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Ways to get people to speak Chinese (not English) with you

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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby steelersman » 05 Apr 2009, 10:19

Do you realize now how rude your post sounds after I changed it? What does the intellect level of the Taiwanese have to do with them wanting to practice English with you, just as you want to speak Chinese with them?


This is not rude and on many levels other foreigners as well as I wonder about their intellectual level. One might argue that don't care about other countries which is fine but they seem to lump all foreigners together. It is not just that some white person may not speak English. It is that they think all foreigners are American and all Americans seem to think alike. Of course there are some intelligent Taiwanese people and for the most part they are friendly but there over simplification of the world is sometimes naive.
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby bob » 05 Apr 2009, 12:19

Most of the people who speak English with me do it in stores where they aren't "trying" to speak English, they are trying to get a job done, and they have been through the spiel so many times that their English in that context is definitely better than my Chinese. It makes perfect sense to just try to communicate with them in English.

Other times somebody just tries to strike up a conversation in which case I have to make a quick assesment, is this person someone I want to talk to in English? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. If no I just respond in Chinese to whatever they say, if I can.

Iksbig hit the nail smack on earlier.....

Maybe they don't give a damn about you not wanting to speak English because they want to practice their English, like how you don't give a damn they don't want to speak Chinese because you want to practice your Chinese.


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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby Dragonbones » 05 Apr 2009, 12:42

steelersman wrote:The point is they seem to believe that all white people speak English or want to speak English.


I know what you're trying to say, and there is some of that, yes; but often it's a case of them insisting on using English just because they want to practice it, just as you are insisting on using Chinese because you want to practice it.

Sometimes two people, both insisting on their own goal, butt heads over this. It's certainly not them being wrong or unintelligent and you being right (in such cases). Furthermore, in such cases, you are a rare opportunity for them, whereas for you, there are countless opportunities to practice your Mandarin here. Besides, it's their mouth. They get to decide what language comes out of it, just as you do. So I say just chill, try not to be selfish, and don't let it bother you. :idunno:
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby occhimarroni » 05 Apr 2009, 14:53

It still bothers me, but I've found my way to avoid speaking English. I just give them a blank stare and pretend I don't understand a word until they eventually switch to Chinese. Some folks it takes longer than others so I just ask them politely to speak Chinese. If they ask where I'm from, I tell them Spain or Mexico because I can speak Spanish very well, although I've never been tested by a Taiwanese person. I think once you've studied Chinese past a certain level you can be confident enough that your Chinese is better than the majority of Taiwanese, even in Taipei. We do, in fact, have the advantage living in a Chinese environment. Taiwanese may have studied English all of their life, but when it comes to conversation or being able to respond quickly they are usually lacking in that department.
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby alidarbac » 05 Apr 2009, 16:10

Dragonbones wrote:Furthermore, in such cases, you are a rare opportunity for them, whereas for you, there are countless opportunities to practice your Mandarin here.


For the servers who work in the foreigner hangout places, they're speaking English all the time. I don't mind being approached in English, but if they can't take the hint after several back-and-forths, well then screw them. Their job is to make the customer satisfied, not to practice or show off their English. If they're making their customers seethe with resentment, they're not doing their jobs correctly. I've got my mental white list of places where I love to frequent because I feel the staff there treat me as an equal and black list of places that I avoid at all costs because I feel like the staff always treat me like a retarded child.
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby Joesox » 05 Apr 2009, 20:52

As an observation, (though not a piece of advice), I'd say that native speakers of Chinese are much happier to speak Chinese with non-native speakers whose tones are OK. Unfortunately, some NNSs will always have problems with tones, due to the way that language stuff gets set up in the brain at an early age. For some people, tones just don't compute. They can produce accurate tones consciously, with some effort, but when it comes to fluent conversation, the tones just fall apart.

I have the opposite problem. My pronunciation, including tones, has always been passable. It's not perfect by any means, but it's clear and comfortable for NSs to listen to. That encourages them to bury me in swathes of incomprehensible Chinese input, as they think my level is much better than it really is.

There are of course a few people who insist on speaking English with me, for whatever reason. Doesn't bother me. The only thing that I'm not too keen on is when someone keeps switching the language back and forth. It's confusing as I don't know which one they actually want to speak.
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby headhonchoII » 06 Apr 2009, 09:20

Taiwanese are quite selfish people in general and there is no 'service' culture here, so they project their wants and needs past the customer's wants and needs, simple as that. They don't care that you want to speak Chinese, it's all about ME. I do the old Chinese-English thing aswell but sometimes I will use English back if they are polite or service oriented or just being nice.

The only guy who ever corrected my Chinese was my old workmate, a talented graphic designer with not one word of English. He would screw up his face listening me to mis-pronounce stuff, stop me right there and correct me in mid-flow. Ironically I appreciated that a lot.

Compare Taipei to Tokyo, a real cosmpolitan city secure in their own language, I loved getting yakked at in incomprehensible Japanese everywhere I went...

My pet hate is language mixing. Taiwanese, especially Taipei based business people, have a terrible habit of doing this. It's not impressive and really grates the ears. You can be impressive with your own language by speaking it elonquently, something beyond most Taipei clone-like business people which is why I can't stand most of them!
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby Huang Guang Chen » 06 Apr 2009, 09:47

joesax wrote:I have the opposite problem. My pronunciation, including tones, has always been passable. It's not perfect by any means, but it's clear and comfortable for NSs to listen to. That encourages them to bury me in swathes of incomprehensible Chinese input, as they think my level is much better than it really is.


I have a similar problem with Thai. The words and phrases I've picked up half-arsed from the missus and lil' princess are faultless, leading the listener to presume a much higher level of Thai ability than I actually have. Even when I point out I got only a smattering of what was said, they persist, even when their English is clearly better than my Thai (not hard, really).

As for forcing people to speak Chinese, well I only do that in HK, where I make the fuckers squirm in Mandarin, pointing out that I speak two out of the three official languages of the former colony, and if there's a problem with communication, it's the fault of the other party. I detest hearing it, but I do like correcting their crap Mandarin. I do graciously accept apologies, though.

When in Taiwan, personally I'm happy to speak whatever anyone wants to go with, of course if their English sucks, that needs to be pointed out. It's a tool not a competition, so I readily revert to who has the better second language.

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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby alidarbac » 06 Apr 2009, 15:02

joesax wrote:As an observation, (though not a piece of advice), I'd say that native speakers of Chinese are much happier to speak Chinese with non-native speakers whose tones are OK. Unfortunately, some NNSs will always have problems with tones, due to the way that language stuff gets set up in the brain at an early age. For some people, tones just don't compute. They can produce accurate tones consciously, with some effort, but when it comes to fluent conversation, the tones just fall apart.


What? Chinese has tones? :oops: :doh:
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Re: Ways to force people to use Chinese on you

Postby urodacus » 06 Apr 2009, 15:53

You could tie them up and whack them with one of those mosquito racquets. (Yes, that is how you spell racquet).

or use those little Chinese thumbcuffs.
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