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Why I don’t speak Chinese

The take away from my first Chinese lesson was alarming. In Mandarin it is very easy to call your mother-in-law a horse. This could be a dangerous, if not downright life threatening stuation. The word “Ma” in Mandarin can be said four different ways in Chinese and it means  different things. Learn more

妈     mā     mother
麻     má     hemp
马     mǎ     horse
骂     mà     scold

I understand that mother-in-laws can certainly scold. However, calling your mother-in-law a horse is certainly pushing it. You see, Mandarin has rising tones, falling tones, steady tones and lastly rising up and falling down tones. And no, I didn’t make up that last one. In English, “Hey Ma!” means “Hello Mother”. It always means the same thing no matter how you say it. 


The final straw was when I tried out my newly learned Chinese expression for the English phrase, “It’s Okay”.  没关系

After we completed our offer on a new home my client, the Buyer brought up a number of concerns. Then I thought said in Chinese, “It’s okay”’. But I wasn't saying “It’s okay”. I was in fact repeatedly saying, “Don’t forget”.  不要忘记. bu yao wang ji


My client made sure I had all my documents, my laptop and my hat. I was mystified. by her concerns so I made the situation worse by repeating my assurances over and over again. In Chinese the two phrases sound similar to the English ear.


Why would I want to learn Chinese? Real estate in South Surrey British Columbia, Canada means dealing with Chinese speaking Buyers and Sellers. I have always had Chinese real estate customers.  

I don’t speak Chinese because I get it wrong. By teaming up with a native Chinese speaking real estate professional like Margaret Ji,  I get te best of both worlds.  Many Chinese realtors will never understand the subtle variations of English, just as I will never completely. understand Chinese. In negotiations, subtle variations in language can tell you volumes about what is really going down. By having two native speakers of each language in the room, you have a team that  covers it all. As a team ...“We speak your language”, means giving you, the customer, complete control.

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