My Husband Speaks Chinese

While I’m away at the office all day, Bruce has been keeping himself busy by learning how to speak, read, and write Mandarin (that’s his homework above – he wrote it all!). Understandably, Mandarin has a fairly steep learning curve in the beginning with learning characters and speaking in syllables rather than letters and words. He’s committed to several private tutoring classes each week in addition to taking a five-days-a-week course at Sichuan University.

One of the major benefits of the immersion into Chinese culture is that we have opportunities to try out our Mandarin skills many times a day. I do confess however, that my speaking abilities are limited to basic numbers and phrases like ‘excuse me’, ‘nice to meet you’, and ‘one big bag, please’ (very useful while shopping!)  though I can understand a bit more when it’s presented in context. For example: waitress walks up to the table and points to my empty tea cup and asks me a question. All context indicates she is asking me if I want more tea, so I reply with a confident ‘dui, xie xie.’

Bruce, on the other hand is becoming very conversational. Currently he’s talking with our taxi driver about the following topics:

  • We are from the US, but we live in Chengdu.
  • We’ve lived here for six months and we will leave in December.
  • It is hot in Chengdu
  • The southern US is also hot right now.
  • I am his wife, and he thinks I’m very beautiful.
  • We will eat Sichuan food (dry pot) tonight for dinner.
  • How his wife thinks that he’s a ridiculous, funny person.
  • Asking the cab driver what his favorite restaurant is.
  • They discuss the foreigners in Chengdu and Bruce points and says “The American Embassy is over there.”
  • He thinks that Sichuan is the most beautiful place in China.
  • In particular, the driver confirms to Bruce that the Sichuan women are “spicy” (a well known affectionate term referring to their independence).
  • Then Bruce tells the driver that I am writing all this down for our blog website. The driver laughs.
  • Our apartment is to the right, please stop here. Very good!

Remarkable, yes?

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