Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Market trader Chinese

I pass a market stall selling fruit and vegetables and note that two Chinese girls are approaching the stall from another angle. I don't need anything there so move on, but as I do so I hear the stall holder shouting out 新年快乐,你好,好朋友! enthusiastically.

Nothing too strange except that this is Bath in England and the stall holder is a young English lad of typical market stall down to earth joviality. I have talked to him before as the stall is a good place to buy fruit and veg. but never heard him speaking Chinese before. Granted it sounds a little rough but is fully confident and not lacking any enthusiasm. When I have more time I would will try to find out how much he knows.

Bath has quite a sizeable young Chinese population and the stall holder has at least one impetus to learn Chinese, that is to boost his selling. There may be many other reasons including an interest in Chinese girls (but lets not jump to hasty conclusions).

This made my day, I think it is going to happen more often as cultures meet. For every street seller in a foreign country who has self-learned enough English to sell to tourists; I would wish to see another Englishman who is reversing the trend and returning the favor. One in the eye for those who over intellectualize the study of Asian languages.

No matter how functional his Chinese is there is bound to be one who would stand and say "his pronunciation is off and he has little concept of the finer grammar points". If I was there I would happily punch that "one" in the face......

Strange the things that can lift your spirits when the days are dark.