Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Happiness is ........(23)




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Recently I watched the Golden Horse Awards Ceremony held in Banciao, Taipei County on Channel U. The stars were so immaculately and attractively groomed.

I watched the whole program, and at the end, it suddenly dawned upon me, that of late, I have been able to watch Chinese programs without English subtitles!

When I first came to Singapore, some 26 years ago, I would only watch Chinese programs which had English subtitles, because my Mandarin was limited for me to fully comprehend what was spoken. I had never studied Chinese in school. I had often been mistaken to be a Malay because of my dark complexion. Once I spoke Mandarin to the fruit vendor in my estate. Suddenly he said, "You can speak Mandarin?"

"Of course, I am Chinese!", I smiled. For three years I had been speaking to him mainly in English, and hence he was under the mistaken impression. Hence, after
that incident I always tried to speak Mandarin at the market and shopping malls. I
was not afraid to make mistakes and sometimes laughed at myself.

I am glad that after years of watching Chinese programs with English subtitles, I had actually subconsciously improved in my Mandarin.

I would speak Mandarin and Hokkien with people who cannot speak English, eg. some food vendors, sales personnel, taxi and bus drivers. If the taxi driver were a Malay man, I would converse with him in Bahasa Malaysia, which is my second language. Hence, I would not lose touch with my second language.

Happiness is living in cosmopolitan Singapore, where so many languages are being spoken! I hope that with my constant watching of Korean and Hindi movies, I would
be able to improve in my conversational Korean and Hindi. Indeed happiness is breaking the ice when we speak to someone in his native language. I love languages for the various sounds and rhythm in languages is like music to my ears!


geeds said...

tell me about it.
people talk to me in mandarin every time i went to a store that have Chinese promoter. they thought i am Chinese. its really funny.
i really should learn deeper in mandarin so that i could converse in mandarin as well.

The Oriental Express said...

Hi Nur!

You are a Malay mistaken to be a Chinese, and I am a Chinese mistaken to be a Malay!!!

We should swop places.

Tell you something very funny.

Once I was "waylaid" by a Chinese beautician who sold me a facial package. I spoke to her in English and hence she switched to speaking broken English with me.

Soon we became good friends, and after two years, I invited her to my hometown, and she said, "Luckily I just got my
Singapore passport!" "You are not Singaporean?" No, I am from China.

Then on the same day, she found out I am a Chinese. For two years she thought I was a Malay!

C'est la vie!

Gan Chau