CGF is not a native speaker of English. Like many Chinese people, she was taught to read and write English beginning in elementary school, and began speaking English later in her education. However, she only began to learn conversational American English when she moved to the states seven years ago.
I am fascinated by dialects and accents, and she has a moderate Chinese accent. For example, she pronounces my name as Teem, says betreen instead of between, sometimes puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LAB-le, etc. Also, since she was originally taught to speak according to British pronunciation, her Chinese accent is overlaid with a linguistic veneer of Queen's English. For example, she rhymes can't with want.
Although she is very articulate and intelligible, her accent, coupled with my accursed Inability to Quickly Figure Out Things (x-ref to the Embarrassing Sexist Work Incident), make for some amusing moments.
For example, the other night I drove over to her house after watching the season finale of The Amazing Race, a pseudo-reality TV show in which several two-person teams of contestants race around the world. In the finale, the couple for whom I'd been rooting all season finished in first place. CGF has watched a couple of episodes with me, but it became evident that it wasn't really her thing.
Anyway. She greeted me with a big hug after she opened the door, and said something in my ear that sounded like this:
"Hey, yor teem wanh, yor teem wanh."
"Yor teem wanh, yor teem wanh."
Well, considering that that my English first name is teem and that she pronounces her Chinese last name as wanh, I tried to conceal the confusing effect of the riot of emotions that rushed through me as I jumped initially to the conclusion that she was indicating her sudden and unprecedented desire to graduate our relationship to a completely new level. Crazily, even while trying to form an appropriate verbal response (which no doubt would have been gracelessly prefaced with "Wow, geez, well, um, wow ..."), the logistical speedbump of the supposition implicit in her statement that I'd be taking her last name didn't even slow my reeling mental processes, instead, I guess, being quickly relegated to the obvious existence of some rule of traditional Chinese marital nomenclature I'd never heard about ...
That is, until I realized she was simply telling me that my team won. Dur.
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I didn't make it to the meetup last night ... after I wrote that I would, I remembered that I'd previously promised CGF that I'd spend the evening with her in celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival holiday.
After dinner we had moon cake. Normally the term "cake" signifies a baked good that is fluffy and light, but this particular delight is, somewhat surprisingly, neither ... it's a small cubelike pastry that weighs about as much as a brick (maybe it has a more cake-like weight on the moon?) and is filled with a sweet paste about four times the density of the filling in a fig newton, made from lotus seeds. There are a few different kinds of moon cake, I gather, and we got one featuring two entire hard-boiled duck egg yolks submerged in the lotus paste like buried treasure in quicksand ... that is, if solid dirty yellow orbs can be considered "treasure."
Actually it was pretty good. The yolk had an unexpectedly light, flaky texture and a bit of a salty taste that contrasted with the sweetness of the paste.
What I didn't expect was the effect of this treat after swallowing it. Apparently it swells, as if the lotus seed paste is one of those compressed sponge toys that inflates to its full size after being doused in stomach acid.
Anyway, at about 9 o'clock both of us were pretty much sprawled on the couch holding our bellies, and the concept of going and throwing back a couple beers strangely wasn't that appealing. I swear I'll make it next time.
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