Friday, 18 January 2008

Chinese lingo. A brother's lucky escape.

Lingo

Did you know there are two kinds of written Chinese? No? Well, there is. There's a simplified version of Chinese that is used in the PRC (China) and a complicated version as used in ROC (Taiwan) and Hong Kong. Guess which one I'm learning? Yes, that's right, the bloody complicated one. Arrgghh man!


For example

electricity = dian = 电 (China)

electricity = dian = 電 (Taiwan)


Why oh why? Is Chinese not complicated enough already? I have to learn the complicated version of an already ridiculously complex language - typical. Talk about grabbing the shitty end of the stick.

I'm getting better at this language now that I'm giving it my full attention. I can read a canny bit now. I reckon I know about 100-200 of the most frequently used characters. This is enough to read some very simple sentences when out and about. I still can't type in Chinese as I've learnt the mainland pinyin method of transliteration whereas Taiwan uses the BPMF or the Chinese National Phonetic Alphabet. To go Taiwan style means you need to learn an extra 37 characters that are not used other than to teach pronunciation. I thought bollicks to this.

Most Taiwan computers require you to have a knowledge of BPMF so I'm a little snookered when attempting to type. I'm also using some online resources to study Chinese but this is causing me some confusion. Most useful online stuff is offered in simplified Chinese characters and I need to focus on the complicated ones. I'm beginning to think the mainland Chinese communists made a wise move to simplify their characters and use pinyin to teach pronunciation back in the 50's. Capitalist Taiwan refused to follow suit and remained with the beautiful, but hard to learn, traditional script along with 37 extra characters for teaching pronunciation.

An example of this difference is the character 'ji'. 'Ji' means something like 'How much' or 'How many'. In China it is: 几. In Taiwan it is:幾. Nuff said.

Lucky to be alive

Wor lasses brother came off his motorbike last night. This is quite a story. He was stationary at some red lights and noted a car coming towards him on the other side of the road at about 60mph. Despite the red lights this car did not appear to be slowing down. Worse than this was that it was, unexplicably, heading straight towards him. He managed to jump off his bike and save his life as his motorbike was smashed to pieces in the resulting impact.

However, he was not totally unharmed. The motorbike was hurled towards his fleeing body and, somehow, one of the brake handles pierced his groin. The jeans he was wearing have a small hole right where the balls would be! The brake handle pierced his body luckily missing his 'vitals'. I went to see him in hospital this morning and he looked rough but was happy to be alive. I visibly winced as I thought about what had happened to the poor lad. I instinctively clutched my balls as I looked at his pain strewn face and all the tubes entering his body. I still shudder now when I think of him. I'm just pleased that due to his quick actions he managed to save his own skin. You should see the state of his bike!!

Pig's tail or human finger

The other day while I was tucking into that pig's tail I mentioned earlier, my good friend (我的好朋友) told me I was eating a human finger (手指). The end of a cooked pig's tail does look a bit like a finger without a nail. This almost turned my normally cast iron stomach. Everyone was laughing. They always give me something to eat and then wait until I've swallowed it before revealing I've eaten an eel's scrotum or something. Normally, I'm not fazed by these revelations but this one (bordering on cannabilism) almost had me.

Weak pound

Can someone please tell me why the pound sterling is falling against most Asian currencies? When I first went to Philippines in late 2006 it was £1 = 95 peso, now it's 79. Similarly, Thailand was £1gbp = 70baht, now 58. This might not sound like much (17% falls) but falling UK interest rates are not helping matters. What's going on? I need high interest rates AND a strong pound. Can these things co-exist?

Perhaps this is a precursor for the long awaited house price crash (fingers crossed). I'm embarrassed to come from a country where we can't provide adequate housing for the younger members of our population. I reckon dropping interest rates to stimulate a sagging consumer driven economy sounds like a panic move in order to avert another lull in our boom and bust economy. The Bank of England is scared. It has one eye on the USA and doesn't like what it sees. The UK has a lot of debt! Sell your houses now before it's too late and you're caught up in another '80's housing fiasco.

Glasses

While I was in Tainan visiting the hospital I noticed that about 90% of Taiwanese school kids wearing glasses. I don't know if this is a fashion statement or that 9/10 kids have eyesight issues. How can this be? A whole nation of people with crap eyes? When I was at school it was a tiny minority who required two bits of glazing permanently fixed to their nose. Here, if you don't need glasses you're singled out by the bullies. What a strange World we inhabit.

One last thought. This eye business begs the question: Why are we now being born with sub-standard eyes? If this was the stone age we would die out because we could not hunt effectively. Now we can successfully propagate crap genes to future generations and rely on technology to shelter us from Darwinism. That is, until nature defeats our technology too.

你好嗎? How are you?

你要什? What do you want?

你是誰? Who are you?

回來 Come back

沒有 Don't have

再一次 One more time

刷牙齒和洗手 Brush teeth and wash hands

如果 If

因為 Because

上星期 Last week

世界公民 Global citizen

平人 Ordinary person

早安 Good morning

右/左轉 Turn right/left

走 Walk

多少錢? How much?

我愛台灣女人 I love Taiwan lasses

你忙嗎我們有沒有時間因為我要在台南喝熱咖啡和吃炒面

Are you busy? Do we have time? Because I want to drink hot coffee and eat fried noodles in Tainan.

坐下 Sit down

你在做什? What are you doing?

我累,謝謝,再見 I'm cream crackered, thanks, see ya!


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