Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Most embarrassing moments while learning Chinese

I found a list on Chinese-forums of peoples most embarrassing moments while learning chinese. Some of them are very funny. Luckily nothing like this has happened to me yet.

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A few months after I first came to Taiwan I arranged a language exchange with a friend's sister. At our second or third meeting she brought along a friend. Trying to make polite conversation in my, what was at the time, quite limited Chinese I asked if her friend was her tongzhi. I had only been in Taiwan for a few months and most of the Chinese I knew was straight out of a textbook printed in Beijing. Of course I thought tongzhi was a perfectly fine word to describe a friend or comrade. I was quite surprised though by the strange response I got to my question. It was then explained to me that in Taiwan the word tongzhi is most commonly used to describe someone who is gay. Needless to say I was very embarrassed and to this day remain very aware of the double meaning of tongzhi.

By wix
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A chinese friend of my wifes rang up on the phone. At that time I was lying on the bed reading a book, my wife was lying beside me doing the same. I answered the phone and said. Yes she is here, you can talk to her. "Wo zai ta shangbian". Actually I meant to say "wo zai ta SHEN bian"
So the meaning came out as "I am on top of her" instead of "I am beside her".

By beijingbooty
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I work with a woman who's name is Guo Jia - the same as 'country' or 'nation', apart from the tones which I'm lousy at anyway. One day someone came into the office while she was out, pointed at the empty desk and asked who it belonged to. In best revolutionary fashion I replied 'The desk belongs to the nation'

By Roddy
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I was teaching in Taiwan at the College of Chinese Culture. It was either a midterm or a final exam and I was walking around the room as the students worked on their exams. One of the young ladies got my attention and told me her pen had run out of ink. Very confident in my Chinese I asked the class in Chinese if anyone could lend her a pen as her pen had run out of ink. There were a lot of stifled guffaws and I wondered what I had said. It turned out that the way I said it it sounded like her nose had run out of water....

My friend when I was in Taiwan once went into a restaurant and ordered "pieces of chicken" noodles but it came out chicken shit noodles which was a great laugh for his Chinese friends who were with him.

By Mike
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