People here are very aware of their status as Malays, Chinese, or Indian. Malays are all Muslim and get many more privileges than others. My first two readers are typical of our group–Chinese students. These young women are called Yi Ke and Wai Chan. Wai Chan has already invited me to be her Facebook friend, and all the other comments on her page are in Chinese. Both of them read English very well and are eager for help with English. When I explained that “day” was not the correct pronunciation of “they,” we had quite a discussion about the two ways of pronouncing “th.” When I mentioned “thin,” Wai Chan said, “Not ‘tin’?”
I told her that was a metal and did not sound the same as “thin.”
She said, “But my English teacher said it is ‘tin.'” Thus the problem of having other Chinese teach their English classes. So once I started listening closely, I realized that most of the Chinese at the church do not pronounce “th” at all! That sound is not in their language and is very hard for them.
Our best “pronouncers” are those who have watched lots of American movies and tried to emulate the pronunciation. It also helps if they’ve lived in the US at some time.
Last night we ate at a Food Court that was quite different from our mall ones. It was outside, with 40 vendors, looking more like state fair vendors. We got a table in the center that was numbered, and as we went to the food stalls and wanted to eat something they had, we just told them what we wanted and then our table number. We paid them when they delivered it to our table. Very busy and interesting. The food was good, but more bland than we expected. It was an excellent cultural experience for us, and one we wouldn’t have attempted without being taken there by some of our new church friends. Our adventure continues!