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).
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.