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Foreigners who speak Chinese

Nicki   November 11th, 2011 8:39p.m.

On the Skritter blog there is a new entry about 10 famous foreigners who speak amazing Chinese. That's great, except there is not one woman. *Must study harder* Anyway, in case you hadn't seen it, I suggest Sufei as a role model for us Skritter gals:


SkritterJake   November 12th, 2011 12:17a.m.

OMG Meiyu is another woman who speaks really good Chinese. She hosts a show that teachers spoken English to Chinese people. I believe she also used the self study method (i.e. she has a Chinese boyfriend).

Check her out here:


Nicki   November 12th, 2011 12:23a.m.

Yes! That's right, I watched some of her videos a while back and recommended them to my English students. Excellent. Let's get a whole list of women with mad 中文 skills!

ChrisClark   November 12th, 2011 12:45a.m.

The writing on the OMG Meiyu isn't stellar, dispensing questionable English and medical advice (I've only watched the OMG! 美语 Yucky GUNK! episide), but Meiyu herself seems quite talented.

Sufei is awesome, I'm a big fan.

SkritterJake   November 12th, 2011 1:11a.m.

I was only commenting on her spoken Chinese sounding pretty good.

As for the guys who speak Chinese (listed in the blog) I found it pretty interesting. A few of them are self-taught, meaning the didn't have formal classes. Perhaps it is just me, but I found there Chinese to be so-so. Sure they speak okay Chinese, but if you have ever listened to 朱力安 you will find that there is a difference between simply speaking good Chinese, and using Chinese as a tool to develop your other interests. I remember him giving a lecture on Chinese history once and it blew me away. A few times he had to explain some obscure characters to the host of the program.

For me that I where I draw a distinction between good Chinese and amazing Chinese.

Nicki   November 12th, 2011 1:21a.m.

Disclaimer: My Chinese is *NOT* amazing, but I really enjoy Chinese internet slang terms and tend to know more about them than other basic Chinese I really oughta know by now. To the point where I often end up teaching my less internet addicted Chinese friends net slang in their own language. I love it when I know something in Chinese that my *Chinese* friends don't, that's so much fun.

But, ahem, don't want to get off point, we have TWO whole women with amazing Chinese so far, there's got to be more!

jww1066   November 12th, 2011 1:18p.m.

Let me be the first to express my disappointment that "Sexy Beijing" is not Chinese-language porn.


Lyons   November 13th, 2011 6:36a.m.

Adding to the list of women with amazing Chinese, I recently saw a promo for the UK's Sky News featuring their correspondent Holly Williams. My wife was pretty impressed by her Chinese. I'm pretty surprised it's made it onto the following website:


SkritterJake   November 13th, 2011 2:02p.m.

My hats off to Holly Williams. Little to no accent and her tones sound nice and sharp. And, very standard Mandarin... which I would rather hear over a thick Beijing accent any day.

jww1066   November 13th, 2011 2:44p.m.

The Holly Williams video doesn't work for me. I tried both Chrome and IE, no dice.

DaXia   November 13th, 2011 3:58p.m.

Of course, these guys speak very good Chinese. There is no denying to that.
(Warning: Content below may be offensive)

I get sick of foreigners trying to BE Chinese. I mean, you CAN speak Chinese without trying to act like you actually ARE Chinese, because that's just weird. When 大山 wears those ancient looking Chinese clothes, and speak with that super-nasal voice, trying to imitate how those Chinese stand up comedians sound, I can't help but finding it a bit "pathetic", because it doesn't sound natural. For me, a person who actually can use his Chinese actually express HIS OWN personality, now thats a good Chinese speaking foreigner imho.

There are plenty of examples of these "Chinese wannabes", that wear those Chinese clothes, reads 红楼梦 (原版ofc^^), citates random 古文, sings old national communist songs etc. Native Chinese sees them and goes "wtf is wrong with this guy?".

My point is, be yourself and don't mix up language learning with personality and culture. Learning Chinese culture is great, but trying to look like you're a part of it is just stupid.

jww1066   November 13th, 2011 4:57p.m.

@DaXia maybe 大山 really IS expressing his true personality.

quimby   November 13th, 2011 6:47p.m.

So what happened to Sufei? I used to look up Sexy Beijing episodes every so often before realizing the website hadn't been updated for some time. Is she still making videos?

SkritterJake   November 13th, 2011 8:24p.m.

@DaXia, it might not be that simple. Quite a bit of psychology research is pointing to the fact that changing the language we speak (and more importantly think in) does in fact change our personality.


A lot of studies are looking at bilinguals, but if you spend enough time in a culture why can't the same thing take place?

More importantly, language is culture, there is no way to separate it. In order to speak good Chinese, you need to understand the idioms and the history. If you want to read the classics than eventually you are going to have to open up 紅樓夢.

Considering that 大山 achieved the highest rank of 相聲 performers I would say that what he is doing has gone far beyond a "pathetic" imitation. He speaks better Chinese, and understands more about the art of 相聲 than most Chinese people.

You certainly are entitled to your opinion, and I will agree that I like to see people use a language to express themselves (that has been a goal of mine since I started learning Chinese), but Chinese language (and culture) has a thing for the past. We are expected to know the history, we are expected to know the idioms, we need to learn the 古文, and until we do our Chinese will never be great.

DaXia   November 14th, 2011 3:53a.m.

(I forgot I made a promise to myself some time ago to start writing everything in Chinese, since its good exercise. So it's not because im trying to show off or anything like that. And my chinese is far from perfect and I hope that I will be able to express myself without breaking too many grammatical rules ^^)



Dennis   November 14th, 2011 10:12a.m.

It's not as though Mark Henry Rowswell (Da Shan) runs around in Chinese drag. I get the impression he uses this way of dressing and speaking when he's performing Xiansheng. Julien Gaudfroy who is French also performs Xiansheng.

nick   November 14th, 2011 6:53p.m.

DaXia, perhaps it's because I get less nuance from it, but your writing in Chinese is more persuasive to me than your writing in English. Interesting.

FatDragon   November 15th, 2011 1:22a.m.

I agree with Nick - it might just be that your Chinese isn't yet enough to express strong opinions, but while your English statements sometimes come off as emotionally-founded opinions, you backed up your point well in Chinese while making it clear that the original point wasn't just some blanket statement.

GrandPoohBlah   November 15th, 2011 1:44a.m.

This makes me think that it would be nice to have dedicated Chinese- and Japanese-language subforums on this board for practicing language and getting answers to questions regarding language and culture.

SkritterJake   November 15th, 2011 1:59a.m.

@DaXia, 你中文的评论我能接收,可能是因为中文的语气跟英文的语气不同,而且你把自己的看法说了比较清楚。其实我也同意,为了了解中国文化,我们根根不要模仿中国人。


DaXia   November 16th, 2011 5:15a.m.

哈哈,是吗?那我以后如果有什么意见或有对skritter的什么不满之处,就以中文来表述 ^^

那我一定要多练,学会怎么用中文惹毛大家 :P

恩。我同意朱力安的这个看法。但是我们真的永远都是外国人吗?到底什么是中国人?是要看护照上写的国籍,还是看肤色?你有没有听过刘德华的一首叫”中国人“的歌?按照这首歌的歌词,“黄色的脸黑色的眼” 和“一样的血 一样的种”才是中国人。不知道你们怎么看,但是我觉得这是种族歧视的一种。若我说“蓝色的眼和黄色的头发”才是德国人的话,那我不就是一个纳粹分子吗?


Nicki   November 19th, 2011 9:24a.m.

Hey guys if you are interested I put up a post at Lost Laowai today on the topic of famous foreign women with great Chinese, with our three from this thread. There are a few good additions already in the comments!

GrandPoohBlah   November 20th, 2011 3:56a.m.

"Lost Laowai" is a fantastic name for a blog.

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