Mar 16, 2009

What to say when you run into someone

In my apartment community, there's some fountains and sculptures in the center courtyard surrounded by lots of smooth pavement and stonework. It's an ideal place for kids to play in the evening while their parents chew the fat with each other.

The other evening, there were about five kids, I'd say eight to ten years old in age, riding waveboards, doing laps around one area of the courtyard. As I passed by, one of kids was looking down instead of up, and ran smack into me and had to jump off his board.

Right away, he jumped back on and continued doing laps, and as he skated away, he turns back towards me and says under his breath:
Interpreted literally, this sentence means "For this (accident), I blame you." Translated idiomatically into English, it would be, "It's your fault".

I was highly amused by the encounter. The nonchalant manner with which the kid told me off was pretty funny, but most of all, I loved the grammar. If I was asked to translate the sentence "It's your fault" into Mandarin, I would have said "是你的错". However, the waveboard kid's sentence, "这事我怪你", sounds so much cooler to me because the sentence construction is more similar to classical Chinese. It makes me think of some knights smack talking to each other before a joust using Middle English.

Next time I get cross-checked by someone as I try to get on or off the subway, I'll have a new phrase in my Chinese arsenal.


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