Sunday, April 29, 2007

Language troubles - always one tone off

A foreign friend and I had some time to kill, so we headed into a tea house/restaurant. The place actually said “.Tea” in English on the outside. We ordered some food and TRIED to order some green tea. After all it was a tea house and we were in China where they serve you tea every time you sit down.

After many failed attempts to get the waitress to understand “Cha,” she finally left to get her supervisor. She kept saying “meiyou” meaning, don’t have any. We were so confused. Why would a tea house in China not have any tea? Fortunately the supervisor had a more lenient ear to tone deaf/mute westerners and understood what we wanted. After much dictionary rifling to see what the waitress thought we were ordering, we discovered that one tone off of “cha” (voice starting low and ending high) is “cha” with another tone….meaning western knife and fork.

You know you should be working harder at the language if you cannot manage to order tea in China!

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