Come, share our ignorance.
Why was there no water in our apartment today? I’ll tell you:
zǐ jīn nán lǐ (our apt. complex) [X] [X] give? water [X] dào [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] enter? [X] arrive? [X] internet??! [X] head [X] [X], [X] dìng [X] 2007-5-22 [X] 8 [X] [X] [X] 18 [X] [X] water [X] [X], [X] water [X] [X] ________. xiàn tōng zhī [X] [X] [X] first? [X] [X] [X] use water, [X] [X] residence middle? [X] person, yǐ [X] [X] [X] dào [X] [X] and [X] water xiàn elephant??! de [X] shēng.
Thank-you [X] zuò
huà [X] give water [X] [X] have [X] gōng [X]
That’s what the notice in the photo looks like to us.
If you can find meaning in our “translation,” then you would understand why there was no water in the apartment when we woke up this morning. Well, this particular notice has our address on it and says water a bunch of times… we’re assuming it’s the one. We found it around noon among the several pasted on our gate as we hauled our unshowered selves to class. We circled all the characters we recognize. Do NOT be fooled: there are way more words in English than characters in Chinese, but most Chinese words are combinations of two or three characters and context matters bigtime. Just because you can “read” most or all the characters in a sentence is no guarantee that you’ll have any clue what it’s about.
There are always signs like this posted around, telling us something we might want to know, and we can’t read any of them. So we just ignore them. But this morning, upon discovering our sans agua status, I looked out the window and saw workers digging holes beside the manholes outside our gate and the next gate over. That was our tip to go look at the notices. Not that they help much at this point. Ah well. The illiterate life!