Don’t forget your earplugs

Languages other than English tend to be confusing because of the different delivery and intonation. Italian for example always sounds like a major argument, despite the fact that the issuer of a statement may politely be asking for a cup of coffee. Anything said fast and at loud volume in English tends to be angry or argumentative.

Mandarin Chinese seems to have this problem. Listening to the locals having a conversation it's difficult to decide whether they are about to start a brawl or are talking about the weather. The only cue is whether they are smiling as the sentence is delivered.

The net result is public places are very noisy. I mean very noisy. This is a densely populated country and Xi'an has something like 18 million people living in and around it. That's a lot of people all yelling at once.

No wonder personal stereo's and iPods are so popular.

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