Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Got the words right but the music all wrong

The other day I was at the playground with my kids and started chatting with one of the other moms. In Chinese. My Chinese is okay but not great, as you are about to see.

Me: "So what do you do?"
Her: "I'm a teacher."
Me: "What do you teach?"
Her: "Skiing."
Me: "Oh cool! I tried that once and broke my leg. I didn't have a good teacher like you."
(She looks a little confused.)
Me: "So do you work mostly in the winter?"
Her: "No."
(She looks more confused. I decide to stop pursuing this line of questioning.)
(About two questions too late.)

I found out later that this woman was in fact a CHEMISTRY professor and not a SKI instructor.

The tones in Chinese are so annoying. They're so subtle and yet so important.