- Tiffany Coates
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Language Tangles 3
Submitted by Tiffany on 25 September, 2011 - 20:34
When we first entered China, I had chatted with the guides about greetings and other useful phrases. I was informed that Yie Ha is hello.
So, over the next few weeks as I rode through the villages and smaller settlements I would call it out to those watching the bike, though with my intonation it sounded more like “Yee har”. Yes, I did feel like a modern day Calamity Jane, and some would perhaps say that I look and act like one too. However I comforted myself with the thought that people appreciate foreigners making an attempt at the local languages. Then, several weeks down the road and I found out I had misheard during the initial language lesson and actually the phrase is “Nee Ha”. So not only did I look like a complete idiot but I also sounded like one as I’d been calling out something that didn’t make sense.
As we approached the final couple of weeks of our trip, the American contingent confirmed that they had managed through hard study and practice to improve their grasp of Alan's Geordie accent, and in fact had increased their understanding by 100%. Wow - that's a great improvement we agreed until it dawned on us that they had increased their comprehension from one word in four to two words in every four. And thus still needed translation of most of Alan's sentences.