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Thought I'd mention this.

If anyone is traveling to the Hong Kong/ Guangzhou / Guangdong area and needs a good English-Chinese translator, I have a friend over there who is an experienced professional and is from the area.

Best of all, she is a wonderful, smart and fun person too. If anyone's ever in need, let me know, and I could put you in touch via email.

sj
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You are talking about an area where most of the people dont have a problem finding a translater. HK's official business language is english and in Guangzhou you have internaional schools teaching in english.
If I need a translater I need one that talks fluent chinese (mandarin!), english and italian.
That is hard to get by. I normally hire a professor from Guangzhou University who is teaching italian but still the result is not satisfying.

rgds
Ganni
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Well, I just changed planes in the Guangzhou airport last week and will do so tomorrow and I only found one person in the airport that spoke English. I am in a resort area (Sanya) and just about no one speaks English, including the staff at the reception area. This surprises me for a resort area. Overall, the level of English that I have encountered is very poor, except for those that work at higher levels in the government. You are right about Hong Kong but not about the mainland. I'm not complaining. I just want to state my experience.

ToroBravo2003
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I can imagine that would be a tougher combination.

OTOH, When I lived in Italy, most of my classmates in Italian classes were from Japan of all places. I never understood why, but it made for some interesting times, as we HAD to communicate in Italian, even when we were just beginning...
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I'm with you on that one, TB.

When I arrived in Guangzhou (I speak not a lick of Chinese), I had NO idea where my hotel was. The bus dropped me off at the fanciest hotel in town, where not even the concierge spoke English. I don't mean to sound like a spoiled American. I don't generally expect to be catered-to in my native tongue, but I was surprised that the hotel staff spoke no English, especially given GZ's increasing stature in international trade. All I wanted was to get a cab and instruct them where to take me, but that was impossible without finding someone with whom I could communicate.

Some fancy prostitutes on the corner spoke a little English, but their vocaulary was limited and we had different spheres of interest.

Finally, I saw a young Chinese woman with braces. I thought she must live in the U.S., and it turned out she did. She was home, visiting family. She shared a cab with me, wrote down some phrases for me in my notebook so I could get around, and told the cab driver where to take me.

I love being lost in a place like that. But it's nice to be found, too. Luckily, in China, it seems that if you just smile, everything works out.
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OK guys to get this clear:

1. we were speaking about the availability of translaters in this area which is vast as I mentioned. It just takes one phone call and I can have dozens at my place within minutes. (As the fees are always generous compared to a teachers salary in China. I have never said the translaters are standing at every corner in every city waiting for folks like you to guide you around and tranlate everything!

2. TB you are refering to the general level or capability to speak english. And yes that is poor! Not only in Guangdong or Guangzhou but even in Shanghai or Beijing. Consider it good luck if you cath a cap from the airport in Shanghai to the city and the driver can understand you! But luckily the standard is improving as the government is pushing ahead with their english education program. Btw the chinese want to prove the world by 2008 that they are worldclass and an open society and therefore kids have to learn at least 2 foreign languages. They can choose out of 5 languages that the party has selected as important. Amongs those arabic and russian! Just to show how the chinese not only give the west all the importance but wants to show its respect to its big nei9ghbors and middle eastern investors,

I still cannot really speak chinese - I learned some but to follow a fast conversation amongst chinese is still impossible for me especially with the many different dialects spoken here- thus I always carry a list with the most important words in chinese letters with me.
This list includes significant places like mall, hotel, restaurant even down to the chinese dishes I love the most (I dont eat meat so its sometimes difficult to explain a waiter as in china vegetarian is equal to monks food which is -sorry- but tasteless steamed veggies with rice!)

You just have to prepare yourself and it wont be a problem getting around anywhere!

rgds
Ganni
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