NY: This is the phrase I learned ...
Greg: Go ahead.
NY: wǒ shì huàn héchà
Greg: Uhm ...
So in my mind, I'm trying to work out what he said. And the thoughts are buzzing through my head ...
- The sentence clearly begins with "I am" (wǒ shì) - I can hear that.
- Next is huàn, which sounds like 换 (change/exchange). There are probably other versions of huàn, but right now I can't think of others. If I can work out the rest of the sentence, then maybe this part will make more sense. I'll come back to it ...
- What on earth is héchà? I've seen a few words lately that begin with 合 (join/together/...), like 合适 (héshì=suitable), 合资 (hézī= joint venture), but what is héchà??
- No, I really can't work out what he said. Let me ask him ...
Greg: Uhm, sorry. I give up. What are you saying?
NY: wǒ shì huàn héchà ...
(Dear readers of Mandarin Segments, have you worked it out yet?)
NY: "I like to drink tea."
Greg: Oh ... you mean "wǒ xǐhuan hē chá" !
NY: Yes, that's what I said.
And this, ladies & gentlemen, is the moment when I experienced how Chinese people must feel when foreigners speak to them in Chinese. The words are wrong. The tones are wrong. And they (just like me) have no idea what is being said.
But I was flattered that he had bothered to memorise a short phrase for me, and it led onto an interesting conversation about tones.
And you know what? It's not so bad to be Chinese and hear a foreigner make mistakes when trying to speak Chinese. Why was I so nervous to try in the beginning?
You're not nervous, are you? I can say for sure, having been Chinese for 1.5 minutes, that you have nothing to be nervous about!
You're welcome to leave comments in English, but for fun, why don't you leave comments in Chinese - whether using hanzi or pinyin? Keep it as simple as you like, and take a risk. How many of you will dare?