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There’s more to China than Kung Fu Panda

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I will be the first to admit that, until recently, I knew almost nothing about China. I suffered from a kind of ‘China blindness’ typical of many Brits that reduces a massive highly advanced nation to a series of clichés involving chopsticks and Mao’s little red book.

My sketchy knowledge was based – I am sorry to say – on repeat viewings of Kung Fu Panda and, in more high brow moments, on Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if Chinese people were constantly engaged in one long martial arts battle while bouncing about on invisible strings. I’m ashamed to say, I was the British equivalent of the Chinese tourist who thinks the whole of England is like an episode of Pride and Prejudice.

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Harnessing the glee of ‘covfefe’.

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Schools need to devote time if they start languages early

Humans love to take glee in language – its sounds, curious spellings and quirks. And from this seemingly inborn playfulness, we have created everything from silly puns in Christmas cracker jokes to the most highbrow poetry.

The universality of this was illustrated recently when the Twitter social media site melted into amusement when Donald Trump used the curious word ‘covfefe’ in a tweet.

Did it have a secret meaning or was it just one glorious typo? (We think he meant to write the word ‘coverage’.)

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It takes two to be understood.

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Native English speakers need to meet everyone else half way

My husband and I don’t always understand each other. He likes Star Trek and Denzel Washington, I like The Times newspaper and cups of English breakfast tea. He’ll never get my obsession with dusting the leaves of my aspidistra plant. I’ll never understand what he gets out of wearing chinos. On these small matters of taste, we tolerate each other’s quirks and we find a way to get on. However, we frequently find ourselves bickering, arguments that can escalate into full-scale rows, about things we later discover we actually agree on.

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