Whoever strangers you meet elsewhere on the planet, no matter who they are, most of us, if not everybody else, would communicate in English, doesn’t it? That matters, except if you know their mother tongue as well. This is a strong proof of how powerful this language has been, even we might use it to communicate with people who share similarity with our own race. Especially in countries previously colonized by Great Britain, or United States, either. But, as time passes by, English language got assimilated with local culture, local people, and of course, as a result of centuries-old intermingling ‘marriage’ between English itself and local languages, there comes various dialects and accents in English language. Here are some facts about how variously English can be.
1. A political party is spelt ‘aggrupation’, originally derived from Spanish word ‘agrupacion’.
2. Normally, bold means ‘thick’. In Philippine, beware, bold means ‘nudity’. Don’t afford to watch ‘bold movie’, because that is synonymous to ‘blue movie’.
3. Locals hardly understand when you spell ‘toothpaste’. But they find it easily understandable when you mention ‘Colgate’. The same rule also comes to ‘photocopier’; they would rather call it ‘Xerox’.
4. Instead of using ‘an English-speaking person’, Filipinos would like to use ‘Dollar-speaking person’.
5. They do not call it ‘blue’ to describe something nude: they would rather call it ‘green’. E.g.: ‘green joke’, which means dirty, or sexual-related jokes.
6. They have an adjective form for ‘kidnap’. It is spelt ‘kidnapable’. They also have their own adjective forms for ‘president’ and ‘senator’: they are spelt ‘presidentiable’, not ‘presidential’, and ‘senatoriable’, not ‘senatorial’.
1. There is one Melayu word used in English. It is ‘kena’. Hokkien word, ‘tio’, is also replaceable.
E.g.: He kena beaten by his mother.
He tio punished by the headmaster.
2. There is another word for ‘son’. It is ‘boy-boy’.
E.g.: My boy-boy is very cutie ah.
3. A male gangster is usually nicknamed ‘Ah Beng’. While the female one is nicknamed ‘Ah Lian’.
4. O$P$ = Owe Money Pay Money. A common ‘proverb’ used in terms of loan shark.
5. A prostitution is usually nicknamed ‘Chicken business’.
6. Be more sensitive in ‘marketing’ word. Singaporeans refer it to ‘going to market and buy something’.
e.g.: A: Eh, I go to marketing first ya.
B: Si lo. You dressed in this steady clothes, but wanna go marketing ah?
A: I mean I want to go study marketing a!
B: How come you wear Armani’s suits at the same time you wanna go buy things in market ah?
7. Another common misunderstanding: My England not powderful a! Some might get confused with this
statement, and think, “What the hell this person talkin’ about? Is there any powder labelled ‘My England’?” No, that’s wrong. This expression means, “My English is not good.”
1. ‘I was fired by him’, in India, does not mean that the man had just been fired. It means that the boss had just yelled at him, but his job remains safe.
2. Rather than using ‘Where do you live?’, Indians would ask someone in this expression: ‘Where are you put up?’
3. In India, ‘hotel’ means ‘restaurant’.
4. A not-too-dark-skinned woman is usually called as ‘wheatish complexion’. A too scientific term, yeah?
South African English:
1. ‘Cafe’ refers to a convenience store, not a cafe as usual.
2. Standardically, we give slang to our friends, or our relatives, with ‘bro’ or ‘brother’. They instead use ‘bru’.
3. Sunshower means rain which takes place at the same time the sun is still shining, unhindered by any clouds. In South Africa, sunshower is commonly spelt as ‘monkey’s wedding’, due to their belief that monkeys get married during this period.
4. ‘Just now’ is replaced here with ‘now now’.
E.g.: I took bath now now, bru.
1. In terms to nickname loan sharks, you might call them ‘Ah Long’.
2. A derogatory slang for ‘transsexuals’, or so-called ‘waria’ in our language, they would use ‘Ah Kua’.
3. Locals prefer ordering ‘Milo’ to ‘hot chocolate’. Next time, go into local kopitiam, and tell the waiter, ‘Gimme Milo one lah!’
4. In Malaysia, ‘eraser’ is informally synonymous with ‘rubber’. Don’t get confused when someone asks, “May I borrow your rubber?”
5. There is a more ‘formal’, ‘scientific’ way in saying ‘defecate’ (we would call ‘pang sai’ in Hokkien): pass motion.
However, there are also languages in which English language is ‘unified’ with local language, which then generates a new hybrid, on which English words are spelt on the manner they speak their mother tongue. Scientifically, this term is called ‘code-switching’, or ‘portmanteau’. There are several examples:
Konglish (Korean English):
1. Game: ge-im
2. Shopping: syo-ping
3. Air conditioner: e-eo-keon (air-con)
4. Chocolate: cho-kol-lit
5. Supermarket: syu-peo-ma-ket
Runglish (Russian English):
1. Appointments: Appointmyenti
2. Hamburgers: Hyam-boorgoors
3. Business man: Bisness Mien
4. Potatoes: Potyaytoaz
5. Turkey (food): Tyurki
Source: The New York Times
Chinglish (Chinese English):
1. Tomorrow I will look a movie (proper: Tomorrow I will watch a movie). Remember, see, look,
watch, and read are spelt ‘kan’ in Chinese language. Another example is ‘I am watching a book.’
2. ‘Huan yin’ is instead translated as ‘welcome you’.
Other examples include:
1. Be Cautious To Slip (it actually means ‘beware the slippery road)
2. F*** the Certain Price of Goods (actually it is ‘Dry Goods Pricing Department’. How come
they could translate like this in supermarkets?)
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