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Getting stuck in the translation

>I am loving China. We have had some things get stuck between what we ask for and what we get. You could call it getting stuck in the translation. Only two individuals in our group can speak Chinese. Jerry, for whom Chinese is his first language, and me, but my Chinese is fairly rudimentary. I can say I want, don’t want, need, or even like something.

On the other hand, it is amazing how many people speak English. While many can only speak as much English as I can Chinese, they try so hard to understand and help. We find many things get confused or lost when speaking with the locals, but both parties laugh and then try again.

Here are a few examples for you. My aunt, Tonya, arrived in the hotel late during the night. When we woke in the morning Tina called the front desk to be connected with her sister. “Wei, ni hao. Hello.” (This is how the front desk answers the phone.) “Yes, I would like the room number for Tonya P.” “Toya P?” “Yes, please.” “Just a minute.” “Okay.” At that point the front desk hung up the phone.

Approximately 15 minutes later, there was a knock at Tina’s door. On the other side was one of the maids. “Ni hao,” she said and held out a roll of toilet paper. Confused, the roll was accepted and the door closed again. Looking at the roll of toilet paper, Tina realized that they had mistaken Tonya P. for toilet paper. We have all found that so funny and we can’t even pass toilet paper in any of the small markets without bursting into giggles. Tonya herself grins and on occasion she will pick up a roll and hand it to Tina. They giggle so hard, they remind me of school girls.

The other incident happened this evening. The electric kettle for the hot water wasn’t working in Tina’s room. (I think I am starting to see a pattern here.) 😉 Tina asked me to call the front desk. I wasn’t thinking much so I didn’t explain what I wanted. I told the front desk that the hot water wasn’t working. The receptionist fumbled the words out of her mouth. “The kettle?” she asked. “Yes.” “Okay, just a moment.” The line clicked silent and I sat back to catch up on my email. Not long after, there was a knock at the door. It opened to reveal a woman holding a towel. The towel was accepted and with some surprise, was discovered to be warm. We all had a good laugh and I am now settled comfortably with my originally desired cup of tea. Tonight, I am drinking a Tai Wan Milk Oolong. What is in your cup?

Virtual cheers everyone!


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