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When you think you understand Chinese – A Learn Chinese story that will make you laugh

Posted by Grace Feng on August 18, 2012

When you think you understand Chinese - A Learn Chinese story that will make you laughBrad, a Chinese learner who came from Canada, was invited to a dinner by his Chinese friend Liu.

Liu introduced him to his friends around the dinner table. Then they started to eat and chat. After a while, a friend of Liu stood up and said:”对不起,我去方便一下。” then he left the table.

Brad caught most of the sentence:(“excuse me, I need to go 方便.”) He didn’t know what “方便” is so he asked Liu? Liu told him that it meant “go to the washroom. ”

The dinner and chat was going well and Brad started to draw people’s attention since he could speak some Chinese.

When one of Liu’s friend realized that Brad’s home town in Canada was actually the place that he would visit in a few months, he happily shook his hands with Brad and said:”我去的时候你能提供方便吗?”

Brad processed the sentence in a flash:(” When I get there could you please offer washroom to go?”) He was a bit hesitated at the ask but was too shy to say no.

Meanwhile, a very beautiful lady sitting accross the table, who was working for public media smiled and asked him:”你方便的时候我能不能采访一下你?

(“When you go to washroom, may I interview you?” ) Brad was very surprised at what he heard and didn’t know what to say…

The lady sensed his hesitation and smiled again:”你如果不方便, 没关系的.”

(“If you don’t want to go to washroom, that’s fine.”) Brad composed himself and smiled back nervously.

The lady continued:”那下次我方便的时候, 你过来吃饭?

(“Then next time I go to washroom, will you come to eat?”) …

… ??? …

He finally collapsed …

 

 

My smart readers, do you get it? :-)

 

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23 Responses to “When you think you understand Chinese – A Learn Chinese story that will make you laugh”

  1. nothing

    Cliff:

    08-18-2012 12:06 pm

    How funny. I have to admit I finally needed to use the dictionary.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-18-2012 3:35 pm

      Yeah, I couldn’t help laughing when I first read it in Chinese. Then I think it’s a good story that worth translating and re-writing in English to share with Chinese learners.

      Cliff, I believe you’ve already figured out the main meaning for the word of 方便 – “convenient”. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  2. nothing

    Orachat:

    08-20-2012 11:49 pm

    Hi Grace!
    This is great way of introducing the ‘slang’ in Chinese.
    It would be great if you could have a section /lessons, especially for this type of ‘ high frequency’ word/words the Chinese used on daily basic.
    I’m happy to find your site. It’s different from other learning Chinese web sites. It’s more practical and very useful in real life for practicing Chinese.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-21-2012 3:09 am

      Hi Orachat,

      Welcome to my site!

      Thanks for your comments and suggestion. Slang is something that I barely dealt with on the site yet. It’s definitely a topic that I’ll work on from now on.

      I’ve created a new category of “Chinese Slang” and will expand on it soon.

      Grace

      Reply

  3. nothing

    Thomas Doherty:

    08-21-2012 6:45 am

    In the first Chinese sentence ” 一下 ” seems naturally to translate into ” for a while ” but I have not yet seen a dictionary that gives this definition.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-21-2012 4:49 pm

      A google search of “一下 translation” would find the following explanation, but I doubt you can search it out from most dictionaries:

      “(used after a verb) give it a go to do (sth for a bit to give it a try)”

      It is mostly used in oral Chinese, sort of like saying “I need to read a bit.” “May I be excused a bit?”

      “a bit”, “a little while”, “a short moment” sort of things…

      Hope this helps, Thomas. I know lots of oral stuff is not easy to be looked up unfortunatly … that’s why I’m here to help :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  4. nothing

    furio:

    08-21-2012 7:08 am

    haha I knew that 方便 meant convenient but I didn’t know it can also mean toilet

    Interesting!

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-21-2012 4:53 pm

      Furio, 方便 can mean “go to the toilet” (such as in this story). But be aware that a toilet can NOT be called 方便! :-)

      Reply

  5. nothing

    白睿:

    08-21-2012 12:01 pm

    Hello Grace. Ha,ha, I remember a Chinese friend telling me a similar story when I first started learning Chinese and I didn’t understand it until I consulted a dictionary!

    最近因为生病了,我不能上网,或可以说,不方便上网!(我的背部疼得很厉害)现在好多了. It is nice to be here again. :)

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-21-2012 4:58 pm

      Hi 白睿,

      So happy to see you back! I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. I’ve had back and neck problems before after I’ve been sitting for too long.

      So I forced myself to do stretching from time to time, it really helped. Use special back support (those massage stuff) might also help I guess, though I never tried…

      Grace

      Reply

  6. nothing

    Magnus:

    08-22-2012 10:58 am

    Hilarious. Love it.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-22-2012 3:59 pm

      Hi Magnus, nice to see you here!

      I love the cartoons on your blog. I wish I can draw. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  7. nothing

    白睿:

    08-22-2012 6:35 pm

    Grace,谢谢你的建议和关心。

    Reply

  8. nothing

    CHANGIUS:

    08-30-2012 3:47 pm

    I understood it all. Not funny though.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-30-2012 5:08 pm

      Hi Changius, welcome!

      If you understand all the Chinese, then there might not be any suspense then… :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  9. nothing

    Benjamin Cai:

    04-24-2013 3:43 pm

    Woah, it is really interesting. This can just happen to someone have learnt Chinese for a short period of time. But I imagine the sense which have made me laugh to dead.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      04-24-2013 5:01 pm

      Hehe … the humour is even better in pure Chinese. :-)

      The bottom line is, never be afraid of making mistakes, without mistakes, one can never make significant progress on language learning. I don’t think any sensible people would actually be offended by innocent mistakes made by a language learner.

      Reply

  10. nothing

    纳德:

    12-25-2013 7:46 pm

    Grace, 您的网站很棒!
    这个笑话让我哈哈大笑~

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      12-26-2013 4:49 pm

      谢谢, 纳德.很高兴你喜欢这个笑话. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  11. nothing

    RoHa:

    09-04-2014 10:54 am

    A problem here. In British and Australian English, “toilet” means the room you go to as well as the porcelain thing you pee in. A “bathroom” is a room with a bath in it. So what exactly does “方便” mean? The room or the porcelain thing?

    (Many year ago I was checking in to a hotel in Indonesia when a couple of tense-looking Canadian girls came in and asked for the washroom. The clerk, in his best English, told them where it was. They rushed off. Very quickly they came back, looking even more tense. Apparently they didn’t want to wash their clothes. They had to force themselves to say the word “toilet” to make the clerk understand which room they wanted.)

    Reply

  12. nothing

    RoHa:

    09-04-2014 11:11 am

    A problem here. In British and Australian English, “toilet” mean both the room you go to and the porcelain thing in the room. ( A “bathroom” is a room with a bath in it.). So does 方便 mean the room, or just “use the porcelains thing”?

    (Many years ago I was checking in to a hotel in Indonesia when a couple of tense-looking Canadian girls came in and asked the clerk where the washroom was. In his best English he gave the, exact directions. They came back very quickly, looking even more tense. Apparently they didn’t want to wash their clothes. They had to use the word “toilet” to find what they needed.)

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      09-05-2014 4:22 am

      Hi RoHa,

      方便 means “go to washroom to pee or poo”. It indicates the whole sequence of actions. :-)

      It is used as a verb for this meaning. Is this clear now?

      Thanks for sharing your real life story about language confusion!

      Grace

      Reply

      • nothing

        RoHa:

        09-05-2014 7:19 am

        Thanks! Sorry about the duplication of the comment. I thought my first version got lost in cyberspace.

        The varied euphemisms can cause lots of confusion. I remember seeing, in a dubious bar in Bangkok, a sign in English that said “Comfort Station”. Don’t even start thinking about what that could mean.

        Reply

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