I really love broken English

Maybe that makes me a little weird, but it’s true.  Since I started working at this company where we have lots of employees in China, I have regular happiness handed to me on a plate – well, in email, or Skype, or in meetings, or on the phone.  I’ve pondered why I like it so much, and actually given a lot of thought as to whether this is just plain politically incorrect, but I have decided I just don’t care.  I like it, so it’s good.  A few examples I particularly love follow:

——-

“Sorry for cost so long time since my unclever mind.”

If I tried for a week, I wouldn’t be able to come up with such a clever apology for missing the point of someone else’s e-mail (well, multiple emails over multiple days).

——-

“Roger.”  

This is an affirmation I get of most any statement I make in Skype to one particular guy I chat with all the time.  I guess in this case, my Chinese counterpart is not using English incorrectly at all.  He is just using it in a way no one else uses it anymore, and hasn’t really in fifty-some years.  I only know this because I decided to google it, though.  I knew “Roger” was a term that meant you understood what someone had said, and it had some association with pilots in the military, so I googled “roger as an affirmative statement.”  Turns out it comes from a radio alphabet (A = Alpha, B = Bravo, C = Charlie, etc.) that was the official alphabet of the US Navy until 1954.  One day I will ask where he picked up this statement.

——-

“need go to sleep…pain…headache”

Again, a simple Skype chat.  This time with someone who was trying to explain why he couldn’t answer my question.

——-

On the slightly serious side of this subject, I think I like seeing and hearing these mangled statements because I like language, and warped as these things seem, they give me an opportunity to look at language differently – to consider how it is entirely possible to get your point across in ways that aren’t supposed to work.  Add to that the sort of puzzle-solving aspect of translating the translation and it ‘s a perfect fit for me.  As a kid I loved to watch Jeopardy and I solved logic puzzles for fun all the time, so I guess it’s no surprise I take so much joy in capturing these little tidbits.

6 thoughts on “I really love broken English

  1. I love your posts and the way you look at life 🙂

    I like this example of when someone wrote the wrong computer code…
    “I understand; u understand; computer how understand ??”

  2. I love your posts too. I have been reading them on my phone recently and just can’t comment as it takes too long, but wanted to let you know I am enjoying them. This is so funny (and I agree, broken English is hilarious sometimes) but the one about your office gopher made me laugh out loud!

  3. This post totally cracked me up. Like Claire, I usually read your posts on my phone and can’t really comment because I’m a complete techno dork, but wanted to pop in and tell you I really love reading your posts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s