Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

I Speak Mishmash- Your Guide to Speaking Chinese

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 13, 2012


Chinese, or mandarin, the language spoken by half of the people living in China, or roughly 650,000,000 people is an aural cancer of mumbles, groans and feral grunts that farrowing sows would be at home with, but which those of us who are accustomed to speaking ‘human’ fail to comprehend.

Take the word for hungry as an example. The word sounds like ‘uh’ or ‘er’, something one mumbles when not really in agreement with another party, but still wants to sound civil. As an example, think of how you respond to 99% of your conversations with a person from China. So, while you are saying uh or um, Charlie Chinaman thinks you are telling him that you are hungry, and so it goes.

There are other examples, such as the words for ‘to eat’, ‘to drink’, and ‘ocean’, which are chi, he and hai respectively. But in human the sounds come off as chae her and hi.

The chinese, carrying a several thousand year-old chip on their shoulders, will attempt to romanticize their verbal squalor by claiming that each word has many ‘tones’ . Which are from low to high pitched, high pitched, high to low and one that sounds like diarrhea. And these magical ‘tones’ are the difference between the word ‘ma’ meaning ‘horse’ or ‘mother’.

Being a realist, I have to wonder about all that. What the Chinese see as tones would frighten off legions of Procyonidae and or result in a blood letting of the cochlea of all hominids within miles.

Take for instance, your common Chinese subway, a stinky hunk of tin, jam-packed with passles of China’s best and worst, all engulfed in a union of misery and despair as they trundle off to dead-end jobs in which they are seen no more valuable than the stuff you scrape from the back of your tongue after a night of Taco Bell feasting.

These beings will screech, howl, groan and spit, all in the semblance of organized thought and idea transmission. While the others of their ilk take it all in stride and may actually understand them, those of us hailing from civilization are reduced to nosebleeds, headaches and the feeling that we are oooo so glad that we are from ABC- Anywhere But China.

(btw- only half of these duds speak Mandarin, share this with your friends who say ‘hey a over billion people speak chinese. Well, not in China. According to uncle chicom, if we can really believe him, as of a few years ago, the majority of the people here spoke dialects, not proper chinagarble. Google it.)

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