Thursday, April 9, 2009

Taiwanese and Speaking English II

When you got outside of Taipei city the locals got into such a panic at your white face no matter how much Chinese you spoke they couldn't hear it.

The conversation below was typical every time I went to MacDonalds. It was really annoying if you were in a hurry.

“Meal number three, please,” I would say in ok enough Chinese and, for extra clarity, point at the picture of meal number three.

“Boss,”the terrified counter assistant would shout. “Wai gwo ren (foreigner).” Before shrinking back to behind the fries.

Then it went as it always did: You had to wait for the manager to come out, who supposedly spoke English. He would come out with his one sentence – “What number?” – and you would repeat back in perfectly good Chinese – “Number 3” – and he would repeat – “Number 3” – back to you in English, and unless you answered him in English this to-ing and thro-ing could go on forever. And then he would say – “Drink?” – and you would ask – “What do you have?” – and because his English had run out he would speak to you in Chinese because he knew all along you could speak Chinese.

Fifteen minutes had been wasted. It was communication Taiwan style in anywhere outside of Taipei city center. The people were great, but sometimes...!

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