had actually asked, “More about dào than potion. Your books are about this?” he asked, his eyes flicking back and forth between the bookshelf and the Professor, drawn by the obvious desire to try to read the titles but also tempered by the wish not be rude by becoming absorbed in something other than the person he was having a conversation with.

He settled for staring in wonder and excitement at Professor Brooding. This amazing person who had been so kind and who who knew Dào and Lǎozǐ. And there was also more than that... She looked different to other people too. He had noticed that in class, and wondered about it. She wasn’t different in the same way as he was, he was pretty sure of that, in spite of her interesting reading (and because, he assumed that if she was part Chinese, she would have known her tones). He wanted to ask her about that too, but he wasn’t sure how. A lot of the times that other people had said things to him about it, it had been done in a way that was not kind or polite. He knew that there were a lot of wrong ways to ask that, and on top of that, he had to negotiate his way around it in a language where he was less confident.

“Do you speak any other languages?” he tried. It wasn’t what he wanted to know exactly, but he thought it might be a way of getting at that information without risking saying something rude or hurtful by mistake.

OOC - decided to seek forgiveness rather than permission with the assumptions about Mary’s pronunciation, as it’s bedtime here. I feel like even if trying to make a conscious effort to pronounce them accurately, most Westerners would seriously struggle, especially with tone. Tone is freaking hard.

  • A Welcome ConversationProfessor Brooding, Wed Aug 15 01:24
    Mary had managed to survive one whole day of classes. It was a bit overwhelming starting with the advanced students, but as the day went on, she couldn't decide which group was the hardest. They all... more
    • Very very much so! — Dorian, Wed Aug 15 10:10
      • Your excitement is so exciting!Prof. Mary Brooding, Wed Aug 15 19:28
        Mary chuckled softly, enjoying Mr. Montoir's enthusiasm. His comments about ancestors and descendants seemed fairly straightforward but Mary could tell there was a cultural element she was missing.... more
        • Your... youness is so excitingDorian, Wed Aug 15 20:11
          Professor Brooding was so... so... He was not sure what word to use, but she made him feel warm and safe. She seemed to just understand and be lovely about everything, and it felt like nothing he... more
          • My meness is sort of like your youness. Just a lil bit.Prof. Mary Brooding, Wed Aug 15 20:28
            Ah, Quebec made sense. Mary was inspired by the careful way Mr. Montoir seemed to think over his words before speaking and she was reminded of her brother. Parker's eyebrows had always had a little... more
            • I think we have quite a lot of usnessDorian, Thu Aug 16 07:06
              The use of the past tense did not strike Dorian as worrying. Somewhere between the fact that they were talking about the past and the fact that it wasn't his dominant language, it didn't stand out to ... more
              • Usness has a lot of loveliness!Prof. Mary Brooding, Thu Aug 16 22:10
                Mary smiled sadly at Mr. Montoir's question. She had indeed been lonely at Sonora, but wasn't sure that was an appropriate conversation to get into with someone who was just starting their teen years ... more
                • I think love also has a lot of usnessDorian, Fri Aug 17 07:41
                  Professor Brooding's comments about her time at school were a little strange and concerning. People trying to control those in their family... People being not nice... That sounded a lot like someone ... more
                  • It is a great thing to be more full of love than of yourselfProf. Mary Brooding, Fri Aug 17 21:48
                    Mary watched as a variety of emotions played across Mr. Montoir's face. Some part of him was caught up in the words he couldn't get out the way he wanted, but part of it seemed deeper than that. He... more
                    • That sums up the issue wellDorian, Fri Aug 17 23:54
                      Dorian weighed up Professor Brooding’s offer carefully. His instinctive reaction was that he was supposed to put on a bright smile and tell her that it was all fine, because that was what he had been ... more
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