Monday, September 28, 2009

Wish Pie

Today was Teacher's Day and none of my students got me any cake so I got myself some. There is a place near my apartment with the apt English name, "Wish Pie." Cake in Taiwan is oft maligned because some bakeries add a bit of savory to their cakes, in the form of, say, a layer of dried pork, but there are actually a lot of pretty decent little cakes to be had. Maybe not the absolute most delicious thing on earth but not bad, and less than a dollar a slice.
The Wish Pie experience was a little irritating tonight, in that I wanted chocolate, but everything that looked chocolate, the guy said was coffee-flavored. And the one chocolate thing looked yucky. Then another lady came in, and I said I'm still thinking, you can go first, and then guy said "She can go first?" And I said, "Yes, she can go first." So what does the lady do, instead of picking out cake? She asks the man if I can speak Chinese. That irritated me beyond reason, because you should ask me, and also hadn't I just had a conversation in Chinese? So I told her "Yes, I've studied Chinese for many years." Of course in Chinese you're supposed to downplay your ability which I always do but I didn't want to tonight.

So she picks out 12 pieces of pie, then I said, "I'll take that one," and then man said how many, and I said "One", but in Chinese they have measure words for everything. Like a cup, a bowl, a glass of milk... but also there's measure words for dogs, chairs, cars, everything. But sometimes you don't know the measure word so you just use the generic one, "ge". (And seriously, it's not uncommon that a Taiwanese person won't know the measure word for some crazy thing.) And the lady starts laughing and says whatever the measure word for a piece of cake is. So I turned to her and said, "If your child was speaking English, and made a mistake, I would not laugh at them." Then she was all apologetic. She said sorry about 5 times and even as we got on our scooters, she said, "Your Chinese is so good!" Yeah. Usually I just ignore people when they mock me but tonight I just wanted my cake and didn't want anyone to stand in my way.


Mimi said...

I hate when that happens! People either make fun of your speech or pretend they don't understand you, but when I visit, they still expect me to listen to and speak English with every person that could say a sentence in a 100 mile radius. People come to visit with 4 kids and expect me to analyze their English, but still make fun of my Chinese. Taiwanese people are not big on compassion, and I am talking about my own relatives too. Now when I visit my dear relatives, I tell them so sorry, I am not an English teacher, and I am sure that your friend's child will do fine in school if he studies hard!

YUFEN said...

Don't be sad or angry. We're not that bad. The woman u met in the cake shop was just too surprised that you could speak Chinese so well as English speaking people usually don't try to learn other languages.I had this kind experience many times when i was in English speaking countries.People laughed at my English as well, but i know they didn't mean to be bad.just feel funny.i think it just happens in all around the world. However, sorry if Taiwanese people make u feel bad in this way.

Taiwan-Teacher said...

No, usually it doesn't bother me- in fact people are usually quite nice. And she was nice after I yelled at her! :)