Importance of the Mandarin Language

Let’s just say my husband has a love-hate relationship with my Mandarin skills and I. He loves me, he hates my bad command of the language.

He said, She said.
Coming from a Chinese-speaking family, he firmly believed that it was ingrained in every Chinese person’s genetic structure to be able to speak and write the language to a decent degree, with great ease. Our conversations on the topic were somewhat like this.

He said: How can your Mandarin be so horrible?

She said: Simply because I have no interest. As long as I know English, I will be able to survive.

He said: Can you please go for Mandarin Classes?

She said: Are you serious? I barely survived the education system and I’m not going back there ever again.

He said: China is an upcoming global economy. Knowing Mandarin is an advantage, don’t you realise that?

She said: There’s going to be China, yes… but there’s also USA, right? Tell you what. You conquer China, I will tackle USA, and together we will rule the world!

He gave up.

The Breaking Point
One fine morning, I found myself tasked to read the Chinese papers. Flipping through the papers, I was at a complete loss. The Chinese characters swimming in front of me looked either completely foreign or distantly familiar, and of those I recognised, their meanings remained lost to me, taunting me.

I felt utterly inept and ill-equipped at this task. In the end, I had to Google-translate my articles. It’s hard not to sound pathetic at my next sentence but I confess. I had, to depend on the internet, to solve my language woes.

Needless to say, I had an epiphany that day. I learnt that my husband was right after all, and I was wrong. If internet software could handle my task, I would be rendered useless. Knowing and using a language does indeed value-add to your job and life because there are just some things that technology cannot replace.

From then on, I decided to devote myself to learning and perfecting the Mandarin language in my life… much to the dismay and sanity of the husband.

 

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Author: Keith Chambers

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