I asked my TA a Chinese-language question this morning, and she managed to suppress her laughter long enough to answer me. My Chinese is pretty bad, the tones trip me up, and also I learned to speak in Yantai, and Yantai-hua is annoyingly different from standard Mandarin.

Great, I know just a few words, and when I say them, I sound like a hick.

“Sometimes, in the rural areas, the Chinese is not very good,” my TA said. “It’s…” she paused to think of the word. “Substandard.”

I would have gone with “nonstandard,” but substandard works. Yes, that’s exactly how one would describe my Chinese.

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