Just get yourself a black-haired dictionary

luther.bible.1545.LI love when there are specific phrases in languages that really have no short translation into English. I heard one the other day that made me giggle at the same time as it made complete sense (and was also sort of racially inappropriate).

So, you’ve all seen those older western gentlemen who go to Asia for totally legitimate purposes, right? Well, some of them do go to learn languages, even if those language skills are then put to use to approach some of the local ladies. The sight of a western guy with a Chinese girl is pretty common in bigger Chinese cities, but the benefits for the men may be more than just aesthetic and romantic.

Apparently it’s quite a common thing for Chinese people to recommend to single western guys – get a “hēi tóufǎ de zìdiǎn” (黑头发的字典), or a “black-haired dictionary”. This is a colloquialism for a local (Chinese) girlfriend. There’s nothing like love and an inability to communicate well to help improve your language skills!

Of course, I have heard this kind of thing recommended before – there’s no better way to learn a language than to become better acquainted with its native speakers.

What do you think? Is this a side benefit to a relationship, a reason to search one out, or something you’ve never considered? I don’t know if I would want a boyfriend to correct me all the time, but it definitely would help with getting some speaking and listening practice.