Linguist, author, and China expert
- O Magazine
While writing Dreaming in Chinese, Deborah Fallow's approach allowed her to understand many of the idiosyncrasies that confound the West when interacting with the Chinese. As the New York Times Sunday Book Review says, "Fallows presents the common Chinese viewpoint," adding that she "sticks to her own experiences and observations, which make her book all the more valuable." A Harvard graduate with a PhD in Linguistics, Fallows is also the author of A Mother's Work, which deals with child-rearing in the working-mom age. She most recently worked in research and polling for the Pew Internet Project.
Think Like the Chinese Think: Understanding the Culture of Modern China Through the Lens of Language
Using her experience as a trained linguist and a new student of Chinese, Deborah Fallows shows how simple words, phrases, or bits of the grammar of the Chinese language can become windows to understanding much of the Chinese culture—their sense of romance, humor, protocol, personal relationships, and interest in foreigners, to name a few. Why, for example, does abrupt language in Chinese actually signal a closeness between friends, rather than impolite behavior? Or why do the Chinese have such trouble saying "I love you" to the ones they love the most. With fluid grace and on-the-ground experience, Fallows provides a necessary human perspective on an emerging superpower that many in the West still struggle to comprehend.
Absorbing Diversity: American Universities and an Increasingly International Student Body
American universities welcome international students for their diversity, perspective, and experience. Today, with growing numbers and nationalities of foreign students, campus dynamics are rapidly shifting. The new young melting pot brings advantages and also challenges. What does it mean, for example, that there are suddenly 100,000 Chinese students, who have grown up with a largely pop culture introduction to America and who are met by a western student body that is mostly unfamiliar with them and their country? How can the university community—faculty, staff and students of all sorts—get behind the change to understand the growing pains and pleasures. How can they help steer change in the best, positive directions toward a story of academic, social, and personal success? Fallows uses her first-hand experiences of living around the world to help scrutinize our own impressions of each other and to move toward a more inclusive, generous context for living and working with each other.
Understanding China for Businesses: Exploring the Critical (Human) Aspects and Social Dynamics
As Western companies and their leaders think about how to do business with China, they know that part of their success depends on crucial but elusive "soft" cultural issues that are always in play. What aspects of the culture are critical to the work and social dynamic between Americans and their Chinese colleagues and competitors? How can Americans look for and interpret similarities or differences with the Chinese in human qualities like humor, respect, trust, friendship, and identity? Fallows recently lived and worked in China for three years and traveled through every part of the country. She uses her own experience of coping with the Mandarin language as one model of how to be a good observer and a sensitive interpreter inside a different culture. She describes how some of her own foibles and missteps finally led to some insights. This is a talk that can encourage your company's people to thrive both professionally and personally, and may ultimately help your company in its mission with China.
Dreaming In Chinese: Mandarin Lessons In Life , Love, And Language
Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people,and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language--a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar--became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China. Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones--the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning--is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them. In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before