Friday, May 15, 2009

Sekimachihato's Chinglish

for any hong kong-ese out there reading this post, please don't take offence to this content, this is an observation of interesting language related points i've noticed since living in hong kong.

enough of that, let's get to the point.

i was talking to a native english speaking friend the other day when i was basically told: "sekimachihato, your english is f**ked up"!
i knew then that i've been in asia too long...
i must admit though, i have noticed that my english has deteriorated and it doesn't help that i'm the only native english speaker in my company and don't get much chance to practise.

being able to speak a second or third language does have its downfalls.
quite often i find the equivalent word in english is just too long or there is not even a word to describe it at all.
even though english is the so called "international language" i think at times this is a bad choice. i mean come on, what is up with english spelling?! why can't we just spell words as they sound?
i get asked questions about english all the time as if i'm meant to be some kind of english genius.
like: "why do we go to the moon, but we don't go to the mars? why??
ummm, sorry, but you're asking the wrong guy!!

and then there is chinglish (chinese-english)...
i'm now starting to leave out those words that aren't really needed like "a" and "the".
"ho!! let's go to movie lar~" (translation: cool, let's go to a movie)
or "i need address to go wor~"
(translation: i need the address if i need to go there)

oh,,, i also find myself adding on cantonese words like lar~ and ma and wor~ and ah~ to the end of sentences..
without these kinda odd endings, english sounds a bit empty to me now...

i start a lot of sentence with actually.
i think i do this because the word actually is a common sentence-starter in cantonese (keih sat :

somethings i say will make you put your hand to your mouth in shock.
"i come lar~" (translation: i will go)

but i'm proud to say that i have yet to start making the following mistakes which are very common in hong kong

calling anyone a "he".
cantonese has no difference between he or she.

"this pizza is smelly".
doesn't have a negative connotation so people are really trying to say it smells nice.

"this cake is sweety".
a new way of saying sweet?!

"i will borrow you my book".
again no difference between borrow and lend.

"i lived in tokyo for 3 days".
to live and to stay is the same in cantonese.

"i'm so boring".
because cantonese has no past tense or present tense or any of those other annoying english rules anything goes (or went... or gone...arrgghhh! you see what i mean about english!)

"he's cool".
basically means he (or she! you don't know until you ask!) is arrogant.

here's a test for you.
what do you think this means?
"do you have hong kong foot?" (i will post the answer in my next blog)

another interesting language difference is seeing advertisements in shop windows saying "sale! 80%!"
wtf? 80% off!!!?
my bubble of excitement burst when i began rummaging through the racks of clothes and couldn't find a single item reduced to 80% off.
only then did i learn that "80%" actually means "20%" off. as in you only need to pay 80% of the original price...

if you've read down to here; thanks. i hope i didn't bored you. are you boring?
so now you will realize why i may begin to call all of you he and tell you that your new perfume is smelly.
forgive me, i mean well.


GL said...

Good read! I was going to post something about Engrish later but you beat me to it...

Couldn't agree more with everything you just mentioned...I have to think and search for the right vocab now and fit in some pieces to the puzzle before I say anything in English (and Japanese). 90% of my MSN messages are hardcore chinglish...

This ain't good. We need to have more conversations in English.

world of sekimachihato said...

* GL
i'd love to hear your rant about engrish!
i feel i have a lot to catch up on as i so don't know what are the in words now, or the update terms for such and such.
sh*t, even such and such sounds old fashioned!

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