4.10.2008

Broken Chinese

If I were to live in a country where its official language is Chinese -regardless of what dialect it is- I'd slowly but surely crawl into a rabbit hole willingly to eradicate myself from society.

My mother had dropped me at the restaurant to pick up the take-out food for dinner tonight and the restaurant owner couldn't speak English. This placed me in a predicament since I can only speak English (well).

When I pointed at the packed food on the table I was sure had been what my mother ordered, she asked me in Hokkien, "Would you like some rice with that?" And even though I speak Hokkien a teeny bit better than I do Mandarin, I blurted out in Mandarin, "Yes." And the lady, who had probably assumed I only spoke Mandarin, replied back in Mandarin now, "One or two?" And knowing full-well what one is in both Hokkien and Mandarin, my lips somehow chose to reply in English this time, "One." And for fear that she might not have gotten what I said, I held up my index finger; indicating one.

The lady looked at me funny. I didn't blame her. In the end, my mother had to come down from the car to clarify and relieve the lady of the stress of trying to comprehend the mumbo jumbo I had just muttered. If there's such a thing as broken Chinese, I have it.

No comments: