Lost in translation…or is it (lost)?

This blog post is from one of our guest editors – Simo Vujovich, our team’s top student in Mandarin.


Avril finally figured out how to get me to write this entry… she said, ‘we need everybody to help to get more blog views than previous smartercity teams’… And that’s all it took – the challenge of competing.

So, before you click away to something more interesting, I need to ask you to have at least one of your friends look at our blog  – we need to beat the previous teams!

This is my first (extended) contact with the Mandarin language….  and it has been quite an experience. I believe that before you start learning to speak Mandarin, you first need to learn how to sing….  as ‘tones’ are so important… you will ask: what are the tones and why are they so important. Well, without understanding the ‘tones’ you may ‘kiss a horse good night’ (instead of your mom) … or ‘chop your favorite book’ instead of reading it.. In both of these cases it would look to us (non-Mandarin speaking folk) that same ‘sounds’ were used (‘ma’ and ‘ma’ in the first sentence) and (‘kan shu’ and ‘kan shu’  in the second) … it’s just that the ‘tones’ were different. The only problem is that even if you are aware of their existence, your ability to reproduce them is next to nil. So good luck all of you Mandarin-speaking-hopefuls… better pick up something easier… like Spanish…

And just when I lost all hope to ever understand our Taiwanese colleagues and customers, I was reminded  that verbal communication is only a part of  understanding each other.

At the banquet last Friday, so generously organized by NTPD (our client), we  enjoyed some exquisite samples of Asian cuisine and got to see how Taiwanese have fun.  You could say gan bei/cheers/skol/salute/sante/zivjeli and you’d be understood. I could  imagine the same picture in Toronto, Austin, Berlin, Glasgow or Belgrade… a universal language of happy people that enjoy each others company.

Over the last 2 weeks our team got to know the local IBM team and the client really well…. the thing that transcends any language (barrier) is the kindness and hospitality of our Taiwanese friends. You can feel it everywhere. I know that all of us on the team are so thankful for that.
Xie xie (thank you)!

Tina and Valeria - our fantastic interpreters. We really would be lost without them!

Tina and Valeria – our fantastic interpreters. We really would be lost without them!


#ibmcsc Taiwan #smartercities challenge


1 Comment

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One response to “Lost in translation…or is it (lost)?

  1. if you’ve ever beento Taiwan, you know that our story wouldn’t be complete without a thorough overview of dining experiences in Taiwan… that story is coming shortly.. you WILL want to see that 🙂