Buzz words

By Dennis Cline
This item appears on page 50 of the March 2016 issue.

This month’s winner is DENNIS CLINE of Ingleside, IL:

On a trip to China some years ago, my wife and I found the people most friendly and helpful. Their wide smiles often were accompanied by a Chinese phrase, “Mei wenti,” which we learned meant “No problem.”

Everywhere we traveled, we heard this term by young and old alike whenever we needed assistance. By the midpoint of our 6-week journey, my wife also began to use this expression with people whenever the occasion warranted.

Only on our last day, before flying home, did we learn the importance of voice inflections and tone when speaking Mandarin. When asked by our Chinese tour guide, in perfect English, if we might recommend his services to other potential American travelers to his country, my wife replied with that Mandarin phrase for “No problem.”

The puzzled look on our guide’s face was followed by his asking my wife to repeat, in English, what she thought she had just said. My wife complied, at which time our guide burst into laughter, explaining that, with the pronunciation she was using, “Mei wenzi,” she actually was saying, “No mosquitoes!”