Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Speaking In Tongues

The first of hopefully many postings with some notes on the key phrases we have learned! Many of these are repeated from other posts.

The village we go to is "Nan Yao Tou", pronounced "nan yow toe".

The noodles cut with a knife off a big block of dough resting on a board resting on the cutters shoulder and arm are "Dao Xiao Mian", pronounced "dow sh-ow mean".

The software park with the Active office is `Ruan Jian Yuan". This, and most things with the Chinese R, is totally unpronounceable. The Chinese R doesn`t exist in English, and vice versa. This is apparently responsible for such classic Engrish as `chicken flied lice`.

Lotus root is "Lian Cai", pronounced "lee ann tsai".

The skewers cooked in spicy liquid that we enjoyed from a street vendor were the subject of considerable debate. Eric Li, our primary source of translations, would call them "Ma La Tang", pronounced "my la toh". This seems to mean hot pot, possibly with connotations of receiving the stuff uncooked and doing it yourself. Peggy Liu would call the skewers "Chuan Chuan Xiang", pronounced "chew-an chew-an she-ang". This also apparently means hot pot. Xiang may have something to do with delicious smells. It was unclear why neither term seemed to refer to the skewers from a street vendor very exactly or why there was no consensus on what to call it.

The dish with eggs and tomatoes we like (surprisingly as we have both had horrible versions of it in Vancouver) is called "Xi Hong Shi Chao Ji Dan", pronounced "she hong shugh chow gee dun". "Xi Hong Shi" is tomato, pronounced "she hong shugh". "Chao" is something like cooked in oil, pronounced roughly "chow". "Ji Dan" is egg, pronounced "gee dun".

An official receipt is a "fa piao", pronounced roughly "fa p-yow". We have to collect these to get per diem from Active. They are distinct from normal receipts and often unavailable from smaller restaurants. Cab receipts are always stamped and official. Other stores have booklets of official tickets in fixed amounts (100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1) that they give you to your total so you may get a number of individual fa piao to make up your total. Some larger stores have the capability to print and stamp an official invoice. This usually requires you to pay, get a normal unofficial receipt, and then take it to some desk to get the official version issued.

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