Sunday, 30 September 2007

What..You Can Speak Mandarin??

Most of the students in STM are still rather surprised that I can speak some "broken" Mandarin. In one of my earlier posts, I highlighted that I went to a Chinese National Type Primary and Secondary Schools. Of course, Pearlie was surprised to find out that I am Chinese educated!

Well, Pearlie is not the only one. One of our students in my pastoral group also found out this fact about me faily recently. It happened when we were having a BBQ at my place, and he heard me speaking in Mandarin. He was so shocked and stunned.

" can speak Mandarin, ah! All this while I thought you don't understand Mandarin, and I struggled so hard to communicate with you in English for the past 7 months!"

Well...all that I can say is this: Most just assume that I don't speak Mandarin, and don't ask me about it.

Anyway, it was rather fun seeing this student's response and his shocked expression. One more secret of mine has been finally "discovered." I guess there will be more to come...

Cartoon credit:


pearlie said...

Haha ... now that I know, I find no problems imagining you speaking Mandarin!

Paul said...

I have a great story related to Sivin Kit. He was the guest speaker at MBS combined chapel (first time) and I was there to lend support. I sat right at the back but right in the middle of the aisle almost directly facing him...

I was watching the typically (sorry but this is true) half bored, not really paying attention look of the students faces, esp the CD students.

Then as the sermon progressed, the interepreter misinterpreted as Sivin had to politely stop and make the correction. Now the look on the lecturer's face was so funny as he kind of took a "double take" as he realised that Sivin was right (but this was an English sepaking pastor preaching using impeccable English with no hint of any Chinese language accent or mannerism)

I looked at the faces of some CD students and realised that the some kind of sat up in surprise

The sermon progessed and Sivin quoted a long sentence from some theologian ... and the interpreter I think "winged it". it msut have been way off because Siving stooped there and correctd him saying that was not what he said or meant. A few moments of uncertainty as to how to explain the quote and then Sivin to solve the problem interprets the whole theological quotation in what must have been flawless Mandarin. I speaketh not the Mandarin so I have no idea what he said but you could hear a pin drop as the interpreters mouth hung open for a few seconds and then there was a buzz of whispers (which made it pretty loud) from the students.

The lecturer was so impressed, he humbly requested that he be relieved of his duty as he felt he was not needed and asked if Sivin would do his own interpretation.

I thought Sivin was really cool and gracious to assure him that he was doing very well and that it he only felt he needed to make this slight correction as it was an important point and a very difficult theological quote to interpret on the spot.

For the rest of the sermon the change in attitude of the listeners was so evident. Respect and almost awe, especially from the CD students.

I personally thought it was hilarious! Was I ever proud that day to be a friend of Sivin's! :-) as his ability with both English and Mandarin really bridged the culturtal gap!