Monday, November 05, 2007

All the dirty words

So, Chinese only has, what, 30 different sounds you can combine into words? And all the tones and stuff but if you discount those, it's not that many. And all my students speak Chinese and Taiwanese, and some of them speak another aboriginal language. The moral of the story, there's a lot of words in English that sound like a dirty word in one of the many other languages my students know.

The most famous examples are "LP"- we do Listening Practice in some classes, and the CD says, "It's time for LP!" which just cracks the kids up. It's some anatomical term, I'm not sure what. Cow, similarly, is a bad word. And cotton sounds like bum in Taiwanese, so cotton candy is a pretty hilarious concept to them.

Tonight I had a pretty quiet, straight-laced class, and they're learning how to romanize Chinese names into English. So they used this chart to figure out how to write their names in romanized letters, and today we did this thing where the book described a city in Taiwan, and the kids had to figure out the city, and then figure out how to romanize it. So the one city was Jiji, which none of the kids knew, so I said it and they all cracked up. A lot of times they laugh when I try to say anything in Chinese, but after a while, the CT finally said that it's, um, a certain part of the female anatomy.

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