Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yeargh! :-)

So when we decided that our adopted child would be from China, I came up with the brilliant idea that I should learn to speak Chinese.

Now, I strugle enough just with english... let alone learning French or any other language... let alone Chinese, a dialect based on tones and inflection (when we as poor english speaking people can not even understand sarcastic tones).

However, I am a lucky guy... I have MANY co-workers who are from China and can speak Mandarin exceedingly well. So they can help! Right! Right? *siiiigh*

Me: Hey! Wanna teach me Chinese?
Co-Worker (CW): Chinese? No.
Me: Yea, I need to learn to speak Chinese... you can help right?
CW: You know that Chinese isn't a language right?
Me: Uh, no. Not really. You don't speak Chinese?
CW: Do you speak Canadian?
Me: No way, eh, we like, speak English... eh. Okay. Well, what language should I learn?
CW: Well, there are 10 to 12 major dialects in China. Mandarin is the official dialect though.
Me: Great! I'll just learn that then!
CW: Right. Lets start with something simple... Lets say "Hello", repeat after me: Ni Hao.
Me: Ni Hao. [YES! Nailed it!]
CW: No, Ni Hao.
Me: Thats what I said. Ni Hao.
CW: No, you said, Ni Nao, what you needed to say was Ni Hao.
Me: I'm telling you, thats what I said.
CW: No, you said it wrong. Ni Hao.
Me: Ni Hao.
CW: Ni Hao.
Me: Thats what I said! I was there!

... fast forward about 3 months...

CW: No, Hi Hao! Ni HAO! NI HAO!!!!

... fast forward another 9 months...

CW: *sob* Ni ... hao .... *sob*
Me: Know what, I don't think you are a good teacher.

I found a great website: - they have lessons in Mandarin you can listen to.

After listening to mandarin radio online for a year, and then listening to these lessons every drive into work, I've master the basics of mandarin.
Okay, not mastered.
And maybe not the whole basics.
Okay, fine... maybe I can ask for coffee (the lessons are geared towards office conversation)
But thats VITAL.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about my mandarin... I can complete simple sentences around work with my Chinese co-workers in Mandarin, ask for coffee, appologize for stupid things I've said, ask whats happening, give them stuff, you know, stuff like that.

I'm not gonna lie... its been hard this last year trying to learn Mandarin.

But I'm really happy about it. If my 3 1/2 year old wants to know where the photo-copyer is, I'm all over that. She needs a coffee? Got it covered!

Yay me!

... oh wait, hold on... my wife just passed me her referral.
Guandong? You're kidding me!?
She speaks what?!
NOT Mandarin. YEARGH!!! :-)

Me: *sob*

So if anyone wants to help teach me Cantonese... ;-)


  1. My son is also from Guangdong. We have a daughter who is from Hunan. My husband and I took Mandarin lessons long ago and are definately not pros at the language. But maybe I can offer you a little hope?
    Our son was exposed to both languages. He was enrolled in the Half the Sky pre-school program while living in Guangdong, so he was familiar with Mandarin and Cantonese!
    If Ping is in the same program, you can be sure that she will understand some Mandarin ;)

    Happy learning!!

  2. Our daughter is also from Guangdong and she could understand both Cantonese and Mandarin, she just spoke Cantonese for the most part though. You will be amazed how fast they pick up the english anyway!

  3. LOL!!!! I told you not to bother learning it! All our Chinese friends just smile and roll their eyes at you cuz they know it's just too hard unless your immersed in it (:

    Too funny.

  4. Yea, a couple of co-workers said she would probably be learning Mandarin in school. So we will wait and see.

    Even our adoption agency says not to worry about it, that she will learn english fast enough.

    At least I know enough Mandarin now (I hope) to pick up stuff like, "I'm tired", "I'm sick", "I'm hungry"... just those first few weeks to at least be able to be aware of her basic needs.

    Anyway, I enjoy learning Mandarin... I do hope to keep learning it as well. :-)

  5. Hello - Way

    Eat – Sick Faan

    I am Hungry – Too Gno

    Drink - Yum

    Pee – Sew Bin

    Play - Wan

    friend – Pang Yo

    Sister – Je je

    for you – bee nee

    I love you – Gino yew nee

    I am tired – Gno gwoy