Greetings from China

– A:Ni hao. (你好) B: Ni hao ma? (你好吗?) A: Wo hen hao. (我很好) The above dialogue, or something like it, is usually the fist snippets of Chinese that anyone studying the language will learn. Ni Hao, the rosy cheeked beginner student will be told, is the term Chinese use to greet each other. Hmm… Well, … Read More »

The Sleeping Dumpling

– This week I was heckled for my lazy pronunciation of shui3jiao3, “boiled dumpling”, which apparently sounded more like shui4jiao4, “to sleep”, making the restaurant name Grandma’s Dumplings, sound something like Grandma is sleeping. This mistake is another example (as if anyone needed more) of the importance of tones in Mandarin. For non-native speakers, Chinese can … Read More »

New words for the new time

– “Generation gap” (代沟) , “supermarket” (超级市场), “honeymoon” (蜜月) and “breakdance” (霹雳舞). These words are all newcomers in the Chinese language. In fact, all of them have appeared after China started unfreezing its relations to the rest of the world with the Reform and Opening policy, embarked upon by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. In a fascinating … Read More »

The Secret Life Of The Laowai

– In a previous a blog post I complained about how Chinese textbooks aimed at foreigners seem to have a rather incorrect idea about the life of the foreign students. In these books, Ai Mi, Bi De and Da Wei are constantly discussing school, Chinese food and tourist sights. Typical foreign students’ activities such as getting … Read More »

Let’s Go Birding – an Expression With Chinese Characteristics

– The other day I was listening in on a class of Chinese students who were taking an evening course in my native language, Swedish. Their task for the day was to change nouns written in singular form to plural, (that is: “cat” to “cats”). This can be complicated enough in English: How do you now … Read More »

The Woes of Buying Stationery

– Whenever I become too cocky about my Chinese skills I seem to have a humbling experience: The latest took place the other week at my university. After a class where I actually understood all the major points of the newspaper articles we were reading, I headed for the book store to buy myself a ruler. … Read More »

And it’s off to school I go

– My second year of Chinese studies in China is about to start, this time at a Shanghai university. The first day of the semester consists of a placement test. All of us new exchange student wait outside the classroom, clutching our newly sharpened pencils and feeling like we did on our very first school day. … Read More »

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