Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Friday, June 15, 2007
The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly On the Plain
Ah...the difficulties of proper pronunciation. It's hard enough sometimes in English, but most of us have also struggled at one time or another with learning a foreign language and trying to mimic, what to us, are unfamiliar dipthongs, gutteral sounds, or subtle inflections.

Such is certainly the case with Mandarin Chinese, which relies heavily on tones and inflections to give completely different meanings to very similar words. My buddy BB over in Beijing sent a terrific long update of her trials and tribulations of teaching business English to Chinese employees, while at the same time undertaking a fairly grueling immersion in learning Mandarin herself.

It can be perilous, and this example was priceless:
....I'm still working fervently on my four tones so that I can say "excuse me" [qingwen – third tone/fourth tone], without it being misunderstood by a total stranger as a request for a kiss [qinwen – first tone/fourth tone].
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:01 AM  
3 Editorial Opinions:
  • At June 15, 2007, Anonymous DUDACKATTACK!!! said…

    Japanese aint no easier. If you ask for a check after dinner the wrong way, it sounds like you're asking for an enema.

  • At June 15, 2007, Anonymous Bonanza JellyBean said…

    I just saw Ocean's Thirteen today and the thing that has just killed me in all three of the movies is the fact that 10 of the guys just suddenly and easily understand the one that speaks Mandarin Chinese- which is one the of hardest languages to learn. They spend five minutes with the guy in the first one and all of a sudden they are fluent in understanding him.

  • At June 17, 2007, Blogger parisian cowboy said…

    I love the photo of your pofile.

    Great blog, btw.

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