Posts Tagged ‘language’

Wo shi Phil

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

So…. I’m starting to take Mandarin classes here in Singapore. And boy do I have to tell you, it is friggin hard. Thank goodness for me I already speak Vietnamese. Both Mandarin and Vietnamese are tonal languages. Meaning the word “Bu” even though it only has two letters and one syllable, has 4 different ways to pronounce it.

There are a few reasons why Mandarin is so difficult. First of all, I don’t practice nearly enough. Since English is so prevalently spoken here, it’s a crutch that I rely heavily on. Bad Phil. Very bad Phil.

Secondly, most of the people I take my class with are from all different countries. It’s difficult to learn the language when the teacher says the word correctly once. Then everyone around you butchers it for the next two minutes. 😉

Finally, once a week is just not enough to learn in a classroom setting. I prefer a regimented setting where we meet two or three times a week. That would help me a lot more.

I’m going to try my best though. Learning a language is always helpful. Especially when so many people around you speak it as well.

Reverse Japanese?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I usually take a taxi to work in the morning. And at a certain intersection I used to tell the driver to turn right then go straight and turn at the second light.

This always seemed to confuse the drivers. And I think I’ve figured out why.

1. It’s too many directions all at once.
2. Because of my accent many people think I’m either Japanese of Filipino. And instead of hearing me say turn at the second “light”. They hear, turn at the second “right”.

Silly. I know, because Japanese people pronounce “Ls as Rs” and not the opposite “Rs as Ls”.

So now I tell the drivers one turn at a time and tell them to “take the second left” instead of “left at the second light”

Word of the day.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Going with the current theme of the day. Today’s word of the day is a double, “uncles and aunties”

As with most asian cultures, the term “uncle or auntie” is a term of respect and or reverence. And in some situations, it’s a title that is expected. 

Our office has a few cleaning ladies or “aunties” They make sure that our work environment is neat and orderly. Their services are *GREATLY* appreciated. And as such, they deserve the respect that the title “auntie” bestows upon them.

When I run into a family in an elevator or on the MRT train and I joke with to the little children, the parents sometimes tell their children to say hi to “uncle” I appreciate this extra respect that they’ve imbued upon me. Though it is totally undeserved, it is a bit of an ice breaker and makes for easier conversations.

Now, taxi drivers are in a third category. They totally expect you to call them “uncle” sometimes it’s very deserved, other times you have to do it to get dropped off where you’d like. A taxi driver that is friendly and cordial to you that takes you from point A to point B deserves your respect. A driver that says he won’t take you to a place, because it’s out of his way and needs some extra coaxing (calling him uncle and trying to convince him to do his job) gets called “uncle” but doesn’t deserve this title.

I’ll explain the plight of taxi drivers in another post. <grin>

Word of the day.

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Today’s word is “queue”.

If there is something that defines Singapore, it’s queues. No one here waits in lines. They wait in “queues”.

Lines are what you draw on paper. “Queues” are a line of people or cars waiting for something. And in Singapore, there is lots to wait for.

They stand in queues for taxis.
They stand in queues for the ATM.
They stand in queues for restaurants.
They stand in queues for the elevators.
They stand in queues for movies.
They stand in queues for buses.

You get the point, there are a lot of queues here. If you ask an auntie or uncle where the line for something is, they’ll look at you with a blank stare. Be sure to ask where the queue is instead.

Word of the day.

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I’ve decided to post little tidbits of the local lexicon for people to digest.

Colleagues = Co-worker.

No one in asia seems to use the word co-worker. Or at least very few do. The people with an education in the US or the UK use co-worker it seems, but even Australians use colleague. I personally feel that the word colleague would refer to someone in the same field of study or employ as myself, but not necessarily employed by the same company. Or, that person might be a fellow academic or researcher, but not be financially employed by a corporation or institution.

My colleagues and I will be going on a recruiting trip to Hong Kong.

I speak english.. I think…

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I was at a bar the other day and had to question my sanity a bit. I ordered a lemonade. What I got was a 7up. Initially I questioned myself. I thought perhaps they made lemonade with sparkling water in Singapore. Nope.. It was a 7up.

I then looked around for the server to correct the mistake. But my companions, then told me what I had received was indeed a lemonade. At which point, I immediately tried to argue that it was in fact, a 7up and not a lemonade. A lemonade is lemon juice, water and sugar. They told me that would be a “lemon drink”, not a lemonade. Then I asked them what a 7up is. And they said, a 7up is Lemonade. What really compounded the situation was the fact that they were from all over the world. There was an Austrian guy, a Australian guy, a Korean girl and two Taiwanese girls. How the heck could they all be in agreement and I was in the minority? Something was amiss.

So.. I checked with wikipedia. The all knowing source of knowledge that it is. Here’s the result..

Wikipedia – Lemonade

Silly American.. Lemonade is not lemon juice, water and sugar. It’s 7up or Sprite.

lemonade = 7up
7up = 7up
lemon drink = lemonade