Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 1, March 12 - 25


The Comrade Says: Chinese is a language, just like Spanish, Russian or Australian.

Who could forget Comrade Language, the column avidly read by Beijing's laowai (and local) community in the Scene's heyday, penned by that sophomoric, obnoxious, loathsome, decrepit, insolent, lecherous old cadre? Ah, yes, the Comrade. Egotistical yet erudite, arrogant yet accurate, insolent yet intelligent, tirelessly pursuing his mission of helping Foreign Friends learn all the Chinese words that no other responsible Chinese person would teach them.

In this historic issue, Beijing Scene catches up with the Comrade and hears his endearingly xenophobic views on Da Shan studying abroad, Overseas Chinese and more!

Beijing Scene: Comrade Language, you have been away for quite awhile. Where have you been and what have you been doing?

Comrade Language: Allow the Comrade to explain. After making a small fortune chao gu piao (playing the stock market), I retired from teaching Chinese, purchased a visa and went to America to liu xue (study abroad).

BS: But Comrade, how could you, a veteran of the Long March, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the re nao (hot and noisy) 1980s and the All That She Wants Is Another Baby era and sworn enemy of all bourgeois capitalist-roaders and imperialist running dogs go to America, where there is no rice, no squat toilets, and you can't get a decent massage with a haircut?

Comrade: Don't wu hui (misunderstand) the Comrade. Politically speaking, I'm still as Red as a Chinese taxi driver's face after a bottle of er guo tou (moonshine). I simply needed to gong gu (brush up on) my English.

BS: What made you decide to return to China and raise the barrel of your pen (bi gan zi) again?

Comrade: The Comrade returned to China for Spring Festival this year and was appalled at the pathetic state of foreigners' Chinese language skills. Without the Comrade, these lackadaisical laowais' Chinese had deteriorated faster than a guo chan (Chinese-made) household appliance. It was then that the Comrade xia le jue xin (resolved) to come out of retirement and help his Foreign Friends attempt the reputedly impossible task of learning to speak Chinese.

BS: But Comrade, didn't you watch chun jie lian huan hui, the absurd annual, nationwide Spring Festival TV special with those Chinese-speaking foreigners that cross-talk in Chinese, tell stupid jokes and generally make monkeys of themselves?

Comrade: You must be referring to Da Shan and his sycophantic ilk of zou gou (running dogs). Of course I watched the program. For as much as the Comrade hates to admit it, he is compelled by the spectacle's vapidity, and watches it year after year (yi nian you yi nian). But the fact is that those lame laowai that we all watched and laughed at wu fei shi (are but) actors, and only pretend to speak Chinese on TV. Actually, they can't string two sentences together.

BS: This is indeed a weighty insinuation, Comrade.

Comrade: Sooner or later (zao wan), the truth had to come out.

BS: Comrade, can foreigners learn to speak Chinese?

Comrade: Chinese is a language, just like Spanish, Russian or Australian. Anyone can learn it if they put in the time and effort. The most difficult thing about learning Chinese is reading and writing knowledge of 2000-3000 characters is required to read a newspaper.

BS: Are Chinese characters difficult to learn?

Comrade: Not as difficult as most Chinese people want you to believe. Thanks to Mao Zhu Xi (Chairman Mao), once ugly and complicated Chinese characters have been simplified so that any nong min (bumpkin) can read them. Here's a tip for learning Chinese characters: learn the character's bu shou (root or radical) and other component parts in order to help you recognize more characters. For example, the character shi means body. The character shui means water. The character niao means urine. Self-evident (bu zheng zi ming de), n'est ce pas?

BS: What is the most difficult challenge for foreigners trying to learn Chinese?

Comrade: That would be si sheng (the Four Tones), which many laowai find difficult to zhang wo (master). But if you're struggling with tones don't despair none of China's 20th century leaders, for all their wei da (greatness), have been able to master the Four Tones either.

BS: Tell us about Chinese people living in America.

Comrade: There's nothing you qu (interesting) to say about them.

BS: What can we expect from Comrade Language in this, the Year of the Rabbit?

Comrade: This year Comrade Language will pontificate about topics including Hong Kong and Taiwan compatriots, cab drivers, inefficient State-run enterprises, foreign correspondents who don't speak Chinese, overweight, overpaid suo wei de (so-called) foreign experts with Chinese companions younger than their own estranged children back home, Chinese people who come back from a year or two abroad and forget how to speak Chinese, and Chief Representatives of foreign companies who live in villas and make more money than there are miles between them and their families.

It appears that the Comrade is indeed back to provide linguistic guidance for the growing numbers of foreigners who, for some reason, live in the People's Republic of China. In the next column, the Comrade will pontificate on a subject he is intimately acquainted with the henpecked husband.


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