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A Chinese Language and Culture Forum

Quite a number of forums (a.k.a. discussion boards) exist around the Web for you to discuss issues of Chinese language and culture. There’s the one populated mostly by professional Chinese in the US and Canada who field Chinese “newbie” questions on the one hand (”Why does white symbolize death in China?”) and dissect issues of ancient Chinese poetry on the other. There’s the one where Chinese around the world discuss, in English, great questions of Chinese history, but also take every opportunity to bash the United States (”SARS was created by the US to attack China” - puh-LEEZE!). Then there’s the one with some great information…that’s geared more toward people who have adopted children from China. And there’s also the one where, it looked to me, immature Chinese and American college students would partake in perpetual flame wars against each other (although the owner of that one made the wise decision to pull the plug on it).

But let’s say you’re a Westerner, maybe in China, maybe not, and you are looking for a place to discuss Chinese language, culture, and related issues with people like yourself, fellow learners, sharing your experiences, questions, and insights with one another in a friendly, open atmosphere.

Boy, did you come to the right newsletter: Obviously, you’re looking for Roddy Flagg’s “Chinese Language and Culture” forum, with all these categories of discussion going on:

I especially like that strong friendly, helpful character I mentioned, with participants sharing their experiences on various subjects.

One of my favorite light topics asks what everyone’s most embarassing moment has been while learning Chinese. The user who goes by the name tigronne wrote this (I’ll provide a general translation for those of you who don’t read pinyin):

I really messed up one afternoon not long after I’d arrived in Bei Jing. I was walking in Beihai park one afternoon with relatives of a Chinese lady I knew back in the UK. They didn’t speak English and my Chinese was rudimentary to say the least so our conversation was a bit stilted. In one last attempt, my friend’s brother asked me ‘ zai zhongguo ni you nan peng you ma ?’ [Do you have a boyfriend in China?]

I was very happy as I thought that I had understood their question (for the first time that afternoon). Unfortunately I had understood ‘ ni you peng you’ [Do you have friends?] instead of ‘ni you nan peng you’ [Do you have a boyfriend?], and launched into a long tirade to prove how great my Chinese was - approximately along the following lines :

"you, kending you hen duo, you yingguo de, zhongguo de, ye you meiguo he riben de (etc.)” [Yes, I definitely have many, some from England, some from China, also American and Japanese….]

there was no reaction, so I carried on:

"you nu de, ye you nan de” [Some are female, some are male]

by this time I realised something was amiss judging by the exxpression on their faces. It was embarassing for me but at least it broke the ice.

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