Apologies for a week without posting. I was extremely busy with school and then I came down with a baaaad case of Chiang Kai-Shek’s revenge, aka the stomach flu. I have been out of sorts as well, not really feeling inspired to write much. July was a bit rough, and I am looking forward to the last half of this trip to being better.
Today: an unfortunate coincidence between the English and Chinese languages. There is a phrase in Chinese, nei ge, which is used in a similar way to the English idioms “like”, “and um” , “you know” when the speaker can’t think of the particular word they are looking for. The pronunciation of nei ge (NIH – gah) sounds EXACTLY like an American racial epithet. Chinese speakers are largely unaware of this issue, and if you’ve spent enough time around them, you’ve heard this sentence-filler often. I remember hearing someone use it the first time and it stopped me dead in the conversation.
My Chinese teacher, bless her heart, uses nei ge with some frequency. It still inspires embarrassed giggles from myself and classmates. She has no idea why we are laughing. Examples how this word has been used by her:
Trying to describe a particular type of clothing, “Just like this nei ge shirt.”
When addressing a student, “You nei ge … Justin.”
When talking about local culinary dishes, “That fried nei ge food is very good.” And so on.
Unrelated to this, she was highlighting a word once on a PowerPoint and accidentally drew a penis. She laughed and quickly changed the shape.