- Category: Happy Jellyfish
- Created: Wednesday, 05 October 2016 08:00
- Written by Cecilie
Who Speaks More English, Hong Kong People Or Belgian People?
Here’s one of my students, let’s call him X, taking the gun off some local on one of our outings to southern China. He’s been studying for a while now and has always done very well, but last week something happened. He was in a taxi explaining where to go to the taxi driver, who was of the particular “no foreigner should ever speak Cantonese” kind and wouldn’t listen but kept talking to him angrily in English, etc.
When we met up later that night, he said: “As I stepped out of the taxi, I almost thought Screw This Cantonese Crap.”
I said “yes, I understand you only too well! I’ve been through it all, and it still continues every single day and it will probably never stop.”
But I won’t let that kind of taxi driver get me down, because the next person I meet will be delighted that I speak Cantonese so she won’t have to struggle with the English. Or just in general.
But in this week’s lesson, X did better than ever; in fact the whole hour’s conversation was more than 90% Cantonese. X had decided once and for all to win this war, I could feel it!
The barrier of Cantonese really only exists in the mind. If you speak with confidence, it doesn’t matter if the tones and syntax aren’t perfect. People will be carried off on your wave of enthusiasm and be forced to understand whether they want it or not.
On the pavement in Stanley street outside the venerable Honolulu where I teach my victims, X told me that he had lived in Belgium and the people there had answered him in English when he talked to them in Dutch.
“What, you mean the Belgians are just like Hong Kong people?” I asked, taken aback.
“Oh, no no no,” X said. “No one is like Hong Kong people when it comes to the desperate fight against other people learning their language.” Phew!
檀島咖啡餅點 (Tan dou ga fei beeng dim – Honolulu Coffee Shop)
士丹利街 (Si dan lei gai – Stanley street)
比利時 (Bei lei si – Belgium)