Tag Archives: language

Pondering Freedom of Speech during Ramadan

I love British comedy: dry, witty and deep. However, even with the help of subtitles, some of the time, I still don’t understand the jokes. I would need interpretation. My husband has become fed up because I keep interrupting him, and he would reply, “Don’t worry. You won’t get it.” or “It’s not worth explaining.”

I remember when I first watched British comedies 14 years ago, I was shocked with horror what comedians were allowed to say in public. They freely poked fun of the Pope and the Queen, made rude jokes about themselves, politicians, people with disabilities, or made sarcastic jokes about religions. I constantly told my husband — No, in Malaysia or Thailand or Singapore or China, you definitely can’t say this, this, this, this……, using horrid stories about judicial caning, death sentence and disappearance as solid evidence.

My husband will never understand my fear of total freedom of speech.

Being the youngest in a typical Chinese family. A family of 10.

Being the youngest in a typical Chinese family

I grew up in a culture that guarding my words was important. I grew up in Malaysia, surrounded by Muslims, Hindus, and Chinese of all religions. Each group has its unique tradition, taboos and belief, and I learnt naturally to pick up cues of what to say or what not to say to different groups of people. We learnt to live harmoniously by accurately understanding our boundaries. We embraced peace, not trouble.

I had fear.

I’m very used to living within boundaries since birth.  As the youngest child in a traditional hierarchical Chinese family, I must show filial piety to my parents and respect my elder siblings. Obedience is a great value. Silence is gold. Continue reading

Do you remember the victims’ names in Asiana plane crash?

Three teenage girls from China recently died, when their plane smashed into a sea wall in front of the runway at San Francisco International Airport on 6 July. The girls from Zhejiang, an eastern coastal province in China, were passengers on the South Korean Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Their dream of a fun and exciting summer camp in America was cruelly shattered.  

In response to Lorelle’s blog exercises: How to Write about Something Someone Else Wrote, I’ll examine this tragedy from a fresh angle, a person’s name and its cultural identity.

How many people remember the victims’ names? The girls’ names were: Ye Mengyuan 叶梦圆 , Wang Linjia 王琳佳, and Liu Yipeng 刘易芃. Their names in Chinese meant “fulfilling dreams’, ‘grace’, and ‘lush’ respectively. However, the media was not interested in these names, which carried their parents’ hope and love.

People now seemed to remember the pilots’ fake oriental sounding names. The news anchor from KTVC, a TV station serving San Francisco Bay Area, told viewers the purported names of the pilots on Asiana Flight 214 were: “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk”, and “Bang Ding Ow”. Continue reading

Laughter and love

Meeting a WordPress friend in real life was actually a weird experience.

Tilly Bud (famously known as The Laughing Housewife) and I have been in contact via WordPress for about a year. We seemed to have known each other well before she opened her house for me and my son, for 5 days.

It was very brave of her. I’m a small Chinese person with a funny accent visiting a suburb in the north, dragging along a 12-year-old boy with me, because, to be safe, you should always bring a friend when you meet an online friend. In my case, I brought my son. Continue reading

English in the north: dropping consonants

Today I had a new discovery: my newly met friends not only dropped the ‘t’ sound for the word ‘but’, but also the ‘h’ sound at the beginning of a word. For example, they say, “do you ‘ave” when they mean “do you have”. Their sloppy English is getting me worried about the future of the Queen’s English.

At this rate of their missing consonants, by the end of the week, I gather this family will only have 20 alphabets left in their English, while poor English learners around the world are coping with 26 alphabets just fine.

The fun of living in the house of a blogger-turn-friend is the surreality: you think you’ve known the person quite well through her writing – witty, amusing, intelligent, grumpy, snoring and self-deprecating, but in reality, she’s merely a  frumpy dog walker who is battling daily northern rain to walk her two cute dogs. Judging by the amount of dog poo littered on the pavements, Tilly Bud possibly is the only conscientious dog walker in Stockport with dog bags in all her pockets.

Have I just said their dogs are cute? Indeed. They are tiny and adorable. They are so well behaved and talented that they can do Gangnam Style. These cute, well trained dogs have transformed my mind. I’m now convinced that dogs are the best friends of human being. I now also think that eating dog meat is such a bad idea after all. By the way, Chinese people describe dog meat as fragrance meat 香肉, as dog meat is known for its fragrance.

(Note: I had a problem with my previous post sending from Stockport. The format was distorted. I’ve deleted that post and updated it here. )

My Related Posts:

Fascinating Chinese Character of the Year 2012

In China, the character 微 (pronounced: wēi) has been chosen by some media in China as the character which encapsulates the year 2012. This character means tiny, small, micro and insignificant.

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

In China, the equivalent of Twitter is called 微博(micro-blogging; pronounced ‘wēibó’), which is powerful in breaking firewalls and has allowed the voice of the general public in China to be heard. A few Chinese idioms also carry this character. It may refer to people feeling ‘insignificant’ and powerless. It also refers to the selflessness of many ‘tiny’ people of China with their spirit of sacrifice. Continue reading

The Most Illuminating Lantern from New Zealand

Daniela is the Lantern Keeper in New Zealand.

On her WordPress blog, Lantern Post, she explained why she called her blog the Lantern Post:

“…in a memory of a dreamy street lanterns I walked under in year 1980 and others, through cobbled streets of old Zagreb, reading poetry (V. Majer; ‘Plinska lanterna na Gricu’/ ‘Gas lantern on Gric’) and holding my heart just a tiny fraction above the abyss … on most days.” — by Daniela from Lantern Post

Generosity from New Zealand

On Aug 3, Daniela wrote an illuminating post, Some Helpful Books For Writers. It’s inspiring. One of the books Daniela recommended was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Later Daniela received some books of Steven Pressfield as gifts. She gave them all away for FREE. I’m one of her lucky recipients. Daniela is in New Zealand. I’m in England.  Continue reading

Turning your blog posts into beautiful Word Clouds

In my last post, 5 Easy Steps to Create Stunning Word Clouds, I recommended using the web tool Tagxedo to create your stunning Word Cloud.

You can create a personalised stunning Word Cloud in just 5 minutes.

I hope you have some success with your creation. If you haven’t tried it yet, why not try it today?

Today I created 3 word clouds with 3  favourite WordPress blog posts.

1) The creative and warm-hearted Tilly Bud, creator of The Laughing Housewife. Blog Post: Let the Games Begin.

Tilly Bud’s The Laughing Housewife: Let the Games Begin

Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Language

English is such a fascinating language. It’s common that people do not always say what they mean, or do not mean what they say. Below is a list of 5 things that I’ve learnt:

1) A Cream Tea is not a cup of tea with cream

On our honeymoon in Jersey back in 1999, my husband asked if I fancied some Cream Tea. I said yes as I was thirsty after a long walk.

He later gave me a plate with a fat, boring looking bun (I later learnt it was called a scone) with jam and cream next to it. I sat and waited patiently for my tea. “Where’s my tea?”  I asked. Hugh pointed at the fat, boring looking bun and said ‘You said you wanted some Cream Tea.’

Cream Tea means a scone. Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Culture

I’ve slowly picked up some survival tips after living in England since 1996. Here are 5 of them on culture:

1) Always starting your greetings with the weather, not food

Now I say ‘Isn’t it lovely!’ or ‘What a lovely day!’ to greet people, as ‘hello’, as opposed to saying, ‘Have you eaten?’, which is a Chinese way of asking ‘How’re you’.

And, I’ve learnt to agree with people when they praise or moan about the weather, because English people don’t expect you to disagree with them about the English weather. They just don’t. Continue reading