Thursday, 31 October 2013

Learning Mandarin in 90 lessons: lesson number 77 - Happy Halloween!! "I need a dominatrix and I thought of you..."

It's been one of those weeks.

First I discovered that our ex-neighbours (not the rock star in unit 4 who's judging The Voice UK next season but the nice couple below) were most likely professional spies.Then, I was asked to be a dominatrix.

But first let me update you on the Mandarin lessons. In the beginning, I went all Macbeth ('If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly.'),cramming 3 lessons a day, to 'only' managing the recommended 1 lesson a day. But I'm still going and determined to finish all 90 lessons.

Then when I'm done, I'll go back to the beginning and do them all over again until it STICKS. All of it.

As I approach the last 6th of the course, it goes without saying that I'm nowhere near qualifying for simultaneous translation gigs. I can however utter full grammatically correct sentences across several subjects ranging from the lackadaisical (going for a walk to the park and stopping by the lovely tea house), to the useful (finding the post office/hospital), to polite small talk (talking about the weather (hot, cold and now cool and warm), to the utilitarian (talking about business trips, hotel reservations, restaurant reservations, travel (by bus, on foot, taxi, subway, train, express train, plane, and boat).

I can talk about family (number of kids, age, where they live, where they study) and as of yesterday I can ask to speak to someone on the telephone, apologise about dialling the wrong number, ask about area codes, phone message and say 'I'll try calling back later'. I can also apologise for being late.

If you were to accompany me on my next trip to China, I could order food/lunch/dinner, although currently limited to ordering Peking Duck and mung bean cake... I'm more versatile when it comes to drinks so you could join me for wine/beer/water/tea (white or green)/coffee or white liquor.

Oh, and I have mastered the most important words in any language: right/left, fast/slow, expensive, good, too much, on/under, above/below, next to, in front of, here, there, where, and get on/get off.

I'd like to add a caveat to the previous paragraphs: I have no idea if my pronunciation is doing this extended vocabulary justice. So far, I've realised on my musical ear; the next step will be to practice with/on some native speakers. I will keep you posted.

Now, back to my ex-neighbours and the possibility that they may be spies - both of them:

First,  I've got form. Three of my friends are DEFINITELY working the dark arts. (I know this because I love them to bits and they are simply too creative, smart, educated and let's admit it - devious, to be doing the most boring/random jobs on naval bases and political hot spots that they claim. And, whenever I've raised it, they've laughed nervously and changed the subject zippity quick. Besides, I've seen Mr and Mrs Smith.)

Second,  I've got evidence that prior to moving into our building our now ex-neighbours did not rent in Islington, London as they told me, but rather owned a brand new flat in Vancouver, Canada. I also know for a fact that they have not since moved to Australia as they assured me but are now living in Germany.

Third, between them, they speak  about 10 languages (the kind that you'd want to speak if you spent your days eavesdropping on potential terrorists and cyber hackers).

Finally, I was rather fond of them and would rather think of them skulking around some embassy in cat burglar outfits than as pathological liars.

What's this about being a dominatrix? I was asked to play the part of a dominatrix in a brand new feminist play about (amongst other things) bikini wrestling - on the recommendation of an ex-tutor from drama school (I must've made quite an impression). I had to turn it down because it clashed with another project - but I was tickled pink to be asked.

Plus, that's this year's Halloween costume sorted.