Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Do Pirates Say?

Have you ever had a memorable taxi cab ride? I had one last night. After spending a wonderful evening with Yoojin, I got into a taxi and asked my driver the typical question, “你好马?” (How are you?) This simple question got us talking, but the difference between this trip and any other was this man’s patience, awareness, and, to my surprise, his knowledge of a few words in English! It turns out that in preparation for the Olympics, all cab drivers were sent to special weekend English classes, however, only a few years later, my taxi cab driver appears to be the only one who remembers anything.

Besides his ability to speak a few words of English, this taxi cab driver was unique because of his incredible patience with my broken Chinese. If didn’t understand something, then he would carefully try to explain the word or sentence using what English he knew and basic Chinese vocabulary. That is, after he would say the sentence without a Beijing accent. For those of you who have tried to talk to someone who has a Beijing accent, you can probably sympathize with how ridiculously hard it is to understand. At some point, pirates must have infiltrated Beijing because everyone adds “-er” to the end of words. So instead being “man” (slow), it becomes “mar”. Sounds pretty different right?

I wish my taxi ride hadn’t been so short so that I could keep practicing with him. In all honesty, he should be a teacher, not a taxi cab driver. This taxi ride is already one of my favorite experiences in China.

My taxi driver.

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