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My Husband Learning Chinese

December 30, 2011

This was another time I was visiting his family for summer break when we were dating. His parents became curious and asked him, “Now that you have been dating a Chinese girl for almost a year, How much Chinese have you learned?”

He thought very hard, and then said with a lot of pride, “I know how to say octopus in Chinese”.

His parents nodded, “That… seemed to be very … useful… I guess..”.

Octopus, in Chinese, will be eight clawed fish. The fish sound, apparently did not exist in English, and he found very hard to learn. But eventually he was getting closer, the trick, as he described, was to imagine somebody slapped him in the face and he bit his tongue, and then blew air between his teeth. (which reminds me of when I learned German, I have to have a mouthful of water at my throat to pronounce the r sound.)

Four years later.., this is a good topic, I got it now, so  another time, some friends asked, “So, how is your Chinese now?”

He shrugged, “I think I will survive fine in the zoo or botanic garden, as I learned camel, elephant, panda, and mushroom, tree.., but I still cant make a sentence, since she has not taught me many verbs.”

I immediately jumped in, “I did, I taught you to say buy and sell”

“But they are the same.”

“No, they are not. one is mai (third tone) and one is mai (fourth tone).”

“well.. they sound the same to me, see there is no point learning Chinese, if buy and sell are the same, probably yes and no, left and right.. they are all the same. Chinese is such confusing language.”

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