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Friday

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

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889

Drop the but-why-does-it-matter nonsense.

There's a bit of Da Shan in all of us; we just don't like admitting it, even to ourselves.

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anonymoose

I bet Da Shan doesn't go around trying to prove he can speak Chinese when he's back in Canada.

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li3wei1

Say a sentence, whatever you like, in Chinese. Then, ask them to prove their compentence in whatever their profession is. "You're really a carpenter? Show us! Build a chair or something." "You studied Russian history? Can you tell us the names of all the Czars, in order?"

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Shelley

Da Shan doesn't need to prove anything to anybody when it comes to chinese.

 

What is the point of showing off your skills to people who can't possibly appreciate what it means, all the years of hard work and study will not become apparent in a couple of sentences to random people.

 

You should be able to tell these people whether they are friends or random strangers, that you can speak chinese and they should just believe you, if they don't its not worth the effort to "prove" it to them.

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li3wei1

I  was talking to my neighbor, who I had only recently met, and saw a date tattooed on his arm in Chinese, so I asked him, 'what happened on XXXX?'. It was the date he'd been married (and he no longer is, just in case you're thinking, 'that sounds like a good idea, tattooing my wedding date on my arm in Chinese'). So that's one thing you can do, grab someone with a Chinese tattoo (shouldn't be to hard, they're more common than actual Chinese people), and ask them 'why did you write 'I'm a stupid pig' on the back of your neck?'

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Flickserve

Drop the but-why-does-it-matter nonsense.

There's a bit of Da Shan in all of us; we just don't like admitting it, even to ourselves.

speak for yourself. There is no way I can impress people with my Chinese speaking ability. Nor do I get asked to speak Chinese for the sake of it.
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somethingfunny

 

 

 ask them to prove their compentence in whatever their profession is.

 

This is brilliant.  "Oh, you're an IT technician?  Fix my computer otherwise you're lying."

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carlo

I remember having this problem ~15 years ago when I wanted to persuade my boss at work to send me on an assignment to China (and enjoy the extra pay, those were the good times).

 
Arguably, he had no objective way to measure my alleged fluency (nor did I have any documentation to prove anything). I resorted to making phone calls to China from the office, including a few random ones, making sure that colleagues would hear. Word eventually got to him.
 
It has been my experience in some workplaces that knowledge of the language, and assessments thereof, can be occasionally used for political ends (eg. your local colleagues don't want you around? "His command of the language is not good enough," said by the right person to a foreign boss, can be awkward).

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imron
To be honest with an honest person, how does this even come up?

Because most people have friends and/or family who know you've spent time in China and they're curious about how well you can speak the language, also, if you're ever having a conversation with someone and the topic of China comes up, then at some point it'll probably come up that you lived in China for a few years, and the other person will probably ask you if you speak any Chinese, and if you reply in any way in the affirmative then they'll be 'ooh, say something in Chinese'.

 

Even if you have no interest in proving to others that you speak Chinese and even if you actively avoid trying to do that, it's still a situation that will come up unless upon leaving China you go and live in a cave and don't interact with anybody.

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aone

a live chat might help you out

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Gharial

How do you prove that you know Chinese to non-speakers? A quick way of playfully testing at least discrete characters is for the tester to cover up all but the head character in C-E entries chosen at random. A newly-arrived English-teaching colleague in China once sprung just such a test on me, asking me to identify 蝶 ("That's the second character in the disyllabic compound for 'butterfly'") and 獵 ("Hunt. Dog plus what looks like rat"). He went away suitably awed and shaking his head in slightly jealous amazement. :lol::mrgreen:  Another colleague, the type who could claim expenses but couldn't read the taxi receipts, asked me where such and such a journey was to or from ("The airport"), bam, expense effortlessly submitted LOL.

 

If however the person wants to test more than just a character or two, but doesn't even know enough Pinyin to read out example sentences accurately enough (assuming it's a dictionary that gives full Pinyin), then they'll obviously need to read out a (reasonably simple) English sentence instead, that you can then try to translate into at least Pinyin (and preferably characters too). An example from the lil red bilingual (no full Pinyin): 累: 你累了一天,该休息了。 "You should have a break, as you have been working all day". If you happened to use a somewhat different phrasing to lei4 blah blah blah, you could get the tester to look up the alternatives from the Pinyin you gave, but if your chosen characters (if not Pinyin in this particular instance/dictionary) were close enough then the tester could go between what you'd written and the example directly.

 

Then, what with all the smartphones around nowadays, it should be pretty easy to input Chinese into something like Pleco for the tester to have a gander at. Plus it has audio (albeit stitched-together, somewhat-monosyllabic) for its example sentences, which certainly beats inaccurate attempts by non-speakers at reading Pinyin out.

 

But hey, if they're actual classmates then they'll soon able to see if not appreciate whatever head start you might unavoidably have on them anyway!

 

The way it often works in the West though (where fewer people have much reason to study Chinese and "assess" relative levels) is that people who know and/or simply accept that you know a bit of Chinese ask you if you know where a stamp is from, or what a hallmark or seal says on an antique, or what somebody just shouted in a movie. Actual and contextualized-enough reasons. :P:wink:

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geraldc

I guess this is why HSK certificates have your photo on them.

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Gharial
I guess this is why HSK certificates have your photo on them.

 

Ooh, do they? That sounds pretty! :D

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somethingfunny

I was in a shop with my nephew once and he picked up something with Chinese on it and asked me what it said.  It was the ingredients list and it was traditional characters.  His comment was something along the lines of "Why don't you seem to able to read Chinese very well?"

 

Fail.

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Lu

Some people think that 'speaks language X' means 'speaks all of language X, even the words I don't know in my own language'. See also 'Oh, you know Chinese? Interpret our meeting on [project on specialised topic that has been ongoing for several years already] that's starting in five minutes.' You can try to explain to these people how it really works, but it's probably easier to write them off and go impress people who do appreciate your skills.

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muyongshi

Or open up google translate on their smart phone, select Chinese to English, and speak a phrase and let google translate it.

You may want to have tried a few phrases to avoid machine translations inevitable awkwardness. Otherwise they may think you have bad Chinese (as reflected by the English grammar).

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Frederik451

grab your phone from your pocket and do your daily ANKI set in front of them!

 

一举两得!

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Shelley
grab your phone from your pocket and do your daily ANKI set in front of them!

 

Would they know if you got it wrong?

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Frederik451

If you read it out loud and let them see the pinyin after. You could also say the meaning of the word and then show them that you were right :-)

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Shelley

That might work :)  Still seems to me a lot of effort to go to, to prove it to someone who probably won't appreciate all the hard work that has gone into learning your anki set, but hey what does it matter, they will smile, you will smile, it will be smiles all round. :lol:

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