Thursday, 24 June 2010

I've mused about how much more patient the people I met in China were when dealing with my terrible grasp of Mandarin. While it is most probable that their command of the Chinese language is better than Singaporeans and thus would find my pathetic attempts at conversing in Mandarin a joke, it is also possible that:
  1. Their expectations of my ability to speak Chinese, as a non-native, are already very low. Every time I successfully string a coherent sentence together could be a pleasant surprise.

  2. They are just purely patient, or not elitist. This is quite possible as the interactions I'm referring to here are those with the villagers I met and stayed with when in rural Guizhou. Given that I'm not dealing with urbanites who might have an inflated sense of self (like Singaporeans), perhaps it's dispositional - they were being kind, respectful, patronizing, whatever you might want to call it. Giving me a handicap.

  3. There is no alternative besides Mandarin. In Singapore, it is easy to label someone a non-fluent speaker because there are other language channels that might be more useful (dude, stop being a poser!). Over there, we'd give each other double the time and attention because there's just no choice.

No comments: