Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Turning Point

I've reached a new point in my Chinese language ability. Since traveling with my friend Erin for about a week now in China, I've had to use my Chinese pretty much everyday, nearly on the hour to communicate and get around. Any questions or translations that need to happen depend on me. I'm not saying that I'm speaking like a native Chinese person or even that I'm speaking perfectly, but I am speaking a lot, saying more things than I even prefer to say while using English, (I'm a minimalist when it comes to speaking.) The result? I'm speaking Chinese with confidence because there's not enough time or energy to worry about every single sentence that I'm constructing.
One down side of this newly acquired confidence is I'm also having to use the language in some aggressive ways. My friend and I clearly look like tourists, prime for the cheating. It makes me angry when people try to take advantage of this fact, so there have been several occasions when I have used Chinese to protect us or to scare people a bit. Perhaps one of the situations that I'm least proud of is when we we're trying to take a taxi in Xian. We were pressed for time (or so we thought), and none of the taxis would take us about a ten minute drive to where we needed to be. One taxi driver told me he didn't understand what I was saying. I repeated the address paying close attention to every tone. He again said he didn't understand. I was pretty flustered, and I said with angry eyes, "You understand" and I slammed the door. Finally, we settled on taking a little motorized rickshaw to the destination. I asked the driver if he could understand the address I was saying. Was I saying it wrong? He shook his head, "No, it's fine. You're saying it correctly." I then told him that the other taxi driver said he couldn't understand me. We both agreed that the other driver just didn't want to work.

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