My Chinese Sucks

Some folks find language acquisition a simple thing. I know some of them. They just pay attention, maybe study a little bit, and in a matter of months they’re damn near fluent…or, at least conversational. I am not one of those people. I discovered this when attempting to learn French back home. My French is like the Saturday Night Live sketch: “Le Chat Noir”, for all you non-Francophones, means THE Chat Noir.

There are times when not being able to speak Chinese is sorta convenient. Without going into great detail, it can be very useful to be able to say to a police officer, in all honesty (and in very weak Mandarin), “Sorry, I do not understand you.”

However, there are other times when I wish I could speak Chinese like a native; like a local…like a fuckin’ GANGSTER.
When the maintenance guy fires up his gas powered whipper snipper at 8 AM right outside my window, and proceeds to rev the fucking thing: rrrrRRRRRNNNNN…..rrrrrrrRRRRRRNNNNN….. RRRRrrrrrnnnnnn….rrrrRRRRRRNNNNN… as he cuts the grass in wide scythe-like swaths, I wish I had the ability to holler, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU BRAINLESS FUCKWIT? IT’S 8 O’CLOCK IN THE GODDAMN MORNING! IF YOU DON’T FUCK OFF SOMEWHERE, I’M GONNA JAM THAT WHIPPER SNIPPER UP YOUR WRINKLED OLD ASS AND SPIN YOU IN FUCKING CIRCLES!”

Sadly, all I can manage is, “8 O’CLOCK!”
It gets the message across, but fails to express the depth and breadth of the murderous intent he provokes by (a) not using a fucking lawn mower like any other lawn maintenance project, (b) reving the goddamn whipper snipper up and down rather than just cutting the goddamn grass with it, and most importantly (c) assuming that everyone else is awake and happy that he’s doing the noisy part of his job at eight o’fucking clock in the morning. I guess he’s saving skimming the pool for the afternoon when everyone has gone to work.

I swear to god, it’s like some sort of fucking conspiracy. We live in this complex and pay, in addition to rent, security fees which cover the guards at the gate and the maintenance crew. They cut the grass, tend to the pool, look after the recycling station and general community repairs, and probably some other stuff of which I’m unaware. In any case WE pay THEM – they work for US. But for some unknown reason, they seem to work out each week at a meeting that has to be called the “How can we fuck the residents over this week” planning session.
They not only insist on whipper snipping the grass at dawn, they have chlorinating the pool down to a science. No point, of course, in adding the chemicals in the late evening…giving the pool a chance to breathe a bit before people go in the water. No. They’ve worked it out that tossing in five times too much chlorine ought to be done at around 11 AM, so we’re swimming in undiluted Javex during the heat of the day.
Perhaps they think if they fucking well BLIND ME, I won’t be able to hear the fucking whipper snipper.

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve noticed that Asians who learn Western languages as adults cannot pronounce the soft consenants, such a L and R. Some Westerners have the same problem, such and Elmer Fudd and Barbara Walters. It’s called lalation. Great, a word the afflicted cannot pronounce.
    I wonder what Westerners who learn Eastern languages as adults can’t pronounce. There must be something.

    • There are a whole bunch of tones, inflections, odd throaty diphthongs…sounds that simply cannot be properly rendered in Pinyin or fairly approximated in speech by non-native speakers…that Westerners never fully develop the ability to copy.
      It’s the mirror image of someone who moves from Hong Kong to America: even after 20 years, when they call you on the telephone, you know you are not listening to a native English speaker. Well, I could live here and study Chinese for the rest of my life, but I’m never gonna fool a Chinese speaker on the telephone.
      There are a whole bunch of reasons for these linguistic barriers to perfect pronunciation: the nature of the spoken languages, the way the mouth, tongue and throat are used to form the primary sounds employed by those languages (by analogy, sorta like taking a bunch of basketball players and telling them “You can’t use your hands…you have to shoot with your feet).

  2. I find it especially humorous that people who have a lisp are incapable of pronouncing the word “lisp.”
    But then, I make fun of cripples.
    Say “lalation,” Baba Wawa, c’mon!

  3. And yet your english writing skills are a bit like waking up with someone standing over your head at 6 am with a active chainsaw. That is to say hilarious. Keep up the good work.

  4. OK, now that I’ve sobered up, I have to admit that I wrote the “madmong” note myself. That admission is Step 14. I’m on a 15-step program. The standard treatment didn’t work for me.
    I’m beginning to wonder, though, if number 15 (“wrestle an alligator”) wasn’t put in there as some sort of cruel joke.

    • And yet if you were the ‘madmong’ you would have known that the name ended with a ‘Q’ and not a ‘G’. Christ that pisses me off.

  5. If you can’t speak Chinese worth shit, how the fuck do you get through life in Taiwan? I can see how you might land a gig at an Anglo company and live on some Saudi-esque compound. But aside from work, how do you get food, get directions, order drinks, or most importantly, how do you get laid?

    Or is it just that your command of the English language is so great that you have a hard time coping with the disparity between your English and Chinese capabilities?

    I’ve often dreamt of just packing up and leaving this unbearable shit-hole for some foreign utopia where blow-jobs grow on trees. The thing that shoots that fantasy out of the sky before it even begins is the fact that (despite cursory understandings of French and a little German) my foreign language skills rival that of George W.

    Shit, I have trouble speaking English most days, at least without turning purple and carrying on like Fred Sanford, only substituting “Elizabeth I’m coming” etc with a stream of “motherfuckers”, death threats and actual seizures,strokes and heart attacks.

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