Been a while since I posted here, I have however still been progressing my Mandarin studies. Actually whilst I intend to continue posting here I am also starting to put together a more structured collection of my learning Mandarin experiences and observations to date.
Kevin Rudd, that newly elected Austrailian Prime Minister interests me immensely and has certainly sparked off a lot of online conversations regarding the quality of his spoken Mandarin. A short excerpt from one of his recent speeches:
It is fairly easy to find the usual criticisms, he still sounds like a foreigner, his sentences often carry over Western intonations etc.etc. yawn! All the usual fare from the pedants who don't think you are speaking Chinese properly unless native Chinese people peer very closely at you wondering why somebody who is evidently Chinese (because you speak so well) looks somewhat like a Westerner. Most of the manifestation of this belief that I encounter comes from Westerners who are learning Chinese (hmmmm). Now take into account that many European politicians who speak English do so with a "foreign accent" no matter how excellent their level of English (and vice-versa I guess), that in fact despite the millions of foreigners who learn English only a very tiny minority actually could pass for a native born English speaker (or though I have met some very impressive Chinese speakers of English recently). Why is it even an issue that someone cannot pass for a native Chinese over the telephone?
I feel the good news is that eventually it won't matter, the more politicians, sports people, entertainers that can speak and communicate in Mandarin then the more acceptable it will be to have a laowai accent. Stop focusing on the edge cases that have lived, worked, maybe grown-up in China and get down to the business of how does a Westerner become fluent in Mandarin. Here is some more Kevin Rudd being interviewed:
加油，加油 Kevin Rudd.