Snakes and a Language Lesson

Last Thursday was a day to remember.  I saw not only one snake, but two, and they were both cobras!  Neither snake was long for this world.  The first was lying, injured, on the road, and the second was a chosen meal for a lucky bird in our back yard.

Malayan Night Heron catching and eating a baby cobra. Photo by

Malayan Night Heron catching and eating a baby cobra in our backyard. Photo by

Later that day, exterminators came to our house to inspect, outside, for termites.  I felt obliged to warn them to beware of snakes in the backyard, as we’ve now encountered two cobras.  The look I got in response to my warning, in Mandarin, was one of confusion, so I tried again, using Chinglish and gestures.  I got my message across, and after closing the door, I looked up the Chinese word for snake, at which point, I realized I’d accidentally told the men to beware of shoes (Mandarin word xié, ), rather than snakes (Mandarin word shé, 蛇.) (Click the links to hear the subtle difference.)

Oops.  That explains the blank looks.

So, my language needs a little work.  Maybe some lessons are in order… Probably not.  There’s not much need for wildlife vocabulary where we are headed, and my survival and shopping Chinese is pretty good.

Upon hearing about the possible presence of snakes in the yard, the two termite inspectors left the house.  I wondered, for a moment, if they decided it wasn’t worth the risk.  A few minutes later, however, they returned, suited up and armed for snake catching, just in case.

The men inspected the perimeter of the house, found nothing suspicious, and went on their way, leaving the birds, and us, and Westley the 3 Legged Wonder Dog, to fend for ourselves against the snakes.

About Commander in Chief At home

Erin is a military spouse and, sometimes temporarily single mom to 4 boys. She's a parenting coach, writer, teacher, special needs (Autism) mom, and much more.
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