Sunday, July 04, 2010

That's reassuring (this is a note to self in re progress in learning Chinese, and could be construed as bragging, so feel free to skip it)

I went down to check out the Houston Chinese Church today, figuring that if Helen does decide to leave her quiet and peaceful and well-ordered life in Shanghai to come marry a notoriously absent-minded Okie with nine kids and live in [shudders] HOUSTON...well, the least I could do is try to help her feel more or less at home on Sunday mornings. So they ask visitors to wear a nametag and give them contact know, standard procedure. And the guy asked me who had invited me to their church.

"Well," I told him, "the thing is I'm thinking of maybe marrying a Chinese girl from Shanghai and I told her I would come look at HCC and see what I thought."

Well, he thought this was a nice story; so as I was filling out the card he asked me, "Be sure to put your fiancee's name too [pointing at the line for 'Spouse']." So I dutifully wrote Helen's name down with a parenthetical note that she's my girlfriend rather than my wife, and hoped they wouldn't conclude from this that we were living in sin...

But here's the reason I'm making this note to myself: I wrote her name as 杨姝, not "Yang Shu" or "Helen Yang." And the gentleman expressed surprise that I could write in Chinese characters (not that I actually can, you understand; I've just practiced those two particular characters assiduously), and then read them to me: "Yáng Shū." Which, since I hadn't told him Helen's name, means I actually wrote them correctly and legibly -- woohoo!

Later, though, it occurred to me that it would have been much more impressive if I hadn't written the "girlfriend" part in English, either, but had instead written, "杨姝(女朋友)." Oh, well. Opportunity missed.


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