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The Chaos Behind Learning a Foreign Language
   2015-01-08 19:47:03    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Gao Junya
 

CHINA DAILY

The chaos behind learning a foreign language

A new survey shows that command of the Chinese language, it seems, remains a skill beyond the ability of most expats in China.

Seventy-three percent can understand only simple words in Chinese. Eighteen percent can comprehend what's being said most of the time, but they cannot reliably make themselves understood. Only 8 percent can speak simple Chinese.

The main barrier, it seems, is that Chinese is written in characters rather than an alphabet.

It is said, for example, that to comfortably make one's way through a Chinese newspaper, one has to be familiar with about 15-hundred characters. Beginner Chinese textbooks often set their goal at about 500 characters.

English, in contrast, is based on a 26-letter alphabet, and using that together with a few phonetic rules, one can plod his way through just about any piece of writing.

SHANGHAI DAILY

15-hundred trendy words, phrases added to Tibetan language

Nearly 15-hundred new words and phrases were given standardized Tibetan equivalents last year, the Tibetan language committee says.

Among the additions were popular online phrases such as "lightning marriage".

The term was changed from the Chinese "shan hun"() to "dobdob nyatri" when written in standardized Tibetan.

According to a committee official, new phrases related to politics and the economy, such as "new normal" and "the Silk Road economic belt" were also translated into Tibetan.

Tibet began collecting and translating new words and phrases in 2002. As of the end of last year, more than 69-thousand had been released.

The program is designed to help standardize the Tibetan language and keep it moving forward in line with the times, while also promoting Tibetan culture.

THE GUARDIAN (U.K.)

Antibiotic Breakthrough Could Turn the Tables in Battle against Superbugs

Scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotic in the hunt for medicines to fight drug-resistant infections.

The antibiotic, called teixobactin, kills a wide range of drug-resistant bacteria, including MRSA and bugs that cause TB and a host of other life-threatening infections.

It could become a powerful weapon in the battle against antimicrobial resistance, because it kills microbes by blocking their capacity to build their cell walls, making it extremely difficult for bacteria to evolve resistance.

Though promising, researchers say years of more work lie ahead before the drug could be available. Human clinical trials could begin within two years to check its safety and efficiency, but more development would follow that.

At the moment the drug would have to be given as an injection, but an oral pill would be more attractive.

THE HUFFINGTON POST (U.S.)

Feelings of Guilt during Childhood Linked to Mental Illness

Excessive guilt is a known symptom of adult depression, but a new study finds that such feelings in childhood can predict future mental illness, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder.

The link seems to center around the anterior insula -- a brain region involved in the regulation of perception, emotion and self-awareness that has also been linked to mood disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia.

According to the researchers, children who displayed signs of pathological guilt had anterior insula with less volume, which is associated with depression, and were also more likely to become depressed.

The finding is the first to correlate childhood guilt with physical changes in the brain. But the cause is not yet known.

Still, the research highlights another potential tool for early detection of high-risk children, which can empower parents, educators and others to enact preventive measures.

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