Sunday, July 3, 2011

Taiwanese Interpretation: How to Know How Good Your Chinese Really Is

For many reasons I love the Taiwanese. One thing that struck me right away was how encouraging and patient people here are with Chinese Language learners. Maybe this struck me because I am American and have all too often heard the line, "This is America! They should learn to speak English!" (I'd like to see anyone who has ever said this try to learn a 2nd language. I'd bet anything they've never even tried.) But I digress.
In my experience in Taiwan, no one will ever tell a foreigner that their Chinese is bad. Instead there appears to be a coded scale of compliments. Below is my attempt at decoding this scale.
Oh, you speak Chinese? = A for effort. This is an acknowledgment of your effort.
Your Chinese is good. = I am impressed you can put a sentence together considering how hard our language is.
Wow! You speak Chinese! = OMG, your white and I can actually understand what you are trying to tell me!
Wow! Your Chinese is good! = Ok, this is getting really weird now. White people can't speak Chinese.
Your Chinese is really good. = If you weren't so nervous we could probably have an actual conversation. We should hang out more often so I can teach you.
Why do you speak Chinese? = Obviously, Chinese is too hard for foreigners, so there must be something I am missing here. Was your great great grandma Chinese?

1 comment:

  1. LOL
    OMG! You're white and I can actually understand what you are trying to tell me.