Book watch

Rosa Cho, Mon Wong, Elaine Wu, and Ernie Yim

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How many times have you said this to yourself: "I have such a lot of desk work to deal with--how can I spare time to read?" Indeed, we are all busy workers, but as President H K Chang has so often pointed out, we must also take time to develop our minds?ot only in our areas of expertise, but in other disciplines as well.

Linkage asked some senior CityU staff to tell us what they are currently reading. In this issue, Mrs Dorothy Davies, Associate Director of Student Development Services (Physical Education) and Professor William Wang, Chair Professor of Language Engineering (Affilate) in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, took time from their busy schedules to talk and share their reading experiences with us.

Mrs Dorothy Davies
Memoirs of a Geisha,
by Arthur Golden
On her vacation in Thailand, Memoirs of a Geisha kept Mrs Davies company. "It is not a must that you can further your knowledge from reading-rather, reading can be simply a relaxation," said Mrs Davies. Happily, Memoirs of a Geisha also furthered Mrs Davies's knowledge of Japanese culture.

"Reading is an interesting thing. Once you pick up and start reading a book, it easy to tell whether you'll go on reading or not. If you like it, you'll go on reading. If not, you'll quit."Author Arthur Golden, who specializes in Japanese art and completed extensive research on geishas, based the novel on Japanese historical facts to make tale seem real. Mrs Davies said that the story is so believable it took her into the heroine's world. About the life of a geisha, the story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when the heroine is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house.

Mrs Davies said she thought the novel well worth reading would recommend it to students who are especially interested in Japanese culture.

Professor William Wang
The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language,
by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary

With his lifelong passion for learning all there is to know about language, it is not surprising to see Professor Wang toting this book around campus. "I am interested in their point of view--that several major transitions took place in evolution which led from the earliest forms of life to the complex societies we have today," he explained. "Their thesis is that these transitions are all based on the nature of information transmission." The authors draw parallels between how genetic information is transmitted from generation to generation across a wide spectrum of life, and how information is coded by human language. The book ends with a discussion of human language as the ultimate code that may still be evolving, carrying us into the next phase of evolution.

While Professor Wang is not sympathetic to the linguistic theories espoused in the final chapters of the book, he said it has helped him understand a lot more about basic biology, which he finds useful in his research. The book also gives readers a fine example of clear and succinct science writing on a grand theme.

 

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