Now…don’t be too quick to assume that I’ve had no clueless moments since “Clueless…pt. 1”. I’m certain that I have had many, but people are probably trying to help me “save face” by not clueing me in to how clueless I am.
The other day, however, I had a new one. My first thought was, “Oh…there’s a clueless post to share!” :)
We had just finished skyping with Ruth and family and our PTA meeting with the parents, and we were hanging out at the local Thai restaurant (which is SO good!) with our boss (Mingdaw), his wife (Iris), and his mother (Yang Mama). Yang Mama has been away from the school for awhile, as her mother (Mingdaw’s grandmother) has been really ill and in the hospital. She is better now though, and was released from the hospital a day or two before our big Skype event.
Yang Mama doesn’t have much English…but she takes such good care of us, and I really want to be able to talk to her more. So, for about 10 minutes I tried to work out how to say “Your mother went home from the hospital?” in Chinese. Then, for maybe another 5 minutes, I tried to work up the courage to actually give it a shot.
Finally, I decided to give it a go and said (or thought I said): “ä½ çš„åª½åª½ åŽ» çš„ å®¶?” ni(3) de mama(1) qu (4) de jia(1)? But evidently, I really said “ä½ çš„åª½åª½å‡º å®¶?” ni(3) de mama(1) chu(1) jia(1)?
Yang Mama looked a bit confused at first, but then smiled and said “å°” (dui4). So, I doublechecked with my boss to see if I’d said it right.
He just started laughing, and then explained why. It seems that, “å‡º å®¶” (chu1 jia1) is a phrase that means “exit the family.” Apparently, this expression is usually used to indicate that one has become a monk.
So, basically, what I said to Yang Mama was not, “Your mother went home?” but “Your mother became a monk?” :o :o
Like I said…we’re clueless. Fortunately, everyone is really gracious about our attempts to speak Chinese. But really, in my opinion, this newfound ability to make everyone (including ourselves) laugh is not such a bad thing. :D