One thing I’ve often wished for, was to meet people who were more critical of my Chinese skills. I’m pretty sure that a Chinese person in the US, whose English was as good as my Chinese is, would get very few language related compliments. With their vastly lower expectations, however, Taiwanese people I meet invariably make a fuss about how good my Chinese is.

Today, I finally met someone really critical of my language skills- John’s Ayi! Since everybody else was out, and I was staying there, I let the Ayi in this afternoon. After I explained that I was a friend visiting Shanghai for the week, and the initial shock that I wasn’t John or Lennet wore off, I started talking with her about work. She cut me off pretty abruptly and said…

Your Chinese isn’t that good. It’s not as good as John’s, or as that… that… that other guy who lives here. His Chinese is better than yours is, too. I don’t completely understand what you’re trying to say. Can people understand you in Taiwan?

Ouch.