As winter arrives and casts its cold shadow across the land, many small animals begin hiding amongst the bare vegetation in darkened woods. But despite its harshness, there is a beauty in this new scenery and a value in this time of year. Although mankind doesn’t hibernate, we do have our own winter habits, and keeping pace with nature, we slow down, rest more, and contemplate the year that has nearly passed and the work we have done.
Part 1: This week’s moments
It has been a busy week for our interpreters and other staff. We have worked at the following events.
1. The China-Thailand Planning ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative Forum (Shenzhen)
2. The 2nd International Forum on Animal Ecology and Health (Guangzhou)
3. The Second International Cough Conference (Shenzhen)
Part 2: Knowledge
The first story happened in Peru, where an American lady was eating in a hotel restaurant. She asked the waiter: “Excuse me, where can I wash my hands?”
The waiter guided her to the bathroom, which, it turned out, was being painted by other hotel workers. The latter, seeing that a customer wanted to use the facilities, began to depart. “That’s ok,” the waiter said, “She only wants to wash her hands.”
Sometimes words have hidden cultural meanings!
The second story is about an overseas student’s first day at university. They arrived on campus, full of excitement and nerves, and were immediately met by an American student, who, seeing a new face and wanting to greet them in a friendly way, said: “Hi! What’s the good word?”
The overseas student’s heart jolted with shock. “My God!” they thought to themselves, “I’ve studies English for years and no one has ever told me about the good word!”They quickly decided that it’s best to just directly ask: “What is the good word?”
“Oh, not much,” the American student answered.
The overseas student quickly realised that what they had thought was a question was simply a greeting. Understanding this kind of distinction is yet another lesson in how vital experience and interaction is for language proficiency!
Once, an American company’s management sent a fax to an outside branch asking for a report of the number of employees there. They wrote: “We need a head count on the number of people in your factory and office, broken down by sex.”
The outside branch scratched their head as they read the final words of this fax. “Broken down by sex?” the bemused employees said to one another.
In their reply, the outside branch wrote: “Here is the head count you asked for: We have thirty-five employees in the factory, fifteen in the office, two in the hospital, and none broken down by sex.” At the bottom of the reply they added one more sentence: “And if you really must know, if anything, our main problem here is alcohol.”
You see, everyone, never underestimate a language’s ability to complicate seemingly simple words’ meanings! Always check, check and check again!
Part 3: Jokes
“Count to one hundred before you speak!” The teacher intoned to the class.
He was feeling wise and solemn as he leaned against the stove. ”You must listen to me closely, and obey what I say, because I have a lot of knowledge to impart, children! A lot! And as I said, before you speak, you should count to at least fifty, and for important matters, one hundred. This rule will bode you well in life, so I want you all paying your utmost attention to it from this moment onwards. Otherwise, how else will you learn from me? I’m not going to be able to teach you forever, you know. And the world is a wicked, weird and wonderful place – if you squander your chance for wise instruction whilst you have it before you, you’ll come a cropper for sure! It’s not for nothing that I earned this right to sit before you and instruct you. I’m often impressed by my ability to express the truth. To be frank, I often look back at the instruction I received as a child and think to myself – perhaps it would have been better if I had taught my teachers when I was a child. This is not something any of you should be thinking to yourselves, though – perish the thought! Yes children, I have a rare gift of wisdom, indeed! For exa-”
He was startled out of his speech by the students simultaneously shouting, ”… 98,99,100! Sir, your clothes are on fire!!”
Another time, in order to prove the harmful effect of alcohol, the teacher put a bug into a glass filled with alcohol. The unlucky insect quickly died. Holding the glass aloft, the teacher asked the class, ”Now, what does this show?”
One student answered, ”It shows that people won’t get parasites if they drink more alcohol.”
Translated by Kain Jagger