What’s considered intelligent…

Went for a massage with a friend because we were feeling sore after trampolining.  Yes I said trampolining, but that’s not the point of the story because there’s nothing illogical about that.

At the start of the massage I raised my head out from the little hole in the massage bed to scratch my chin, and was met with ‘怎么了? ‘  what’s wrong?

And I said 我就。。。痒。  I just ….itch.

And she’s replies.  ‘Wow 中文这么好。’ wow this Chinese is of THIS level.   But meaning to say that it’s pretty good.

And I was thinking…hang on, I know that 痒 yang = to itch, or tickle (yes it’s the same word in Chinese, pretty funny considering it has a big difference in English)

I know that this word isn’t learnt by many beginners, nor is it even the word that intermediate speakers of a language know because they don’t need it in their daily lives, but for you to judge my entire Chinese speaking ability on 3 words….that’s pretty impressive.
Impressively naive/ stupid I mean.

She then proceeded to talk to me… and I’m sorry… but please just concentrate on the massage,  but err anyway…..proceeded to talk to me, and quoting the recent news… about the tiger (read about it here, opens in a new page), and defending the woman that stepped out of her car because her husband was driving too slowly. (after which point a tiger came out and took her away)
The massage lady said, well yeah I think she thought she had enough time.
No. that’s a really shit excuse.
Well anyway, then she quoted some sort of Chinese poem, or extended 成语, (idiom) to explain the Chinese stance…
and I’m like… ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mean’ after she prodded me and asked ‘你明白吗? ’   do you understand?

No. I don’t.

To which she replied ‘什么都不知道‘ wow you don’t know anything.’

And later in the conversation, ‘there’s so many things you don’t know’

Really?   Really? I’m speaking your language, talking about recent events, for which you apparently admitted before (albeit rather naively) that you thought my Chinese level was decent, and now you’re quoting ancient Chinese poems to back up your shit-for-brains reasoning of why the husband driving the car was doing the wrong thing…. And you have the audacity to say… ‘you really don’t know a lot’

Lady, wtf is wrong with you?

The ancient Chinese poems by the way are a normal thing. Once you really get into Chinese language learning, you’re expected to know some Chinese poems. They’re meant to teach morality and reasoning, and lessons to be learned, just like we have in English and any other culture.  But the difference is that in Chinese there are thousands of them. Same with idioms- hundreds of them.  And if you want to seem like you’re intelligent in China, you don’t show it by how rationally and logically you can prove your point; you show it by working one or more of these ancient poems, or idioms into your story. A retelling of what someone already said is considered intelligent.

Of course we do that in English too, a retelling of a quote at just the right time IS intelligent, however when it is a large basis of one’s culture…something feels slightly wrong there.

Also learning about all these things in school is a convenient way to shift focus away from learning about modern history… history that China obviously isn’t too proud of, and onto history from hundreds of years ago and the ‘lessons’ learnt from them.

I have heard before the message that they sometimes play on long distance buses as a public announcement of sorts, to ‘remember to compliment foreigners on their Chinese’
It was something like this, I heard that they do that before I heard it myself, and then even when I DID hear it myself I was unsure if I actually understood it correctly.
Basically the reasoning as I understand it, is that they want foreigners to study Chinese and the government acknowledges that it IS a difficult language to learn, but if they’re discouraged by people constantly not understanding them, then will stop studying… and it will affect China negatively somehow.

But many Chinese people often have this ‘wall’ of incomprehension, where they just don’t WANT to understand you. So if they can understand you enough, they will begin working in things that are more and more native until you eventually can’t understand them unless you’re Chinese. People you’ve just met seem to do that a lot.

When that happens in OUR home countries, and we’re talking to a non-native speaker, WE don’t do that; because we know that it will discourage the person from improving their language ability. And, moreover…it’s just rude.
But for the Chinese you have to remember that there is an overall sense of ethnocentricity from the general populous, so proving that they are better that you, (yes it sounds stupid) a native speaker of the language is better than a non-native speaker) in the comparison of who can speak that particular language … is one way to show superiority; whether it’s done consciously or subconsciously.

My show of intelligence; ie combining rational and logical thinking into wit; was what silenced her though.
So that keeps me happy.

See the next article, or click here. Opens in a new tab

You need to move your bike….

2016-05-18 Wednesday

Today, normal day trying to take the bike to the bus station so I can take the bus to work.

They’re doing construction works in my building at the moment, of which they never tell you about… so woke up to drilling……

Lately I couldn’t chain my bike to the sign post outside the building because the foot path was under construction.  And I’ve found out the hard way… if its not tied to something, then it becomes an easy target for thieves.

So I actually tied it to one of the support scaffolding around the side of the building.

I went out this morning to try and unlock the bike… as there’s 2 guys working on the side of the building…

They see me, bend down near the back of the bike… fiddle with the lock for 10 or so minutes and finally give up.
I decided I was going to go inside to get some WD40 and have another go.

Anyway one of them looks at me and says in chinese…”you should move the bike because we have to do work here”

So I replied…”ah yeah, I would like to, bit the lock doesn’t work”

And he said… “no you should move… you see… work”

Me: “yeah I know, I can see… but the bike has a lock… the lock does not work. So I cannot move”

And then the 2nd worker comes and squats down on the ledge…looking at me… kind of making sure that I’m a foreigner (I had my helmet on but still, the mannerisms of foreigners are so different than that of chinese, he should’ve already known)

And so this guy says “你应该把车放在那边儿” which is exactly-
“you should regarding vehicle put over there”

To which I said …with a sigh….”yeah I know,…. I understand what you’re saying, but the lock does not work”…
then I pointed to the keys that I was showing them before yet this time ever more clearly,
“so if I can’t unlock the bike…. I can’t move the bike”

Them: “oh the lock”

Dude wtf do you think I was doing down there for 10 mins??
…use that thing between you ears.. that pea that you refer to as a brain and try to figure out what I might be talking about that would justify this given the situation.

Was I tying my shoe just randomly in that exact spot behind my motorbike with my helmet on?
Unlikely… but possibly.
But then why would I not be able to move the bike??

I know that often when some chinese people are talking to foreigners .. ‘the wall’-(the wall of incomprehension) comes up, because they just instantly assume that Mr foreigner can’t possibly understand the civilised language of chinese… so they’re not even going to try to listen / comprehend… so whatever comes out of Mr foreigner’s mouth… bugger it… I can not understand.

Something about being enclosed and away from other civilisations… or not enough education or something like this.

Anyway, the other guy says “..the bike…”

And then I stopped listening…  and just turned around and walked back inside…mumbling ‘idiot…shababdaba…morons’….and ‘what was I thinking?’

I mean yes… they’re illogical nut jobs for not being able to figure out a situation

but at that point I realised I was JUST as illogical because I was carrying on a conversation with these 2 idiots… and I KNEW they were idiots.. trying to explain something that wasn’t going to change anything
… the bike was still locked… it couldn’t be moved… and they were still idiots.

What the hell am I doing just standing here talking to these 2 morons ??


Taxi, Asian commonalities & the BARRIER!

On the topic of speaking Chinese again, and the tones, and the difference between the very similar sounds… we have a tip for you.   ….
If you don’t get them right, or you don’t feel like getting them right, or even if you think the tones are a load of crap…. which let’s face it they are…..

You at least better LoOk Chinese.   As the barrier that Chinese people often have when understanding a language …does not seem to come up if they think from first impression, that they should be able to understand you.

You know how many westerners … (that probably haven’t travelled asia) say ‘oh all Asians look the same’
and some Asians often retort ‘oh but we think all foreigners look the same’ … despite the obvious flaws in this statement …
for example.. oh I don’t know.  Many Asians all come from the same basic race– all have straight black hair, … all have dark brown – black eyes,  have little arm hair (yeah strange but whatever), skin colour is mostly the same, and comparatively to westerns  (usually) aren’t as big,   and most of their eyes are not as “open as ours”  blah de blah….

The point is that westerners are basing their assumptions on easy to spot commonalities, ie. Things that you can recognise from afar.
Although many Chinese say “all foreigners look the same”….
Shit man, for a start they are different colours…  if you can’t notice that  black is not the same as white, that’s a pretty big one, and even if you just go for the whiteys.. they all have different hair, some have red hair, some have wavey hair, some are just hairy all over….
This can’t really be said for Asians.    These are pretty big differences.
[Granted what they do focus on are things that are up close and personal, double eyelids, cheek bones, …blah de blah…. But to ignore the latter is just stupid]

But anyway I seem to have got sidetracked.
The point was, that whilst a lot of Asians, especially the Chinese claim all foreigners look the same, …kind of inferring that they can tell the difference between Asian people , …..the truth is , they really can’t.
In the majority of experiences I’ve had, Chinese people will often turn to a Korean friend, a Vietnamese friend, or even a Japanese person and ask them.. what did this laowai want to say?.  Inferring that while Mr whitey may be a Laowai, they regard the Asian person sitting next to me as not.  In fact it may be obvious to a lot of foreigners living in China that Vietnamese people look quite different to Chinese people, … but to Chinese, ironically they can’t see the difference.

This is where the barrier comes in.  Chinese people (generally) assume that foreigners can’t speak Chinese, and from there, their mind is set ‘They CAN’T speak Chinese… therefore,… whatever comes out of their mouth… I will not be able to understand’  [This is slowly changing…..but I have to stress….very SLOWLY, as it still happens with educated Chinese.
– -It’s a cultural mentality thing, not an immediate education thing- as in they learn it at home from their parents, regardless of whether or not they have western education– it still shines through]

For instance one time, a very long time ago, I got in a taxi with a Vietnamese friend (by the way she was actually from Norway, was very western and didn’t speak a word of Chinese),
The driver said.. “Ni qu narrrr?”  ->Where are you going (in a thick Beijing accent)
to which I said: “women xiang qu Yi Jia Jia ju”
I know the tones were right because I looked it up previously to make sure.
And what did this butt-plug  do?
He shook his head  and said “Naarrrr?”
I extenuated my words more  “Yi jiA JIa jU!”   (IKEA furniture)

He turned around, waved his hand like he was saying goodbye and said “mei ting dong ->I don’t understand
…but the action, if you haven’t got it, ..was very rude.

He then turned to my Vietnamese friend and said “Lao wai shuo shenme ??”

Is she not a laowai?  (strict definition… old outside??) Does she not live up to this??  Or are you so ignorant that you can’t tell the difference?

She actually turned to me; asked me in English how to say;  I told her how to say IKEA in Chinese…the EXACT same way as I had just said to the taxi driver…. …Don’t forget this is in front of the guy, and he’s no doubt capable of listening to this;  and then she repeated what I had said directly back to him.
and he goes, “oh zhi dao”  (yep I know)

WTF??   You FucKing faggot!   What kind of deaf nugget are you?>?


The other thing  is which is in direct relation to what this post is meant to be talking about is that it is in context.  And that context is… 1.) You are a taxi driver
2.) people want to go places in your taxi
3.) you’ve just asked ‘Ni qu narrr?’ (where are you going?)

Question:…   What kind of answer are you likely to hear back from the passenger?   Regardless of if it is a foreigner, or a Chinese.

It’s a PLACE     you dickhole!

At this point in time it doesn’t matter what you think the tones may be , there’s an extremely good chance that the person wants to go to a PLACE.
(or you know…. 0.0001% chance that they’re completely crazy, and just mumbling crap)
宜家家具  (yi2jia1 jia1ju4)  IKEA  if you say in some wrong tones, maybe could mean 一家加注(yi1jia1 jia1zhu4)  the whole family increase the stakes..
bUt…. Mr no brainer… think about it, if it’s possible. ..
What is the most likely answer?….. think about the context…  and chances are you’ll come to the right conclusion.

If not, I’m afraid you are simply an illogical nugget!

As for the tones …. even more….

Ages ago a friend posted an article about the importance of getting the right tones.  (I will try to find it, but it’s all about foreigners saying something like 我要睡觉 wo yao shui4 jiao4, rather than 我要水饺 wo yao shui3 jiao3   Saying ‘I want to sleep’ to a dumpling vendor instead of ‘I want water dumplings (which most people will know as Jiao zi not as shui jiao)  and the street vendor not understanding what the foreigner wants.

Now if you’re going to be a fastidious dick-wad then sUre,…. This IS important. …..
So you can finally be understood by the street vendor who is actually equally happy with you just pointing to things and saying ‘zhe ge, zhe ge , na ge’ (this, this, that)  and couldn’t give 2 shits if you spoke chinese or not.
And even if the vendor does care if you can speak a bit of chinese,… in all reality , I would hope he/she would be more impressed that a laowai, would even attempt to learn his/her language, instead of being like all the others that just point to things and say slowly… “1”    and speaking to them like an idiot.

Again context.  The guy Is selling dumplings, a guy comes to the shop….  Most people would figure, ‘hey, I sell dumplings, this laowai comes to my shop….I guess he might want to buy some dumplings’

Rather, than telling me about his immediate desire to go to sleep.
You know… for some odd reason at my dumpling store.

There’s no ‘stab’ in the dark here…. It should be pretty damn clear

It’s not thinking outside the box… as some are probably about to comment on… it is just not looking only at the point of the needle!

Those people that can’t figure out context…    are lacking some serious logic.

Here it IS slightly about culture, because people here do learn things like that here.  However at the same time, many chinese people don’t know the tones for individual words either.

Next time you’re on the street, ask a few people the tones of a word you’re having trouble with.  Some people will get it right, and guaranteed you will have a few people that just take a guess, or genuinely believe it is something else.   That’s because ironically, what they’ve learnt is from hearing the word in context.  BAMM!

The only difference is that between Chinese people, there is no ‘barrier’ that instantly comes up.

Chinese pronunciation priorities

This is something that I really don’t get, or at least I don’t see why so many people put so much emphasis on it.
The TONES – for speaking Chinese.

4 tones, any of us who have studied Chinese will know 1st tone, flat (& high) 2nd tone (apparently rising)  3rd tone little down and then rising (just an extended 2nd tone really) and 4th tone- which they tell you is a falling tone (but is really a short staccato kind of tone)
They say when you start learning Chinese you should pay extra attention to the tones… but if you want to really learn Chinese (& not give up on it after 6 months ) then unfortunately you have to relinquish control of the tones a little bit, and just do as Chinese children do when they’re learning the language, -pick up the tones over time, via much repetition.

What you should work on is pronunciation.  The difference between zh & j, and X & sh, and Q & ch  doesn’t really seem to be taught properly.   But considering this is the majority of Chinese sounds then you really have to get these sounds right.

This remind me of a few stories,  check them out here  and here

In terms of pronunciation though for now, what I say in another article, is that it very much helps if you look Chinese.
For example I had an Indonesian class-mate, who apparently a while back had some Chinese heritage, but the point is, like a lot of Indonesians here, he really can’t get any of the sounds right.    Perhaps… just Perhaps his tones for the words are correct, but I have no idea because surely without the words being right, the tones don’t fucking matter.

Here is a normal basic sentence:  Wo xiang qu shitang –(I want to go to the cafeteria)

In easy-read Chinese (for those that can’t read pinyin, its roughly   woh shang choo sher tang

But this Indonesian guy will say:  woh tang tooo derr dang.    WTF??   Ok sure, he didn’t add in a word, or something like this, but it’s pretty ridiculous.

However…. many Chinese people can understand him
–simply because he looks slightly Chinese.
Completely illogical to me, but apparently it makes sense to them.