Anecdotes and Fables

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The Meaning of Words

The meaning of Chinese words changes with the pitch of the voice. A word spoken at a low pitch has a completely different meaning to the same word spoken at a higher pitch. I was aware of this but I was still caught out when I was teaching a class of Singaporeans.

I asked Tng a question and didn't get the response I had expected. To make matters worse the whole class burst out laughing. When I asked what the problem was, they told me that I had been saying 'Tng' with a high, instead of a low, pitch — I had been telling him to go home!

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