How good is your Chinglish? If you can follow this story, I’m guessing you have lived in China hao jiu.
The other day, I was buying some ershou furniture from a guy across town but I knew it was going to be a lot of mafan to get it back to my xiaoqu. All I’ve got is a little diandongche and there’s no way I can fit a guizi on it, even though I bet a lot of bendiren could do it, mei wenti. Anyway, first I tried using DiDi to book a mianbaoche, but you can only get kuaiches or chuzuches, so I had to think of something else. I don’t know any mianbaoche drivers here yet, so I thought about sending something out on WeChat to ask some of my laowai pengyou if they could recommend someone.
I was at school and happened to stop by the waiban. There’s this one laoshi there who is super nenggan so I thought about asking her for help. It’s just that she’s also always hen mang so I hate to mafan her. Plus, since her English is not great and my Putonghua is only mamahuhu, we often don’t communicate well. But I decided to ask her to bangmang and I’m so glad I did. She called a guy and DUANG! Just like that, it was all anpai’d. I really couldn’t follow what she said on the phone because they were using tuhua or some kind of fangyan, which is another reason I feel like a bendan half the time when I try to talk to people here.
She explained that the driver would need some kind of fapiao or fangxingtiao to show the baoan at the other guy’s xiaoqu or they wouldn’t let them out the menkou. I texted the guy right away, and thankfully, he has lived in China a long time, so he knew all about that and had it zhunbei’d.
So, that night, the mianbaoche arrived right on schedule, which was amazing considering it was gaofengqi and, well, TIC, right? I had warned the baoan they were coming, so they let them park right at my danyuan which is way more fangbian than where they’d have to park otherwise. The driver had brought along another guy and they carried the guizi and other dongxi up my stairs on their backs. Wasai! These guys are so lihai! I could never do that. I considered giving them an extra tip for all the xinku, but I know it’s not the xiguan here. So, I just paid the fei and said xie xie. Then I sent a few thank you stickers to the waiban laoshi on WeChat. Chenggong le!
(P.S. I know there’s a lot more of you who aren’t China expats but will still be great at reading this. Shout out to my huaqiao, S’pore, Malaysian, Chinese-Anything, and English-speaking dalu friends la!)
Sorry, Stephen Colbert, but I Am America
46 Signs China is Permeating Your Soul
December 2, 2016 at 11:47 am
I shwa my ka.
December 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm
Shua your ka, shua your toufa, shua your ya…
December 2, 2016 at 10:09 pm
That was taihaole! I love how there are words I’ve learned in Chinese that just don’t have a match in English. Although, then my friends in the States look at me all quiguai like, why does she keep saying, “mafan?” 😀
December 2, 2016 at 11:13 pm
Lol! “Mafan” is definitely a permanent addition to my English vocabulary. It’s just such a useful word.
December 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm
yes… i even use it with people who dont understand any chinese what causes quite some confusion xD.
December 9, 2016 at 9:06 am
Sometimes when I’m Skyping someone in the U.S. I have to remind myself to NOT use some of these words. They just flow.
December 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm
Uh, ‘could I trouble you’ is pretty standard English too.
But entertaining article nevertheless.
December 9, 2016 at 9:16 am
Glad you enjoyed it, Michael.
December 2, 2016 at 11:43 pm
Well, at least I got the gist that you found through a colleague/acquaintance at school whom to contact for a vehicle and delivery at your apartment for the furniture you bought. Chica, no hablo Chinglish, oder meine Tochter, Ich weiss nicht was vielen Chinglish/Chinosich Wörte bedeuten, and my smartphone is going crazy trying to correct all the Español and Deutsch. Ich Liebe Dich and I miss you all!
December 3, 2016 at 12:33 am
Yup, that was pretty much the gist. (But it’s not a true story. :))
December 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm
hao hao wan a
December 3, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Xie xie a!
December 3, 2016 at 1:32 pm
That was amazing and funny!
December 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm
Thank you, Mohini!
December 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm
Tai hao le. I really enjoyed your gushi 🙂
December 3, 2016 at 10:30 pm
Xie xie a!
December 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm
Very well written! Had a good laugh! I think the word I feared most from the authorities was “mei ban fa”. They didn’t seem to want to “xiang ban fa” themselves, even though I was often expected to. Thanks for a great laugh!
December 3, 2016 at 10:29 pm
Thanks, Juliet! I should have worked those two into the story. They are definitely common in the Mandarin and Chinglish I hear. 🙂
December 3, 2016 at 10:34 pm
Love this! Made me laugh so hard and miss China.
December 3, 2016 at 10:54 pm
December 4, 2016 at 5:10 am
Zen halo le! I enjoyed reading it very much and laugh a lot, yes, it made me miss China! Good writing!
December 4, 2016 at 1:55 pm
Thanks very much, Joy!
December 4, 2016 at 3:03 pm
December 4, 2016 at 6:23 pm
December 4, 2016 at 10:18 pm
Your pu tong hua is so niu!
December 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm
That’s quite a compliment, Beth! 😉
December 5, 2016 at 5:11 am
This is feizhang hao.
December 5, 2016 at 11:10 am
Xie xie ni!
December 5, 2016 at 5:57 am
I grew up in a Mandarin speaking country – once my mom gave my husband a puppy and to spite my mom he named her Mafan! She was a rather large collie. And she was a lot of mafan! But when we took her to the vet here in the US I used to check her in as Muffin because no one really understood her name. All in all she was a sweet Mafan!
December 5, 2016 at 11:10 am
So, she was a tiaopi little Mafan/Muffin? 😉 That is a great story, Julie! Thanks for sharing it. I love that you had to change her name for the U.S. vet.
December 5, 2016 at 10:15 am
I got all of it except for “duang”…help me liao jie yi dian!
December 5, 2016 at 11:07 am
That’s really good, Cari! You are a Chinglish star. Here’s the story on “duang”: http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-jackie-chan-duang-20150304-story.html
December 5, 2016 at 10:47 pm
DUANG! Now I see what it means.
I was scratching my head trying to figure it out.
December 6, 2016 at 7:07 am
Glad that helped! For a while, it felt like we were seeing “duang” all over the place in all kinds of ads.
December 6, 2016 at 9:36 am
I understood this mamahuhu!!!
I wish we had another tour!
December 6, 2016 at 10:57 am
Mamahuhu is bucuo! 🙂
December 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm
Hen Good. LOL. Da xiao. 😀
December 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm
Nice one! 🙂
December 7, 2016 at 3:28 pm
What is mianbaoche (bread cart? 面包车?), waiban, fangxingtiao, danyuan?
I don’t understand these ones.
December 7, 2016 at 7:53 pm
Good guess, Ryan! Mianbaoche is indeed 面包车, but it refers to the ubiquitous Chinese van, supposedly because they are shaped like a loaf of bread. Quick explanations for the rest: waiban is the foreign affairs office at universities, fangxingtiao is a form showing permission to remove large items like appliances or furniture, and danyuan is the entrance (or stairwell) in apartment buildings. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your Putonghua.
December 7, 2016 at 10:56 pm
Ahahahahahhahahah! so accurate. I’m back to paris now, and i wish i could still have people around to speak like that
December 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm
Annabelle, you can stop by any time when you need a little dose of China and Chinglish. 🙂
December 7, 2016 at 11:36 pm
Even being back in the UK for over a year, the occasional zao sheng hao and zou ba slips out at work. People must think I’m a complete weirdo.
December 8, 2016 at 1:11 pm
That’s really funny, Thomas! Well, at least it’s polite phrases that are slipping out, right? You’re a polite weirdo. 🙂
December 8, 2016 at 12:37 am
Hen hao wanr de story! You xiede fantastic! 🙂 Loved and will share with my pengyou!
December 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm
Xie xie for sharing it with your friends! I’m glad you liked it.
December 8, 2016 at 1:49 am
I wang le some words you wrote. But in general, wo juede mingbai la..
December 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm
If you got the dagai de yisi, I think that’s pretty bucuo!
December 8, 2016 at 6:54 am
Love your articles;) my husband is also an expat in China but we live in Qingdao .. I’m wondering how you set up this website. Is there a platform I can register? I love the layout a lot. Cheers! Michelle
December 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Thanks, Michelle!I’m so glad you enjoy the blog and like the look. I set my blog up through WordPress and the theme (layout) is called Baskerville. You can have a blog through WordPress for free if you use a web address that ends in wordpress.com. If you want an address with your own domain name, you can do that through a hosting company for pay. I use DreamHost (That’s an affiliate link, so if you sign up using that link, I’ll get some yuan from them. :)) There are lots of websites and videos online to help you with setup. Best wishes on setting up your website. Let me know when you’ve got it up and running.
December 8, 2016 at 9:00 am
hahaha xiao si wo le! And your Putonghua is juedui very ok la!
December 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm
Xie xie a, Elie!
December 8, 2016 at 4:10 pm
December 8, 2016 at 4:14 pm
Lol, xie xie!
December 8, 2016 at 11:25 pm
Oh my Tian I totally ai this. Gonna whatsapp to all my pengyou in Hong Kong even though their pinyin is kinda you wenti.
December 9, 2016 at 9:07 am
Thank you, Marc! I’m sure they’ll get the dagai de yisi. 🙂
December 9, 2016 at 4:59 am
jin lihai. Being Chinese, I found myself enjoying reading novels that would randomly throw in these chingish words. So much fun to read.
December 9, 2016 at 9:16 am
That would be fun, Stella! Any novel recommendations you’d like to pass along? I’m always up for a good read.
December 9, 2016 at 6:32 am
Hi Emily! Great story, thanks! Besides being funny, it kinda gives English speakers an insight of how most conversationsin foreign languages sound nowadays : riddled with English words. Maybe the same will happen to English some day and people will really speak like this in the streets of New York ?
December 9, 2016 at 9:15 am
Yes, good point! I think there is a ton of code-switching (using two or more languages in the same utterance) happening in many communities around the world, and not necessarily just mixed with English. It depends on how exposed to other languages the community is. There are still plenty of places where communication is all monolingual. We’ve been in plenty of smaller places in China that have zero English, and sometimes very little Putonghua! Thanks for your great comment, Kris!
December 9, 2016 at 11:21 am
What is “waiban” and “fangxingtiao?” Sorry, native Chinese speaker here, but I never lived in China as an adult >_<
December 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm
There’s definitions listed a few comments up. 🙂
December 9, 2016 at 11:51 pm
Hijack this comment a little, buhaoyisi. Anyway Zoë, if you can read Chinese, here is what they mean: waiban = 外办 （外国人员办事处）, fangxingtiao = 放行条
December 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm
Haha, so great!
I guess you meant Gaofengqi instead of baofengqi, right?
This sounds definitely an expat from Taiwan!!
Or not? Haha
December 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm
Whoops! Yes, I meant gaofengqi. O_O Buhaoyisi and thank you for catching that error! I’ve changed it now. I did live in Taiwan for a year, but most of my Chinese and Chinglish comes from living in Guangxi and Yunnan for the past 11 years. Thanks again, Anny!
December 9, 2016 at 11:45 pm
That makes sense now. Gaofengqi = rush hour, but baofengqi = storm season
December 10, 2016 at 8:12 am
Yup. Silly typo! That is what I get for writing late at night.
December 9, 2016 at 7:25 pm
Are there any more stories! I xihuan! Please gaosu me!
December 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm
Glad you liked it, Mali! I haven’t written any more stories in Chinglish…yet! 🙂
December 14, 2016 at 1:31 am
I remember when I started adding “ma” in the end of my questions in English. Friends not knowing putonghua looked when it happened.
December 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm
Ha ha! That is pretty funny, Jessica.
December 15, 2016 at 8:21 am
Learning chinesse language bu rong yi, today xuexi tomorrow wang le..!!
December 15, 2016 at 2:31 pm
January 31, 2017 at 9:32 am
Lived in China for several years, moved back almost two years ago. I miss speaking like this! Reading through this (for the umpteenth time!) just makes me smile. Feels a bit like home in a way that my current home can’t.
February 3, 2017 at 6:58 pm
I’m glad it gave you a smile, Heather! Come hang out here anytime you are homesick for China.
March 30, 2017 at 4:06 pm
Interesting! But I can only guess some of the words as my Putonghau pinyin is very bad.
March 31, 2017 at 10:09 am
加油！You are probably guessing a lot of them right. 🙂
April 7, 2017 at 10:58 pm
I never lived in China. Only doing business trips few weeks at a time for 这几年了 now.
While I myself is a Chinese, I never be able to talk 中文很好. Ironic, isn’t it? My ancestors came to Indonesia and settled for generations. It’s quite interesting to read many of expats‘ stories about living China, how you can be confident, able to deal with locals and adapt. I don’t think I can do that.
April 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm
You never know, Ryan! You would probably be able to adapt pretty quickly, and it looks like you’ve already got a good base on your 中文。:)
April 15, 2017 at 11:16 am
Only the basics.
July 3, 2017 at 10:51 pm
Thanks for this… I Love it! Yep.. No substitute for mafan, or suibian or lihai or Jia you…and probably more. I’m moving back to UK soon… No one is going to understand me!
July 4, 2017 at 11:37 am
It’s hard to get through a conversation without one of those extremely useful words popping up, isn’t it? Best wishes on your transition back.