Monday, February 7, 2011

An interesting proposition (and other language fumbles)

A couple weeks ago I was getting off the subway at my stop and a local girl came over and was told me she is a photographer, and works at the local art village over here, and needs a foreign girl for one of her projects. I was holding onto my purse and looking around because who knows if it was a diversion to pickpocket me or what, so I gave her my email address and told her to email me info about it.

So, she emailed me and her english was pretty bad, I couldn't really understand what she was asking, so I said, look I speak and understand Chinese, can you tell me what you want me to do?

And so, she writes me this thing about how she is doing an art project on the understanding of different religions with people from different backgrounds. She wants me to be in photos and video doing some Buddhism actions and words. OK so I get to this point and I don't exactly know what this one Chinese word means, but she is talking about taking photos in her art studio, so I skip over it. (Then she says of course if I worry about safety I can bring friends with me, etc). I skipped over the word because when you are learning Chinese, you sometimes have to ignore a word you don't know, because often, you can get the meaning without knowing the word.

OK so I finished reading and something kept tugging at me.... I was like, hmmm, I think I should go back to that one word I don't know (sometimes when reading Chinese it is impossible to know every word, but you might know the characters the word is composed of which allows you to figure out the meaning). I go back and I am like, hm, TUO means to take off or get rid of (like tuo yifu de tuo 脱衣服, or the verb used in "to take of your clothes"), and GUANG can mean light but it can also mean to use up... at this point an image of a bald head flashes into my mind, because I realized that this same guang is also used in guangtou 光头,which means bald... and finally, realization dawns on me... but I looked it up in the dictionary to be sure and sure enough, the word I was looking for, "tuoguang" 脱光, means TO STRIP NAKED! LOL!

OK that was a long story, but I thought it was hilarious that if I had skipped that ONE crucial word, you never know what would have happened, hahaha. In learning Chinese, there are times you HAVE to skip the word you don't know and move on, and more often than not you still understand the meaning... but sometimes (like this!), the word you don't know is apparently crucial to the situation, and it is better to do some more digging. ;)



  1. Haha! Good job you looked that word up! ;) Great post!

    Kate x

  2. So, when is the the photo shoot? ;)

  3. Hi! Love your blog. I am a long time lurker =) I was wondering what your strategy is for looking up words in the Chinese dictionary? I have been trying to translate 2 sentences but having a hard time looking the characters up one by one.

  4. wow... interesting encounter. Glad you looked up that one very crucial word :)