January 18, 2010

Leng bu Leng 冷不冷

Leng 冷 means cold
Bu leng 不冷 means not cold

Together the phrase is used to ask if you're cold or not.

Leng bu leng is by far the most common phrase asked by Chinese grandmas as we walk around outside, especially if we have our kids with us. It’s asked out of affection and care for the well being of the foreigners but can be a bit exhausting being asked over and over. So the first Chinese phrase we’re teaching Kanyon is “bu leng,” I’m not cold.

Leng bu leng was taken to the extreme in our house yesterday. Our ayi (housekeeper) asked this question when we returned from the hardware store. Here’s the conversation:

Ayi: Leng bu leng? Are you cold?
M’Lynn: Bu leng. I’m not cold.

M’Lynn continues to take off her layers of clothes and gets Corbin out of his layers getting ready to feed him. She gets situated and Corbin begins to eat.

Ayi: (motioning to her chest) You should wait a while, you’re milk is too cold for the baby.
M’Lynn: (trying not to laugh) I have a very warm coat.

Are you serious, cold breast milk just from walking outside? I know it’s cold, but I didn’t realize it was that cold!

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