New Travel Book: ‘Dreaming in Chinese’
Travel Blog • Jim Benning • 08.31.10 | 6:42 PM ET
Anyone who has ever tried to learn even a few words of Chinese will appreciate the difficulty of the task. It turns out it was a serious challenge even for a woman with a Ph.D. in linguistics and six languages already under her belt.
That would be Deborah Fallows, author of the new book, Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love and Language.
NPR just profiled her. My favorite passage from the radio piece concerned her attempt to order take-out Taco Bell, of all things:
Her tones weren’t very good at that point, though, so Fallows’ request for “takeout”—dabao—was met with a blank stare from the Taco Bell employee. Fallows tried saying dabao with every combination of tones she could think of—rising tones, falling tones—and when that didn’t work, she started pointing at the menu, and then miming the action of walking out the door with a bag of food. After a consultation with several other employees, finally—eureka! Yes, dabao! Yes, of course, they did takeout.