Thursday, November 10, 2011

Culture Corner: China - Goose Parman

The Chinese government has told the people that learning English is the way for China to “open its doors to the world”.  Following what the Chinese government advises like lemmings off a cliff, there are millions upon millions of Chinese people learning English. (This is not wholly unlike millions of Americans believing the US went to war with Iraq to protect human rights.)  All other major languages, Spanish, Hindi, German, Japanese, Russian, etc., are literally called secondary languages, inferior to English.  Though this madness of English learning is one more step towards the destruction of Chinese culture and the emplacement of homogenous, McDonald-sized culture (better see the world now before the Eskimos are wearing Nikes, drinking Coke, and saying ‘What’s up?’), it serves to pad the wallets of the “socialist” leaders here by way of international business earnings.  It also provides me a job.

And I am but one compared to the incredible number of English teachers needed to meet the demands of the millions of Chinese learning English. I say “learning” because, with or without a native teacher, the students are being taught the language, most often by a person who has never set foot off China or been in an English-only environment. Without a system of checks and balances, it goes without saying the English produced is often bastardized, and very often in a form that is humorous beyond belief.  As they take English so literally, they cannot share in the comedy with me, therefore, I must share with you. 
English is everywhere, I mean everywhere in China. From ‘Happy Time Restaurant’ to ‘Please Vomiting Here’ at the local amusement park, they use English because it’s the thing to do, even though no native English speaker has ever stepped through the entrance of their rural village eatery.  The funniest usage of English is certainly what I see written on clothing, commercial products, and in advertisements.  It’s appears like a code; usually you can decipher the intent, but not before you say to yourself: “Huh? ‘Grass is green, respect it like your life?’”. (Chinese way of saying ‘keep off the grass’.)  They love the words ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’ and you see them in the strangest places.  The “Happy-Time Cotton Shop” (a clothing store) and “The Healthy Charming Center” (a women’s cosmetics shop) are two good examples.  I recently bought some candy and the following was written (verbatim) on the wrapper: “While closing your eyes, let ice cream slips with water-mouthing moment. Feeling of silky touch as some cozy jazz.”  Jazz candy? Printed on the cover of a notebook I bought is: “The best quality and design is just for you. This is the most comfortable notebook you ever run into.” I want to reply: “Good, I often complain of the intense pain ordinary notebooks cause.”

Almost as if someone opened blindly chose words from a dictionary, here are some things I have seen written on clothing:
“Fighting boys long short medium dynamic”

“Danny Mindset Longer Life”

“Goose Parman”

“Janet 8 &d”

“Under the boogie lights I believe I’ll drop”

I have considered adopting the last as a personal slogan.

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