Friday, March 17, 2006

Diary of Not a Rice Person: 101 Rarely Useful Chinese Phrases

My Cantonese class finally started, so I'm not going to have to kill Johnny and collect my $288. I've had two classes so far, and I'm enjoying it despite it being, oh, a bit odd.

The teacher is this diminutive woman named Daisy. She's from Hong Kong, so I like to joke with George that I'm learning "proper" Hong Kong style Cantonese, and not the peasant version from Southern China. Of course it pisses him off, which is the point.

There are three other students. Our "classroom" is just about the tiniest room I have ever encountered. I have seen broom closets larger than this room. There is room for four of those metal chairs with the fold-up writing table attached. (No room for your bag inbetween the chairs, though - you have to cram it under a chair.) There is one metal chair up front for Daisy (no writing table attached) and if someone wants to leave the room, the guy closest to the door has to move his chair.

And there is a chalk board about 12x24 inches. That's it.

I hope that when the weather gets warm we don't get roasted out.

The textbook we are using is odd, to say the least. The examples it uses are either very stereotypically Chinese, or exceedingly bizarre. It's like some college students got together to write a textbook and then smoked grass while they were doing it.

Or maybe it's a ploy. Like they were thinking "let's charge people $288 to teach them Cantonese, but then only teach them very bizarre and rarely useful words & phrases. That way, they'll have to keep coming back for more classes to learn things they might actually need to say."

Every other time I've studied a language, the first chapter in the book teaches you things like "Hello Alice, how are you? I'm fine, thanks, how are you? I'm also fine!"

On the other hand, now that I think about having lived with a Chinese family for a while, maybe the authors weren't so far off the mark. It could be that the authors snuck into the home of a typical Chinese family and made notes on some of the more commonly used expressions.

In any event, as a result, here is what the authors feel you need to learn in Chapter 1. And I am not making this up.

"Who the hell is it? All night long, bothering people!"

"They've been making me angry all night long."

"He always talks mean about people, and there's definitely no reason for it."

"Although there's no reason for it, he just blamed you."

"We've already opened the store, but there's no business."

"Let me pay no matter how much it costs."

"Three small bowls of tripe, please!"

"There are too many people in the hospital."

"It's not easy to recover from athlete's foot."
(Isn't that pleasant.)

"This fried chicken & vegetable has absolutley no flavor!"

"You can buy milk at the perfume counter."
(Having lived among the Chinese for a while now, this one just doesn't surprise me.)

And my personal favorite......

"It's not normal for a cow to be able to climb a tree."

I'll keep you posted and will let you know when we (hopefully?) get around to discussing the weather & ordering dim sum.


lulu said...

"Who the hell is it? All night long, bothering people!"

I need to know how to say this.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your archives this morning and I have to say I love your blog! So awesome! My husband keeps inquiring at what I am laughing at...your posts!

I could comment on virtually all of them because the are so great [I adore Miss Manners too btw!] - don't need a billion comments from me, but...

This is HYSTERICAL! I can't wait to see what Chapter 2 brings.

Hugs to you, George & the two new kitties [love cute as **** also!]

I will link and be back often!