Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mama And Kuaile

This afternoon, Z and I had the chance to complete the job I had started a few weeks ago, by actually recording the English learning books I had edited.

I truly felt gratified to see, and read aloud, the changes I had made for future English speakers. A particular triumph was viewing, in print, the new and improved phrase, "Watch your head," beautifully replacing the Queen's English, "Mind your head."

As we made our way through the two, two hundred-ish page books, both Z and I caught and corrected a few lingering errors (although a few did slip past us in real time). Perhaps the funniest of these was when we got the page where Kuaile (the young son depicted in these dialogues and portrayed by Z) had fallen off his bike. "I hurt my a**," was the statement that remained. "Uhh...Wo you yi ge wenti!" Z blared into the microphone. When the woman in charge of monitoring the recording came into the room, both Z and I (trying to hold back our giggles) explained to her that this was an inappropriate phrase for children (the target of these books) to say. We also offered two alternatives..."Rear end" being the more formal choice and "bottom" the less formal and ultimate choice of our laoban.

Having experienced Chinese language learning through CDs and podcasts (and always wondering what the people on Pimsleur and ChinesePod who record the dialogues look like), I can't help but wonder what those kids' minds will be thinking when their little ears hear...

Lesson 85: I Have to Poo

Kuaile: I have to poo.

Mama: I have to poop too.

Mama: Hurry up, I can't wait.

Kauile: OK. I'll hurry.

Well, at least we got rid of that "other" phrase. The threat of Chinese children running around saying, "I have to take a"...well, you know...has been diverted.

All in all, both Z and I feel great about our contribution to English language learning in China. And the extra four hundred kuai in each of our pockets, for three hours of work, feel pretty good too.



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