Thursday, May 22, 2008

Don't Understand Chinese

Chinese who can’t speak Mandarin are either known as a banana or a potato. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside.


Even though we are Singaporean Chinese, not all of us know how to speak Mandarin, let alone reading and writing Chinese characters.

So when this bunch of us who only know English, gets served at retail outlets, restaurants and petrol kiosks by China nationals who speak Mandarin, a situation of chicken and duck talk arises.

Here we are, we can only understand and speak English. We might also understand a bit of simple spoken Mandarin, provided it’s uttered by a fellow-Singaporean. But throw at us some heavy China-accented Mandarin, and we go utterly baffled.

So some among this bunch of us writes to the press to complain about being served by China nationals who speak incomprehensible Mandarin. Some even up their unreasonable stance by demanding that such service personnel should only use English and not Mandarin.

While this bunch of English-spewing yaya papayas complain about China nationals who can't speak English, the latter also deride and look down upon Singaporean Chinese who can’t speak Mandarin for nuts.

“华人不懂华语真糟糕,丢人。”

10 Comments:

Blogger JOEPSC said...

During my time, Chinese subject was rare; perhaps, an hour a week for only few months, uless you went to a Chinese-medium shcool. Chinese characters were the old type, not simplified. So, self-learning and watching Chinese programmes help a lot.

BTW some bananas are also yellow inside.. even yellower than what's supposed to be yellow, haha!

Strange but it's a fact that so many mainland Chinese are learning English, speaking like Americans, and going to the West for education. Watch CCTV Int'l and you know what I mean ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 3:13:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

China nationals who are highly English-proficient and even speak English with an American accent are the ones who are better off than their counterparts who are either not proficient at all or not as highly proficient as them. The latter are the ones who end up in foreign countries, taking blue-collar jobs like waiter, cashier. Of course those who are highly educated and English-proficient get lucrative white-collar jobs as professors, managers, etc.

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 3:44:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Solid Snake said...

Western people are learning Chinese while Chinese from PRC [those educated] ware learning English.

But I from my point of view I think those who end up taking customer service job should at least take some basic english. Not everyone is Chinese in this country.

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 6:27:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Solid Snake said...

learn some basic english*

Friday, May 23, 2008 at 7:45:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

To Solid Snake: You're right, China nationals who come to Singapore to work in customer service should learn at least some basic English. Better that they speak broken China-accented English than none at all.

Friday, May 23, 2008 at 3:06:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Teoh Yi Chie said...

It's a use-it-or-lose-it situation. I'm finding my Chinese getting from bad to worse.

Gone are the days when I even think in Chinese. Maybe I should start again.

It's already good to know an extra language.

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 2:30:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Solid Snake said...

Anyway if you look carefully some banana is never really white.

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 5:01:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

To Teo Yi Chie: You're right. Chinese is something which we will lose eventually if we don't use at all for a long enough period of time. It's always good indeed to know an extra language. Knowing an extra language is akin to having an extra pair of eyes.

To Solid Snake: You're right. Calling a Chinese who can only speak English and not Chinese, a banana is really just a figure of expression, speech. The inside of a banana is always yellowish white. Sometimes the yellow is darker, sometimes it's lighter.

Monday, May 26, 2008 at 12:21:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger le radical galoisien said...

Mandarin is for the northerners. Most Singaporean Chinese are of Southern descent. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 7:15:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

To Le Radical Galoisien: In fact, most immigrants from China are of Southern descent. That's why Cantonese is one of the most common Chinese dialects in any Chinatown of the world.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 4:59:00 PM GMT+8  

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