Nick Angiers: Discovering a love for the Chinese language

Nick Angiers stumbled into Chinese after completing all the courses he could take in Japanese. Through this coincidence, he discovered his love for the language that would open a world of opportunity for him.

Angiers started his studies in Japanese at Langara College with the intention of transferring to UBC. After completing all the Japanese courses offered at Langara, Angiers still had one semester left to complete. He decided to try a beginner Chinese course, having always been interested in the language.

Angiers graduated from UBC in May 2008 with a BA in Asian Languages and Culture, specializing in Chinese. He’s fluent in four languages: English, French, Japanese, and Chinese.

Angiers had the chance to live and study in China from 2005-2006 on scholarship during his UBC undergraduate career. While he was there, he was exposed to two kinds of traditional Chinese performances.

The first, entitled Cross Talk, is an oral form of Chinese comedy. There are usually two performers who enact a verbal skit or comic dialogue with no props. Angiers was fortunate to meet a well-known Cross Talk teacher during his studies in China, and had the chance to study under him.

Angiers also performs what he describes as a type of “Chinese rap.” Nothing like the hard-hitting beats that can be heard in Western culture, this rhythmic routine is comparable to a lengthy tongue twister. Using bamboo clappers to keep time and provide cadence, performers recite songs that Angiers asserts are “confusing and super hard to say.”

Angiers has performed both in Vancouver and China, gaining recognition for his skillful deliverance and mastery of the language. Recently, the Chinese Consulate General requested his talents at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after witnessing one of his performances. It will be the third time Angiers has been to China, and the third time his trip has been sponsored by the Chinese government.

Previously, he was one of three Canadians invited to participate in the World Mandarin Speech Contest among competitors from the United States, Ireland, Australia, and Thailand. The World Mandarin Speech Contest is sponsored by the Chinese government and includes three rounds.

In the first round, contestants must present a three-minute speech. The second round consists of a talent show in which performances must be related to Chinese culture. Angiers performed his “Chinese rap” routine during this second section. Finally, competitors partake in a question-and-answer period. Angiers placed second in the competition.

Angiers has been accepted to the Masters program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He’ll be focusing on Chinese and Hong Kong film, and hopes to produce, write, direct, and act in Asian movies in the future.

By Meghan Roberts (BA 2008, English Literature and International Relations).