Video from this article by Anthony Kuhn on the NPR Parallels blog:
Also available on Weibo here.
After speaking in Mandarin, Kuhn at first hands the microphone over to a Chinese interpreter who was going to translate his remarks into English, but then grabs it back from her and says he'll translate for himself. At this point, the text of the Weibo article states, "měinǚ fānyì yī liǎn gān'gà 美女翻译一脸尴尬 ("the beautiful interpreter looked embarrassed"). It may seem odd to mention the pulchritude of an official interpreter, but this would not be at all uncommon in China where such persons are often chosen as much for their looks as for their translating ability.
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ shì Měiguó Quánguó gōnggòng guǎngbò diàntái de
("Hello, I'm from National Public Radio in America")
Kuhn's own translation of this is "I'm with National Public Radio".
To me its sounds rather casual and informal for Kuhn to introduce himself the way he does, particularly by ending the first sentence with the subordinating particle "de 的". It would sound more natural and fully grammatical if he were to have ended the sentence by identifying himself as "Anthony Kuhn" (or the Chinese equivalent), jìzhě 记者 ("correspondent; reporter"), etc. I would probably never introduce myself thus:
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ shì Bīnxīfǎníyǎ dàxué de
("Hello, I'm from the University of Pennsylvania".)
Instead, I would end the sentence by identifying myself as "Victor Mair", "Méi Wéihéng 梅维恒", "jiàoshòu 教授 (professor)", etc. Apparently, however, people really do introduce themselves the way Kuhn did at press conferences and on other similar occasions when less formality is called for or when they want to be a bit crafty and withhold certain information about themselves.
There's no doubt that Kuhn's Mandarin is superb. He possesses virtually native fluency and is able to use the language with precision, expressiveness, and correct tones. For example, in discussing two types of people who will be displaced by the development of the new Beijing macroregion, he describes one as being:
bèi shūsàn dào wàidì de shānghù
("merchants who will be displaced to outer areas")
Later, you can tell how careful Kuhn is about his tones when he corrects himself from neutral tone "nei 内" ("inside") to fourth tone nèi.
Furthermore, he is capable of using a classicism like tiān rǎng zhī bié 天壤之别 (lit., "the difference between heaven and earth", i.e., "a world of difference") naturally and effortlessly. And he can use higher level lexical items like zhìxìn 置信 ("have confidence") and yílǜ 疑虑 ("misgivings; concerns") effortlessly and appropriately.
Attentive listeners may notice that Kuhn is fond of using the filler expression "zhège 这个" ("this"), but I have heard native speakers use it just as often. Cf. "That, that, that…" (1/24/16).
Incidentally, I'm almost certain that Anthony Kuhn is the son of the Harvard professor of Chinese history, Philip A. Kuhn (1933-2016), who had a son named Anthony; and this Anthony Kuhn looks very much like Philip. His mother was Sally Cheng, Philip's first wife.
For those who are curious, the "fluff" mentioned in the first paragraph of the NPR article and in the headline for the Weibo video is huāxù 花絮 (lit., "flower catkins / floss", i.e., "trailer; highlights; tidbits"), the back story to a movie or news item.
And, for those who are really curious, here's the complete transcription of what Kuhn said in Chinese:
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ shì Měiguó Quánguó gōnggòng guǎngbò diàntái de. Wǒ de wèntí shì guānyú Jīng-Jīn-Jì jìhuà lǐtou de liǎng lèi rén. Yī lèi shì bèi shūsàn dào wàidì de shānghù, zhèxiē rén xīwàng dédào hélǐ de jīngjì péicháng, tèbié shòu guānzhù de shì Běijīng dòngwùyuán fúzhuāng pīfā shìchǎng. Nín néng fǒu gàosu zhèxiē shānghù guójiā zhǔnbèi gěi tāmen péicháng duōshǎo qián? Shénme shíhou zhège qián néng gěi tāmen fāfàng? Lìng yī lèi rén ne, jiùshì huán shǒudū suǒwèi pínkùn dìdài de. Wǒ qùguò zhèxiē dìfāng, díquè jiùshì gēn Běijīng yǒu tiānrǎng zhī bié. Yǒu de zhèxiē jūmín (ne) hěn nányǐ zhìxìn, dào (zhège) shísān nián zhī jiān Jīng-Jīn-Jì jìhuà jīběn shíxiàn de zhè duàn shíjiān nèi, ànzhào xiànzài de zhège fāzhǎn sùdù néng jiějué tāmen de wèntí. Nǐ zěnme huídá nàxiē rén de yílǜ? Xièxiè.
If you want to know what that means in English, just listen to Kuhn's own translation, which is accurate and spontaneous, without being painfully literal.
Finally, my guess is that Kuhn — like most fluent foreign speakers of Mandarin — cannot handwrite one tenth as well as he can speak, unless he grew up going to Chinese language medium schools from a very young age. In fact, though I know hundreds of highly proficient foreign speakers of Mandarin and other Sinitic languages, I don't know a single one who can handwrite any of these languages as well as they can speak them (except in Romanization, of course).
[Thanks to Maiheng Dietrich, Fangyi Cheng, Yixue Yang, June Teufel Dreyer, Brendan O'Kane, and Kaiser Kuo]