Have you ever noticed how often we use the word usually? I hadn’t until I came to China to teach English and immediately noticed that the Chinese always say urally! I have no idea how the r sound crept in but apparently that’s the way all Chinese English teachers teach it. Wrong habits are hard to break and our students still need to be reminded once in a while but after lots of practice they do know how to pronounce it correctly now.
Though urally was one of the most common mistakes made by our students, who have never been taught by native English speakers before, we have encountered many other mispronunciations. Vowel sounds are particularly difficult. It isn’t any wonder considering the fact that one little letter like an a or an o can represent so many different sounds. Sometimes these mispronunciations lead to a complete lack of understanding but we also have a lot of fun with them.
Early in the term, one of my students told me that he liked eating snakes! I clearly remember being somewhat startled but this is China, after all! We’ve eaten bullfrog and catfish, restaurants serve silkworms and there’s one not far from here that specializes in donkey meat, so why not snakes? When I attempted to clarify, however, I discovered that he actually meant that he liked eating snacks! As it turns out, the snake/snack confusion is a common one and has led to lots of laughter in our classes!
Is it any wonder then that the headline "Snacks Dominate the Fashion World of This Early Spring" caught my eye when I picked up the April issue of Sichuan Airline’s in-flight magazine on our recent trip to Jinan. The magazine is published in Mandarin but some of the articles are translated into English. Clearly, they could use a more qualified translator but this particular article was hilarious! Here’s just one tidbit:
"It is the year of the snack, patterns of reptile animals have crawled back to the fashion world of women’s wear in spring and summer, among which the pattern of snack turns out to be the most popular. It seems like designers have already foreseen that the pattern of snack would be a fashion trend, this eye-catching animal pattern is now seen in all fashion fields."
The article was accompanied by photos of clothing with a snakeskin motif as well as snakeskin purses and shoes!
I haven’t been following most of my favourite fashion blogs lately because both WordPress and Blogspot are blocked in China. It’s also been several months since I’ve seen a fashion magazine so I don’t know whether or not snakeskin has caught on as a new fashion trend in North America. I haven’t actually seen it being worn here yet but for those who want to know, apparently the pattern of snack is the newest trend!