The Trials and Tribulations of Bai Jianming

So, our Chinese course has some pretty random stuff in it. Last year we had a translation problem along the lines of “Little Bai has no friends. So, he wished himself a happy new year.” During one of our recent listening exercises about renting a video, the customer asks the cashier out for coffee at the end.

This week’s chapter is actually called “Dating” and the second dialogue is about an unfortunate Bái Jiànmíng, who tries to ask the textbook’s heroine, Lǐ Yǒu, out on a date three times (to watch an opera, of all things, although “gējù” could also be translated as “musical”). He only gives up when she mentions her boyfriend. (The full dialogue is actually sadly amusing.)

So today during the last ten minutes of class Liú-lǎoshī divided us into two groups and told us to come up with what Bái Jiànmíng would have been thinking before and after. (I was in the Before group.) Here’s a sampling of what our class came up with; keep in mind that we’re only in Chinese 1B, we’re somewhat trying to use patterns but not really, we’re lazy students, and we have a sense of humor no more twisted than the textbook itself:

Tā hěn kě‘ài!
She’s very cute!
Kàn diànyǐng? Méi yìsi…Kàn gējù!
Watch a movie? Not interesting…See an opera!
Tā de yǎnjing dàdà de!
Her eyes are big!
Untranslatable is the idea of “a little big, pleasingly”
Jǐnzhāng sǐ le!
I’m nervous to death!
Hē jiǔ
(I’ll) drink (beer)
Wǒ xīn téng
My heart hurts…

(Seriously, “Tā de yǎnjing dàdà de!” made me laugh out loud.)

And that’s a snapshot of Chinese 1B!