I wrote this a few days ago but I made it sticky to faciliate the flame war make it easier for folks coming over from Sinosplice.
One thing that about learning Chinese that makes me crazy is that there seems to be no definitive correct answer. The pronunciation that one cabbie tells me is almost as good as Da Shan’s, leaves another staring and repeating ting bu dong. Some of it’s caused by regional dialects; a town only an hour away might speak the Mandarin equivalent of cockney rhyming slang. (Ok, I’m exaggerating. Surely that’s Shanghainese!) Even common words like thank you are used differently by different people, all of whom insist that they’re saying it at the right times and everyone else is needlessly formal or rurally rude. And of course, xiaojie either means waitress or hooker, depending on who you ask.
The language contradictions are just a warm-up for all the contradictions in China. China has 5,000 years of culture and etiquette. Chinese people spit bones out on the tablecloth.
China is so safe, a girl could walk alone at night without worrying she’d be attacked or robbed. China is so dangerous, she might fall into a gaping hole in the middle of the sidewalk, left but the constant construction.
Chinese people are the hardest-working people I’ve ever seen. People like Juice Aunt and her husband are outside with their cart, all day, every day, no matter what the weather is. But Chinese people are the laziest people I’ve ever seen. I’ve gone into restaurants and seen the staff asleep on the dining tables.
More and more people in China speak English. If you consider HULLOR! and You buy? English.
I wonder if Middle Kingdom actually means Average of Two Extremes Kingdom.