I may have decorated a birthday cake for my professor with Chinese characters.
Other subjects I'm a little more passionate about, and well-informed on. I love studying languages, and, as many of you know, I majored in Mandarin Chinese in college. Now, that's not the most common major out there, so it tends to inspire comment. Some of these comments are very strange.
For example, someone recently asked "So, if you can speak Chinese, does that mean you can speak Japanese as well? No? Well how about Vietnamese? How much are Chinese and Vietnamese related?"
Here's an announcement for the general public: I know it's not immediately obvious if you have no experience of either language, but Japanese and Chinese actually sound nothing alike. And Mandarin Chinese is a completely different language from Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Bahasa Indonesia.
I've already written of how I feel about the most common way English speakers mispronounce Beijing, so there's no need to reiterate that here. My only recommendation is, when you don't know anything about a subject, don't guess. When, instead of guessing or offering your opinion, you say, "Is Chinese related to any other languages in East Asia?" you leave the conversation open for me to tell you about how many Chinese characters are used in Japanese writing.
Suppose I were to meet someone who has spent time in Africa, who loves the continent, and has a heart for it and history there. If I say, "Oh, Liberia! That's right next to the Congo, isn't it?" I show myself to be ignorant of the topic that is closest to their hearts. If, instead, I say, "Liberia? Now what part of Africa is that? What is the climate like? What language do you speak over there?" then, I haven't embarrassed myself with my lack of knowledge, and I've shown a genuine interest in allowing the person to educate me about their passion.
And, on a somewhat related note, try to avoid saying "Mexican" and "American" when what you mean is "Spanish" and "English." We may have our own vocabulary that is specific to our country or region but that doesn't mean the name of the language changes.
And by the way, fellow Christian bloggers out there, if you haven't yet, you should join Morgan's Quite the Bloggers linkup--she's trying to get all us Christian lifestyle bloggers together so that we can encourage each other. Check it out!