We assume you've heard of Mark Rowswell, the amiable Canadian whose CCTV comedy sketches as alter-ego Dashan have made him the most famous foreigner in China. And so we have some bad news: despite the progress you've made in Chinese over the past few years, you may never have the chance to challenge the master to a one-on-one fight to the death on a rocky ledge overhanging a pool of molten lava.

In a chance encounter at Sanlitun, Mark's publicist assured us that Dashan does not as a matter of policy accept invitations to certain death showdowns. While he sidestepped our question of whether this is a morally defensible position given the man's linguistic skills, he did say that "anyone who feels like a challenge should just take the HSK." And he's right. Especially at the higher levels, the HSK test is filled with incredibly tricky questions of word usage. Just like in our sample HSK test for today. How well can you do?
 said on
May 17, 2010
I have vague memories of meeting Brendan very late one night in Amilal and informing him (and possibly the rest of the bar) that I would pay good money to see him fight Dashan to the death. I didn't realise it was a common request.
 said on
May 17, 2010
After reflection and consideration, I've decided that any fight to the death with Dashan would be unlikely to go well for me. For one thing, the guy's really good. For another, I am not a large man.
 said on
December 6, 2010
那就是我的目标。Except for the lava part.

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