One of the first phrases I was taught in Chinese, when we lived in Taiwan, was 不要 (bu2 yao4), literally meaning “don’t want”, so that I could communicate confidently with persistent sales people. It worked wonders, because a polite shaking of the head, or even smiles while walking away, seemed to leave them with the impression that I was really saying, “just ask me one more time.” But when it came to answering Chinese friends and acquaintances, that wasn’t quite the thing. Not that any of them were rude or pushy, but there were times when I was attempting to communicate with someone that didn’t know English and they thought I should or might want to try something. Now, I finally know what I could have said:
(wo3) (bu4 gan3) (chang2 shi4) (chi1) (na4 ge.) (dong1 xi1)
(I) (not dare) (try) (eat) (that) (thing, stuff)
I don’t dare try to eat that stuff.
Now, I was actually very adventurous when I lived in Taipei. Really, it was adventurous just to leave the house or go grocery shopping, especially knowing that it was about a 50/50 chance that I would end up lost or in an otherwise stressful situation due to limited ability to communicate. Truly,
(wo3) (chang2 shi4) (chi1 le.) (hen3 duo1) (xin1 de.) (shi2 wu4).
(I ) (try) (ate) (many) (new + ending making it an adjective for the next word) (food).
I tried eating many new foods.
(wo3) (chi1 le.) [(ge4 shi4 ge4 yang4) (de.)] (shi2 wu4).
(I)(ate) (each type each kind)(‘s) (food).
I ate many varieties of food.
There were times, however, when I had to say no. Like to coagulated pig’s blood or crab guts. I’m not being judgmental. It was in everyone’s best interest that I said no.
I would get in a taxi with totally Chinese speaking drivers, hand them an address, then have to trust that they were taking me to the destination, because not only could I not read the majority of street signs once I got a few blocks from my apartment, but the configuration of streets was not at all straightforward. No countryside square grids and 4-way stops there, plus we would often circle for unclear reasons or due to traffic flow, so I would be completely disoriented. There are good reasons that
(wo3) [(zhu4)(zai4) (tai2 wan1) (de.)] (shi2 hou4) (wo3) (bu4 gan3) (chang2 shi4) (kai1 che1)
(I) [(live) (at) (Taiwan) (ending making these words a description of next word)] (time) (I) (not dare) (try) (drive car)
When I lived in Taiwan I didn’t dare drive a car.
(wo3) (you3) (yi1 xie1) (ai4 hao4), (suo3 yi3) (wo3) (yao4) (chu1 qu4)
(I) (have) (some) (interests), (so) (I) (want) (go out)
I had some interests, so I wanted to get out.
For instance 例如 (li4 ru2),
(wo3) (yao4) (chang2 shi4) (yong4) (si1 chou2) (feng2 ren4) (nu3 chen4 shan1).
(I) (want) (try) (use) (silk) (sew) (women’s blouse), (so) (need) (go out) (find) (where) (buy) (silk).
I wanted to try to sew a blouse out of silk, so I needed to go find where I could buy it.
(hai2 you3), (wo3) (xu1 yao4) (yun4 dong4) (han4) (xi3 huan1) (pao3 bu4), (suo3 yi3) (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (zai4) (he2 bian1) [(mi2 lu4)(le.)].
(Another thing), (I) (need) (exercise) (and) (like) (run), (so) (I) (often) (at) (riverside) [(lost)(ending meaning completed actions)]
And another thing, I needed exercise and like to run, so I was often lost along the river.
(wo3) [(bu4) (ke3 yi3)] (hai4 xiu1), (yin1 wei4) (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (xu1 yao4) (wen2) (ren2) (gei3) (wo3) (bang1 zhu4).
(I) [(not) (can be)] (shy, timid), (because) (I) (often) (need) (ask) (person/people) (give) (me) (help).
I cannot be timid, because I often need to ask people to help me.
(wo3) (cha4 bu. duo1) (mei3 tian1) (xu1 yao4) (chang2 shi4) (gen3) [(mo4 sheng1) (ren2)] (shuo1 hua4).
(I) (almost) (every day) (must) (try) (with) [(strange, unfamiliar)(people)] (speak).
Almost every day I had to try to speak with strangers.
(ping2 chang2) (dou1) (hui4) (you3) (mou3 ren2) (gan3) (bang1) (wo3)!
(Usually) (certainly) (will) (have) (someone) (dare to) (help) (me)!
Usually it can be counted on that someone will dare to help me!