Varadi Victoria (Hungary) tell us about her experiences learning Chinese: “‘Diced chicken with green pepper, shredded pork with green pepper, mushroom in chili sauce, they are all very spicy. Do you know that?’ In fact, I did not know what the word ‘spicy’ meant at that time, but I nodded again”.
Varadi Victoria, Hungary
Many people say that Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, but I didn’t think so when I began studying it. I thought Chinese was just like the other languages and you could master it if you were diligent enough. Indeed, I had no trouble at first. I was so confident for my rapid progress that I even thought I could talk with local people in Chinese, which, however, only brought about embarrassment.
One day, I took some friends to a Chinese restaurant. This was a good opportunity to try my Chinese on the waiters and I could also show off my Chinese skills. When we walked into the restaurant, I greeted the waiters in Chinese loudly. Surprised to have a Chinese-speaking foreigner there, the waiters happily received us. After we sat at the table, I told my friends, rather proudly, to order whatever they liked. Some of them wanted pork, while others wanted chicken. I didn’t know the specific names of the dishes; so, I said to the waiter, “We want to eat pork and chicken.” The waiter thought I could speak fluent Chinese so he recommended some dishes with pork and chicken. I could not figure out what the names really meant. Afraid of losing face before my friends, I nodded to whatever the waiter recommended, saying, “OK,” “I see”. At last, I pointed to three dishes on the menu and said, “That’s it.” The waiter was taken aback by my last order. “Are you sure you want these? Diced chicken with green pepper, shredded pork with green pepper, mushroom in chili sauce, they are all very spicy. Do you know that?” “Spicy? Yeah, I know it.” In fact, I did not know what the word “spicy” meant at that time, but I nodded again.
“Spicy girls! You guys are really good!” said the waiters.
As a result, we did not touch the dishes. I had an unforgettable lesson on the Chinese word for“spicy”.
I guess every Chinese learner has similar experiences like this. It is theses anecdotes that make learning Chinese great fun.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 05. Volume V. November 2009.
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