Mandarin Teacher

Lillian has come back from a weekend with Teresa’s parents, and is now very confident with her Mandarin counting.
When we went to the Melbourne Baths today, she was counting the number of swimmers – in Mandarin.

She knows that Daddy can’t speak Mandarin.

“Daddy, I can help you speak Mandarin.”

She holds up one finger, waiting for me to say “eee”, i.e., one.  But I’ve forgotten everything.

Patiently she puts me through my counting drills, holding up one finger, then two, etc., while counting

eee… arr… san…

It is impressive how clearly she pronounces what are, to the typical Westerner, quite alien sounds.  In particular she has the up/down patterns which are so essential to Mandarin (the same sound can mean one thing “going up” and another “going down”).


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