I told someone that I’d put my funny China story on my blog. What makes it better, is the fact that it’s true. This happened to a missionary with whom I was acquainted in passing some years ago.
So this guy goes to the store to buy soap. And he speaks some Chinese, but, as everyone knows, Chinese words can be very different things when you use different inflections. Say it with a rising tone instead of a falling one, and you could be saying something completely at odds with what you intend. Right, so when he asks the shopkeeper for soap, the man looks at him funny. So he repeats himself, and the guy still looks at him like he’s sure it’s not what the missionary really wants, but he’s confused about what he really means. So the missionary starts making washing motions, pantomiming taking a shower. And then the shopkeeper looks really weirded out for a second, but then bursts out laughing and corrects the missionary’s pronunciation. So he takes him to the soap, and pronounces it correctly. Then he says the other word and takes the missionary over to what he had been asking for. Cow fertilizer.