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The Impossible Language to Learn

April 19, 2013

After my husband and I got together for almost one year, he took me back to his parents’ house. As they were really nice people, they started the following small talks, ‘So, honey, you have been dating this Chinese girl for almost a year, have you learned any Chinese?’ My husband was like,’uh… not really, I know how to say octopus in Chinese.’  Nodding very thoughtfully, his parents said, ‘ that was very useful.’

My husband’s Chinese did not really improve from there after many years. It was all because of the experience of leaning buy and sell, they sound basically the same to him. Well, to Chinese, they are different, since they are in different tones. But my husband refused to believe so, and keep asking me if yes and no are the same in Chinese as well.. He tried a few times,  but I could not help but laughing because he pronounced both words with random tones, just hoping it would match mine.

And apparently I should have known I would pay for the laugh I squeezed out of him.

Just recently, I started a Chinese blog (which explained why I was being inactive on this English blog, after all, I still felt more comfortable writing in Chinese. ). According to my friend, baking photos and recipes are really popular in China now, which is easy to understand, oven is not really a common apparatus in China, at least not when I was young. Anything homemade coming out of oven would look amazing in our eyes. So I started to bake and took photos and posted on my blog. To my disappointment, I thought I was good at baking, the traffic was still low. Until one day, I got 10 notifications from the administration, that I tagged them wrongly. Instead of bakery, which is hong bei, I apparently tagged them all as pottery.. which is hong pei. The characters were very similar, except one part of one character was a fire for bakery, but a mud for pottery. And I did not notice all my muffins, and breads, and pies were potteries for two weeks!

Of course my husband laughed his tears out when he heard about it, and proudly told me, ‘so when one person who knew how to use chopsticks correctly (that was himself, not me… that is another story for another day) said beef and broccoli is the nationally dish in China (god, we never ever cooked them together in China) and the other person who could not even distinguish bakery from pottery said not, who should you believe?’



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