Well, I could have just PM'd him, but where's the +1 in that? It has been a few years, perhaps the story will be mildly amusing. To keep this somewhat on topic, the rest of you might consider adding a line or two about how you found yourself playing WOW. Indirectly, this is the story of how I ended up as a foreign player on Chinese servers. Wall O'Text warning, I'm still trying to get over what has been going around and I'm typing to get my brain limbered up as I chug half liter mugs of horrible, instant "coffee". Edit: Yeah, and it is Tuesday morning here. Tl;dr version: superficially, Putonghua shouldn't be that difficult. It was designated the official version because it was considered simpler and the written characters have been deliberately simplified too. The real catch is that many Chinese care about "standard" language only slightly more than an average American cares about British Received Pronunciation and since China is a high context culture the meaning of a sentence may have little to do with the actual content.
I just try to keep things going somewhat like those before me. Background
: I've had the better part of thirteen years to learn the language, but the quote in my sig is only partially a joke. When I came here, I could recognize a few common words ... in Cantonese or if written in Wade-Giles. I had a hard time sorting out the 'new' sounds of Putonghua and other languages I'd learned kept getting in the way. Age and sleep disorders don't make it easier to learn languages either. I was 40, treatment of obstructive apnea was less effective in those days, I was recovering from a period of extended illness and I'd been told I was unlikely to make it to 50. That last point isn't one that encourages long term goals like language acquisition. In the beginning ...
In those days, China was still adjusting to the changes that would eventually lead it to get the Olympic bid and all that. There weren't many long term expats here, particularly outside of the largest cities. I started out in a small one, with a mere 2 million people spread across a municipal area that was actually made up of several smaller towns. Travel was more difficult, you were still restricted to approved areas and could only stay in approved hotels. Foreigners weren't really expected to know Chinese, they weren't particularly encouraged to learn it, and it was considered normal to travel with a translator or two in tow. Things were different. Besides, at that time, I hadn't planned to retire from law. I was taking a break to recover my health. Later, I'd end up staying to teach because I enjoyed the rare moments that come with finding a student who actually wants to learn. Warning! May contain WOW and ancient history
: Over the years, things have changed a good bit. It seems that I'm likely to keep annoying folks with long-winded tales for several more years. One of the quasi-adoptive daughters managed to coax me into teaching in/near Beijing about ten years ago, and although foreigners still remain a novelty in smaller cities, there are a growing number here. Somewhere along the line, another of the quasi-adoptive daughters got me started on a new game that would give the young men in my classes something to talk about. I was an old pencil and paper gamer who had started with the old Avalon Hill games. I wasn't sure that I had the patience to play an MMO and the last Warcraft game I'd played was Orcs v. Humans. World of Warcraft had just been released here, so there was a lot of excitement about it, and it gave me the chance to game with my daughter. I tried it, and that's how you guys got stuck with me. I eventually ended up on Alla after having lurked a lot, because it used to take a lot of work to revert bits of the Chinese client back to English and the guy who got me started had moved on from Atlas Loot Enhanced. My first posts were promptly maimed by various filters and posters who were trying to fend off the gold sellers and their ilk. Somehow, Pol and a couple of others made the mistake of thinking I was eccentric but relatively harmless, so here I am. Back to the question
: Having made my bid to keep this somewhat relevant to the forum, back to language. I've been here long enough to sort out the sound and rhythm of Putonghua and the Beijing dialect, but spoken Chinese is like the surface of the ocean. It is the written form of the word that really defines it and the Chinese insist on printing everything in tiny font that gives me a headache even with prescription reading glasses. It doesn't help that most of the people I might need to talk to aren't college educated women from Northwest China -- that's the group who usually seem to be able to understand me. Pink doesn't quite fall into that group, she has a three year degree in office management and she is from South Central China (Changsha), but she speaks to me much like she insists on talking to her puppy; i.e., with the belief that if the other party would just try hard enough, they should understand her. That's what I've needed. Rhode, put the coffee down and slowly back away
: "Erm, what? Snort! But, this is only my third mug! I promise I wasn't starting a novel." Edited, Apr 22nd 2013 10:49pm by Rhodekylle