Chinese Album

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Learning to Speak Chinese

Learning to speak Chinese has been more than a little difficult,but it difficult,but it didn’t seen so at first.We began with vocabulary.We know we needed to greet people so,”Ni-hao” was the beginning.This was simple because the two parts of the greeting used common English words:”knee”and “how”.So far,so good.
The next thing we noticed was that Chinese often had repetition in a word.For example,”Nai-nai”and”Ya-ya”are similar to English structures,”John John”and’Bye bye”are two examples that come to mind.So,we were on the alert for such words,Quickly,I learned I could introduce my wife using “tai-tai”or “wode tai-tai”.Later,when learning that “pearl” was translated as “zhenzhu”,it was possible to expand an introduction of her as “zhenzhu,wode tai-tai”.Hearing children calling her”Nai-nai’,That was also added.Now the introduction was lengthened to”zhenzhu nai-nai,wode tai-tai”.Chinese wasn’t going to be so difficult after all!
One afternoon,we were at a friend’s house talking about a trip to Guiyang.We were planning to go to Chinese to see friends who had been to the U.S as part of the Guizhou exchange program,a program between educational institutions in Guizhou and Oakland University.Upon completing their studies,the scholars returned to China and we were anxious to see them again.Also,it was our 32nd wedding anniversary and this would be a good way to celebrate.
Mooney the 3-year-old daughter of our friends.,had listened to our concersation and suddenly asked,’Ye-ye”do you speak Chinese?”
“We don’t know the language,but we did learn some phrases,Mooney.”.
“I can teach you something that will help you on your trip”,she said,”tu-tu”means’rabit’."
Our hearts were warmed by Mooney’s attempt to help us,Little did we realize what an effect”Tu-tu”would have on us.especially me.
Finally,we were in Guangzhou,happily discovering the Pearl River.Two days later we were on the Li River in Guilin,enjoying the marvelous scenery with the river,hills and special mountains of China.Then,we flew to Guiyang where we planned to stay for five days.It was in Guiyang we hoped to use what little Chinese we learned,here,we were among friends.
Once again we met and dined with our acholar ftiends,only this time it was in China.My opportumity to introduce Pearl came when meeting one scholar’s parents.Taking a big breath,I blurted out loudly for all to hear.”Zhenzhu nai-nai wode tu-tu.”This was greeted with loud laughter.I was puzzled.Why would introducing my wife bring such a respnse?When I gave Pearl a questioning look.She whispered that I had introduced her as “…my rabbit”.Then,our laughter was added to the merriment was truly funny.
So,it was in Guiyang that the difficulty of learning Chinese became clear;it wasn’t going to be easy after all,Yes,we joined in the laughter,but I still felt like a dodo.It was all too,too much.

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