Foreigner Schools Chinese People in Mandarin on the Streets of Shanghai

A Caucasian man recently tested Chinese locals on their mastery of Chinese characters.

The video from travel blog Monkey Abroad featured Jayme Lawman, a foreigner who has been living in China for nine years.

Lawman tested locals in Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, the main shopping street in the city. He started by asking the correct pronunciation of the word 肖像, which means “portrait.”

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Most locals shown in the video read it as “xiāo xiàng.” Only one, a native of Hubei province, read it right as “xiào xiàng.”

Lawman thought of the responses:

“[There are] a lot of people here in Nanjing Road. This is the busiest street in Shanghai. There are a lot of tourists from all over China. You got people from Shanghai, Beijing, Hunan…”

“What I’m finding is people from different places are getting the same ones right and the same ones wrong. I think it’s all to do with the influence from the dialects that they have all over China.”

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Lawman also asked the locals to write “biáng,” apparently the most complex Chinese character at 57 strokes. It appears in the written form of biángbiáng miàn, a noodle dish popular in Shaanxi province, Mental Floss noted.

Respondents generally recognized the character, but when asked to write it down, they often missed a few details.

Lawman’s final test was on stroke order. He showed the characters and asked the locals to copy them.

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It still proved to be challenging, but one got a character right!

Watch the full video below:

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