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18
Sep
2010
ESL for Shopkeepers E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
Look, if you don’t speak English and you absolutely want to hawk your crap on unsuspecting tourists in Xi'an, then you really need to work on expanding your bursting two word vocabulary. I’m not trying to be tough on you. I really enjoyed our conversation today. You don’t remember it? Let me recap it for You:

You: Look! Look! Look! OK! OK! Look! Look! Look! OK! OK! OK! OK! Look! Look! Look! OK! Look! OK! Look! OK! Look! OK! Look! Look! Look! OK! OK! Look! Look! Look! Look! OK! Look! Look! Look! OK! Look! Look! Look! Look! OK! Look! OK! Look! Look! Look! Look! Me: (blank stare of disbelief)
I dig that you are a motivated seller and follow me as I told you politely and ever-so-unpolitely in seven different languages that I don’t want any.

I like your moxie but let’s try to jazz up your sales pitch.

Level 1 – You and I are obviously buddies so make sure to remind me of it.

You: OK! Friend! OK! Look! Look! Friend! Friend! Look! Look! OK! Look! Look! Friend! Friend! Friend! Look! OK! Look! Look! Look! Look! OK! Look! OK! Look! Friend! Look! Friend! Look! Look!

Level 2 – I don’t have t-shirts in my country so make sure to help me out by repeatedly telling what they are

You: OK! Friend! T-shirt! T-shirt! OK! Look! Look! T-shirt! Friend! Friend! Look! T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! T-shirt! Look! Friend! Friend! Friend! Look! OK! T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! Look! Look! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! OK! T-shirt! Look! Friend! Look! Friend! Look! Look!

Level 3 – I’m obviously not interested so keep asking me how much I’ll pay until I hand over every last mao in my pocket

You:  OK! Friend! T-shirt! T-shirt! How much you buy? How much you buy? OK! Look! Look! T-shirt! How much you buy? How much you buy? How much you buy? Friend! Friend! Look! T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! T-shirt! How much you buy? Look! Friend! Friend! Friend! Look! OK! How much you buy? T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! Look! How much you buy? Look! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! OK! T-shirt! Look! Friend! Look! Friend! Look! Look!

Level 4 – Sweeten the deal by giving me a really great bargain

You: OK! Friend! T-shirt! T-shirt! How much you buy? Best Price! Best Price! How much you buy? OK! Look! Look! T-shirt! How much you buy? How much you buy? How much you buy? Friend! Friend! Look! Best Price! T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! T-shirt! How much you buy? Look! Friend! Friend! Friend! Look! OK! Best Price! Best Price! Best Price! How much you buy? T-shirt! T-shirt! Look! Look! Best Price! How much you buy? Look! T-shirt! Look! OK! Look! OK! T-shirt! Look! Friend! Look! Friend! Look! Look!

Ah…perfect! I can already hear the cash register ringing. You’ll be the Gordon Gekko of corridor 3B. Unfortunately, your market companions are taking this course too so you better yell louder and longer than anyone else. Don’t worry. You’ll do great. Just remember that they all want to buy your crap. Their problem is that they are shy and insecure and they need you to not let up. Just keep asking over and over and over and they’ll be sure to fork over all of their cash.

Our valuable Editor Mary Higgins has been with us since Tuesday, 24 November 2009.

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Comments  

 
+3 #10 Peter 2010-10-18 06:27
its a funny observation/rant about something.

there is just that many people going to places like Hui Min Jie, that 100 shops selling the same thing can be profitable. I think those places are in buildings family owned for generations, so there may be no cost for rent. I think they would turn over 1000 kuai per month easily.
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+5 #9 mandarina tiramisu 2010-09-21 15:44
I was just at the market near the bell tower yesterday and there were a whole bunch of LaoWai being hassled to purchase Mao Lighters, and other stuff. What I don’t understand is, how can hundreds of shops that sell the same thing all exist in the same area, right next to each other? How are they even doing business? I mean, if a street in the US or Europe or South-America was lined up with 20 gas stations, most of them won’t be profitable. It does not make sense!
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+5 #8 Mary Higgins 2010-09-21 15:36
i usually try to sell them something back, like my leather card holder or a beat-up lighter. they don’t understand or appreciate it when i say:
朋友便宜便宜便宜便宜便宜便宜便 宜朋友你说多少便宜朋友朋友便宜 便宜
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0 #7 Liuzhou Laowai 2010-09-21 12:55
Quoting Daemon Borek:
In what way is this racist?


Ridiculing members of a particular race for no reason other than their inability to speak the language of another culture is covered in "Racism for Beginners - Part One"

There is no doubt the need for an insightful article on the language skills of retailers attached to the tourist trade. This certainly isn't it. A more astute writer might consider that it is surprising and commendable that these people, largely poorly educated migrant workers, have made an effort to learn even a minimum of the language of a minority of their customers (Chinese tourists vastly outnumber native English speakers). But no, she merely pours scorn on their efforts.

As has been said before, how many European or American hawkers can say anything in Mandarin? Lets all laugh at them.
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+5 #6 Daemon Borek 2010-09-21 03:31
Quoting eric havaby:
Unlike the street vendors of London or New York who all speak perfect Mandarin.

Your entire post is just racist abuse.



In what way is this racist? Observations of common behavior are now racist?
funny story: I was in the back alley of Muslim street with my parents and we got the above mentioned sales pitch, which we ignored. I then heard the shopkeeper say; "洋鬼子听不懂英语" (The foreign devil doesn't understand English) to his buddy. Mary, I wish you were there to explain to him why his current sales pitch wasn't working as he apparently thought it was my fault. Could have been a great cultural teaching moment if only I was a bit more clever.
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+3 #5 ND 2010-09-19 15:24
Harmonized.
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+4 #4 leNovoJiang 2010-09-19 08:51
friends calm down, *g* i find this also very funny and I am Chinese. It would make a great Comic Strip! OK! OK! LOOK! *Laowai annoyed* muahaa
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+2 #3 Billyboy 2010-09-19 08:22
Quoting eric havaby:
Unlike the street vendors of London or New York who all speak perfect Mandarin.

Your entire post is just racist abuse.


Bullshit! It is funny, at most! Not more and not less. Btw: In western European countries many vendors and shops which are frequently visited by chinese tourist groups have basic knowgledge of mandarin and offer info brochures about their products to the chinese tourists in mandarin. Hey something like that would be great to have here. They would sell more :-D. Are you that far in super dupper new york, mister?

Mary, you are my favourite author here. Your posts are funny and there is always a piece of truth in it.
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+4 #2 Billyboy 2010-09-19 03:01
LOL, Mary, that is quite a rant which is occasionally true. I am with you :-D
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-5 #1 eric havaby 2010-09-18 16:12
Unlike the street vendors of London or New York who all speak perfect Mandarin.

Your entire post is just racist abuse.
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