3.31.2006

First Mongolian

Even though I was in Asia for four years, I'd never met anyone from Mongolia. And although the U.S. has many different kinds of people (the first "experiment" of its kind, according to a now-deceased Tunisian immigrant I knew), I'd never met a Mongolian here, either.

Well today, I was at an "exciting" temp gig, and the office ordered Chinese food. The delivery guy walked in, and he looked Chinese, but not like other Chinese people I'd seen. His skin was darker and his face and features were wider, and he had a more "rugged" look. Maybe he was from a certain area of China I didn't know about, or from an island in the China Sea, I thought, but his accent didn't sound Chinese either. He could've been from Latin America, since I'd seen Asian-looking Latin American Indians, but he didn't speak with a Spanish accent.

So I asked him if he was from China (it was the closest guess) and he said Mongolia. My eyes almost popped out--Mongolia? I'd never met anyone from there, I told him, and we managed to have a basic conversation about it, though his English was still at a more basic level. Then it made sense--it's right near China, and there's a long history between the two countries, so of course he looks like a Chinese "relative".

It was cool. So now I can say I've met a Mongolian. He couldn't even tell me where they live in Chicago, though I believe he said that there's a community in Colorado, which seems odd, since it's not a major port or entry point. And here's something to ponder: what the heck does a Mongolian accent sound like? I already forgot, so I may not be able to spot a Mongolian again. Oh well.

3 comments:

Arrogant Polyglot said...

MJ,

Do you recall a post I left this past December regarding the Online Speech Accent Archive? Click on the link and it will lead you to their main page. They have two speakers of Mongolian in the archive: one male and one female. Both are L2 speakers of Russian, and that was more of the accent that I could discern, with a little less 'glottalness'.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

04 02 06

Wow MJ:
That is really cool! I haven't ever met anyone who was from Mongolia-to my knowledge. AP: Interesting; you can usually hear the throatiness in some of the Cantonese and Lao, Hmong and other languages, but I wouldn't even know what Mongolian sounded like!!!! I once met a dude from Tibet, and he had an interesting accent. Have a nice day:)

mj said...

That's cool--I forgot about that accent site. I'm gonna check it out later.

I've met a Tibetan but don't remember the accent. But it's more "famous" than Mongolia cuz of the whole "Free Tibet" thing.