Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Language Soup

Beijing is an international city. There are people here from all over the world, using many different languages. On any given day my conversations include at least two or three languages, and at times four or five. This results in some amusing language gaffs.

Over the weekend I was speaking with Italian friends and the words "je ne parle pas Italiano" (a French/Spanish combination) came out of my mouth. In an office on Monday I was speaking with a non-English speaking coworker in French about the water quality here and said "le shuai de Beijing" (French and Mandarin Chinese).

I remember from learning Spanish in my mid-twenties that this is just how my brain assimilates languages, melding them all together to express an idea if I can't say something entirely in one language. This is going to last for awhile, until my French and Italian are good enough for me to speak in whole sentences and I have enough Mandarin to not feel like an illiterate three year old when I'm trying to communicate.

Until them, I am cultivating the ability to laugh at myself. I'm also avoiding the Russian and German areas of town.

No comments: