September 22, 2006 - Guyuan, China
Pete and Repeat
Last class of the week, good group of kids - surprisingly eager to learn at 5:15 on Friday. The lesson is on friendship. You know, like g-l-u-e between people.
We start going over a listening section about Anne Frank and her best friend - a diary.
“A diary is very personal. What you write in a diary is usually only interesting to the person that writes it. So, in a diary, the writer and the reader are the same person - you.”
Eighteen recitations later - I know it cold.
The students have to fill in a paragraph with blanks, your typical comprehension check, so I introduce them to the word “blank.”
“A diary is very blank.”
The kids get a real kick out of this. You’d think I was saying “tit” or something just as salacious. They read the passage with enthusiasm, shouting out each blank as if they were breaking the law.
After the passage is read, I ask them if they filled in all the blanks.
“Did you get seven?”
A resounding, “NO!!!!” erupts.
Being ever so thorny, I throw it back at them, “No?”
Wait. What? They just said “no.” And now they say “yes?”
Thinking they have gotten mixed up, I try to correct them, “Noooo.”
By now, I’m confused. I try again.
“No. ? . “
Christ. I’m slow catching on. They’ve been agreeing with me. What a numbskull. Time to play along.
I realize I could do this ad infinitum. A few more times through and I can’t help but laugh. We all crack up. The joke’s on me and the entire class.
And all of us realize it.
On the walk home from dinner I stop to get some beer. Being ever adventurous, I decide to try a new brand - same price as my usual brew, so why not?
I get home - thinking about that first semi-cool sip - beer here isn’t refrigerated. Bottle opener poised, I notice a small icon on the side.
What beer has a pineapple on it of all things? Hoping for some tropical getaway sweepstake, I look closer.
The pineapple has some oranges next to it. It only takes me two words,
“Boluo” and “pijiu”.
Pineapple beer? Uh-oh. I flip the bottle.
On the back next to the words “fruit beer” I notice “<1.0º”.
Non-alcoholic fruit beer. Just what I need after a week of class. Nothing like a good tall warm glass of pineapple juice to relax.
Fortunately the laoban lets me return it. Especially after he laughs for awhile when I describe the fruit beer as nu pijiu.
No matter what they say, Chinglish will get you places.
Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?