Got lost in China?! In this blog post, you get to discover how to find your way back – in Chinese!
In Week 9…I got lost, once again. This time however, I got lost in the botanical gardens during a class trip. Unlike the experience I had on my first day in China.
The occasion of getting lost happens to be a great opportunity to ask your way back in Chinese and return to your planned destination. Let’s go – 走吧 (zou3 ba)!
Before getting started with our conversation, we have to remember that Chinese Mandarin has four major tones and a neutral tone, which I previously explained in my blogpost about the busiest day of the year on the busiest square in the whole of China.
To enable non-Chinese speakers to follow through our conversation, I added the Pinyin tone marks to every word. Oh yes, especially during the first three months of learning Mandarin Chinese, our pronunciation had a shocking similarity with the sound of a kitchen knife cutting through fresh spring onion leaves. [Chop chop.]
You: Sorry, I am lost. How do I get to the Botanical Garden metro station? My apologies for bothering you.
Nǐ ： bú hǎo yì sī ，wǒ mí le lù 。qǐng wèn yī xià zhí wù yuán dì tiě zhàn zěn me zǒu ？
Park visitor: No worries。You will have to go straight ahead facing the east gate, once you reach the east gate turn right. Walk for about 500 meters and the metro station will be to your left.
Yóu rén ：méi shì ér 。wǎng dōng mén ér yī zhí zǒu 。yī dōng mén ér dào le ，jiù yòu zhuǎn ā 。wǔ bǎi mǐ yǐ hòu ，dì tiě zhàn yīng gāi zài zuǒ biān 。
You: That’s great, thank you. So walk 500 metres and then to the left？Sorry for bothering you.
Nǐ ：hǎo jí le ，xiè xiè 。suǒ yǐ cóng dōng mén ér dào dì tiě zhàn wǔ bǎi mǐ zuǒ yòu yī zhí zǒu ，rán hòu zuǒ zhuǎn duì ba ？bú hǎo yì sī má fán nín le 。
Park visitor: That‘s correct. Goodbye.
Yóu rén ：méi cuò ér ，zài jiàn 。
You: Thank you, goodbye.
Nǐ ：xiè xiè nǐ ā ，zài jiàn 。
This example conversation is the most simple way to ask for directions if you are travelling through China and want to practice them language skills. However, please pay attention to the following highly possible scenario’s.
- The locals might not fully understand you, since your accent, faulty pronounciation and misplaced tone marks are a comprehension challenge in itself.
- If you are just starting out with Chinese, you probably won’t be able to understand their answer. (Asking for the sake of asking? Yep, totally been there done that).
- If you happen to understand their directions (yay, good for you!), they might actually be slightly off if your counterpart didn’t know where the station was located at, but also didn’t want to admit that they are not familiar with the site. This by the way, based on my personal experience, happens all over the world, not only in China.
- If you actually find your way to the metro station, congratulations… (It’s okay, in the first two months I also pretended to understand all of the directions given to me in Chinese, nodding frequently to highlight my non-existent listening comprehension, while actually just walking into the direction that they were pointing at… 差不多chà bú duō)
其实(qí shí ) Actually，while frequently relying on my Baidu Maps, I found it a lot more fun to ask people instead of my handphone for directions. Did anyone catch my chinesified English here? Using handphone (derived from Chinese: 手机shou3ji1) instead of cellphone means the Chinglish has already started to pave its way into every day language, gosh where (天哪 tiānna)?!
I am looking forward to the next week at 北京大学. Next week’s blog post will be covering “On top of Beijing” as well as a language progress update. Stay tuned until next week back on Curious Seikatsu ~ 下次见 xià cì jiàn !
In the meantime, feel free to have a look at the CS Instagram in the sidebar to the right for a preview of the most recent experiences in Beijing!