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How do you prove that you know Chinese to non-speakers?

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Friday

When people in my home country learn that I lived in China for a time, some are suspicious that I actually learned Chinese. But since they don't know Chinese themselves, it is difficult to prove.

Some classmates checked their dictionaries and tried reading the pinyin to me, baffled that I couldn't understand simple phrases like "nye-hay-o may". Regarding accent, I think they all expect the sing-songy Cantonese that appears so often in the movies.

I don't have an interest in going around telling people, "I speak Chinese", but at the same time, it is not good to have people think one is dishonest. What ways have you used to prove that you speak Chinese to someone who has had little exposure to the language?

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889

Head to a restaurant and order in Chinese. Make it a bet and you'll get a free meal. (Best to head to a Chinese restaurant, of course.)

 

Otherwise, just take out a pen and write your name. For this purpose, do it "printed" not "cursive" style so you'll produce something folks will immediately recognise as Chinese.

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Flickserve

Why does it matter?

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GotJack

Yeah I'm on the side of why does it matter? Who cares if they don't believe you. 

 

Obviously you don't feel that way so with that in mind, surely you can reel off a paragraph introducing yourself etc perhaps throw in a few derogatory comments about these obnoxious cynical friends. If they listen to you speaking for a minute or so, and claim they don't believe you (assuming you are able to speak Chinese) then they are just trying to wind you up!

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Shelley

I am in the "why does it matter" camp.

 

I don't think you can prove it to someone who doesn't have any chinese at all. What are they going to measure it against?

 

Interestingly it made me wonder to what use one might put a "proof I know chinese" phrase/writing etc. it could be used to dishonestly show a higher skill level than is actually the case because there is nothing to gauge it with, but then again someone who knows nothing would be impressed by the simplest thing.

 

I am not in anyway saying this is what the OP wants to do.

 

You only really have to "prove" yourself to someone who can appreciate what skills you have.

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Xiao Kui

haha, if you have to ask this question maybe you don't really "know Chinese" Whenever an American asks me to say something in Chinese I just rattle off "what would you like me to say in Chinese" in Chinese and perhaps a few other phrases just to make it interesting for myself and they are completely convinced.

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Flickserve

haha, if you have to ask this question maybe you don't really "know Chinese.

Given the failure to actually state the names of dialects in another thread, I also suspect the OP doesn't know any Chinese.

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Chris Two Times

I get annoyed when people back in my home country implore me to "Speak Chinese! Go on! C'mon! C'mon! Just do it! Say something! Oh, that's so cool!" Great, I get to be a dancing monkey in my home country too!

 

I am another one in the "does it really matter?" camp. Whenever I see the "Speak Chinese! Go on!" crew coming, I try to avoid them and dismiss their silly requests. I didn't learn Chinese to impress them or to make it a party trick. I learned it for me and to use it for professional and personal reasons while in China and that's all that matters.

 

Warm regards,

Chris Two Time

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Friday
I didn't learn Chinese to impress them or to make it a party trick.
I completely agree. I don't have this intention.

 

 

If I had instead spent 10 years learning Spanish, I'm sure nobody would doubt me. But learning Chinese is a bit unusual. I might as well tell people I just came back from the moon. They look at me with disbelief and it harms relationships as people think I am just telling tall stories. I want people to know I am an honest person.

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Chris Two Times

Ah, I see your point.

 

I just let it be known that I have spent seven years in China over a period of sixteen years and then it becomes apparent that I am not telling tall tales (oh! alliteration!).

 

Good luck with it all.

 

Warm regards,

Chris Two Times

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stapler

I don't think anyone has ever tried to speak English with me in China, and no one here has ever asked me to speak Chinese (or even care if I can speak it)... I don't think I smell bad or look particularly scary. I wonder what repellent vibe I'm sending out :P

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somethingfunny

Why would you not believe someone who says they can speak Chinese?  Even if they're lying, what is there to benefit you by doubting them?

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somethingfunny

It's funny actually, on the few occasions where someone has said to me "speak to that guy in Chinese" or to someone else "hey my buddy speaks Chinese", they usually regret it after about 10 minutes of exclusive Chinese language conversation between me and my new friend.

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abcdefg

When back in the US I sometimes am called on to show off my Chinese. The person I address invariably turns out to only speak Hakka or Cantonese. 

 

Once went with a friend to the largest Chinese grocery store in Austin. Discovered, when I tried to talk with the staff, that the place was owned and run by Vietnamese. My Putonghua was not valid currency.

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vellocet

 

I completely agree. I don't have this intention.

 

 

If I had instead spent 10 years learning Spanish, I'm sure nobody would doubt me. But learning Chinese is a bit unusual. I might as well tell people I just came back from the moon. They look at me with disbelief and it harms relationships as people think I am just telling tall stories. I want people to know I am an honest person.

 

To be honest with an honest person, how does this even come up?  Unless you're the one to bring it up, and why are you bringing up the fact that you speak Chinese with people?  It's of little use in whatever home country you're in.  Why's it relevant?  And why do you feel the need to prove yourself, if you are an honest man?  Just tell people to trust you, and they'll have to take your word for it.  Why not?  It's true, after all.  It's just very unlikely to ever come up. 

 

If you want to show off how awesome you are, while simultaneously convincing everyone that you can speak Chinese, do what I did: invite your family and friends to a Chinese restaurant where you order the dishes.  The staff are entertained by the funny laowai, your friends get to eat real Chinese food instead of that junk they always get, there are no forks and knives at the table, only chopsticks, and you get to show off in public, at last. 

 

Personally, I kind of enjoy getting a rise out of people back home when I say I can speak Chinese.  Since they've no way of disproving me, they either have to call bullshit or accept it.  I like completely failing to prove it.  Since I can, I don't have to prove it to anyone, it's like trying to bluff me out of a pot where I'm holding a full house.  It's pretty trollish, in some ways I am a small man.

 

Irritatingly, the last time I went to a fancy restaurant back home, our waitress was from Taiwan and dear old Dad blurted out that I can speak Chinese.  So, I had to endure this teeth-grindingly banal conversation with her.  You know, the one that you've had hundreds of times in China, only in English.  It was awful, and embarrassing, and I just wanted it to end.  To make it worse, at the end of the meal she came up and asked me if I wanted "he zi".  I couldn't understand her..."he zi, he zi".  She finally gestures and I understand she's saying "box" for the leftover food.  Of course, in context I was expecting her to say 打包.  On the way home, Dad needles me about not being able to understand her.  Aaaauuuugggghhhh.

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Kenny同志
That's brilliant. I'm going to do it to everyone, regardless of whether or not they've asked me to prove I speak Chinese. 

 

 

You will risk being mistaken for a 新疆人.

 

Edit: I am sorry I didn't read geraldc's post. I thought you were going to speak Chinese to anyone you met...

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