Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Communicating With The World In Chinglish

The headline read "China seen losing Chinglish battle" and it grabbed my attention (BT 4 Aug).

The English language has gained much popularity in China in the past decade. The enthusiasm to learn it accelerated when Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics 7 years ago. The Chinese authorities were determined to embark on linguistic cleansing in their preparation for the Olympic games. The people, on the other hand, went into a frenzy to pick up the language, crash course style. After years of brushing up, the presence of the hilarious and at times, disturbing usage of the English language is still very prevalent in China. Many have even grown to love Chinglish. Look out for linguistically tortured T-shirts in the malls the next time you visit China.

Are they alone?

When English is not a native language, its usage tends to be contaminated by the local languages. A case in point is our well loved and hated Singlish. Our favorite
'lah' is probably a spread from some Chinese dialects or Malay.

I have nothing against Singlish and I think it is part of the Uniquely Singapore experience. I am not troubled by the sheer usage of Singlish. Rather, I am most bothered by the users' inability to switch to a standard form of English. They would assume that everyone ought to be familiar with the bizarre succinctness of Singlish. The next time someone uses Singlish beyond your ability to reciprocate, just go 'What Say You?'

Look harder around the region, we will find other brands of blended English used with the local backdrop. Take for example, we have the
Konglish used by the Koreans, the Hinglish used by the Hindi speaking Indians, Taglish
for the Tagalog speaking Filipinos and many more.

You see, the Chinese are not alone. While they are busy coping with Chinglish, many others in the world are also working feverishly to buck up their Engrish!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: