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I am reminded of a classical Chinese essay on the subject of learning Chinese.|
There was once a wealthy man who decided that it was time to give his son an education. For this, he hired the best tutor in town.
As planned, teaching started the next morning. The tutor began by writing one horizontal stroke, explaining that it represented one, and read Yi. He proceeded by writing two horizontal strokes, saying that it represented two, and read Er. At this point, the rich man's son sat up, fully in anticipation, indicating that he knew what was coming next. Sure enough, the tutor wrote three horizontal strokes, saying that it reprensented three and read San. Whereupon the youngster got up brushed aide his tutor, telling him to go home - he had figured out what writing was all about. The father was delighted that he had a genius for a son and not hesitating to keep this knowledge to himself. Friends and foes alike, were impressed.
Life went on as usual until one day when the richman decided to throw a party to mark a certain occasioon. Invitation cards were prepared, needing only the names to be filled in. This task was delegated to the son to complete. As the day progressed, it became obvious that something was delaying the issue of the invitations. Becoming curious, the father went in to check where, the son with sleeves rolled up, was busy writing writing horizontal strokes. When asked, the son replied that of the one hundred surnames available for choice, why has this person chosen “Wan” 万 (meaning 10,000)? I got up early this morning at 5, and although I have been at it for half a day, I have only completed 1,000 strokes.