Just got back from my first Chinese lesson, and boy, is my mouth tired!
*hold for laughter... holding ... holding ...*
Yeah it was tough. But I think I did okay. The best part was that my tutor and I met in a KFC at the Longyang Rd. Metro stop. Yes, Hanyu gen KFC = good times!! I had a chicken sandwich before the lesson, haha. And of course people were staring at us the entire time. But after a couple minutes I didn't really pay attention to them. And the people who sad next to us didn't seem to be annoyed too much. In fact when they got up to leave I turned to them and said "Ni hao!" And the guy laughs and goes "Very good."
I could only take like an hour of speaking nonstop before I had to give it a rest, haha. Also, she insists on asking me things in Chinese. Which is good, I mean, getting exposure to the language and getting my brain used to interpreting faster. But it's frustrating to have her ask a question that I don't understand. I probably said Bu zhidao ("I don't know") about 30 times, hahaha. That, and shenma ("What?") were my mainstays. But again, it's good, because now I know how to say "I don't know". Also, Wo bu shuo Hanyu ("I don't speak Chinese") came in handy, haha.
But that's good because now I'll remember at least those couple phrases. What's tripping me up is the ch, sh, and zh sounds. Those are tough for me, especially when I combine them with the pinyin i. Because the i is pronounced differently depending on its antecedent. So yi ("one") is sounded like yee (with a very soft y). But chi ("eat") is not chee -- it's more like chur (with a ch like in chair), but not quite. I know English has rules like these, but you know, I hardly ever think about them :-) When you combine both pronunciations in a word like shiji (Century), you end up with something that sounds like shur-jee.
Also, the tones. At one point I said Wo yao shui which means "I want water", at least when you say shui in the third tone. But she heard shui in the fourth tone, which means "sleep". So she got confused for a second, lol.
But I was able to tell the taxi driver that I need a rest, and I asked him if he did too. He said dui which means "Right" or "OK", so I'm not sure if he understood me or if he was humoring the lao wai. Oh well, who knows, but I feel like I'm learning :-)