One of the things we're proud of at Popup Towers is our hard-fought ability to wring natural dialogues out of less-than-natural voice-actors, a skill that usually involves unleashing Grace at them in varying degrees of rage. And since recording a dialogue this way can take up a bit of time, the result is that we usually end up with a number of variants for each one, usually getting more and more natural as we go along.If you're totally new to Chinese we suggest coming back to this show later -- the lesson is a bit tricky for the Absolute Beginner level -- but we wanted to showcase it here for two reasons. The first is that this show features not one but two dialogues. The interesting thing is that the first dialogue sounds a bit stilted while the second sounds extremely natural. And since they basically saying the same thing, we wanted to contrast and compare them, to learn what it is that makes mandarin sound forced and what makes it more colloquial.
April 28, 2015
So, my Chinese girlfriend (Beijing native) was present when I listened to this episode. I asked her how she would speak in this situation and I won't tell you what she answered but Grace probably wants to punch her now.
April 29, 2015
Great episode and the colloquial vs formal speech is definitetly relevant. I remember my Chinese friend screaming at me when I asked for a folk at a restaurant like this: 我可以要一个叉子吗？instead of 给我一个叉子。 I thought the former sounded rude but after listening to this episode it makes more sense!
April 29, 2015
@oldgabe,Grace is known for her violent proclivities, she would probably punch you regardless. :)--david
April 29, 2015
@trevelyanThat must be the famous Chinese method of hands-on education.By the way, I don't know if it is a conscious design decision but I think it's not ideal that I always see the "Welcome: Getting Started with Popup Chinese" post when visiting the site while logged in (even if it features disappointed Apple), and learning only that there is a new lesson while logged out. Or am I doing something wrong? I tried clicking on the little 'x' but it keeps coming back.
April 26, 2016
I do not agree with what is said in this leasson. I am living in Shanghái and, the more polite you are, the more the Chinese smile to you. And belive me, Chinese people have beautiful smiles. And they are also nicer to you. So if you want Chinese people to be nice with you, say a lot thanks, please, etc...specially to waiters, ayis, taxi drivers,personal at the metro, etc...They will reward you with bis smiles.
March 28, 2017
@trevelyan,Are there other lessons like this for different levels (elementary, intermediate & advanced) where they compare overly formal vs. very natural dialogues? If so, can you tell me which ones?Thank you.
March 30, 2017
We definitely point out in other dialogues/lessons when lines comes across as unnatural since we try not to have that at all. But I'm not sure if we have another lesson that explicitly compares different "natural" versus "unnatural" versions like this.I think what happened here is that we told our voice actors to act out the scenario using reasonably simple language and then they gave us the unnatural version. So we yelled at them and fixed it and that's how we got both. Then it was only when we were putting the show together after-the-fact that it struck us that it might be interesting to look at the differences.If it happens again we can do something similar. We wouldn't want to write something artificial just to have a basis for comparison though.
January 28, 2018
Very useful! Although I must disagree that erhua sounds cooler (sorry, I did study abroad in Southern China! It was surprising to me when I heard people use 哪里、那里、一点 instead of my previously textbook taught erhua variants).I've definitely heard that foreigners often say thank you and sorry too often where it's not needed (especially me being from the US where you are considered rude in some contexts if you omit these niceties). This is something I will strive to work on fixing.I get that it's probably better for a foreigner to be overly polite rather than too informal, but one thing that continuously bugs me is when I see intro Chinese lessons offering 对不起 as the word for sorry. It wasn't until later, meaning AFTER I returned home from China, that I learned 不好意思.
February 11, 2020
how would one write the "eh" before 不用不用?
April 28, 2020
Would using 请， as in “请给我一个袋儿” also deserve a blow? Like in doing everyday business, should just forget the extra niceties?
May 4, 2020
Just feels a bit too much? I like to use mafan instead but there is nothing wrong with it.