Sunday, March 21, 2010

In the Killer Pack (a set of 3 psychologically damaging linguistic courses that every Linguistic alumni has taken) you learn that all language learning goals must be “measurable and observable”. As an observer - I really took that ideology to heart. While taking those courses, the idea wasn’t quite instilled in me, but since then it has become a way of life. Honestly... it isnt always by choice - but living in the target culture makes observation a rather simple thing.

Every time you say something wrong... you turn red.

Here I am in my eerily-lit park sipping on some newly found black current wine after having bought tea once again. Perhaps it is in the nature of tea to cause people to be reflective. (ir)Regardless, it does put me in such a mood.

(In case you are worried - there are no real regulations against the public consumption of alcohol in this city to my understanding. There are so many street side booths where you sit down and eat - and they have 10 or so bottles of Baijiu (white lightnin’) ready for the draining.)

I like to repeat business with people who go out of their way to be kind to me. Sounds reasonable eh? Tea shops are particularly great examples of that kindness. Each time I go to a tea shop I am offered the opportunity to drink tea with them - free of charge. It has been an awesome opportunity to sit and enjoy one of the most incredible plants ever -- and anyone who is thinking that tea is outranked by (in his most arrogant accent) the Sticky-Icky, is sorely mistaken.

Nothing aids in the potential for observation like frequent encounters. I have been here for 2.5 months now, and I have been able to see how much my Chinese has improved. It is still debilitating. However, today I was able to go shopping and buy two new shirts for work. It sounds like a simple feat right? If you answered yes to that rhetorical question get back in line. Picture that go getter super retail person, and map a certain amount of Chinese grace on to them. That is what you have to deal with -- in another language that you only understand 10-15% of anything they say. I did however manage to get along with the words I did have, and successfully negotiate the trail of several shirts and eventually a purchase.

By the bye. I dunno if the guy at the second shop I bought from was just over-eager (he definitely was over-eager... but im wondering if it was just that), but he definitely was poppin open the door to the dressing room door to pass me new articles. The aloofly feline part of me did not appreciate that so much. Particularly as I was dancing around in my trunks trying to replace my jeans after trying on some not so flattering high-rise pants (girdle installed or something WTF?!).

There is a very long way to go with this language, but I am getting the feeling that some of the blank spaces on the map are filling in, and another month or two and I will be heading into intermediate territory: and that is a very exciting thing.

Just you wait.

1 comment:

  1. The aloofy feline part of you might just turn into a bengal tiger after a few more months of the crowds of over-eager salespeople. Grats on your language accomplishments so far! I'm sure you'll be prostar in no time flat. In other news, I'm making Baby Angel Cookies tonight, and thought of you. You are so far from the comfortable CanIL kitchen, but so close via the magic of the internet. I look forward to the next installment of the tales of your adventures.