Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's time to get over the Banana phase.

I am a Banana, so say the rest of my Chinese comrades.

No, they aren't really referring to the fruit, per say.
It's just an analogy.
A bad one, one might add.

I'm a Chinese.
But, I cannot speak Chinese properly to save my life.
Mandarin, to be exact.
Really, the pronunciation is tougher than it sounds!
And no matter how hard try, I still say it out of tune.

But my point is, should it matter how I say it as long as the person I'm speaking to understands what it is that I am trying to tell him or her?
Why the fuss?
I am trying the best that I can, it's just not possible for me to pronounce the word accurately.
But more than that, I think pride comes into place.
The dignity of being able to speak properly.

So, back to the banana.
The colour of my skin is "yellow", so to speak.
Yet, I'm "white" inside because I cannot speak (or sometimes even understand) Chinese.
Hence, the analogy.

In my defense, I would like to state that I am not the only one of my kind.
As much as I like to stand out and be different,
this is the one time that I'm happy to be "one of them" (bananas!).

But I would have you all know, that I am trying my best.
As some of you already know, I have been trying to improve the language.
For months now.
Last year, we (my lecturers, supervisors, and juniors) formed a small group.
And we were not allowed to speak English with one another,
when it comes to informal businesses, of course.
It was totally fun!
And now that I have finally learned the trick to this Pinyin function on my phone,
I'm totally addicted to sending nonsense text messages to those who are Chinese literate.
If I have said anything offensive, I'm sorry people!

I'll have you all know that I recently sent a text to a friend calling him a "sex maniac".
Apparently. Grin.
I really meant to ask "What are you doing?".
I suppose the both of us ended up having a good laugh over that.

But in my personal opinion,
for a person whose mother tongue is English,
it is not an easy task trying to speak Chinese fluently.
Even with my strong Hokkien and pretty okay Cantonese background;
It ain't easy!

In retrospect, I'd have to be more lenient towards those who do not have a strong,
or even a mediocre command of the English language.
Of course, I'm referring to those who were from Chinese Ed backgrounds.
I have always thought that it is a shame when one can't understand or speak the language.
How will they communicate with the rest of the world?
Honestly, it is an embarrassment when I hear others speaking in broken language,
especially to those who are visiting our country.
Wouldn't you think that this communication barrier is giving a bad impression of us as Malaysians?
Understandably, there are people who do not realize that most of us can speak proper English.
Ignorance, I say.
But still.
Why should we give a bad impression to those who are already here?

I've met people who'd compliment me on my ability to speak English after knowing that I'm from Malaysia.
I was like "Whhaat?"
Malaysians can speak English too!
And some of them are damn good at it!

Therefore, I stand firm in my opinion that these people should at least try to improve on their English
as it IS the International Language of the world we live in!
Think about it on a global scale.
I do agree that Mandarin is one of the most widely spoken language.
But I don't suppose all of those who are weak in English speak good Mandarin.
No. I suppose not.
In that case, it is about time that those who speak in dialects try to improve on their English.
After all, I am making an effort to learn Chinese.

Am getting a little help lately too!


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