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Same old conversation


Xiao Kui

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Just curious . . . Just wondered if other advanced learners have also gotten frustrated with Chinese due to having the same Chinese conversation over and over again with people they meet. I went to an art shop twice within the same week, and the guy apparently forgot I'd just been in there. We had the same conversation abt Kunming's qihou and abt how long I'd been in China. The last time I'd been there I'd taken the conversation to another level (his wife, who was a better conversationist had been there then, which helped) , but I wasn't going to waste my breath again this time. At the beginning of learning Chinese it always helps to talk it up with shop owners, cabbies, and the like, but now it seems like a good idea to hold my tongue.

Typical taxi driver conversation is always abt how China is so luohou (their words, not mine) and the renkou's too big, so mei banfa, bla, bla, bla.

Thank God for a few close Chinese friends, or my vocab would still be in Chinese Made Easier book 1. Sorry for being so negative - thanks for letting me faxie. :mrgreen:

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Yeah, you do have the a variation of the same conversation thousands of times, but, what can you do?

I think that's probably the norm when living in another country, most likely. I'm sure Arabs who live in the US get the same selected set of comments, opinions, and questions over and over.

I do think the trick is, as you said, to become friends with educated Chinese people, who will broaden the scope of the things that are talked about.

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Invent interesting answers to amuse yourself. Works especially well with people you know you'll never see again.

I love making up outrageous things to tell people, like when people ask me how it is living in America and I tell them that we have a serious bear overpopulation problem which has led to all sorts of political and economical problems. Really makes mundane conversations interesting. If one day a taxi driver tells me that he heard America has a bear problem, I will know that I have made an effect on China. That's another topic though. But no, Xiao Kui I totally get where you are coming from. Sometimes I felt like I was an actor or something reading from the same script everytime I met a new individual. “你学了汉语多久了?” “你的国家真的很有钱吗?” “美国真的有黑人吗?”

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Invent interesting answers to amuse yourself. Works especially well with people you know you'll never see again.

__________________

Sounds fun - I'll have to try it some time. Actually I did something like this once back when I first got to China. I started off living in KM then went to Harbin for a few months. When friends asked me why I didn't want to stay in Harbin and was so anxious to return to KM I told them in my then very limited Chinese that Kunming was warmer and actually had 2 suns. I got a few sincere "Zhen de ma?" 's which was both funny and disturbing so with the undeserved credibility the Harbiners were giving me I thought I'd better lay off the tall tales. :mrgreen:

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Invent interesting answers to amuse yourself.
I'd feel bad doing that. These people will believe anything you tell them about your country, so making up stuff is really misusing their confidence in you. Imagine you tell a cab driver that you have a serious bear overpopulation problem in the US, and the next time he gets an American passenger, he'll ask him "So did that bear problem get any better?". What is that passenger gonna think of China?

It's fun, sure, but in about the same way that pulling the chair somebody else was going to sit on away from under them is - fun for a short while, painful for much longer.

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I'd feel bad doing that. These people will believe anything you tell them about your country, so making up stuff is really misusing their confidence in you.
I didn't mean make up stuff about your country, I meant make it up about yourself. Or at least think of interesting ways to answer the standard questions.

The other thing you can do is let them know that you are only joking, and then let them know that as a foreigner in China you are always asked the same questions again and again, and so sometimes you like to give funny replies just to make the conversation interesting. Then you can both have a laugh and hopefully that person will try asking the next foreigner they meet something more interesting.

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I'd feel bad doing that. These people will believe anything you tell them about your country, so making up stuff is really misusing their confidence in you. Imagine you tell a cab driver that you have a serious bear overpopulation problem in the US, and the next time he gets an American passenger, he'll ask him "So did that bear problem get any better?". What is that passenger gonna think of China?

I'm more concerned about the danger of it...it seems that people, if they know someone who met a foreigner once and so were told x, will be completely convinced that x is true and even if you tell them different they won't believe you. Had this conversation many times with taxi drivers. They know a guy that talked to a foreigner and all foreigner are x or they're country is like x and I cannot correct these horrid and sometimes utterly ridiculous (for example one was told the size of american men were all the size of children [i'm referring to a specific part of the anatomy]) misconceptions. Danger Will Robinson Danger!

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Turn it on its head and take control. Find out what their hobbies are, ask questions about inflation, or - as I know one member on here used to do - ask them which of the Three Represents is their favorite. I agree it can be a bit annoying, but if you're just sitting there and giving the 'X years . . . no, it's not very good . . . I earn - enough . . . .etc' then it's not entirely your interlocutor's fault.

One taxi driver I had recently had sent his son off to study dance in Shenyang, on the basis that he was too stupid to do anything except physical labor and he reckoned dancing was at least a decent form of physical labor. However, it was looking like the kid wasn't any good at dancing. He also know a lot more about UK cinema than I did.

The stupid answers can be fun, but you can dig yourself into some holes.

I actually do something similar with Americans. Whenever you tell an American you're from Scotland you quite often get a look of delight which means they're about to tell you they have Scottish ancestors. I cut them off at this point and tell them they look a bit Scottish and ask if they have any Scottish ancestors. Backfired the other day though when one guy looked at me as if I was mad and said 'No, a Scottish terrier. Tell me, are there many of them in Scotland.'

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I'm more concerned about the danger of it...
My point exactly (even though misconceptions about the anatomy of US Americans are my least concern).

The conversations roddy described can be quite fun. The other day, in a matter of a few hours, I had two taxi drivers, one of which exalting Hu Jintao, the other saying that Hu hadn't done anything for the country yet. Guess only one of them was reading 人民日报.

Oh yeah, and another cabbie asked me how many kids I had. I told him I wasn't even married yet, as in Europe it's only around 30 that you marry, and I'm just 24. He looked at me in disbelief, and said "那你还可以玩六年了!!“。 The rest of the trip, he spent emphasizing how lucky I was. I avoided to ask about his wife.

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Wow, why don't taxi drivers discuss 人口 with me? Once they realize i'm from the big, friendly ex-苏联 all i get is 莫斯科郊外的晚上

Hmmm… Well… You see, I wonder if you have told any taxi driver that you want to discuss population with you. If you do tell them, I’m sure they’ll be glad to talk with you on population. Hehe. I think you can try it next time. Hehe.

By the way, what else do you want to talk, besides population? How about Fjodor Michailovitsj Dostojevski费奥多尔•米哈伊洛维奇•陀思妥耶夫斯基, Peter Yakovlevitch Chadaev彼得•雅可夫列维奇•恰达耶夫, Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin亚历山大•谢尔盖耶维奇•普希金, Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov格奥尔吉•康斯坦丁诺维奇•朱可夫,or Pavlov,Ivan Petrovich巴甫洛夫•伊凡•彼德罗维奇? If your Chinese is very sound, I would be glad to talk about the great men above with you. (But no Maria Sharapova, please!)

Cheers!

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You see, I wonder if you have told any taxi driver that you want to discuss population with you. If you do tell them, I’m sure they’ll be glad to talk with you on population. Hehe. I think you can try it next time.

I never need to ask and actually hate this conversation. Typical taxi ride= your chinese is sooo good, where are you from, china is so louhou why would you leave the US, (me) I like China, (him) but China has too many people, and so on

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china is so louhou

- so, what do you think should be done about it?

why would you leave the US,

Would you like to move there?

(me) I like China,

but it has some problems, what do you think is the most serious? (which leads to)

(him) but China has too many people,

It does. Who do you think should be eliminated first? Peasants? Politicians? The rich?

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I never need to ask and actually hate this conversation. Typical taxi ride= your chinese is sooo good, where are you from, china is so louhou why would you leave the US, (me) I like China, (him) but China has too many people, and so on

Hoo... I see. If you come up with the topics you actually hate again, you can say, “司机,对不起,打断一下,我想问你关于XX的问题……/ Please excuse me, but I want to ask you something about…..”

Quote:

It does. Who do you think should be eliminated first? Peasants? Politicians? The rich?

I am going to use this next time....brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

Only if you are not afraid to be taken to cuckoo’s nest. Hehe. Anyway, GOOD LUCK!

Cheers!

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