June 16, 2012

Well, I’ve learned a few things recently.

I’ve learned a few Chinese words.  Not the actual language, just how to say them.  Then again, I don’t say them correctly either!  Chinese uses tones (up, down, around, inside, outside, upside down) to mean different things.  I already learned the difference between 4 and death several years ago.  That is how I came to understand why the number 4 is considered bad luck in the Chinese culture.  Even though the actual sound is the same (at least to me), whether you use your voice to ‘go up’ or ‘go down’, it means something different.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to explain the new words I learned.  If the time ever comes where I need to use these words, then I’ll be able to explain them to you.  Keep in mind though, I still can’t ‘speak’ Chinese.  It’s kind of like playing the piano.  I know the notes and the keys, and can play simple tunes, but I can’t play music on a piano.  I know words and I can say simple phrases and sentences, but I can’t communicate in Chinese – written or spoken.

I learned that I can read screwed up words.  Reading screwed up sentences is not a problem, since I read these sentences daily.  Whether it be from a student, or an ad from a new housing community being built, trying to ‘understand’ the sentences, is part of my daily job.

There was a post on Facebook, and I felt I could share it here with you.  If you can understand this, without too much difficulty, then apparently you are part of the 55% of the English speaking/reading community who are able to read this type of print.  Unfortunately, it makes proof-reading a little more difficult, as you tend to skip over misspelled words easily.

fI yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane

mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of

100 can…

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty

uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The

phaenmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid,

aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde

Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr

the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt

tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in

the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl

mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a

pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid

deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the

wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig, huh? Yaeh and I

awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

If you can raed tihs, wlcomee to the culb!

I also learned that, when you have a problem, don’t just keep harping about it.  Most people will listen, but few can solve the problem.  It’s great having people to ‘dump on’, but unless they are really close to you, understand you, and are somewhat involved in the situation, few are able to offer anything other than a kind word.

There are three situations I’ve had a bit of influence on, and helped to solve problems I’ve been faced with.  Yes, it was good to get it off my shoulders and talk to friends, but until I buckled down and did something about it, nothing was solved.  Now, the problems are being resolved.

The first was with the Ministry of Finance.  The situation, although not a major problem as such, was their website, and in particular, what was displayed in English.

After a letter was sent to the Minister of Finance in regards to the misinterpretation of English speakers to their website, a flaw was corrected.  This may not have been a big problem for me, but to someone else who was not as well-informed, the information could have been misleading.

A fast food restaurant, namely KFC, got under my skin for the last time early in the year.  Several previous visits to their locations, made me a bit annoyed, but when I looked over the years, and all the times that the same type of problems were occurring over and over again, started to build up my resentment toward them.

The final straw, in my opinion, and I’m sure would be backed up by legislators in Canada or the US, was a ‘loss leader promotion’.  After almost a dozen visits to their location, it became apparent that the promotion was bogus.

The thing about it was, this was not the first time that KFC (Taiwan) fell under scrutiny for similar practices.  They were actually fined by a court of law last year, for not fulfilling their promotion.  I sat down, wrote a lengthy letter, stating my dissatisfaction with this promotion, and now, have received an acknowledgement from the Chief Executive Officer of KFC (Taiwan), demanding a report from the store and the South District of what had occurred.

I detailed the visits I had made, the problems I had faced, and dates and times of each of the visits.  Time will tell what will be the final outcome.  Just knowing that someone actually cares enough to look into the problem, is for now, satisfactory on my part.  In a future blog, I will let you know the outcome, and whether the situation is resolved or in need of further writing on my part.

A telephone company that I have had the ‘pleasure’ (?) of dealing with for the better part of my time in Taiwan, has finally broken the straw as well.  I was able to deal with, and give up on trying to get this company to listen to me.

This week, again, I went on a rampage, sending out 21 copies of a letter to the president of the company.  The copies were sent to all the managers, district managers, directors, etc. who are in any way connected to this company.  A quick Internet search, gave me the names of these people.

This morning, I had a meeting with a representative of the company, who actually speaks English.  We came to a resolution that is mutually satisfactory to me and the company.  In this meeting, I got the feeling and impression, that they truly want me to remain with their telephone service.  The representative explained the various options and plans available, and suggested a plan based on my previous calling profile.

Having someone able to explain the Chinese to me, helped a lot.  Yes, I was asked again, why I don’t know Chinese.  As I am an ENGLISH teacher, unless I marry a Chinese woman, I will never be a citizen of this country.  At some point in the [hopefully] distant future, I will return to Canada.  I don’t know many Chinese speaking Canadians.

Nonetheless, as my letter had finally reached ears and eyes that were actually listening and looking, and my problem seems to have been cleared up, the president of the company wishes to meet with me, next Tuesday.  Apparently this is to be some sort of publicity meeting.

The final thing I learned, write a letter!  Talking in person or sending an email, at least in Taiwan, doesn’t really seem to have the same effect as a good old-fashioned letter.  It’s one thing to try to speak to someone that understands little of what you are trying to say.  Emails tend to get lost with all the other crap that enters our email boxes.

Writing a letter, much like writing this blog, you can sit down, get your thoughts out, arranged in a concise and meaningful order, and state the facts, without being emotional.

Oh, and the final thing I learned – the Taiwan postal system, although again, not many working there are English speakers, the system is very fast.  I sent out the letter to the telephone company on Wednesday, and on Friday, got a response back!  That indicates to me two things:  the postal system delivers, and the letter was taken seriously.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!



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