Confidence Man

On moral tales for single women over 30

In business analytics, two datapoints make a trend. Likewise at the Beijing Sounds Studios, two posts define a series, so welcome to the second in Beijing Sounds RadioLast time we had an announcer who wouldn’t er-ize a noun to save Beijing. Her reporter, on the other hand, slipped in a few colloquialisms. This is a common phenomenon in broadcast: flawless standard-issue Mandarin for the formal roles and topics, with increasingly local flavor for the informal programming.

Today’s production is on the informal end of that spectrum: talk radio. You don’t get much more informal than chatting about cases of lovers who gain the confidence of their beloveds, only to take the money and run. It brings to mind the lesson once brought to us by an obscure Beijing philosopher: only those you trust can bleed you dry. In any case, it brings out a fair bit of the vernacular in both the interviewer and the confidence-man expert he’s interviewing.

Grab a popcorn and enjoy. As always, language notes follow the audio.

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1 Int Nín gāngcái tándào de yī gè tèdiǎn jiùshì xiàng zhège ànjiàn wạ̌ngwǎng zhèige bèihàirén zhèige qián yě sǔnshī le, shìba? 您刚才谈到的一个特点就是像这个案件往往这个被害人这个钱也损失了,是吧? You were just talking about one thing about these cases, that these victims lost money, right?
2 Exp duì right
3 Int Dànshì gǎnqíng yě shòudàole shānghài, kěyǐ shuō zhèige yǐngxiǎng háishì bǐjiào dà de, a 但是感情也受到了伤害,可以说这个影响还是比较大的,啊 But they also suffered emotional injury, so you can say the impact is pretty heavy.
4 Int Nème, zài zánmen Fēngtái fǎyuàn zuò shẹ̌nlǐ de zhè (zhé?) èrshí jǐ qǐ ànjiàn dāngzhōng shù’é bǐjiào dà de néng yǒu duōshao qián ne? 那么,在咱们丰台法院审理的这二十几起案件当中数额比较大的能有多少钱呢? So out of the 20-some cases being tried in the Fengtai court, how much money would one of the bigger ones be?
5 Exp A, wǒ jìde yǒu yī qǐ zuìdà de yīnggāi jiāngjìn shì yǒu qīshí duō wàn 啊,我记得有一起最大的应该将近是有七十多万 Well, I remember the biggest case should’ve been around more than 700,000 yuan.
6 Int qīshí duō wàn! 七十多万! more than 700,000 yuan!
7 Exp duì right
8 Int Zěnme huì yǒu zhème duō qián? 怎么会有这么多钱? How could it be that much money?
9 Exp Bèihàirén(-r?) shì yīgè nǚxìng, gēn bèigào rén ne, yòu shì zài bùtóng de liǎng ge chéngshì 被害人(儿?)是一个女性,跟被告人呢,又是在不同的两个城市 The victim was a woman — lived in a different city from the defendant.
10 Exp Shì zài yīcì hěn ǒurán de jīhuì, bèigào rén jiè gōngzuò de jīhuì 是在一次很偶然的机会,被告人借工作的机会 Once by chance opportunity, the defendant got to come here on business
11 Exp Dào zhè biānr lái yǐhòu, zài gōngzuò zhōng yǒu shíhou jiànmiàn 到这边儿来以后,在工作中有时候见面 After getting here, they see each other sometimes in the course of business.
12 Exp Jìn’ér bèigào rén yāoqiú quèlì liàn’ài guānxì 进而被告人要求确立恋爱关系 After that, the defendant wanted to become romantically attached.
13 Exp nǚfāng ne, kànzhe hěn… yīnwèi bìjìng shì gāng jiànmiàn 女方呢,看着很……,因为毕竟是刚见面 The woman, well, she saw it as pretty… after all, they’d only just met
14 Exp shìfǒu yīnggāi gēn tā quèdìng liàn’ài guānxì yě hěn yóuyù, dànshì nánfāng ㎡, qìe’érbùshě 是否应该跟他确定恋爱关系也很犹豫,但是男方呢,锲而不舍 She was really hesitant about whether to become romantically attached, but the man, well, he was persistent
15 Exp yī̠zhí zài gěi dǎ diànhuà ya hé fā duǎnxìn de fāngshì gēn tā gōutōng jiāoliú, ránhòu nǚfāng juéde, zhèige rén háishi bǐjiào kěkào de 一直在给打电话呀和发短信的方式跟她沟通交流,然后女方觉得,这个人还是比较可靠的 constantly in touch, calling her and sending texts, so the woman thought, this guy seems pretty trustworthy.
16 Exp Tóng — tóngyìle tā de yāoqiú, ránhòu jiù kāishǐ yuǎn jùlí de liàn’ài 同——同意了他的要求,然后就开始远距离的恋爱 She agreed — agreed to get involved, then started a long distance relationship.
17 Exp Zhège shíhou ne nánfāng ne, shuō zìjǐ ne, shì yīgè xiǎo gōngsī de yīgè jīnglǐ 这个时候呢男方呢,说自己呢,是一个小公司的一个经理 At this time the man is saying he’s a director at a small company
18 Exp zījīn ne zhōuzhuǎn chūle wèntí, bùtíngde xiàng zhèige bèihàirén nèi biānr yào qián. 资金呢周转出了问题,不停地向这个被害人那边儿要钱 there are some problems with cashflow — he keeps asking the victim for money
19 Exp Kāishǐ kěnéng jiùshì jǐ qiān, jǐ wàn de yào 开始可能就是几千,几万的要 In the beginning it’s just a few thousand, a few ten-thousand that he wants.
20 Exp Bèihàirén ne, kěnéng yěshì yīgè shìyè bǐjiào yǒu chéng de yīgè nǚxìng 被害人呢,可能也是一个事业比较有成的一个女性 The victim seems like a fairly successful businesswoman.
21 Exp Suǒyǐ duì zhèxiē qián ㎡kěnéng bùshì hěn zàihū, tōngguò yínháng bǎ qián jiù huì gěi tā le 所以对这些钱呢可能不是很在乎,通过银行把钱就汇给他了 So she doesn’t really care that much about this kind of money, goes to the bank and sends it to him.
22 Exp Nǚxìng háiyǒu bǎochíle hěn gāo de jǐngtì xìng 女性还有保持了很高的警惕性 The woman also stayed very vigilant.
23 Exp bǎ qián jiè gěi nǐ yǐhòu, wǒ zài ràng nǐ huán qián de shíhou, nǐ kěnéng jiùshì tuīsānzǔsìdele 把钱借给你以后,我在让你还钱的时候,你可能就是推三阻四的了 After I loan you some money, when I ask you to pay the money back, you might make up all sorts of excuses
24 Exp nà nǚfāng ne, shuō zhǎole gè lǐyóu, shuō ne, shuō, xiànzài yǒudiǎnr kùnnán, nǐ bǎ qián xiān huán gěi wǒ ba 那女方呢,说找了个理由,说呢,说,现在有点儿困难,你把钱先还给我吧 So the woman makes up some kind of a reason and said: I’m in a bit of difficulty, how about you return the money.
25 Exp Ng̀, nán de èrhuà méi shuō, jiù huán gěi tāle yībùfèn 嗯,男的二话没说,就还给她了一部分 The man made no objections and returned part of it to her
26 Exp Zhèyàngr fǎn’ér qǔdéle nǚfāng de xìnrèn, shuō “éi”, kàn wǒ bǎ tā jiègěi tā yǐhòu, shuō ràng tā, yǒushì, ràng tā huán wǒ, éi, tā zhēn huán wǒ le, suīshuō méiyǒu dōu huán, huánle wǒ yị̄ bùfen 这样儿反而取得了女方的信任,说“诶”,看我把它借给他以后,说让他,有事,让他还我,诶,他真还我了,虽说没有都还,还了我一部分 This way he gained the woman’s trust. She’s saying, hey, look, after i loan it to him, tell him i’ve got a problem, ask him to return it, he really returns it. Even though he didn’t return it all, he returned part of it.
27 Exp Shì nǚfāng chǎnshēng yī zhǒng jiǎxiàng, zhè nán de, kěnéng zhēn de shì xiǎng gēn tā jiāo péngyǒu bùshì xiǎng piàn tā 是女方产生一种假象,这男的,可能真的是想跟她交朋友不是想骗她 This gave the woman the false impression that the man really wanted to friends and wasn’t out to rip her off.
28 Exp Nánfāng zài guǎn tā jièqián de shíhou, jiù jīběnshang shì háobùyóuyùle, jiù jìn zìjǐ suǒnéng, bǎ qián jiègěi tā 男方再管她借钱的时候,就基本上是毫不犹豫了,就尽自己所能,把钱借给他 When the man asked to borrow money after that, she basically didn’t hesitate, just loaned him money to the extent she was able to.
29 Exp Zuìhòu yīcì ne, shì shuō tā de gōngsī zījīn zhōuzhuǎn chūle yánzhòng de wèntí, shuō shì xūyào dàliàng de zījīn 最后一次呢,是说他的公司资金周转出了严重的问题,说是需要大量的资金 The last time it happened, he said his company was having a big problem with cashflow and needed a large sum of money.
30 Exp Nǚfāng jiù bǎ zìjǐ de fángzi dǐyā gěi yínháng, nále jǐ shíwàn kuài qián, ránhòu quán gěi — huì gěi tā le 女方就把自己的房子抵押给银行,拿了几十万块钱,然后全给——汇给他了 The woman goes and mortgages her house back to the bank, takes several hundred thousand (rmb), then sends everything to him.
31 Int nǚfāng zhème zhízhuó a! 女方这么执着啊! The woman was that meticulous?!
32 Exp Duì, jiù bù, jiù, jiùshì zánmen xiànzài shuōlái juéde yǒu yī̠diǎnr tài kuāzhāng le, shuō zěnme huì yǒu zhèizhǒng rén ne? 对,就不,就,就是咱们现在说来觉得有一点儿太夸张了,说怎么会有这种人呢? Right, but, well, we bring it up now and it seems kind of too much — you say how could there be this kind of person?
33 Exp Dànshì quèquèshíshí zài shēnghuó zhōng jiù chūxiàn le 但是确确实实在生活中就出现了 But it undeniably showed up in real life.
34 Int Ng̀, dàn zhè yīxiàr déle, yị̄xià jiè de jǐ shíwàn 嗯,但这一下儿得了,一下借的几十万 Oh, but this time that was it — in one step she loaned several hundred thousand.
35 Exp Duì. Érqiě měi yuè huándài jiùyào hái yị̄wàn duō kuài qián. 对。而且每月还贷就要还一万多块钱。 Right. And every month she has to pay back more than ten thousand.
36 Exp Nǚfāng zài pīnbó zhème duō nián, děngyú, jīxù ya, fángchǎn ya yị̄xiàr jiù quándōu hàofèi gānjìngle jiù 女方在拼搏这么多年,等于,积蓄呀、房产呀一下儿就全都耗费干净了就 This woman has been struggling all these years. The result: the savings, the real estate — blown through in a single instant.
37 Int Zuìhòu nánfāng zhǎobuzháo le, nánde zhǎobuzháo le 最后男方找不着了,男的找不着了 In the end they couldn’t find the man?
38 Exp Ng̀, nánde zhǎobuzháo le. Duì. 嗯,男的找不着了。对。 Nope, couldn’t find him.
39 Int Suọ̌yǐ shuō zhè qǐ ànjiàn yěshì gěi wǒmen dàjiā dàilái hěn duō de jiàoxun, a, yóuqíshì duìyú zhège 所以说这起案件也是给我们大家带来很多的教训,啊,尤其是对于 So talking about this case teaches all of us a lesson, especially for those
40 Int dānshēn dàlíng de nǚxìng péngyou, shìba? 这个单身大龄的女性朋友,是吧? single women over 30, right?
41 Exp Duì, duì. 对对。 Right, right.

 

 

 

Language notes

9 被害人儿?! My highly paid translation consultant and I almost came to blows over whether there was (my position) or could not possibly be (her position) any erhuayin / Beijing-R on 被害人 (bèihàirén). Her argument was based on the experience that “people don’t er-ize words that are formal,” like “victim / injured party” is in this case. Generally, I tend to agree. My argument was based on nothing more than this:

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I’ll leave it to the reader to adjudicate.

26 Classic vocal inflection from the expert here. The whole tone feels very familiar to me — perfectly typical of this tone of voice from Beijingers. It seems like there’s more to the inflection than just the two instances of 诶 éi, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe his voice is a little higher in his register than normal? Anyway, it’s a tone that says exactly what he wants it to: “I used to be suspicious but now I feel confident and trusting.”
30 For you translation folks, what do you think about the “goes and” translation as a way to convey the sense of 就 in this sentence? Obviously I kinda like it, but feel free to disagree. A friend who listened to it also saw the use of 全 (quán) by itself here as a speech error, that he should have said 全都 (quándōu) instead.
 31 Somehow 执着 zhízhuó gave the translation team trouble here. After conversations with elders, discussions of similarities to 专心、专注, and considerations of punctilious, fastidious, and other alternatives, meticulous won the day, but only by a plurality.
 40 Just three questions for you:

  1. Translation-wise, what would you do with 朋友 (péngyou) here, without changing the wording dramatically? As you can see, I basically left it out.
  2. Any disagreement on 大龄 (dàlíng)? The ABC Dictionary translates it as “above 30 in age ◆ attr. remain single when one is old enough to get married”. Unwilling to trust the book, I asked the nearest 70-yr-old Beijinger. His answer was practically ABC’s verbatim.
  3. Would a US radio host single out his over-30 single female listeners as being particularly vulnerable to love-interest scams? Would he keep his job after he did?

New URL, part II

Alas, just as feared, no sooner had the move (from beijingsounds.com to beijingsounds.com) hit the presses, than* Randy Alexander writes:

Are you detaching BJS from the Sinoglot Network?

Well, as I thought I said before, no. But I’m not known for my ability to write clearly. Randy offered to help me with my clarification…

Maybe something like: Due to insurmountable technical difficulties with Word Press, I am left with the last resort option of putting Beijing Sounds on its own domain. But don’t worry, it is and always will be a Sinoglot Network site!

And after that add weird stuff about staff changes,budget cuts, expense accounts, inter-office politics, unsolved murders, the Voyinich Manuscript, Atlantis, Hitler, and the impending supernova of Betelgeuse.

Yes, as the About page now says a little more clearly, I’m still blogging in both places. Don’t forget to update your RSS feeds with beijingsounds.com.

——–

*I was forced to look up what other people write: than vs then. The thans have it by a good margin, but I can’t say the grammatical argument is entirely clear to me.

Bike Detritus

If the Beijing Sounds Studios covered news, it would do stories like: why the hell is there a big pile of once-perfectly-decent-but-now-rusty rental bicycles taking up half the sidewalk leading to the Tsinghua campus, reminding campus-bound pedestrians that they have no wheels to help them cover the mile-long walk to class?

“But then, who’d want to listen to a story like that?” asks the voice of reason. Thus vanish the dreams of journalistic grandeur.

So imagine the astonishment in the clipping room on Sunday when Beijing radio pops up with a story about, yes, said pile of bikes!*

Don’t get your journalistic hopes too high: what passes for investigative reporting essentially consists of a parking lot attendant telling a reporter that no one’s been watching the pile of bikes for more than a year, and then the reporter noting that the relevant government departments are working on the issue of local transportation. Still, it’s nice to know other folks are also concerned about the important questions of Beijing life.

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1 ZC Tīngzhòng Hé nǚshì dǎ jìn wǒmen de xīnwén rèxiàn, shuō: 听众何女士打进我们的新闻热线,说: A listener, Ms. He, dialed in to our hotline and said:
2 ZC Yǐqián, Wǔdàokǒu fùjìn yǒu hěnduō zìxíngchē zūlìn diǎn 以前,五道口附近有很多自行车租赁点 It used to be, around Wudaokou, there were a lot of bike rental places.
3 ZC Zuìjìn ne, péngyǒu lái Jīng, xiǎng qù zū yī liàng, dànshì tā fāxiàn a 最近呢,朋友来京,想去租一辆,但是他发现啊 Just recently a friend of mine came to the Jing and wanted to rent a bike, but he discovered
4 ZC zhèxiē zūlìn diǎn jīhū dōu méiyǒule. 这些租赁点几乎都没有了。 these rental places are almost all gone.
5 ZC Tīng shuō, zūlìn gōngsī dōu dǎobìle. 听说,租赁公司都倒闭了。 I hear the rental places have all gone bankrupt.
6 ZC Yǒu de gōngsī ne, jiù zhíjiē jiāng zìxíngchē diūqì zàiyuán dì, yě méi rén guǎn. 有的公司呢,就直接将自行车丢弃在原地,也没人管。 Some companies just abandon the bikes where they are, and no one takes care of it.
7 ZC Jiēdào xīnwén xiànsuǒ hòu, xīnwén guǎngbō jìzhě Gāo Xiáng qiánwǎng diàochá. Xiànzài wǒmen jiù lái lián xiàn Gāo Xiáng. Gāo Xiáng, nǐhǎo! 接到新闻线索后,新闻广播记者高翔前往调查。现在我们就来连线高翔。高翔,你好! After getting the lead, news reporter Gao Xiang went to investigate. Now we’ll connect up with Gao Xiang. Hello, Gao Xiang!
8 Rep Wáng zhǔchí, nǐhǎo 王主持,你好 Hi, anchor Wang
9 ZC Tōngguò jīntiān zhège diàochá hé cǎifǎng, nème zhèxiē zìxíngchē de zūlìn diǎn xiànzài de qíngkuàng zěnme yàng ne? 通过今天这个调查和采访,那么这些自行车的租赁点现在的情况怎么样呢? Going through today’s research and interviews, what’s the current situation like for these bike rental places?
10 Rep A, wǒmen dōu zhīdào, Àoyùnhuì qiánhòu a, Běijīngshì céngjīng xīngqǐguò yīzhèn zìxíngchē de zūlìn de rècháo. 啊,我们都知道,奥运会前后啊,北京市曾经兴起过一阵自行车的租赁的热潮。 Well, we all know around the time of the Olympics, Beijing went through a period of bike rental fever.
11 Rep Zài gège dìtiě kǒu a, hái yǒu chéngshì dàolù shàng, dōu chūxiànguò bu shǎo zìxíngchē de zūlìn diǎnr, dànshì jǐ nián guòqù yǐhòu a, zhèxiē zìxíngchē zūlìn diǎn dōu yīgè gè de méile. 在各个地铁口啊,还有城市道路上,都出现过不少自行车的租赁点儿,但是几年过去以后啊,这些自行车租赁点都一个个地没了。 At every subway entrance and on many streets of the city, there appeared a great number of bike rental places. But over the next few years, these bike rental places went away, one by one.
12 Rep A, wǒ jīntiān qùle Hé nǚshì suǒ shuō de Wǔdàokǒu Yìchūliánhuā Chāoshì ménkǒu dì nèige zūlìn diǎn. 啊,我今天去了何女士所说的五道口易初莲花超市门口的那个租赁点。 Today I went to that rental place that Ms. He mentioned, in front of the Wudaokou Lotus Supermarket.
13 Rep Zhèige diǎn shè zài chāoshì ménkǒu de rénxíngdào shàng 这个点设在超市门口的人行道上 This place is set up on the sidewalk in front of the supermarket entrance.
14 Rep Běibiānr ne, jiùshì Qīnghuá Dàxué, dōngbiān shì chéngtiě zhàn, rén liúliàng háishì hěn dà de, ànlǐ shuō yīnggāi yǒu zhèi zhǒng zūchē de xūqiú 北边儿呢,就是清华大学,东边是城铁站,人流量还是很大的,按理说应该有这种租车的需求 On the north side there’s Tsinghua University, on the east side is the subway station. There’s a heavy stream of people. Theoretically there should be a need for this kind of bike rental.
15 Rep Dànshì, xiànchǎng què méiyǒu fāxiàn yǒu zūchē de gōngzuò rényuán 但是,现场却没有发现有租车的工作人员 But at the site there aren’t any bike rental workers to be found.
16 Rep Jǐshí liàng de zìxíngchē bǎi zài nàgè rénxíngdào shàng, fēicháng de hǔnluàn, yòng yītiáo tiě liànr chuàn qǐlái 几十辆的自行车摆在那个人行道上,非常地混乱,用一条铁链儿串起来 Dozens of bikes are strewn chaotically on the sidewalk, strung together with an iron chain.
17 Rep Chē shàng luò mǎnle huī, chētāi dōu méi qìle, yǒu de chēzuò a, chēlún a, shènzhì yǐjīng bèi dào zǒule 车上落满了灰,车胎都没气了,有的车座啊、车轮啊甚至已经被盗走了 The bikes are covered with dust, none of the tires have air, even some of the seats and wheels have been stolen.
18 Rep Chē shēnshang hái xiězhe “Fāngzhōu Zūchē” de zìyàng. Pángbiān chāoshì tíngchē chǎng de guǎnlǐ rényuán shuō, zhèige zūlìn diǎnr, zǎo jiù méi rén guǎnle, yī nián duōle yǒu. 车身上还写着“方舟租车”的字样。旁边超市停车场的管理人员说,这个租赁点儿早就没人管了,一年多了有。 On the bikes you can still see the words, “Fangzhou Bike Rentals”. An attendant at the supermarket parking lot next door says this rental place has been closed for a long time, with no one working there for more than a year.
19 Rep Tīng shuō gōngsī yǐjīng dǎobìle, zhèxiē chē diū…zhíjiē diū zài zhèlǐ yě méiyǒu lā zǒu 听说公司已经倒闭了,这些车丢…直接丢在这里也没有拉走 He’s heard the company went bankrupt and these bikes — simply left here and not taken away.
20 Rep Qīnghuá Dàxué yǐqián hái shèyǒu sānge lèisì de zūlìn diǎn, xiànzài yě dōu chèle, qítā de zhàndiǎn yěyǒu lèisì de qíngkuàng ba 清华大学以前还设有三个类似的租赁点,现在也都撤了,其他的站点也有类似的情况吧 Tsinghua University at one time had three of these types of rental places; now they’re all gone. Other sites have also had this kind of situation.
21 Rep Wàngjīng de xī zhàn yǐqián shì yīgè dà de zūlìn zhàndiǎn, fùjìn de jūmín shuō 望京的西站以前是一个大的租赁站点,附近的居民说 Wangjing’s West Station also used to be a big rental station, nearby residents say
22 Rep duō de shíhou yǒu jǐ bǎi liàng zìxíngchē, xiànzài yě quánbù chèxiāole. 多的时候有几百辆自行车,现在也全部撤销了。 at the peak there were several hundred bikes; now they’ve all been removed.
23 ZC A nàme ànlǐ shuō, (h)a, zhège zìxíngchē zūlìn shì gěi lǎobǎixìng tígōng fāngbiàn (h)a, wèishéme zìxíngchē de zūlìn gōngsī, xiànzài yīgè gè dōu dǎobì jiěsànle ne? 啊那么按理说,啊,这个自行车租赁是给老百姓提供方便啊,为什么自行车的租赁公司,现在一个个都倒闭解散了呢? Well, theoretically, these bike rentals are for the convenience of regular folks. Why are the rental companies all going bankrupt and disbanding?
24 Rep Zhège zìxíngchē zūlìn hángyè, kěyǐ shuō shì tánhuāyīxiàn [tánhuāyīxiè], duǎn shíjiān nèi, duō shǔ de qǐyè jiù xiànrùle kùnjìng, a, bùshì shuō méiyǒu xūqiú, zhèlǐ shèjí dào 这个自行车租赁行业,可以说是昙花一现,短时间内,多数的企业就陷入了困境,啊,不是说没有需求,这里涉及到 The bike rental trade, you can say it had its moment in the sun; the majority of the enterprises got mired in difficulties. Not to say there’s no need — this involves
25 Rep zìxíngchē zūlìn yèwù de yīgè xìngzhì wèntí 自行车租赁业务的一个性质问题 a characteristic problem for bike rental enterprises
26 Rep Zhīqián de zhèxiē zūlìn gōngsī jīběn shàng dōu shì mínyíng qǐyè 之前的这些租赁公司基本上都是民营企业 Basically all of these bike rental companies are private businesses.
27 Rep Dàn zìxíngchē zūlìn què bùshì yīgè zhuànqián de xiàngmù, dìng de fèiyòng gāo ne, mínzhòng jué dé bù huásuàn. 但自行车租赁却不是一个赚钱的项目,定的费用高呢,民众觉得不划算。 But bike rental isn’t a money-making undertaking. Set the price high, and the people think it’s not worth it.
28 Rep Dìng de dīle ne, qǐyè hái yào péiqián, sì bǎi kuài de yājīn, běnlái jiù yǐjīng tǐng gāole 定的低了呢,企业还要赔钱,四百块的押金,本来就已经挺高了 Set it low and the business loses money. A deposit of 400 is already pretty high
29 Rep qíshí àn měinián yī bǎi kuài zūjīn jìsuàn, dàjiā yě juéde shōufèi gāo 其实按每年一百块租金计算,大家也觉得收费高 and actually adding in rental of 100 a year, everybody thinks the fees are too high
30 Rep yīnwèi mǎi yī liàng pǔtōng de xīn chē, yě jiù liǎng bǎi duō kuài qián. Chúle fèiyòng hái yǒu wǎngdiǎn de shèzhì wèntí 因为买一辆普通的新车,也就两百多块钱,除了费用还有网点的设置问题 because if you buy a regular bike, it’s only 200. Besides the fees, there’s also the question of the network setup.
31 Rep Zhǐyǒu wǎngdiǎn shèzhì de zúgòu mìjí cáinéng xíngchéng zhège guīmó xiàoyìng 只有网点设置的足够密集才能形成这个规模效应 Only if the network setup is dense enough can you create these effects of scale
32 Rep yě cáinéng jīfā dàjiā zūchē de zhè zhǒng jījíxìng, hái kěyǐ yìdì huán chē 也才能激发大家租车的这种积极性,还可以异地还车 and get people excited about being able to return bikes anywhere they like.
33 Rep Yóuqí shì zài nàxiē gōnggòng jiāotōng bùnéng zhíjiē dàodá de xiǎoqū, háishì kěyǐ dàdà fāngbiàn dàjiā chūxíng de 尤其是在那些公共交通不能直接到达的小区,还是可以大大方便大家出行的 Especially in the neighborhoods that public transportation doesn’t reach, it would be a great convenience for people’s travels.
34 Rep Dànshì yīnwèi qǐyè bìjìng yào kǎolǜ de shì yínglì, zài bù zhuànqián zhīhòu, zìrán yīgè gè dōu dǎobì hé jiěsànle. 但是因为企业毕竟要考虑的是盈利,在不赚钱之后,自然一个个都倒闭和解散了。 But because a business, in the end, has to concern itself with profits, naturally one by one they went bankrupt and disbanded as they failed to make money.
35 Rep Zhège wèntí ya, yě yǐnqǐle zhèngfǔ yǒuguān bùmén de yīxiē guānzhù 这个问题呀,也引起了政府有关部门的一些关注 This issue has also drawn the interest of relevant government departments.
36 Rep Xiànzài zhèngzài jìhuà jiāng zìxíngchē zūlìn nàrù gōnggòng jiāotōng de tǐxì, zài júbù dìqū shìdiǎn, xiànzài zhèngzài 现在正在计划将自行车租赁纳入公共交通的体系,在局部地区试点,现在正在 They are now planning to bring bicycles into the public transportation system and are currently experimenting in some areas.
37 Rep Yóu zhèngfǔ zhǔdǎo lái jìnxíng zūlìn diǎn de shèzhì, xīwàng zhè cì néng qǔdé bǐjiào hǎo de xiàoguǒ, zhǔchí rén. 由政府主导来进行租赁点的设置,希望这次能取得比较好的效果,主持人。 With government leading the setup of bicycle rental places, it’s hoped that this time there can be a better result, Anchor [back to you].
38 ZC Ng, hǎo de, gǎnxiè Gāo Xiáng 嗯,好的,感谢高翔 Ok, good. Thanks a lot, Gao Xiang.

Program notes:

3 The Jing — Jing in place of Beijing, that is. You see this in print often enough, but I can’t say I notice people saying it. Is that just a processing error — do I mentally add the Bei when people say just Jing?
8 There’s some in-studio controversy about whether this should really be transcribed as 王主持 / Wáng zhǔchí. My friend who checked the transcript (native Mandarin speaker) thought he was saying “hi 主持” — as in using the English word “hi”. But earlier in the program I’d heard her name was Wang something, and that’s what it sounds like to me, although it’s pretty much too fast to tell.Beyond that, there’s the question of whether my “Hi Chairman Mao”-esque translation of 王主持,你好 could possibly do any greater offense to the English language. As I’ve said elsewhere, there are reasons no one hires me as a translator…
11 The diǎnr for 点 here is the first non-standard pǔtōnghuà I can find. In other words, if you were doing by-the-book Standard Mandarin, I don’t think you could get away with rhoticizing the diǎn.
16 Sneaking in another unauthorized érhuàyīn: liànr
17 Do you hear that 甚至 (shènzhì) as “shènzì”? Although my transcription consultant, who’s from the Xi’an area, says the reporter’s “Mandarin is pretty standard, better than mine”, it seems pretty clear to me that, despite the rhoticization (e.g. 11 and 16), he’s not a native Beijinger. I’m not sure shènzì is a smoking gun, but it sounds like some circumstantial evidence to me.
18 Apparently old Fangzhou has been out of business for a while. A quick search shows lots of news stories, including this one from November 2010.
24 Notice the apparent complete lack of /n/ on the end of tánhuāyīxiàn, a good example of the phenomenon that’s tough for adult learners of Mandarin [especially when they aren't taught the difference between syllable-initial /n/ and syllable-final /n/] and even causes word confusion between native speakers [here's an old post with fā cán confused for fācái]
27 Gao Xiang is going vernacular on us again, using 不划算 [bù huásuàn], which the ABC dictionary marks as colloquial.
33 Do you hear chūxíng as kind of cūxíng-like? Going back to the comment in 17, even though this guy’s Standard Mandarin is beyond question, I’m dubious that he’s a Beijinger, based on hints like these. In general, I hear his retroflexes as being a bit more palatal than I’d expect from a Beijinger, but it’s hard to come up with a really clear example. But maybe I’m just hearing things, too. I’ve been accused of that more than once…
37 I’m probably missing the obvious translation of 主持人 [zhǔchí rén] in this instance. Anchor isn’t doing it for me. In any case, on US radio you could certainly hear this as the place to insert “Back to you, John.”

This is Beijing Sounds first real dive into radio. Maybe it’ll become a theme. The most interesting aspect for me is paying attention to when local flavor (e.g. Beijing-R [rhoticization], colloquial speech) gets slipped into the program. You hear nothing but straight standard Mandarin from the news anchor, but from the reporter (who’s presumably connecting with the people on the street) you start to hear something more like everyday Beijing.

——–

*Update: belatedly, here’s a picture for those who haven’t seen such a pile. This is the actual pile near the entrance to the Wudaokou Lotus Supermarket. Picture taken on this beautiful and (finally) clear 10th of November.

IMAG0222

Parlez-vous 中çais?

On Cheeky Monkey Theater’s 《铁哥们》 (Tiě Gēmen(r) = Iron Brothers), and Mandarin with French characteristics

tiegemen_actors

Last week the unstoppable Elyse Ribbons (pic above bottom left), big enchilada at Beijing’s Cheeky Monkey Theater, approached the Beijing Sounds studios about spreading the word on her new play, written, as she puts it, “entirely in my version of Mandarin”.

BJS director, Syz, immediately began salivating at the thought of high-quality Zhonglish along with wads of payola. Regarding the latter, though, he was also keenly aware that the majority of his three-member fan club resides outside Beijing, thus reducing the likelihood of their attendance. Not wanting to miss out on the Zhonglish, he quickly negotiated himself a private screening of last Sunday’s rehearsal and muttered something about “great synergistic potential” when Elyse pressed him on his own box office numbers.

The reward? Not only does the play have Zhonglish in abundance, primarily thanks to Theodore Ribbons, but it also has… what-to-call-it… zhōngçais? Here’s Elyse as her French-speaking character, entering an apartment where the two 铁哥们 (“Iron Brothers”) do most of their dialog.

Short zhōngçais clip*:

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Link to mp3

我很喜欢中国,特别是中国菜呀,中国零食,还有中国人啊。
Wǒ hěn [ěn] xǐhuān [xǐ'uān] Zhōngguó, tèbié shì Zhōngguó cài ya, Zhōngguó língshí [línshí?], háiyǒu Zhōngguórén a.
I really like China, especially Chinese food, Chinese snacks, and Chinese people!

Here’s a longer audio clip that contains that bit of zhōngçais, but alas there’s no time to transcribe unless it would be to finish it in time for the 2012 re-opening.

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link to mp3

With such a short clip, the analysis is pretty easy. Mostly what we have here is missing syllable initial /h/. There also might be something going on with that língshí pronounced as línshí. But one of you with some French in your brain will have to weigh in on that issue, since the Beijing Sounds studios already spent October’s French linguistic specialist funds on unspecified “entertainment” charges.

It’s really not enough of a clip to start a whole zhōngçais series, but if there’s a reader out there who’s a speaker or knows one, it’d be great fun to spend some time with some real dialog. Let me know in the comments or send an email (syz <at> sinoglot <dot> com).

Back to the play itself, the big prize, of course, from a linguistic perspective, is long runs of Zhonglish. I’ve got some of those recorded from the rehearsal, but not enough time to do anything with them.

I’m planning to make it to the Saturday performance. If any of you do the same, let me know and we’ll say nǐhǎo, or something more personable. FYI the play runs from today through the 23rd.  Tickets can be found hereplay storyline here.

To fellow Zhonglish speaker Elyse: break a leg!

——–

* Elyse promises the barking dog will not be a part of the regular production.

Yanqing dialect on 23 quid — Part 3, IPA as the Pinyin of English

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Posts in this series:

  1. Earthy speech
  2. A phonetics lesson: tones and erhuayin
  3. “Scripts: pinyin is just like the IPA” [this post]
  4. “Introductory language topics” [coming next week / month / season / singularity]

===================

Welcome back to you three survivors who’ve stuck with the Beijing Sounds Studios through this never-complete but never-abandoned project. Recall that our cabbie/instructor, a certified Yanqinger, is trying to give a linguistic overview of Yanqing dialect and comparative writing system analysis all within a 23 kuai fare.

Of course you always could have listened to the whole recording without any transcripts…

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[link to mp3]

…but the fun of doing it section by section is to savor the tonal surprises that feature as prominently in Yanqing as the over-developed Badaling Great Wall itself. Even the name, Yanqing, is not at all a rising-falling “Yánqìng” the way Beijing’s city slickers would say it, but something more like Yānqing:

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[link to mp3]

In this third section, prepare to be awestruck by tone flattening feats unrivaled by even foreigners, who are more apt to bend tones down or up. If you believe the underpaid transcribers who copped this together, there are no fewer than 6 syllables that have been given tone 1 in place of their original tone. And in most cases, the recording has multiple instances of the flat pronunciation, so it’s not just a fluke. Check out xuē 学, dēi 得, chēng 成, mēi 美, rēn 人, cī 词.

Listen and enjoy. As in previous posts, in the Pinyin column a bracketed pronunciation (e.g. [hán] in line 1) indicates what the taxi driver actually said, as contrasted with the standard Mandarin written there.

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[link to mp3]

1 SJ Zhōngguó zhè hàn[hán]zì, tā… … Nán dǒng. 中国这汉字,它……难懂。 These Chinese characters, they… they’re hard to understand.
2 SJ Shì ba? Bù xiàng zhè Yīngyǔ zhè èr shí liù zìmǔ, Zhōngguó zhège zì, yí [yī] zì duō [duò] yìsi. 是吧?不像这英语这二十六字母,中国这个字,一字多意思。 Right? Not like English and its 26 letters, Chinese characters — one character has lots of meanings.
3 SJ Shì ba? 是吧? Y’know?
4 SYZ Nà nín xiǎode shíhòu yě xuéguò zhèige Pīnyīn ba? 那您小的时候也学过这个拼音吧? When you were young did you study Pinyin?
5 SJ Xué [xuē] guò ya! Jiù děi xué [xuē]. Zhèige hàn [hán] zì, nǐ yě jiù děi xué [xuē] pīnyīn. 学过呀!就得学。这个汉字,你也就得学拼音。 Sure, we studied it! You have to study it. For Chinese characters, you had to study Pinyin too.
6 SJ A, zhèige [zhéige?] zìr. Nǐ bǐrú shuō pīnyīn nèige “a o e, i u ü” a 啊,这个字儿。你比如说拼音那个”a o e, i u ü” 啊 Right, for the characters. Like you have to use the “a o e, i u ü”
7 SJ Nǐ kàn, yīngyǔ jiùshì “abcd”, a. Nǐ děi [dēi?] xué [xuē] nèige, nǐ bù xué [xuē] nèige bùchéng [chēng?] a. 你看,英语就是”abcd”,啊。你得学那个,你不学那个不成啊。 See, it’s just like English “abcd”. You have to learn that — not going to work if you don’t.
8 SJ Tā zhèige, hànyǔ——hànzì gēn zhèi yīngwén, yīngwén, nèige dàolǐ shì yíyàng [yìyǎng?] de. 它这个,汉语——汉字跟这英文,英文,那个道理是一样的。 With Mandarin — with Chinese characters and English — the principle’s the same.
9 SJ Nǐ shuō nèi yīngwén, shuō zhège “a”, “a” yěyǒu pīnyīn bǎ zhèi “a” pīn chūlái. 你说那英文,说这个”a”,“a”也有拼音把这”a”拼出来。 Like if you take English, say, “a”, “a” also has “pinyin” to write it out.
10 SJ Shì ba? 是吧? Right?
11 SYZ Yěyǒu, yǒu, nǐ shuō, bǐrú shuō nèige, jiào shénme, nèige guójì yīnbiāo ba? 也有,有,你说,比如说那个,叫什么,那个国际音标吧? Yeah, there is, are you saying that — what do you call it — the international phonetic alphabet?
12 SYZ Kěshì zhèige, shuō shíhuà, nèige měiguó rén yě bùyòng! Tāmen dōu bù zhīdào zhè shì shénme. 可是这个,说实话,那个美国人也不用!他们都不知道这是什么。 But that, to tell the truth, Americans don’t use it! They don’t even know what it is.
13 SJ Měiguó rén [mēiguo rēn?] a? 美国人啊? Americans?
14 SYZ Duì, kěshì wàiguórén xué——bùshì——bùshì měiguó rén, nèige, nèixiē rén xué yīngyǔ de shíhou 对,可是外国人学——不是——不是美国人,那个,哪些人学英语的时候 Right. But foreigners studying — uh — I mean not Americans — people, when they’re studying English
15 SYZ Yě yòng zhège…guójì… 也用这个……国际…… Also use this … international…
16 SJ Yòng ya, tā kěndìng yào——tā děi yòng. 用呀,他肯定要——他得用。 Use it, of course they do — they have to.
17 SJ Měi yīgè dāncí [cī], měi yīgè dāncí [cī] hòubianr, dōu yǒu pīnyīn ná kuòhào kuò de. 每一个单词,每一个单词后边儿,都有拼音拿括号括的。 Every word, behind every word there’s a “pinyin” in parentheses.
18 SJ Shuō wǒ bù rènde zhège, wǒ bù rènde zhè dāncí [cī], kěyǐ ná [nā] dāncí [cī] hòubianr [hóubiānr] zhège pīnyīn, wǎng chū fāyīn, wǎng chū kàn ne. 说我不认得这个,我不认得这单词,可以拿单词后边儿这个拼音,往出发音,往出看呢。 Say if I don’t recognize this, don’t recognize this word, I can use the “pinyin” in parentheses and make the sound.
19 SYZ Kěnéng, yàoshi nǐ shuō zhèige nèige shénme nèige xuéxí, xué yīngwén de zhèixiē shū 可能,要是你说这个那个什么那个学习,学英文的这些书 Maybe, if you’re saying those kinds of studying, books for studying English.
20 SYZ Nà yě yǒu kěnéng yǒu nèige, nèige 那也有可能有那个,那个 Then maybe they have those, those
21 SJ Duì, nǐ jiù dāncí [cī] yě děi yòng [dēi yóng?], yě děi wǎng chū pīn a, fāyīn. 对,你就单词也得用,也得往出拼啊,发音。 Right, you have to use it for words, to be able to pronounce them.
22 SJ Bǐrú shuō wǒ bù rènshi zhège zì, dànshì zhè zì shàng yǒu pīnyīn, wǒ kěyǐ wǎng chū pīn tā, zhè zì niàn shénme. 比如说我不认识这个字,但是这字上有拼音,我可以往出拼它,这字念什么。 Like if I don’t recognize this character, but on top of the character there’s pinyin, I can write it out and know how to read it.
23 SJ Nèige yīngyǔ nèige, gēn zhè dàolǐ, tā yěshì yīyàng. Dāncí [cī], nǐ yàoshi hòubianr, tā dōu yǒu zhè fāyīn nèige yīnfú. 那个英语那个,跟这道理,它也是一样。单词,你要是后边儿,它都有这发音那个音符。 So English has the same principle. Words all have the pronunciation notation behind them.

To conclude that “Yanqingers just use the first tone more”, though, would be a gross oversimplification. There’s a lot more going on. Top dollar paid for all testable hypotheses. Just apply with Lao Liu in accounting, who got his business training in a Dongbei embalming operation.

The Devil Went Down to Qinghe

If you’ve been in Beijing long enough to escape the cacophony of the Imperial Palace and the Badaling Great Wall, you’ve found yourself wandering through some regular old city park, serenaded by wisps of patriotic or traditional music. Here’s a sample from two years ago:

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The description back then was “rickety” — a bit lacking in generosity, perhaps, but true not only of that sample but of most park music. And after several years of park-wandering, you start wondering if “rickety” is true of all park music. Not that you ever fail to appreciate the spontaneity of folks putting music together, no matter what it sounds like, just that once in a while it’d be nice to have something a little more put together.

If my experience yesterday offers any moral for you park wanderers, it’s this: don’t stop wandering. Eventually you’ll be rewarded, maybe in some random park in the Qinghe area well outside the north fifth ring. Actual prizes may vary, but it should be on the order of a duo arrangement of 战马奔腾 (zhànmǎ bēnténg “Galloping Steed”) that is equal parts William Tell Overture and Charlie Daniels Band. It will be bowed with sufficient aplomb and verve to make you ignore the tinny battery-powered speaker providing accompaniment. Prize will almost certainly include a toddler barely reined in by her grandfather as she bounces to the beat, as well as numerous passers-by with mouths agape, realizing they’ve stumbled into no ordinary park music. Enjoy!

[Apologies to mainlanders for putting it up on the ever-blocked youtube. Beijing Sounds just doesn't do enough video to warrant futzing with other sites. Anyway, you've got a way around the block, right? The plan was to put audio right below the video version, so that at least you'd have that, but the only computer here that will actually record straight from the sound card (as opposed to re-recording from a speaker, which sounds like crap) just bit the dust. Nothing. Won't even start. I'm sure there's some neat technical detour around all this detritus, but since the en masse firing of a whole layer of production crew here at the Beijing Sounds Studios, nothing much is getting done. Be glad you've got some badly shot video. Beyond that, blame Beijing. For everything.]

Video

A couple of notes, even though the preamble was already too long:

  1. It’s worth fighting your way around youtube blocks just to watch the “Mind if I bow your erhu?” moment that starts about 1:50.
  2. During that moment, notice the double stops and start to wonder how you do that on an instrument that has the bowhair going between the two strings! It’s probably not clear on the video, but basically he turns the bow vertical (i.e. so it’s parallel rather than perpendicular to the strings) and gets friction against both strings from either edge of the hair.

Yanqing dialect on 23 quid — Part 2, Phonetics

In the first installment of the Yanqing series the other day (uh, that is, the other day in February), our cabbie instructor offered a few token words of Yanqing dialect. Today he digs into tones, hypothesizing that they are the first linguistic element to change as move out of Beijing proper. He also makes a plug for the Beijing R being very specific to Beijing — i.e. that it’s used less even in the surrounding communities.

Language notes and sound file links below. Enjoy.

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1 SJ Zhǔyào zhèige dìfāng yǔ ya, tā zhèige Zhōngguó zhèi yīgè zìr, 主要这个地方语呀,它这个中国这一个字儿, What’s important is that this local language, this single Chinese character,
2 SJ yīgè zì yǒu sì gè shēngdiào a: ā, á, ǎ, à. Guānjiàn tā dìfāng tǔyǔ, jiù zhèige shēngdiào 一个字有四个声调啊: ā, á, ǎ, à。关键它地方土语,就这个声调 one character has four tones: ā, á, ǎ, à. What’s important is that this local language, these tones
3 SJ [Bù qīngchu] shēngdiào, yǒu shēng gāo de, yǒu shēng dī de, tā de——wèishéme shuō zhèige ne. 【不清楚】声调,有声高的,有声低的,它的——为什么说这个呢。 [unclear] tones, there are high pitch ones, low pitch ones — that’s why we talk about these.
4 SYZ Nín de yìsi jiùshì, zhèige, dìfāng huà tèbié róngyì bǎ nèige shēngdiào gěi biàn le? 您的意思就是,这个,地方话特别容易把那个声调给变了? What you mean is that it’s really easy for the local language to change the tones?
5 SJ A, duì duì duì! Shēngdiào gěi biàn le, a. 啊,对对对!声调给变了,啊。 Yeah, exactly. The tones get changed.
6 SJ Nǐ kàn [kān?], nǐ dào Tiānjīn, Tiānjīn de shēngdiào, tā wǎng——jiùshì wǎng xià yā yībān 你看,你到天津,天津的声调,它往——就是往下压一般 Like — you go to Tianjin — Tianjin’s tones tend to — they tend be falling.
7 SJ Tiānjīn rén shuōhuà bùshì yīyàng ma? Tiànjin, Tiànjin tiānjīn wèi a. 天津人说话不是一样嘛?Tiànjin, Tiànjin 天津卫啊。 With Tianjin folks’ speech it’s the same, right? “Tiànjin, Tiànjin” Tianjin Wei [another name for Tianjin]
8 SJ Tā Tiānjīn de——tā yào bǎ nà shēngdiào wǎng……jiù děi wǎng xià yā a. 他天津得——他要把那声调往……就得往下压啊。 The Tianjin-er — he wants to push that tone — just has to push it down.
9 SJ Nǐ, nǐ Běijīng zhèige pǔtōnghuà, zhèige, yībān jiù jiā zhèige érhuàyīn de duō, a. 你,你北京这个普通话,这个,一般就加这个儿化音的多,啊。 In Beijing standard speech (putonghua) — generally you add in a lot of R-sound [rhoticization].
10 SJ Shì ba? 是吧? Right?
11 SYZ kěshì, Yánqìng yě shì ba? 可是,延庆也是吧? But in Yanqing you do too, right?
12 SJ Duì! Yánqìng [Yānqing] yě [yē?] shì. 对!延庆也是。 Right. In Yanqing you do too.
13 SJ Shuō……nín yào shuō zhèige “mēn“, nǐ shuō zhèi “mēn” — bù hǎotīng, 说……您要说这个“mēn“,你说这”mēn”不好听, Like… if you want to say “门” [he pronounces "mēn" instead of standard mén], if you say “mēn” it doesn’t sound good.
14 SJ Dànshì, duì yīxiē dìfāng, shuō zhèi ”mēnr”, a, a, tā jiù jiā shàng érhuàyīn a. 但是,对一些地方,说这”mēnr”,啊,啊,他就加上儿化音啊。 But for some places you say “门儿” [standard pronunciation ménr], they put on that R-sound [erhuayin].
15 SJ Nǐ yě xué [Nī yē xuē] guò zhèige, fǎnzhèng yǒu yīxiē zì jiù děi dài shàng zhèige érhuàyīn. 你也学过这个,反正有一些字就得带上这个儿化音。 You’ve learned this, anyway there are some words that you have to put on this R-sound [erhuayin].
16 SJ Dànshì zhèi Běijīng tā zhèige pǔtōnghuà, yībān zhè érhuàyīn děi duō. 但是这北京它这个普通话,一般这儿化音得多。 But in this Beijing putonghua, generally they have to put in more R-sound.
17 SJ Nǐ kàn [nī kān?], Běijīng zhōubiān zhège jiāoqū xiàn de rén, yǒushí zhèi érhuàyīn jiù shǎo. 你看,北京周边这个郊区县的人,有时这儿化音就少。 You think about it: the people in these counties around Beijing — sometimes they have less R-sound.
18 SYZ shì a 是啊 Uh-huh.
19 SJ Duì. Tā fēnbié [fēnbiē] jiù fēnbié zài zhèr. 对。它分别就分别在这儿。 Right. The difference is right here.

1 SJ Zhǔyào zhèige dìfāng yǔ ya, tā zhèige Zhōngguó zhèi yīgè zìr, 主要这个地方语呀,它这个中国这一个字儿, What’s important is that this local language, this single Chinese character,
2 SJ yīgè zì yǒu sì gè shēngdiào a: ā, á, ǎ, à. Guānjiàn tā dìfāng tǔyǔ, jiù zhèige shēngdiào 一个字有四个声调啊: ā, á, ǎ, à。关键它地方土语,就这个声调 one character has four tones: ā, á, ǎ, à. What’s important is that this local language, these tones
3 SJ [Bù qīngchu] shēngdiào, yǒu shēng gāo de, yǒu shēng dī de, tā de——wèishéme shuō zhèige ne. 【不清楚】声调,有声高的,有声低的,它的——为什么说这个呢。 [unclear] tones, there are high pitch ones, low pitch ones — that’s why we talk about these.
4 SYZ
5 SYZ Nín de yìsi jiùshì, zhèige, dìfāng huà tèbié róngyì bǎ nèige shēngdiào gěi biàn le? 您的意思就是,这个,地方话特别容易把那个声调给变了? What you mean is that it’s really easy for the local language to change the tones?
6 SJ A, duì duì duì! Shēngdiào gěi biàn le, a. 啊,对对对!声调给变了,啊。 Yeah, exactly. The tones get changed.
7 SYZ
8 SJ Nǐ kàn [kān?], nǐ dào Tiānjīn, Tiānjīn de shēngdiào, tā wǎng——jiùshì wǎng xià yā yībān 你看,你到天津,天津的声调,它往——就是往下压一般 Like — you go to Tianjin — Tianjin’s tones tend to — they tend be falling.
9 SJ Tiānjīn rén shuōhuà bùshì yīyàng ma? Tiànjin, Tiànjin tiānjīn wèi a. 天津人说话不是一样嘛?Tiànjin, Tiànjin 天津卫啊。 With Tianjin folks’ speech it’s the same, right? “Tiànjin, Tiànjin” Tianjin Wei [another name for Tianjin]
10 SJ Tā Tiānjīn de——tā yào bǎ nà shēngdiào wǎng……jiù děi wǎng xià yā a. 他天津得——他要把那声调往……就得往下压啊。 The Tianjin-er — he wants to push that tone — just has to push it down.
11 SJ Nǐ, nǐ Běijīng zhèige pǔtōnghuà, zhèige, yībān jiù jiā zhèige érhuàyīn de duō, a. 你,你北京这个普通话,这个,一般就加这个儿化音的多,啊。 In Beijing standard speech (putonghua) — generally you add in a lot of R-sound [rhoticization].
12 SJ Shì ba? 是吧? Right?
13 SYZ kěshì, Yánqìng yě shì ba? 可是,延庆也是吧? But in Yanqing you do too, right?
14 SJ Duì! Yánqìng [Yānqing] yě [yē?] shì. 对!延庆也是。 Right. In Yanqing you do too.
15 SJ Shuō……nín yào shuō zhèige “mēn“, nǐ shuō zhèi “mēn” — bù hǎotīng, 说……您要说这个“mēn“,你说这”mēn”不好听, Like… if you want to say “门” [he pronounces "mēn" instead of standard mén], if you say “mēn” it doesn’t sound good.
16 SJ Dànshì, duì yīxiē dìfāng, shuō zhèi ”mēnr”, a, a, tā jiù jiā shàng érhuàyīn a. 但是,对一些地方,说这”mēnr”,啊,啊,他就加上儿化音啊。 But for some places you say “门儿” [standard pronunciation ménr], they put on that R-sound [erhuayin].
17 SJ Nǐ yě xué [Nī yē xuē] guò zhèige, fǎnzhèng yǒu yīxiē zì jiù děi dài shàng zhèige érhuàyīn. 你也学过这个,反正有一些字就得带上这个儿化音。 You’ve learned this, anyway there are some words that you have to put on this R-sound [erhuayin].
18 SJ Dànshì zhèi Běijīng tā zhèige pǔtōnghuà, yībān zhè érhuàyīn děi duō. 但是这北京它这个普通话,一般这儿化音得多。 But in this Beijing putonghua, generally they have to put in more R-sound.
19 SJ Nǐ kàn [nī kān?], Běijīng zhōubiān zhège jiāoqū xiàn de rén, yǒushí zhèi érhuàyīn jiù shǎo. 你看,北京周边这个郊区县的人,有时这儿化音就少。 You think about it: the people in these counties around Beijing — sometimes they have less R-sound.
20 SYZ shì a 是啊 Uh-huh.
21 SJ Duì. Tā fēnbié [fēnbiē?] jiù fēnbié zài zhèr. 对。它分别就分别在这儿。 Right. The difference is right here.

Language notes:

Line Comment
1 SJ = 司机, sījī, driver
Syz = yours truly
6 Brackets around pinyin, like [kān?], indicate what seems to me to be a regular difference between Yanqing and Beijing dialects. BTW: in the comments on the last post, Chris Waugh commented on the good authority of his wife, who is from Yanqing, that this cabbie’s accent is pretty strong, and certainly authentic Yanqing.
7 Anyone know if 天津 folks really pronounce it like this: Tiànjin? As a rule of thumb in linguistics, you don’t trust people’s intuitions about pretty much any aspect of language. But in this case I think I might have heard that this has an element of truth…
14 Classic justification of erhuayin: the word without it is just “不好听”! [bùhǎotīng = doesn't sound good]
15 “Nī yē xuē” — I love that. Sounds like something I’d say on a bad tone day.

PS: The sound files (mp3) if you’re interested…

Yanqing dialect on 23 quid

[apologies to email subscribers for sending out an early draft of this -- just the usual technical incompetence]

Oh, Yanqing! Can you see it out there in the mountains and the mist?

Google Earth 2252011 52637 AM.bmp

The taxi authority says it’s part of Beijing, at least for the purposes of counting its residents as Beijingers and thus allowing them to drive Beijing cabs. Other relevant organs have closed their administrative lines around it as well, giving out 京-decorated license plates and other status symbols to assuage any unharmonious feelings. But as a resident of either town will tell you, Yanqing ain’t Beijing ain’t Yanqing.

It’s not just the mountains and forests and even a bit of water up there — although they’re a selling point over Beijing, which goes 0 for 3 — it’s language too. Let’s start with the name. The Putonghua Prescriptivists, as well as Beijing inner-ring dwellers, would have you believe Yanqing’s “延庆” is pronounced Yánqìng. But if you listen to a local…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[link to mp3]

… you might suspect there’s something interesting going on, something more Yānqing-like.

It has long been lamented among the management that the Beijing Sounds Studios have no 郊区 (jiāoqū = distant suburb / remote district) residents on staff. Even worse, some of the actors — practically all of whom are city slickers — have been known to ape the jiāoqū accents with callous disregard for linguistic accuracy. The “hang the wall on the gun” incident comes to mind.

As partial atonement, the Studios today are proud to present a guest instructor. His 延庆话 (Yánqìnghuà = Yanqing speech) lesson, purchased at the fair price of 23 yuan, including transportation, covers a few of the basics beyond the pronunciation of Yanqing. Listen to the entire recording here…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[link to mp3]

… or take it section by section as the transcripts get completed.

  1. Earthy speech” 0:00 to 2:20
  2. A phonetics lesson: tones and erhuayin” 2:20 to 4:00
  3. Scripts: pinyin is just like the IPA” 4:00 to 6:20
  4. “Introductory language topics” 6:20 to end [transcript coming soon? See ad below!]

Ah, but when, you ask, will the transcripts get completed? Well, a quick glance at recent posting rates draws a grim graph. Just eyeballing it, the studio director estimates that, with no dramatic production line changes, completion could be assured by mid-2027. So let’s go off-topic for a second and put up an advertisement:

Beijing Sounds Studios seeks Director of Transcription

Requirements (wishes?)

  • Advanced Mandarin skills and an interest in phonetics
  • Interest in learning really cool transcription software (EXMARaLDA)

Tasks

Remuneration

  • Everlasting glory in Beijing Sounds presentations
  • A reasonable share of the immense box office take (minus ghastly executive pay packages and questionable expenses)

Please reply to:
syz
at
sinoglot
dot
com

Note of seriousity: I’m not kidding about the search for a collaborator. Think about it: it might be fun!

And now, on to our feature presentation…

Earthy speech

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[link to mp3]

SYZ Shì bu shì nèige Yánqìng dìfāng huà bù yīyàng, gēn Běijīng chénglǐ de… 是不是那个延庆地方话不一样,跟北京城里的… Isn’t it true that the local Yanqing dialect isn’t the same, with Beijing proper’s…
SJ Duì duì duì duì, yǒu yī xiē dìfāng de fāngyán, Běijīng zhèi — jiùshi — Běijīng jiùshi pǔ[pū?]tōnghuà. 对对对对,有一些地方的方言,北京这——就是——北京就是普通话。 Right, right, there are some local dialects — but Beijing is, well, Beijing has standard Mandarin (putonghua).
SJ [bù qīngchǔ] Běijīng, pǔtōng — shuōhuà 【不清楚】北京,普通——说话 [unclear] Beijing — standard speech
SYZ Rén shuō shì pǔtōnghuà, kěshì zài wǒ kànlai yě yǒude cí yě bùyīyàng le. 人说是普通话,可是在我看来也有的词也不一样了。 People say it’s standard Mandarin, but the way I see it, some words are not the same.
SJ Shì shì shì shi, duì, jiù gēn nín shì shuō Yīngyǔ, Yīngyǔ yě yǒu pǔtōng Yīngyǔ, yě yǒu nínmen nèi dìfāng nèige. 是是是是,对,就跟您是说英语,英语也有普通英语也有您们那地方那个。 Right, right. Just like when you speak English — English also has standard English as well as those local kinds [of English].
SYZ Duì, kěshì méiyǒu Zhōngguó nème, nème — chābié búshì tèbié dà, nǐ zhīdào ma. 对,可是没有中国那么,那么——差别不是特别大,你知道吗。 Right, but compared to China not as, as — the difference isn’t that big, you know.
SJ Duì duì duì 对对对 Right.
SYZ Kěshì Yánqìng yě – 可是延庆也—— But Yanqing also –
SJ Zhōngguó jiù yǒu fāngyán[yān?] ma, fāngyán[yān?], dìfāng tǔyǔ. 中国就有方言嘛——方言,地方土语 China has its fangyans — fangyans, local vernaculars.
SYZ a, tǔyǔ 啊,土语 Yeah, vernaculars.
SJ Shì ma? Nǐ kàn… 是吗?你看… Isn’t that right? Y’know…
SJ Yánqìng [yānqing?] rén yìbān [yíbān?] jiùshi, yìbān [yíbān?] jiù shuō, nín yào Běijīng lái shuō: “Nín gànmá qù a?” 延庆人一般就是,一般就说,您要北京来说:您干嘛去呀? Yanqingers usually are — usually say… If you come to Beijing you say, “Whatcha doing?”
SJ [bù qīngchǔ] Yàoshi dào Yánqìng [yānqing] xiànzài, nèi tǔyǔ, shuō: “Nín gánshuàr qù a?” 【不清楚】要是到延庆现在,那土语,说:“您 gánshuàr qù a?” [干啥儿去啊] [unclear] But if you go to Yanqing now, that vernacular, they say, “[slightly different version of 'whatcha doing?'"
SYZ A! Zhèige wǒ tīng shuō guò. 啊!这个我听说过。 Oh, I've heard of this.
SJ Tīng shuō guò a! 听说过啊! You've heard of this huh.
SYZ Duì duì duì, "nǐ gánshuàr". Duì, zài Běijīng kěndìng bù shuō zhèige. 对对对,“你gan shuar"。对,在北京肯定不说这个。 Right, right. "[mispronounced version of Yanqing phrase]“. Right. In Beijing they definitely wouldn’t say this.
SJ Zài Běijīng [Bēijing?] kěndìng jiù bù shuō de, tā… yī gè dìfāng(r) yǒu yī gè dìfāng de… 在北京肯定就不说的,他……一个地方有一个地方的 …… It’s definitely not said in Beijing. They… Every region has it’s own…
SYZ a, tǐng yǒu yìsi de. Háiyǒu shénme cí, nèige Yánqìng de… 啊挺有意思的,还有什么词,那个延庆的…… This is really cool. Are there other words, from Yanqing…
SJ Yánqìng [yānqing] háiyǒu, nǐ kàn [nī kān?], nèige 延庆还有,你看,那个… Yanqing also has, y’know, those…
SJ Dào Běijīng [Bēijīng?] zhèr shuō: “Chūqù, shàishài tàiyang!” Yánqìng [yānqing] tǔyǔ jiùshi, “Shái láo yēr qù!” 到北京这儿说:“出去,晒晒太阳!”。延庆的土语就是“晒老爷【阳?】儿去!” You come to Beijing and here they say, “Go out and get some sun!” In Yanqing vernacular it’s “Shái láo yēr qù”!
SJ (xiào) Zhèi jiùshi tǔyǔ a. (笑)这就是土语啊。 (laughs) This is the vernacular…
SYZ Nà xiànzài zhèi xiē xiǎohái yě niánqīng rén, tā hái shuō zhèige… 那现在这些小孩也年轻人,他还说这个… Then today’s kids and young people, do they still say this…
SJ Tā bù shuō bù shuō bù shuō, tā bù shuō. Tā — xiànzài niánqīng [niānqīng?] rén, xiǎoháir, tā, shàngxué tā dōu chūlái le… 他不说不说不说,他不说。他——现在年轻人……小孩儿……他……上学他都出来了… No, no no no. They — these days young people, kids, they, they go to school and then come out…
SJ Tā jiù bùxué zhè ge de, dànshi tā yě zhīdào. 他就不学这个的,但是他也知道。 They don’t study this, but they know it.
SJ Tā yī chūlái yě jiùshi xuézhe pǔtónghuà [pūtōnghuà?], zhèige tǔyǔ shénme, tā yě bù xué le. 他一出来也就是学着普通话,这个土语什么,他也不学了。 As soon as they come out they start learning putonghua. This vernacular — they don’t learn it anymore.
SJ [bù qīngchu] dànshi tā yě zhīdào. 【不清楚】但是他也知道。 [unclear] But they do know it.

Language notes:

Line Note
2 The bracketing in “pǔ[pū?]tōnghuà” — as well as all the subsequent bracketing — marks a tone I’ve heard as different from standard Mandarin. I’m sure I’ve left out plenty, but I tried to label the most salient examples.
5 Admirable linguistic sophistication here, drawing a parallel to English. I feel like this kind of sophistication is more common in China than it would be in the US, perhaps because of the relatively few differences in English dialects across the States. But then again, maybe I just talk to more people here and have unusual sampling.
9 OK, I know that 土语 (tǔyǔ = vernacular, but character by character = “dirt / earth” + “language”) is probably not understood by native speakers as anything like “earth language” and it also doesn’t mean the same thing as “earthy” with its connotations of ribald language. Still, a non-native speaker can’t help making the connection.
13 Any Yanqing specialists out there who can shed light on gánshuàr qù?
20 ditto for Shái láo yēr qù
26 “They do know it” but you wonder about the fade after another generation…

Your head, your “many heads” — Cultural Revolution Medicine Part I

[meta: apologies for re-posting -- see this blah-blah about rss feed issues]

A word about Cultural Revolution Medicine from the Producer and CEO:

We at the Beijing Sounds Studios are pleased to announce the start of a new series, based on the experiences of YU working as a young doctor sent far from Beijing during the late ’60s and early ’70s, mostly in Gansu province.

I hope you enjoy this YU production and look forward to all the sycophantic feedback of the bought-off reviewers. If you imagine you hear whispering about the slim likelihood of actually seeing a Part II after the Part I in this “series”, rest assured that it is nothing more than the sub-zero winds blowing yellow dust off the Gobi desert.

As a side note, you may well be aware that, silly press releases aside, this is the Studios’ first real production in nearly a year. But I want to assure the public that vicious rumors of our demise, spread by unworthy competitors and their mange-blighted running dogs, are of less value than the carcinogenic air blown out of the smokestack just northwest of the Studios. It is in fact a testament to the low expenses that come from screwing employees fortune amassed from our past blockbusters that we are able to continue operating without fear of bankruptcy.

Yours in profitability,

Syz

Click below for the audio, and see this page if you have trouble. You can also download the mp3 here.

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YU hēng lǎo, hēng lǎo, wa! Hēng lǎo, āiyā, wǒ huíqù wǒ shuō “nǐ shuō shénme?” Tā hái shuō “hēng lǎo”. Wǒ jiù bu dǒng. hēng lǎo,hēng lǎo,哇!hēng lǎo 哎呀,我回去我说“你说什么?”他还说“hēng lǎo”。我就不懂。 “Heng lao, heng lao” — what?! “Heng lao”, yikes! I went back and asked him, “What are you saying?” He keeps saying “heng lao”. I just couldn’t understand.
YU Nà bù dǒng wǒ yě zǒule — tā — buzhīdào, bù dǒng tā shuō de shì shénme huà. Ránhòu wǒ huíqù yǐhòu jiù wèn biérén(r). 那不懂我也走了——他——不知道,不懂他说的是什么话。然后我回去以后就问别人(儿)。 Well I couldn’t understand so I left anyway. Him? I don’t know — couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Then after I went back I asked someone else.
YU Tā shuō jiù shì ràng nǐ zǒu wěn de yìsi, nǐ hǎohao zǒu (xiào). Dōngběi bù shuō zhèi huà. 他说就是让你走稳的意思,你好好走(笑)。 东北不说这话。 He says [the phrase] means to “go steady”, something like “go carefully / properly” (laughs). In the northeast they don’t say this.
YU Zhè shì Gānsū, Shǎn — Xī — a — Shānxī shénme shénme jiù nèi yīkuàir de rén shuō de huà. 这是甘肃,陕——西——啊——山西什么什么就那一块儿的人说的话。 This is local speech from somewhere over in Gansu, Shaan — uh — Shanxi.
YU Yǒude shíhòu dìfāng de huà yě tǐng bùhǎo dǒng. Tā shuō, tā yǒu yī jù huà, qíshí yě tǐng kēxué de, 有的时候地方的话也挺不好懂。他说,他有一句话,其实也挺科学的, Sometimes local speech is pretty hard to understand. They have a word, actually it’s pretty scientific,
YU tā shuō, tā shuō zhèige (zhǐde shì tóu), zhèige shì “duō nǎo, duō lǎo, duō lǎo”, wǒ jiù bù dǒng. 他说,他说这个(指的是头),这个是“duō nǎo, duō lǎo, duō lǎo”,我就不懂。 they say, they say this (pointing to head) — this is “duō nǎo, duō lǎo, duō lǎo”, I really didn’t understand. [多脑,duō nǎo = literally, many heads]
YU Wǒ shuō “duō lǎo” shì shénme? Hòulái wǒ yī xiǎng: zhèi rén de zhèi nǎodai, zhèi zhèige lǐbianr de zhèi nǎodai a – 我说“duō lǎo”是什么?后来我一想:这人的这脑袋,这这个里边儿的这脑袋啊—— I said, “What’s ‘many heads’?” Then after I thought about it: a person’s head, what’s inside a person’s head, well –
YU qíshí shì: dànǎo, xiǎonǎo, qiánnǎo, hòunǎo, zhōngnǎo — shì jǐge nǎozi de. 其实是:大脑,小脑,前脑,后脑,中脑——十几个脑子的。 it actually is — cerebrum, cerebellum, forebrain, hindbrain, midbrain — it’s several brains.
YU Suǒyǐ zhèi Gānsūrén shuōde hěn kēxué de (xiào). Tā bù shuō tóu, tā shuō “duō nǎo”. 所以这甘肃人说的很科学的(笑)。他不说“头”,他说“多脑”。 So these Gansu people say it pretty scientifically (laughing). They don’t say “head” they say “many heads”.
YU Tā shuō zhèige shì “duō nǎo” — a duì! — qíshí shì zhēnde, shíjìshang shì zhēnde, hǎojǐge nǎodai a, hǎojǐge nǎo. 他说这个是“多脑”——啊对!——其实是真的,实际上是真的,好几个脑袋啊,好几个脑。 They say this is “many heads” — right! — actually it’s true, as a matter of fact, quite a few heads, quite a few brains.
YU Yǒu yī tiān, yǒu yīge xiǎoháir lái — yǒu bìng a, tā lái kàn bìng. 有一天,有一个小孩儿来——有病啊,他来看病。 There was one day a child came — sick, came to get treatment.
YU Kàn bìng ne, wǒmen yīyuàn méiyǒu nèige, nèige xiǎoháir de zhì késou de yào. 看病呢,我们医院没有那个,那个小孩儿的治咳嗽的药。 After seeing him, well we didn’t have that kind of cough medicine for children at the hospital.
YU Ránhòu wǒ shuō ràng tā — wǒ gěi tā xiěchū míngzi — wǒ ràng tā dào jiēshang de yàodiàn qù mǎi. 然后我说让他——我给她写出名字——我让他到街上的药店去买。 So I told him — I wrote his name down — I told him to go out to the pharmacy on the street to buy it.
YU Zǒu de shíhòu(r), wǒ gēn tā shuō, wǒ shuō nǐ jīntiān jiùyào qù mǎi zhèige yào, 走的时候(儿),我跟他说,我说你今天就要去买这个药, When he was leaving, I told him, I said you have to buy the medicine today,
YU zài jiāshang wǒ gěi nǐ kāi de zhèi yào nǐ yìqǐ chī, xiǎoháir jiù, bìng jiù huì hǎo le. Tā shuō “Duì! Wǒ érge jiù qù mǎi!” 再加上我给你开的这药你一起吃,小孩儿就,病就会好了。他说“对!我érge就去买!” and then take it together with the medicine I’m prescribing from here, then the kid — that will cure the cough. He said, “Right! I will buy it érge!”
YU Wa! Bù dǒng. Shénme jiào érge? Wǒ yǐwéi tā míngtiān. Wǒ shuō “Búshì!” 哇!不懂。什么叫érge?我以为他明天。我说“不是!” What?! I didn’t understand. What is érge? I thought he meant tomorrow. I said, “No!”
YU Wǒ shuō “Nǐ jīntiān jiù yǐdìng yào qù mǎi, pèishang zhèige, wǒ gěi nǐ xiě de zhèi ge tiáotiáo(r) de yào, zhèi xiǎoháir de bìng cái yǒu yòng. 我说:“你今天就一定要去买,配上这个,我给你写的这个条条(儿)的药,这小孩儿的病才有用。 I said, “You definitely have to buy it today to go with this other medicine I’m giving you. The medicine I’ve written for you on this piece of paper — that’s how they’re effective for treatment.”
YU Tā shuō, “Duì, wǒ érge jiù qù mǎi” (xiào). Hái shuō “érge”. Wǒ yǐwéi tā shuō de “érge” shì míngtiān. 他说,“对,我érge就去买(笑)。还说érge。我以为他说的“érge”是明天。 He said, “Right, I’ll go buy it érge” (laughs). He’s still saying “érge”. I thought he was saying érge to mean tomorrow.
YU Shíjìshang de tā jiù shuō érge jiùshì jīntiān, suǒyǐ tǐng yǒu yìsi de. 实际上的他就说érge就是今天,所以挺有意思的。 In actuality he was saying “today”, so it was pretty funny.
YU Jiéguǒ ne? Děng, dǎ wǒ jí de bù chéng, pángbiān de rén ?? jiù xiào, ?? yě yǒu hǎo duō bié de kàn bìng de bìngrén. 结果呢?(等)打我急得不成,旁边的人??就笑,??也有好多别的看病的病人。 So in the end, only after I was getting upset with him, other people laughed … there were a lot of patients next to us.
YU Jiéguǒ nào le bàn tiān, “érge” jiùshì “jīntiān”. 结果闹了半天,érge就是“今天”。 In the end a lot of fuss when “érge” just means “today”.
SYZ Kěshì shuō bié de, nǐ dōu tīngdǒng, duìbuduì? 可是说别的,你都听懂,对不对? But (when they) say other things, you understand it all, right?
YU Háiyǒu, èn, duō de fǎnzheng yě dōu shì zhōngguóhuà. 还有,恩,多的反正是也都是中国话。 Well, yeah, mostly it’s all Chinese.

Program Notes

If anyone knows more about hēng lǎo, it would be great to hear about it.
A lot of second language speakers of Mandarin find one of the toughest things to do is to stress a particular word without losing tones. Here’s a great example of heavy stress on zǒu wěn, 走稳
Translating 他 as “they” because it’s generic and being a lot like we’d use “singular they” in English
Note how YU switches from L to N in her pronunciation. Imitation of the locals? This behavior is common in some varieties of Mandarin but not much or at all in Beijing, where YU is from. So this is a mystery to me. Here’s a post with some more details.

The language of Gansu 甘肃, where YU’s story takes place, is generally Mandarin. However, “Mandarin” itself can encompass such a wide variety of dialects that speakers find themselves unable to understand each other. Last year, for example, the YU kitchen hosted a visit from the elderly parents of a friend. They are natives of a small village outside Xi’an 西安. During dinner, YU claimed she understood about half of what the couple was saying, even though what they spoke is also Mandarin.

With that context, there’s no doubt that plenty of other linguistic misunderstandings occurred in Gansu in the 1960s and 70s, when city slicker YU was practicing rural medicine. But for now this is all the Studios have managed to get on tape.