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Exploring English with my Chinese Colleagues

rain 12 °C
View Nanning on grmoski's travel map.

I just returned from Fangchenggang, a port city in southern Guangxi province; about 2 hours from Nanning by car. While most of the conversation is always in Chinese (because we are in China of course) sometimes my colleagues like to speak English and often have questions about certain words, or I correct their pronunciation (when I finally identify which word they are trying to say).


The project we went there to talk about was the development of a peninsula in the South China Sea, most likely a beach resort. Beach. Then Chen Qin, knowing it is a bad word in English, says, "bitch." I tell her, "no, no, no, you shouldn't say bad words, it makes you sound stupid." Beach. Bitch. Beach. Bitch. She has a hard time telling them apart, despite my "eeeee" and "iiiii" sounds I repeat.

Beach. Botch. Batch. Butch. Bitch. I tell them they shouldn't say bad words. Of course, swear words in a foreign language never seem bad.

On the way back to Nanning Shuai Minxi is telling us about his recent trip to Spain. Out of nowhere he says "SM." He and I laugh. Chen Qin wants to know what SM is. I tell her it is sadomasochism, and that it is about people who like to feel pain. She eventually understands that most people don't like pain, then she asks me (whispering in the back seat), "is it about sex?" I tell her, "yes."

The next thing she says is something about Japanese people probably liking that. I say, "when it comes to sex, Japanese people are crazy." After a short silence, Chen Qin leans over to me and whispers "I'm natural."

I laughed so loudly, and couldn't stop for quite a while. She kept hitting me and pulling my ear after that, trying to get me to stop laughing. Maybe it was one of those you-had-to-be-there-things, but I laughed for a long time. She didn't understand why it was funny. I didn't know how to take her meaning, but could come up with several candidates, all of which I think she didn't intend.

When I retold the story to Shuai Minxi, Chen Qin said she meant to say "native" instead of "natural," but the damage was done. Keep in mind, I attended this girl's wedding last year.

Such crazy things we find ourselves talking about in the car on a business trip. So funny.

Posted by grmoski 07:47 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

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