Get Down or Get Out?
In the above Humorous Speech Contest, Marianna Pascal, a renowned writer and trainer on communication skills, presented her speech with great enthusiaism and clarity regarding our local varieties of English or rather Chinglish aka Manglish. To the language experts they may have thorns pricking their ear drums when words like 'what lah you' or 'where got' wriggles through their ears. Some how for those seasoned speakers/listeners of Chinglish/Manglish it would be the least disturbing. Just to touch on one point from the video where most Chinese would agree our mom & dad said this umpteenth times since the day we were born ~ 下車 xià chē *pinyin* lit. 'down car' a direct translation for 'get out of the car'. The obvious opposite is上車 shàng chē *pinyin* lit. 'up car' but its very rare to hear 'get up the car' in Chinglish. 上 shàng *up*/下xià *down* were embedded in our thick skull and over the years saying 'get down the car' in English is second nature.
What crosses your mind when you pick up your Shanghai friend/business associate at the airport who has limited vocabulary of English gets into your car, fastened the safety belt and ready to go and then uttered 'open car' and later on the highway raises his voice with 'kill car'?
開車 kāi chē 'open car' lit. is operate/drive/start a vehicle and not as what you imagine spanners dismantling the car. There is no connection to an act of murder with 殺車 sounds like 剎車 *tQ to Kian Fai Koh & SK* shā chē *pinyin* 'kill car' but to step on the brakes during any emergency. Of course we cannot simply apply a direct translation word for word or homophones but merely used them jokingly like that also can lah.
Interestingly some Chinese words such as 'Kiasu' and 'Kowtow' are borrowed words and accepted in most English Dictionaries .
source: Oxford Dictionaries
Kowtow: 叩頭 *pinyin* kòutóu where 叩kòu *knock/bow* + 頭tóu *head* which is a traditional greeting especially to a superior involving kneeling and pressing one's forehead to the ground.
|Image courtesy of wikipedia|