Conjunction Junction, what is you are function?

I’ve made a personal decision not to blog about work.

I’ll make one exception. I saw this in an English textbook at one of the schools where I teach:

“Who is = who’s

Who are = who’re”

Combine this with the lack of apostrophes in Chinese, I can already hear the future spoken (and email) conversations my students will have with foreigners:

“Whore they?”

“That’s my mother and sister, you a-hole.”

“Oh… Why Im a hole?”

Of course it’s helpful to remember that not all misunderstandings are caused by language barriers.

The other day I was speaking to a German engineer who was fluent in English. He’d been working in Sizhou for the past five months.

Embarrassed to admit to admit how little of the language I’d learned in my time in the Middle Kingdom, I first asked the engineer if, in the five months he’d been in Sizhou, he’d been able to pick up any Chinese.

“A couple,” he said.

It took longer than it should have to discover we were having two different conversations. (“Which two words had he picked up?” I wondered. And “What does this idiot not understand?” he must have wondered.)

Until I clarified: “I meant the language.”

“Oh. No. Not really.”

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About sinestor

Originally from Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, I'm currently spending a year exploring the amazing world known as China. My main website is Every Day's a Holiday.

4 comments

  1. It seems like the Chinese people make a lot of signs which include English words. Am I right, or do you just take pictures of signs with English in them, ignoring the others? Are there many English speakers, Chinese or other?

    • Worstpickyeater – I just take a lot of pictures of signs in English. Also, the picture of the bumper stickers was taken at the gift shop by the “Big Buddha” in Hong Kong, where English is still an official language.

      Signs are translated into English in cities that depend on tourism, even though at least 90% of the tourism is domestic. Dali is full of English signage, and just a couple months ago, fancy directional signs were put up in Dali Old Town with English, Japanese, and Korean translations.

      Even in towns where I’m the only white person, stores, luxury apartment complexes, and advertisements include English. Whether it’s grammatically correct or not, English signage seems to have an upscale or cosmopolitan connotation, like French once did in U.S.

      Bonjour Papa!

    • Yeah, I can understand the confusion there. I’ve yet to see a sprinkled donut in China. Although Sweet Vanilla just opened up here and has plain donuts.

      There’s also a German Bakery in Dali that sells bagels with lox! It costs more than my daily food allowance, but every now and then I have to treat myself. Just knowing I can get a bagel with lox anytime helps me not yearn for it every moment of every day.

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