Essential Chinese: Get Online

shang wangMost people in the bars and coffeeshops of Yangzhou have been able to understand combinations of internet, password, and various question-words and point me to the wifi password. (Special thanks to the lady at Sir Coffee who understood my extra-awful Wang lu zai nar?, and didn’t laugh at me. You are my favorite. I realized what I’d said as soon as I said it. Ugh. ) But my goal with my Chinese is to be able to handle my daily life interactions, especially conversations I have repeatedly, with proper Mandarin sentences and not my awkward laowei hua. The proper way to ask about the internet is shang wang.

Shang means up. The line is on the bottom, not the top, and the tone is falling, not rising, just to screw with Westerners who want to apply logic to memorizing characters. You can see this character in the word Shanghai. It’s used more poetically as parts of other words, we up-work when we go into the office, and down-work at the end of the day. This is a three-stroke character, easy to recognize, but one of the perculiarities of Yangzhou accent is pronouncing the sh sound as s, so it can be hard for me to pick it out of an unfamiliar sentence (See previous re: screwing with foreigners).

Wang means internet. It’s one of the first characters I could recognize, partly because it’s two Xs in a net, and partly because finding internet bars was a large part of my first year in Yantai.

Internet me up, basically. I wanted to confirm that shang wang means connect to the internet, so I typed shang wang into my dictionary app. and, yeah, 上网, connect to the internet,  was the second option for that pin yin. Number one was 伤亡, deaths and casualties. Tones are rubbish, you guys.

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