An American in Chengdu

Language | September 19, 2009

Here’s a story for those who’ve asked about my Chinese level. It’s a “conversation” I had with a bread vendor today.

I chose this body wash based mainly on its awesome Chinglish

I chose this body wash based mainly on its awesome Chinglish

Me: (pointing to a piece of bread) I want one.

Vendor: What kind? [lists filling options; the only word I understand is “chicken”]

Me: (moment of panicked silence) I don’t like meat.

Vendor: You don’t like meat? Then you want [something]?

Me: (nod)

Vendor: How many?

Me: One

Vendor: You want [something]?

Me: No

Vendor: (holds bread out to me on tongs so I can feel it) [something] a little?

Me: (realizing that “no” was apparently the wrong answer) Ok

Vendor: (puts bread in microwave) Your Chinese is really not bad! [something] Have you been to the North?

Me: (stunned silence)

Vendor: Have you been to the North?

Me: I’ve been. (can’t remember, on the fly, how to say “but only for five days”)

Did he really mistake me for someone who couldn’t understand the Sichuan dialect because I spoke a more northerly Mandarin? I guess I’ll never know.

In short, I have a long way to go.

Oh, and the bread turned out to be filled with scrambled eggs and some kind of chopped green vegetable. It was pretty awesome. I wished I’d bought two.

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1 Comment »

  1. Scum cream is my favorite…

    Comment by NSCV — September 22, 2009 @ 12:06 am


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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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