The Sincerest Form of Flattery
I’ve just had a week on the road with a bunch of guys, a sports team, to be a little more precise. I’ve been coaching them for about eighteen months and we’re all on pretty familiar terms, but this is the first time we’ve all been away together.
We travelled from home in NE China, down to the South – 30 hours plus on the train. Plenty of time for everyone to get into the tour spirit.
Having played various sports for most of my life and having been on a number of tours, I ought to be pretty familiar with how these things pan out. And sure enough, this tour was like most others; plenty of laddish humour, lots of card playing, a certain amount of drinking. People take up various roles in the group; the worrier, the flirt, the joker, the quiet one, the leader, the guy who can never find his stuff, the one who’s always last to breakfast.
Then there’s always tour language. Maybe someone says something really dumb on the first day and it becomes a catchphrase for the tour…
…or maybe one of the group has an unusual accent and this becomes much imitated.
And so it was. They all did their impersonations of me. Some just occasionally, some near incessantly. It was kind of amusing; sometimes flattering, sometimes pretty uncomfortable, but mainly just intriguing to hear how I sound to them. I only managed to capture a few phrases on the final day and here they are:
[Descriptions of above recordings added, 11 Aug 2010. Sima]
I’d love to pretend that I never say any of these things and that it certainly sounds nothing like me, but I guess the big question is…
Is this clear evidence of girlspeak?
But beyond that, does anyone have any experience of being mimicked? Is there a general comic accent which most people would recognise as the foreigner speaking Chinese? Would anyone care to describe what they hear in the above recordings that sounds foreign?