Saturday, January 24, 2009

The town I live in is called Shen Gang. This sounds a lot like the Mandarin for Hong Kong. When I first moved in I had plenty of misunderstandings with that- like when I wanted to buy my couch at Carrefour and asked about getting it delivered. "To Shen Gang," I said. "Shen Gang? Impossible! Do you live in Shen Gang?" "Yes." "Then buy a couch in Shen Gang." "But there's no Carrefour in Shen Gang." "Of course there is!" Finally I figured out what was going on and described the town, not the island.

After a few weeks of that, I found out what tones to use when saying the name of my town, and practiced on several of the teachers at school until they were sure I'd gotten it.

All the confusion came back last night, though. I wound up in this conversation at meeting where someone asked me about my trip, then asked if it's cold in Shen Gang. It seemed like an odd question, as I'm a block away from Fong Yuan, and there were some people visiting from Hong Kong so I thought maybe she thought I had moved to Hong Kong and was just visiting. I don't really know how to say Hong Kong in Chinese, but I tried to say where I live, and that I'd gone to America... we both wound up so totally confused. It was pretty funny. I was like, "Let's just talk about something else next week! OK!"

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