Friday, June 11, 2004

Excuse my Cantonese

Considering that I've been in Hong Kong since the start of this year, my progress in Cantonese has been pathetic. I've joined a class at work but I'm moving at a very slow pace.

One of the reasons for my lack of progress is that I hardly ever get the chance to practice. I spend most of my waking hours at work and my only chance to speak is when I receive wrong number phone calls. Apart from telling people they've got the wrong number, the only other area where I excel is shopping for food. I know the names of an impressive array of fruits.

As I lose hope of rapid progress in Cantonese I've set my sights on another language. I realised a couple of weeks ago that I've spent the last few months immersed in French and I've actually begun to pick up a bit. It's a bit like (but now quite!) the Simpsons episode where Bart goes on exchange to France and becomes fluent without realising. My initial 'Bart moment' came as a result of inability to communicate with my basic English class. I yelled out an instruction in French and surprised myself more than anyone.

This development has been quite a shock because I did only a couple of months of French at school. In fact, I've always thought learning French was just for people who dream of holidaying there and I find the random insertion of French words into conversation a particularly pretentious bourgeois habit.

Anyway, speaking some French would help me greatly at work and I've now found myself a couple of teachers. For the moment I'm having fun making everyone laugh.

No comments: