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問我anything with feihong


Yadang
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After more than a year long hiatus, we're continuing our 問我anything series with a new participant.

 

For those who don't know what 問我anything is (or for those who have forgotten),  問我anything was started by yst who was inspired by Vivi MENG's "Anything you think you'd like to ask a native speaker" post, in which she answered many forum members' questions about herself as well as about things only a native speaker would know. Yst started a series in which a featured forum member participates and is asked questions by fellow forum members. You can see an updated list of forum members who have participated here. At some point yst passed on the baton to me, and I've done a terrible job keeping it running... But anyways, on to the real subject matter!

 

Today's 問我anything is with feihong.

 

I'll start with a few questions and then everyone can jump in. The questions do not have to be related to Chinese or China. The participant also reserves the right to skip questions s/he does not want to answer. 

 

 

So, some questions for feihong:

How long have you been learning Chinese?

 

I looked to see if you had a post in the "Why Chinese?" topic, and couldn't find one... So, why did you start studying Chinese?

 

Perhaps an even more interesting question: why do you continue to learn Chinese?

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Maybe instead of just starting with questions, it would help if you gave us an introduction to who Feihong is. That way we might be able to ask questions that are focused to his or her experience and expertise, instead of just boring, generic stuff like "How long have you been learning Chinese."

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@feihong,

What was your level of Chinese before you seriously learning Chinese?

How did you get to that level?

Where would you place yourself now as to your level of Chinese?

What were your major difficulties?

How did you keep up motivation?

Do you speak any other dialects? If so, how do you prevent mixing of Chinese dialects?

How obsessed are you with pronunciation?

How consistent are your tones in day to day speech?

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大家好!首先,让我做个自我介绍吧。我叫飞鸿,是一名出生在沈阳的美籍华人。我在这个论坛上建立了伟大漫画阅读项目,为伟大游戏项目做了比较多的贡献,我也曾经主持过中文挑战博客。我现在住在芝加哥,当芝加哥中文交流社的组织者。我的爱好包括收集汉语歌,看中文电影,看中国真人秀和玩中文电子游戏。

 

那,回到Yadang的问题:

 

为什么开始学中文?年幼的时候周边没有其他的语言。在美国读大学的时候才开始正式地学中文。当时是因为觉得有可能会对自己的事业有帮助。

 

为什么要继续学中文?原因很多,比如寻根,个人爱好,挑战,等等但最主要的原因还是为了和家人交流。我父母的英文并不好,而且越来越衰退,说不定我以后只能用中文和他们沟通。我在国内也有不少亲戚,跟他们讲话的时候还是用中文比较方便。

 

English: 

Hello! First off, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Feihong, and I'm a Chinese-American who was born in Shenyang. I've done a few notable things on this forum: started the Grand Comic Reading Project, made some significant contributions to the Grand Gaming Project, and ran the Chinese Challenge blog. At the moment I live in Chicago, where I serve as the organizer for the Chicago Chinese Language Meetup. My hobbies include collecting Mandarin music, watching Chinese movies, watching Chinese reality TV shows, and playing Chinese video games. Now, back to Yadang's questions: Why did I start to learn Chinese? In the beginning, there were no other languages to learn. However, my formal education in Chinese did not begin until I attended university in America. At the time, I thought it would help with my career. Why do I continue to learn Chinese? So many reasons, like connecting with my roots, my personal interests, the challenge, etc., but the main reason is so I can communicate with my family. My parents do not speak English very well, and they seem to be getting worse every year, so it's possible that in the future I'll only be able to speak with them in Chinese. I also have many relatives in mainland China, and it's generally more convenient to converse with them in Mandarin.


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@Flickserve
 
What was your level of Chinese before you seriously started learning Chinese? 口语不赖,但绝对是个文盲。

Speaking was decent, but I was illiterate.



How did you get to that level? 汉语是我的母语。

Mandarin was my first language.



Where would you place yourself now as to your level of Chinese? 高级,但不算完全流利。脑子里的语言一般是英语。

Advanced, but not completely fluent. Most of the time, I think in English.


 
What were your major difficulties? 主要的问题是当初没找到什么好看的媒体。比如说,我在网上找到的中文节目都非常无聊(台湾偶像剧根本不是我的菜)。现在的情况不一样了,我在YouTube上很容易能找到我想看的内容(我正在看《中国新歌声》)。

When I started, I couldn't find any entertaining media to consume. For example, all the Chinese shows I found on the web were garbage (Taiwanese idol dramas are not my cup of tea). Now it's quite different, I can easily find interesting content on YouTube (I'm currently watching the Chinese version of The Voice).


 
How did you keep up motivation? 我会尽量把我的个人爱好和中文学习融合在一起。比如说,我喜欢打电子游戏,所以找了一些有中文文本的游戏来玩(现在偶尔会玩中文版本的Trivia Crack)。

I do my best to combine my personal interests with Chinese study. For example, I like playing video games, so I'll find some games that contain Chinese text (nowadays I'll play the occasional games of Trivia Crack in Chinese).


 
Do you speak any other dialects? If so, how do you prevent mixing of Chinese dialects? 我是东北人,几乎不会讲什么方言。特别地道的东北话也不会讲。

I'm from northeastern China, so I basically don't speak a dialect. I also can't speak the very native version of the Northeastern dialect.


 
How obsessed are you with pronunciation? 因为我是北方人,我不怎么集中发音,已经很标准了。

I'm from northern China, so I don't need to worry about pronunciation. It's already very on-point.


 
How consistent are your tones in day to day speech? 对我来说,声调不是问题。

Tones are not a problem for me.


 
As a side note, my personal challenge to myself when answering each question is to completely formulate the answer in Chinese, and only afterwards translate back to English.

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@abcdefg

 

Good idea, thanks! I'll do this next time!

 

@feihong

 

What are your most and least favorite aspects of American culture and Chinese culture (I realize it's a big question, and of course both Chinese and American culture differs depending on where you are, but generally speaking...)

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How obsessed are you with pronunciation? 因为我是北方人,我不怎么集中发音,已经很标准了。

Seems like your Chinese is pretty much native, but I've never seen 集中 used like that before. Isn't that 英式中文?

I also have another question... Have you ever met a non-ethnically Chinese person ("Chinese" including all 56 民族 plus Taiwanese aboriginals etc.) with spoken Chinese as fluent as yours?

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@Yadang
 
What are your most and least favorite aspects of American culture and Chinese culture? 好广泛的问题啊,我只能给很广泛的回答。中华文化的亮点是食物,短板是过于墨守成规。美国文化么,食物比较差,但生活比较自由。

That's a pretty broad question, so I'll have to answer broadly. I think the highlight of Chinese culture is food, but the big drawback is an overemphasis on customs and rules. As for America, the food here isn't so great, but there's more flexibility in how you can live your life.

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@abcdefg

 

When you go to China, what about US life do you miss the most? And conversely, when you return to the US, what about China do you miss the most. 我在中国的时候,很怀念美国的干净。在美国的时候,非常怀念正宗的中国菜。

 

When I'm in China, I miss the relative cleanliness of America. When I'm in America, I miss authentic Chinese food.

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@Demonic_Duck
 
I've never seen 集中 used like that before. Isn't that 英式中文? 大概是吧,我的用词有时候不太准确。我的语言交换伙伴说应该是“关注发音”。

Probably, my word usage isn't always correct. My language exchange partner said it should've been “关注发音”.



Have you ever met a non-ethnically Chinese person with spoken Chinese as fluent as yours? 没有,我也不期待能有机会遇到这种人。我知道这样的人一定存在,但如果你愿意那么专心地去学汉语,你大概早就跑到中国或台湾。

Never, and I don't expect to. I'm sure such people exist, but if you're willing to put that much effort into learning Mandarin, you've probably already run off to China or Taiwan.

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中华文化的亮点是食物...在美国的时候,非常怀念正宗的中国菜。

 

Agree! Exploring Chinese food here where it originated and learning to make a few authentic dishes are activities that have been among the high points of my China years.

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Me again :). Perhaps a few sensitive questions.

You mentioned before about not knowing Chinese characters. Was that because you did not attend school in China or something that you lost when moving to US?

Were you still fairly fluent in Chinese when growing up as a teenager?

Did you go for regular visits to China as a teenager? How did you feel when you went back to China? A totally alien place? Undeveloped? Couldn't wait to get back to US or enjoyed the difference?

When growing up in America, were you living in an area with many Chinese people? Did you actually have much contact with ethnic Chinese people on a week to week basis outside of home?

Were you afforded as much freedom going out compared to your teenage America peers? If not, did your peers understand or sympathise with you?

Did you find you drifted towards certain ethnic groups through school or college due to your Chinese background?

In the press from time to time, we hear reports of discrimination against ethnic minorities. Did you feel this in school or applying for jobs? Or did the bilinguism ability act as an overwhelming advantage?

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@Yadang
 
How often do you go to China? 近几年每年都回一次国。

 

In the past few years, once per year.


 
What are your favorite dishes? 哎呀,太难说了。反正我最爱的菜系是淮阳和东北。上次回国的时候在外婆家(内地连锁饭店)吃了一顿,我非常推荐!我也喜欢去饺子馆儿吃各种各样的饺子。当然,韭菜猪肉饺子最棒!

 

Argh, too hard. Anyway, my favorite cuisines are Huaiyang and Dongbei. Last time I went back to China, I ate a meal at Grandma's House (a mainland restaurant chain), which I highly recommend. I also love to go to dumpling restaurants to eat all sorts of dumplings. Of course, Chinese chive & pork dumplings are the best!

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@Angelina
 
 
你们家里从你小时候到现在你们一直都用普通话交流吗?没有啊,父母很想让我融入美国社会,到美国之后就一直和我讲英文。我长大以后我和父母彼此讲越来越多的普通话。
 

Nope, my parents very much wanted me to integrate into American society, so after coming to the US they would only speak English with me. When I grew up, we would speak more and more Mandarin with each other.

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@Flickserve

 

You mentioned before about not knowing Chinese characters. Was that because you did not attend school in China or something that you lost when moving to US? 我离开中国之前只读了一点幼儿园。

 

Were you still fairly fluent in Chinese when growing up as a teenager? 青少年时期很少有机会讲中文,所以那个时候的口语真的不咋地。

 

How did you feel when you went back to China? A totally alien place? Undeveloped? Couldn't wait to get back to US or enjoyed the difference? 青少年的时期很少回国,也很讨厌回国。原因很多吧:脏,乱,挤,没空调,等等。最大的问题是在中国老生病,在美国的时候我从来不生病。

 

When growing up in America, were you living in an area with many Chinese people? 我在长大的过程中一直住在小城,也都是几乎没有华人的小城。

 

Were you afforded as much freedom going out compared to your teenage America peers? If not, did your peers understand or sympathise with you? 跟我同学们比起来,我觉得我父母没有很过分地限制我。

 

Did you find you drifted towards certain ethnic groups through school or college due to your Chinese background? 在高中以前,周边的人基本上都是白人,所以只能跟白人交往。但在高中和大学的时候有更多的亚洲同学,所以交了一些亚洲朋友。我觉得当时的我更重视人家的兴趣爱好来决定是否跟他人交朋友。

 

In the press from time to time, we hear reports of discrimination against ethnic minorities. Did you feel this in school or applying for jobs? Or did the bilingualism act as an overwhelming advantage? 读书的时候,我当然从同学甚至老师受到种族歧视,我相信很多在美国的少数民族也有类似的经验。我的专业跟语言没什么关系,现在的工作环境也没有华人,所以中文能力好像没有帮到我的事业。

Note: I'm a bit busy now, but hopefully I'll find time to translate my responses into English later.

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In the press from time to time, we hear reports of discrimination against ethnic minorities. Did you feel this in school or applying for jobs? Or did the bilingualism act as an overwhelming advantage? 读书的时候,我当然从同学甚至老师受到种族歧视,我相信很多在美国的少数民族也有类似的经验。我的专业跟语言没什么关系,现在的工作环境也没有华人,所以中文能力好像没有帮到我的事业。

 

 

真的吗?

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