• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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Pick-up lines and language faux pas

I believe that the national pick-up line of the People’s Republic of China is “Helloooooo!”  I heard it again today when I was walking down the street in Wudaoku.  I hear it from the migrant construction workers on my school campus.  It comes from young men and gap-toothed old men alike, but never women.  The only common denominator seems to be the huge smile that accompanies the greeting.  I still haven’t decided if I should ignore it or smile or reply with a “ni hao.”  I think they’re either practicing the only English word they know or they think that all American women are like the women the Chinese watch on family-friendly wholesome American TV, like Desperate Housewives or Sex and The City.

Funny language story.  I was in Chinese class this morning and we were repeating a few phrases over and over again trying to attain some measure of fluency.  One phrase we hear and say a lot is “hen hao chi,” which means “it tastes very good.”  However, what we were currently talking about was the health of someone’s mother.  This is about the point where my brain turned itself off and we were repeating the phrase for our teacher individually.  When it was my turn what came out of my mouth was “ni mama de shenti hen hao chi,” which means “your mother’s health tastes good.”  Everyone got a good laugh out of that, myself included.

Tomorrow is the last day of full time Chinese class, although I’ll continue to take a few hours of class each week throughout the school year.  The new teachers arrive tomorrow and we’re excited to have them!


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