17 October, 2006

I Have Arrived

Today, as I was walking to the tram station, someone in a car stopped and asked me for directions. And I gave them to him. I have arrived.

(To balance this, I was sitting reading this afternoon, and someone walked up to me and asked me what time it was. I said, "3.10," and he said, "You have an American accent." I was bummed. He did, however go on to compliment me on the accent- even though he could tell I was American, he said my accent was the best American accent he'd ever heard, on account of my having the R sound right. And then we made plans to sit around and talk to each other in our respective languages. So that was all right after all.)


Anonymous Mom said...

The fellow who spotted your "American" accent is clearly a music student with perfect pitch and a remarkably discriminating ear. Hardly a statistically significant sample!

Hey, speaking of music students, guess what! A woman who studies sound and the musicality of language noticed that in a sample of Chinese speakers she was studying, the same word spoken one week apart sounded as if it was repeated immediately -- not only were volume and tone identical, but also PITCH (musical note) was identical. So she decided to check on the incidence of perfect pitch in two groups. In the US population, the incidence of perfect pitch is about 1 in 10,000. Of course it is higher among serious musicians. She tested a group of music students (college age?) who had been studying music since the age of 4 or 5. In the US, the incidence of perfect pitch was around 17%. In Beijing, the incidence of perfect pitch was something like 74%.

I think that is very cool.

3:48 PM  

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