Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Intercourse and Erections

No, it's not what you think.

A colleague was working on summary writing with her class. She asked the students to discuss their favourite leisure activity. Many Chinese students will not discuss a topic without first checking their dictionary aps at length, often in mid conversation. As this is extremely trying for the listener, it is discouraged or forbidden in most classes - a ban difficult to enforce in a large group. Anyway, after the students had discussed their preferred activities in pairs, the teacher asked one or two to tell the whole class what they like to do in their spare time.

A Chinese female student says 'intercourse.'

'Sorry, did I hear that right?

'Yes, intercourse. I enjoy it very much here. It's not the same in my country.'


'My country, no time for intercourse, but here even strangers doing intercourse, specially in the pub. I like very much.'

You, dear reader, have understood by now that she had looked up 'socialising' in Chinese and chosen the wrong word from the list of decontextualised items her dictionary proposed. How my colleague dealt with the matter her e-mail (from which I took the exchange above) doesn't say. I'm not sure how I would have handled it either. 'You've just told a large group of near strangers that you really enjoy a good fuck, sweetheart. Do you want that to stand or would you like to amend the statement now?' Universities are prudish and censorious places these days, deeply into censorship and repression in the name of diversity and inclusion. To correct the error might be seen as 'lexis-shaming' or 'connotational colonialism' or something.

A while ago I was teaching a group of Chinese students language for presentations. Such phrases as 'moving on now' and 'I'd like to turn now to...' are known as 'signposts'. I drew a signpost on the whiteboard and asked if anyone knew the English word. My question, as usual, met silence. Then one timid young lady offered:

'An erection?'


Paul Brownsey said...

There is another townlet in Lancaster County called Paradise.

You can buy a postcard of an Amish couple in a buggy and the caption, "An Amish couple on the road to Intercourse and Paradise."

Steve B said...

Nice one!


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