Big Mountain

It seems that all expats in China all have something in common. It’s not just our supply of Purell, or our shared lust of bread and cheese, there’s also the group hatred of Da Shan.

Da Shan / Mark Roswell is a Canadian who speaks amazing Mandarin. He’s got a language course, a TV show, and he’s on lots of commercials and billboards in China, despite being a pretty normal-looking guy. It’s one of the weird ironies that a Canadian who speaks very good Chinese is a national celebrity, while a Chinese guy who speaks very good English is an engineer or a manager or something.

Edited 11/29/06 I don’t dislike Da Shan because he’s on so much advertising. On the contrary, every time I see his smile on another product, I’m happy. I wear glasses and have no intention of every getting contacts, so I feel like Da Shan’s striking a blow for my team of people-who-don’t-stick-their-fingers-in-their-eyes-for-fashion.

I quite liked Da Shan when I arrived. I watched Travel in Chinese half for the language boost and half for encouragement, reassurance that even a guy who says “aboot” could master Chinese. Watching Da Shan’s show reminded that someday, I could go into a Yantai store or restaurant, and ask for what I wanted. (Whether I’d actually get it remains to be seen)

As more and more conversations turned to Da Shan, I began to dread the sound of his name. Yes, yes, his Chinese is very good. Almost as good as a Chinese. No, he’s Canadian, I’m American. Yes, I have been to Canada, but, no, I haven’t met Da Shan. Yes, his Chinese is very good.

I guess it’s not as bad as it could be. Western guys in China, who bear even a slight resemblance to Da Shan are constantly mistaken for him.

I also began to dread the inevitable comparision of my Chinese to Da Shan’s Chinese. It’s not that I feel bad having my miserable Chinese held up next to Da Shan’s amazing Mandarin, it’s just the opposite. I’m constantly compared in a flattering way, with that false ring of insincerity (that which in other countries I might call lying through one’s teeth). I think that I’ve come to associate Da Shan with that sort of insincere compliment.

So… when I next hear the inevitable “You know Da Shan, yes?” my new plan is to look at the floor, pause, and then say that I don’t like to talk about dear Da Shan ever since we broke up.

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0 Responses to Big Mountain

  1. The Humanaught says:

    Hey, I don’t know what yer talkin’ aboot, I ain’t no newfie! So take off eh!?

    Frigin’ hoser. 😉

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just be glad you’re not Canadian
    ! After the inevitable question “Where are you from?” and they find out I’m Canadian… Well, you can imagine the rest.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am a middle school English teacher. I don’t think I can understand your article well. But it seems that you don’t like Da Shan, neither do I. The reason is that he even advertises for a machine. I’m sure he knows that the machine does not do any good to children.
    momjoyking 459953565

  4. Anonymous says:

    When I told others what you think of Da Shan, he thought you must like him very much, because he can’t understand why you dislike Da Shan. Will you please what makes you hate him?
    Besides, what does “aboot” mean in Chinese? I want to improve my English by reading your blogs. Thanks. momjoyking

  5. The Humanaught says:

    @Stephen: In the 2 years I’ve been here I’ve actually mentioned Da Shan to more Chinese people than they’ve mentioned it to me. The one they ALWAYS try to pin me on is Dr. Norman Feckin’ Bethune.

    @Meg: You didn’t have to remove me – I’m still Canadian… just not a Newfie. Oh, I’ll take the “aboot” question if you don’t mind.

    @Anonymous #2: ‘Aboot’ means ‘about’. And should you like some simple entertainment, ask the next Canadian you meet to say, “out and about in a boat” – if they don’t hit you, it will be amusing. If they do, it will be amusing to those around you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yeah Couldnt agree more with you – Your right that guy, The Canadian “Da Shan” – total dick – As a ‘fellow’ expat living and working here in Yantai I thought Id just say hi and yeah thanks for the tip on the Japanese place I’ll be going down to check out the tempura on the weekend – seeya

  7. Meg says:

    @ Ryan — For some reason, I thought you were a Goofy Newfie, but I stand corrected. Still, just being a Canadian is funny enough. Haha! It’s cold up there! You have moose! You say “aboot”! Your country has health insurance! Ok, maybe it’s not that funny…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for explaining “aboot” to me. But what does “hit” in “if they don’t hit you, it will be amusing.” mean in Chinese?


  9. Anonymous says:

    Will you please explain “Goofy Newfie” to me?

    Besides, I’d like to know if we can say thanks very much.

    Thanks a lot. momjoyking

  10. Anonymous says:

    why do chinese treat all english speakers as if we all asked to be unpaid teachers?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m really sorry for asking so many questions. I am Momjoyking. I am Chinese. If you want to learn Chinese, I’d like to be your unpaid Chinese teacher. I’m really grateful to you all because I can read original English in your logs and comments. I am an English teacher, and I want to do my work well. That’s the reason why I asked so many questions.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for explainging “aboot” to me.
    I’m Momjoyking. I have stored your blog, too.

  13. The Humanaught says:

    @Meg: No worries man. 😉 Rick is a goofy newfie, perhaps that’s why.

    @Momjoyking: “if they don’t hit you, it will be amusing.” means “???????, ??????.”

    As for Goofy Newfie… this one took a bit of looking… “???????”. ‘???’??????,???????.

    @Anonymous#whatever (honestly guys… just click the damn ‘Other’ button and put in a made up name if you need to..), I am certain that the Chinese practice that I just got out of that is much more worth while than any future use Momjoyking will have for the Chinese translation of “Newfie”.

    Not everything requires a 150 RMB/hour price tag.

  14. Joy says:

    Thank you for your help. Momjoyking is my QQ nickname. It doesn’t mean anything. I will register for a new usename.

  15. Joy says:

    Ryan, here is a question that I have argued with my student for a long time. I think D is right, while he think C. What’s your opinion?

    —– Can you ride a horse? ?
    —– No, I never had the chance ________ .
    A. for learning it B. for learning how C. how to learn it D. to learn how

  16. Meg says:

    @ Joy, I’d have to agree with you. D is correct, although your meaning is pretty clear with any of those options.

    @ Everyone — what’s the Newfoundland of China? You know, the way Americans make fun of Southerners, or Canadians make fun of Newfies?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for telling me the answer. You are a very beautiful girl. Wish you a good time in China though I know it is not an easy thing. I live in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, which is not very long from Yantai. If you have a chance to Shijiazhuang, you are welcome to my home.

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