We had our first Mandarin class tonight! Hilarious. There’s a place close by that offers classes, so we tried to sign up for a group beginner class, but it had already started. We lucked out because now we basically have a private tutor (though they said they would add students if any more beginners come). We’re going three times a week for 2 hours at a time, which is definitely sufficient at this point. SO here are some highlights:
Adam: trying to pronounce the u with 2 dots over it. Teacher response: it sounds like you are going to womit! (v = w, which is made it even funnier)
North Carolina: bei [north] ka luo lai na. If you sound this out phonetically, it is bay kah low lie na. Arizona: ya li sang na. Phonetically: ya lee song na. If you say these words fast enough, it sounds like Carolina and Arizona in a thick Chinese accent. Adam and I were dying when Olive (our lao shi, or teacher) was telling us!
We also learned that Chinese doesn’t really have the “to be” verb in many sentences. For example, I have a headache is “Wo tou tong” which literally means I/my head pain. This explains a lot about Chinese speech and accents in America. As Adam realized and explained to our teacher, many people just said “I headache” and skip out on the verb. (Dad, this explains more about the random accent that tends to come out when you go to the Great Wall for dinner!)
I think we will learn a lot because we could make connections from the words we hear announced on the bus/subway, pronunciations of places throughout China, and everyday language. It will not be easy, but I hope we will be able to speak some very simple Mandarin by the time you see us next!