Wednesday, May 23, 2007

news from the wire--by gilmore paddington--"i speak chinese"



CHENGDU, CHINA--After three years living in China, Gilmore Paddington finally knows some words in Chinese, and he’s more than happy to let everyone know. “Basically, my Chinese has made a major progression in the past three years. You should hear me whip it out at social events. Everybody laughs, and just thinks it’s great. I’ve got my sights on fluency by the end of the week.”

Indeed, recently Mr. Paddington has found that he can “get” what people are saying to him. “Now whenever people speak to me I can always pick out a few words, and get a pretty good idea what they’re talking about. For instance, the other day, this guy was talking to me for a few minutes, and then I heard the words che and xiangjiao. So I knew exactly what he was talking about—cars and bananas. Maybe even a car with bananas, or a car that smelled like bananas, or like, he was happily eating a banana in his car, but was so happy he wasn't paying attention and got in an accident, and all his bananas flew all over the road. So there were bananas everywhere . . . Actually maybe he said rubber instead of banana. I'm not sure. They sound kind of similar. But I got the gist of it."

Among the other skills Mr. Paddington has developed in his three years in China is the ability to order certain dishes from restaurants. “When I first got to China, I could only point at characters and groan. Now I can order things like Kung Pow Chicken or Eggs and Tomato or . . . some other things that I can’t remember right now. If I order as loudly as possible, everyone looks at me, and I can tell they’re all just thinking, ‘now there is a laowai with some real mandarin skills.' ”

Now that’s he’s reached a higher level, Mr. Paddington likes to put himself in the center of attention at parties, acting as the liaison between foreigners and Chinese, and translating things as loudly as possible so everyone can hear clearly. “I may not know everything, but, you know, I can get the basic idea across—like “good,” “bad” that sort of thing. I also know the words for “beer” and “bathroom”—pretty useful stuff.”

His naturally gregarious personality also sees him imparting advice on those newly arrived in China. “One thing I like to do when newcomers arrive is tell them how important learning the language is to your experience here. It’s amazing how much everything changes once you can really communicate with people.”



Anonymous doom said...

i feel like i know this person from somewhere...

6:50 AM  
Anonymous 赵婧萱 said...

Someone should teach him "la duzi", its one of the first words that all laowai students learn on their first week in China. Pretty useful, too ;-)

8:14 AM  

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