Kosher Chinese
More conversations with Chinese medical students.

[My wife, my daughter, and I had eaten at a vegetarian restaurant recommended by the students I'm working with. The students asked me about my dietary habits, and why I wanted to eat at such a restaurant. This conversation, like all others we've been having, is a linguistic smashup between my wretched beginner's Mandarin and their serviceable, though distinctively Chinese, variety of English. Also agreed upon in this conversation: Americans are friendly though their president is incompetent.]

Students' Q: How long have you been a vegetarian?

A: I'm not. I'm kosher.

[Here follows my basic explanation, with much pointing at dictionary entries. The Oxford English-Chinese dictionary's entry for "kosher" means nothing, apparently, to these educated, native speakers of the target language.]

Q: You don't eat shrimp? Or oysters?

A: No.

Q: What a pity! They are so tasty!

A: [shrugs]

Q: Wait! Fish are also living, but you eat them?

A: It's in the Bible.

Q: Oh, the Bible. [This with the same tone that one might say: "Oh, the Articles of Confederation."] We're Buddhist! We eat anything!

A: If you like, you can look up 'kosher" on the Internet. If you care.

Q: We don't care.

No comments:

Post a Comment