To me INTERCULTURAL Competence is the ability to effectively mesh cultures by way of understanding and being understood simultaneously. It is an acceptance that goes beyond tolerance I would say. While in Chongqing and Beijing I made an intentional and concerted effort to learn as much language as possible and experience as much of the culture as I could. How? Speaking, Reading, Listening and eating as many different foods as possible.
Well I came with a one sheet wonder of phrases that would see me through a trip to the market or a restaurant. Miss Buksa took good care of me by giving me these. I learned quickly that mimicking the “accent” was an exercise I need some teaching around. There are accents in Chinese that combine volume, pitch and “tongue rolling”. I’m getting pretty good at it. Getting the accents or “ tongues” correct. There are 4 main accents. Going low with a sound. Going up or high with a sound. Going down then up. And most confusing: up down and up again. I am sure I got that wrong. DR. Xu made a joke about some of her students using “Chinglish” phrases or words. I took this to mean a combination of English words and Chinese understandings. Some things just do not translate well. Anyway. I kept a few notes here about the words I learned. I’ll save foods for another post.
Phonetically Spelled Words I have Learned to use:
Zrwai bien-go left
Yow bien-go right
Tien bien-go straight
Hoh(m)-go backward –you barely need to say the m at the end.
Do Sow Chen; better said very fast ending up sounding like: Doesachein. This is a way to demand a price, like… How Much is it?
Tie Qwai La; better said fast sounding like: Tiekwayla. This is a way to say the price is too high or you will pay less, like… Too Much!
ShayShay; better said with no pause in between. This is the most common way to say Thank You.
Boo Youwn Shay; better said Booyun Chien, quickly meaning Your Welcome.
Mio Mio; once or twice means No.
Nee How; better said Nihauw meaning Hello. You can add Maa meaning Hello how are you or Hello you are good?
How; can be pronounced fast like Ha,Ha sometimes sounding like people are making fake laughing sounds. This means Good.
LauShir; meaning Teacher. If pronounced fast (and incorrectly) it also means Ten, Yes, and (wait for it) “excrement” Again. The accent is extremely important.
Da Shwai- meaning University. Translated more closely to big or high learning.
Towwwchien- Sandals or Flip Flops
(f)Houng jiao – Red Wine
EeByQwai- 100 Yuan (the primary denomination of Chinese Yuan) the equivalent to about 22 CDN dollars.
Counting in Chinese Phonetically:
1-Ee, 2-Ar, 3-Sain, 4-Shzur, 5-Woh, 6-Leol,7-Chi, 8-Baa, 9-Cheou, 10-Xi (I can also count to this with one hand now as they do all over the country.)
I have learned to look at the characters from right to left while reading the English (which is usually underneath) from left to right. Constantly looking at the signs and forcing myself to “understand” has done me well. I believe that my mind can figure it out. I certainly do not possess the ability to read Chinese characters. Finding patterns is key. Everywhere I went I looked for the symbol for learning or school. I figured it out.
I just started copying things I saw and tried to figure out the patterns… I didn’t even come close to figuring this one out! My good friend Will from Chongqing is an expert character writer. He has won competitions. He makes Chinese writing look so beautiful. It truly is art that you can read.
This one means “The Speaker”.
I would just love to be able to speak this language. What I have noticed is that the longer I am here the more I hear. What I mean to say is that over the time I have been in China I am detecting more differences in the sounds that are made to vocalize the language.
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