Funny Things My Chinese Friends and Students Say

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all photos; AvaMingImages

I could see the effort she was making to ensure the words which came out of her mouth in a new language made sense. Her frown was deep and her hands were clasped together so hard the skin was stretched.

‘Relax,’ I told her. ‘It’s okay to make a mistake.’

These are words I say almost everyday and below are some of the wonderful translation mistakes I have the pleasure of correcting.

Sometimes I think I have the happiest job in the world.


“Teacher are you wasting fat?” (losing weight)

“Let me help you sew, because your eyes are broken.” (I had just started wearing reading glasses)

“Yes, my grandmother passed by this morning.” (she meant to say passed away).

“When I learn English properly I would like to build a school to help the humans.”

“Macaraction was a great singer. My favourite song was Thriller.”

“Life can be a bad recycle.” (vicious circle)

“In a short nut.” (nut shell)

“Mouthy words.”  (word of mouth)

“Go upside down.” (go downstairs)

“I love dancing to hotpot music.” (hiphop music)

“Be opposite.” (positive)

“How you be? You be well?”

“Please replay me instantly.”




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