Chinese class

Every Wednesday and Friday I would gather my notebook and pen and head to the office to have Chinese class. We are only five people so the atmosphere is very relaxed, we get a lot of speaking time and the chance to ask all our questions.
That’s completely necessary, because learning Chinese you find yourself in the first level of linguistic development again. Pronouncing some letters or building easy sentences to answer simple questions takes a lot of effort. And even if you know a word, you still need to remember the seemingly random combination of lines that make up its character. (A hard task for means most of you who know my handwriting can confirm).
Still, I love class as it is one opportunity to not only learn Chinese language but dive deeper into culture. Our teacher is very nice, trying to help and explain as good as she can. Sometimes she would find herself at the end of her knowledge, though. You can have children without being married? What would Chinese parents say to that?  What kind of job do you want to do? In the social sector? NGO?
I really admire her patience when we make an impossible sentence or pronounce ……   . Usually she would only inhale rapidly and there would be an apologizing smile followed by an explanation usually introduced by “Yeah, same word but different pronunciation” or “Mmmhh…yeah you could say that BUT another way is more common…” (Meaning that Chinese would burst out laughing if they hear your expression)
Here are some examples of interesting phenomena in Chinese language I encountered –
The Chinese translation for “Coca-cola”,written 可乐 and pronounced kěle actually means “tastes good, feel good” – a good marketing strategy!
Sometimes, Chinese language makes it easy for you – for a month, you only need to say the number plus the word for month, 一月 (yī yúe= 1 month) would be January, 二月 (èr yúe= 2 month) would be February and so on. Weekdays actually nearly work the same way.
But sometimes it also gets more difficult for you. There are four expression for asking the age, depending on if you are a) younger than ten b) between 10-30 c) 30-60 or d) older than 60. Get ready for some confusion and angry women…
Another characteristic of mandarin are measure words. There are hundreds of them, comparable to English expressions like cup or bowl in “three cups of tea” or “two bowls of rice”, for example. However, they are used much more frequently and it is hard to use the correct one for every object. 把(bă), the measure word for small things you take into your hand like keys, can for some reason also be used for chairs. The measure word for book, 本(běn), actually means root so you read “two roots book”
Because a little phonetic change can make a lot of difference, the language is rich in wordplays and appreciations. While messaging, 521 can mean “I love you” because the pronunciation is similar. I am really curious about more secrets of mandarin I am sure to discover.
See you soon, 拜拜 (bye-bye)


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