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Lesson Transcript

Matt: Hey everybody, welcome back to All About Cantonese, the Cantonese lessons where you get to learn about the real China.
Nicole: Yeah and today I’m pretty nervous.
Matt: Oh yeah? Why? because… there’s going to be a test?
Nicole: Well, actually that’s pretty Cantonese in itself, the Cantonese love tests.
Matt: Yes, and what language course would be complete without a test?!
Nicole: Fortunately, though, this test is a little different. It’s a fun test. If you pass, you get to move on to the next lesson.
Matt: and if you don’t pass… you get to move on to the next lesson!
Nicole: So no pressure.
Matt: So, we all know some things about China. Like…
Nicole: it’s crowded… good food…
Matt: the Olympics… fortune cookies… you can see the Great Wall from the moon… sure you know about China… or do you? You’re going to find out today!
Nicole: So, 5 things about China you have to know.
Matt: Because learning Cantonese is so much more than just learning a language.
Nicole: It’s a way of life.
Matt: Yes, a crowded, boisterous, fast-paced way of life…
Nicole: True!
Matt: OK so, Nicole, since you’re Cantonese/Chinese, you are going to set the example for the students… YOU are going to do the test.
What percentage of China’s 1.3 billion people live in urban areas?
Nicole: Hm...
Matt: Now this is going to be multiple choice. Nicole does not know the answers! This is a live test. The pressure’s on. OK, here are the choices:
A) 10% B) 20% C) 40% D) 60%
Nicole: Um… hmm… I’ll say 20%.
Matt: Not quite… it is estimated that by 2010 it will exceed 50%! So you’re long way off on that one.
Nicole: 50%!!! I guess that is why the theme of the Shanghai World Expo is so appropriate for China. It’s ‘Better city better life’.
Matt: That’s right. Here’s an interesting fact, did you know that the population of Shanghai alone is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Portugal and Switzerland combined.
Nicole: Wow.
Matt: Now here’s another thing about geography in China. China's population accounts for around a fifth of the world's population, but has less than one tenth of the world's arable land.
Nicole: No wonder we see rice paddies on the sides of hills
Matt: Yes. Plus, almost the entire population lives in the well-watered eastern half of the country, where virtually every square centimeter of farmland has been developed.
Nicole: And another cool thing about China is the diversity, not only in people and language but also in the climate.
Matt: Yes many people think of things like the Gobi desert, or the mountain ranges of Tibet, but a lot of people don’t know that China has its very own Hawaii!
Nicole: Yes, Hainan. I love it there, it’s really beautiful.
Matt: And tropical. So you get Harbin in the very north, where it’s sub-arctic…
Nicole: And all the way to the hot and humid areas with monsoons and heat.
Matt: Yes, 5 of China’s cities are called the ‘fiery furnaces’ of China. And ‘they’ are not exaggerating. OK here is the next question, multiple choice of course, listen carefully… it’s a bit of a trick question: China has the following number of provinces:
A) 22 B) 23 C) 34
Nicole: Oh my god, this is a really tough one.
Matt: Well it is a complicated question, though it sounds simple.
Nicole: Yeah, because the answer depends on my political view. And you know we don’t like to argue about politics or religions on the show, Matt.
Matt: Yes, well the truth is, we made it easy for everyone to answer this question without being politically incorrect. Ok Nicole, what’s the answer?
Nicole: All 3 are correct.
Matt: 22 if your politics say not to include Taiwan, 23 if you include Taiwan, and 34 if you include Taiwan, the 5 autonomous regions, and the 2 special districts as well as the 4 municipalities.
Nicole: Yeah sure, you sure know a lot about China, Matt.
Matt: Good, I think we managed to sidestep without hurting anybody’s feeling on that one. OK this is starting to feel like i'm in high school again. Let’s move on to something more fun.
Nicole: Yes, how about we have a test on modern China? Lots of people know things about Cantonese history, but they aren’t so familiar with the Chinese culture of today.
Matt: OK it’s about time for a Pop culture quiz: So this is what I’m gonna do, Nicole. I’m going to give you a name, and you tell me who it is. First one: 王菲 (Wong Faye).
Nicole: OK that’s too easy. Singer! A famous singer.
Matt: OK that’s the easy part for you. But now, part of the test is you have to sing a line from one of her songs!
Nicole: No way.
Matt: OK well Wong Faye is one of my favourite Chinese singers. And she is also famous for having been in a few of Wang Kar-Wai’s movies.
Nicole: Yes, like Chungking Express and 2046.
Matt: Yes, but her songs are also great. And she is very cool.
Nicole: Yeah, so who’s next?
Matt: Let me think of a good one here… Alright, the next one is: 劉翔 (lau4 coeng4).
Nicole: Ah, 劉翔 (lau4 coeng4) is like a national hero, of course I know he is the famous hurdler.
Matt: Yes, he is like a god in China. He broke the world record for the 110m hurdles. If you don’t know who he is, he’s pretty much the guy you will see on every billboard in China.
Nicole: Right, that’s true.
Matt: OK this next one is obviously a politician, but, you have to tell us what his position is! Donald Tsang!
Nicole: OK that’s an easy one for Cantonese people, 曾蔭權, Donald Tsang, is the president (Chief Executive) of HK (from 2005 to 2012).
Matt: That’s right! But that’s a little too easy.
Nicole: Well, a fun fact is, he's also known as Bow-tie Tsang because he never comes in public without a bow tie.
Matt: Really? what a gentleman. OK here’s something nice… lots of people want to travel in China. Of those people, what are the top 3 travel destinations in China?
Nicole: I would say: 1) Beijing 2) XI’an 3) Shanghai
Matt: That’s right! Now this is kind of a subjective question, so let’s get an opinion from our own, Nicole. What would be your number one travel destination?
Nicole: I’m a big fan of Beijing.
Matt: Alright, we’ve learned in the first introductory lesson that one of the top 5 reasons to learn Cantonese is to get rich, so… let’s have a question on China’s economy.
Nicole: That’s very important.
Matt: What year did the economic reforms that transformed China’s economy into a market-oriented economy take place in?
Nicole: 1978.
Matt: Yes, China’s economy is really amazing. Did you know? Over the past seventeen years, China’s economy has grown, on average, by more than 10 percent per year.
Nicole: Yeah nowadays you see less and less bicycles and more and more fancy cars.
Matt: Yeah once I almost got run over by a Ferrari on the streets of Shanghai while riding my bike.
Nicole: Yeah sadly the bicycle filled streets are slowly getting fewer and fewer.
Matt: OK now… the best question of the day. I think by now more than a few people might know that there are a couple of urban myths about China that have been debunked.
Nicole: Yes, one being that you can see the Great Wall from space with the naked eye.
Matt: That’s right. But now, I am going to test you, Nicole. Here are two urban myths. You have to tell me which is true and which is false:
Nicole: I’m ready.
Matt: Urban legend 1) Every morning, school children in China have to do eye exercises led by the teacher as part of the curriculum. Or, Urban legend 2) Fortune cookies are a Cantonese dessert.
Nicole: OK this is going to be disappointing to some, but it’s the second one that is false.
Matt: Yes, disappointing because nowhere in China will you find yourself getting some fortune cookies after the meal. As fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco.
Nicole: True! Cantonese desserts are generally much, much different than that.
Matt: Yes, Lots of them are made from beans!
Nicole: Yes, beans and corn, we kind of think of them as dessert food. Sometimes fungus too.
Matt: Yes! Actually, I like Cantonese desserts, they have many strange ingredient, but they’re all sweet. And I think they’re a lot healthier than western desserts.
Nicole: That’s true. So about the test, did I pass?
Matt: Yeah, you did pretty well. I guess next time you have to make up a North American test for me, just to keep me on my toes.
Nicole: Aha yes great idea.
Matt: As for China, this is only the very tip of the interesting things that you will find out as you experience and learn the language and culture firsthand. Nicole and I will be here every step of the journey to share our experiences and fun of learning a language together.
Nicole: Yes! And everyone can share their interesting China tidbits in the comments section on the website.
Matt: That’s right, so come on in at www.Cantoneseclass101.com.
Nicole: See you there!
Matt: See you there!