China / My Two Cents


YesNoMaybe thanks to Visonello Creative Commons

Reading Walden in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf across from a giant shopping mall and drinking a fantastically hot pomegranate latte last week, I came across the word “perhaps“. (The quote was: “But perhaps a man is not required to bury himself.”)  Nice word!–especially when you’re constantly surrounded by a whole lot of maybes.

Is this the lesson I’m teaching today? Maybe. (So…what am I teaching?)

Maybe I’ll try it. (Not gonna try it.)

Are beds included in the apartment? Maybe. (mattresses only)

Maybe you should ask So&So. ( don’t know the answer, or you don’t want to be responsible for the answer?)

So would we even be together if I was Chinese? Maybe. (So…that’s a No.)

Am I supposed to be flying to Hong Kong for my Visa this weekend? Maybe. (Am I packing a backpack or not packing a backpack?)

Maybe I’ll look it up. (I will never ever Google that.  In fact–I’ve already forgotten what you said.)

Are you staying in Shanghai? Maybe.

Vocabulary in the land of ChEnglish is often limited. BUT–everyone plays the limitation to his or her advantage, including expats like me who pick up its overuse without even realizing it.  Not knowing what the other person is trying to say, trying to avoid being locked-in,  not wanting to be responsible for a situation, not wanting to call someone out directly, laziness, and/or not even knowing where to start in asking clarifying questions all result in daily “maybe“-ridden convos.  “Perhaps” contains a bit more personal responsibility and less haphazardness than the routine “maybe“.

A few minutes ago I taught  my Chinese coworkers how to properly use “perhaps”.  Will anyone use it?  Maybe.


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