BROKEN ENGLISH

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jwschang

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Anyone heard of "Broken English"?

Some samplings from my humble text (under preparation) on how syntax is mangled by creative "shortening" in my part of the world (Singapore and Malaysia), especially among Chinese speakers!

Where are you?
You are where?

Where do you live?
You live where?

Where is the train station?
The train station is where?

Where could he be?
He is where?

Where are my socks?
My socks are where?

Where did you put them?
You put them where? (The "did" is a nuisance)

Where did she find my wallet?
She found my wallet where? (Ditto)

Where is this computer made?
This computer is made where? :roll:
 

Red5

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I believe "broken English" is a widely used term which describes and generalises the standard of a learner.
 

Tdol

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Broken English is a common enough term, although not used much in education. ;-)
 

shane

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jwschang said:
Anyone heard of "Broken English"?

Some samplings from my humble text (under preparation) on how syntax is mangled by creative "shortening" in my part of the world (Singapore and Malaysia), especially among Chinese speakers!

Where are you?
You are where?

Where do you live?
You live where?

Where is the train station?
The train station is where?

Where could he be?
He is where?

Where are my socks?
My socks are where?

Where did you put them?
You put them where? (The "did" is a nuisance)

Where did she find my wallet?
She found my wallet where? (Ditto)

Where is this computer made?
This computer is made where? :roll:

Those all sound like Chinglish to me!! They all use Chinese sentence patterns, don't they? :)
 
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Samantha

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jwschang said:
Anyone heard of "Broken English"?

Some samplings from my humble text (under preparation) on how syntax is mangled by creative "shortening" in my part of the world (Singapore and Malaysia), especially among Chinese speakers!

Where are you?
You are where?

Where do you live?
You live where?

Where is the train station?
The train station is where?

Where could he be?
He is where?

Where are my socks?
My socks are where?

Where did you put them?
You put them where? (The "did" is a nuisance)

Where did she find my wallet?
She found my wallet where? (Ditto)

Where is this computer made?
This computer is made where? :roll:

Okay, I thought I was pretty decently educated (I am a native English speaker!!!) but I don't quite get what is wrong with these sentences? Is one of them wrong and the other a more correct translation of the same meaning?
 

RonBee

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Samantha said:
jwschang said:
Anyone heard of "Broken English"?

Some samplings from my humble text (under preparation) on how syntax is mangled by creative "shortening" in my part of the world (Singapore and Malaysia), especially among Chinese speakers!

Where are you?
You are where?

Where do you live?
You live where?

Where is the train station?
The train station is where?

Where could he be?
He is where?

Where are my socks?
My socks are where?

Where did you put them?
You put them where? (The "did" is a nuisance)

Where did she find my wallet?
She found my wallet where? (Ditto)

Where is this computer made?
This computer is made where? :roll:

Okay, I thought I was pretty decently educated (I am a native English speaker!!!) but I don't quite get what is wrong with these sentences? Is one of them wrong and the other a more correct translation of the same meaning?

Let's look at the first two sentences, which in this country (USA) would have two entirely different meanings.

  • Where are you?
    You are where?

The first is a question asking about someone's location. The second is not a question but an expression of incredulity. Example:

  • You are where? Thirty-ninth and Grand? That's impossible. Those streets don't even intersect.

Or:

  • You are where? Pine and 13th street? Geez! You couldn't have possibility have followed the directions I gave you.

:)
 
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jwschang

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shane said:
Those all sound like Chinglish to me!! They all use Chinese sentence patterns, don't they? :)

Yup. Word order is Chinese. Do you encounter the same in Dalian? I would guess not, because the China Chinese try to be more exact than us here. :wink:
 

whl626

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I put it down to ' mother tongue interference ' . Non-English speakers can't help but think in their native pattern and add in English words in the sentence as a way to learn English. Once the habit is formed, it is really hard to make corrections. That's why many educated people also use all those expressions. :)
 

shane

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jwschang said:
Do you encounter the same in Dalian? I would guess not, because the China Chinese try to be more exact than us here. :wink:

I encounter many direct translations of words, rather than sentences. Some good ones I've heard are:

1. Fire chicken (turkey - »ð¼¦ huo ji in Chinese)
2. Black customer (hacker - ºÚ¿Í hei ke in Chinese)

:D
 

Casiopea

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Ahem, sorry folks. It's perfectly correct English. The process whereby a WH-word is moved to the end of the sentence so as to place more emphasis on the topic. For example,

"You did what?" means, I know what you did (so don't answer the question (hence the positioning of 'what' to the end)), I just can't believe you did it!.

:D
 

RonBee

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Casiopea said:
Ahem, sorry folks. It's perfectly correct English. The process whereby a WH-word is moved to the end of the sentence so as to place more emphasis on the topic. For example,

"You did what?" means, I know what you did (so don't answer the question (hence the positioning of 'what' to the end)), I just can't believe you did it!.

:D

I agree with you 100%. However, I think JW's point is that in many cases the sentences are put that way and intended to be questions. That would certainly not be normal here (USA).

:)
 
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Samantha

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Okay, this makes sense now. I feel better knowing that I *do* speak proper English (most of the time :D ), I just thought you meant some of those phrases as retorical questions. Thanks for the clarification.
 
S

Samantha

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Chinese English

I have never really had any contact with the Chinese language except for a Taiwanese roommate of mine my freshman year at college. She spoke decently enough for us to *usually* understand each other but one thing I noticed is that she and her friends used the word "maybe" all the time. And I really mean all the time, even in places where I didn't think a word even needed to be.

For example, her boyfriend had given her a poster he had made on the computer that said, "When I look in your eyes, maybe I feel ten feet tall." Is there a word in Chinese that would take the place of the English "maybe" that doesn't have an exact translation? Or is there a word there that we don't even have a use for in English sentence structure?

We never understood each other enough for me to ask her about it. The deepest conversation we ever got into was discussing what sound each animal makes in our respective languages :D . An Emily Dickenson poem with a croaking frog threw poor Mandy for a loop.
 

shane

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I asked my fiancee about this today, as she is Chinese.

Apparently, in Mandarin, speakers use 'maybe' as a way of respecting other people's opinions. It's kind of like giving face. It also makes them appear wise or intelligent. Cultured, even.

If I say 'It's cold outside today, isn't it?' and you reply 'Maybe', that doesn't mean that you have no opinion of your own. It simply means that you might not think it is cold yourself, but you are willing to listen to my opinion.

Weird, huh? :?
 

whl626

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Chinese people always talk about ' face-saving '. That's why they are very concerned about whether what they say would hurt others and make them ' lose face ' :). When you compliment them, you almost never hear them say ' Thank you ' :p. What you would always hear is ' NO, no, no ' , weird though.

You know why ? Because they want ' face ' but they don't want it look so obvious in the public huh :p
 

RonBee

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shane said:
I asked my fiancee about this today, as she is Chinese.

Apparently, in Mandarin, speakers use 'maybe' as a way of respecting other people's opinions. It's kind of like giving face. It also makes them appear wise or intelligent. Cultured, even.

If I say 'It's cold outside today, isn't it?' and you reply 'Maybe', that doesn't mean that you have no opinion of your own. It simply means that you might not think it is cold yourself, but you are willing to listen to my opinion.

Weird, huh? :?

It is weird. :wink:

I think it is safe to say that most native speakers of English simply do not use maybe that way. In fact, we would find it downright odd for somebody to use it as in your example.

  • A: Do you like this picture?
    B: Maybe.
    A: Huh?

    :wink:

I think it is a kind of culture gap and is more of an East vs. West type of thing than anything to do with learning English.

It would be interesting to learn more about what the Chinese posters have to say.

:)
 

makaveli

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shane said:
I asked my fiancee about this today, as she is Chinese.

Apparently, in Mandarin, speakers use 'maybe' as a way of respecting other people's opinions. It's kind of like giving face. It also makes them appear wise or intelligent. Cultured, even.

If I say 'It's cold outside today, isn't it?' and you reply 'Maybe', that doesn't mean that you have no opinion of your own. It simply means that you might not think it is cold yourself, but you are willing to listen to my opinion.

Weird, huh? :?

I'm not sure if it is anymore Shane, as your fiancee is correct and I have also noticed this trend in Thailand and also England the last year or two!!!!! I have used it myself on numerous occasions in this context also!

Unless two people are discussing points of law, I really don't think it matters and why risk insulting someone or spoiling an excellent conversation. This appears I hope a subtle shift away from a cantankerous native style, which through English exposure to Asia rubs off on us BE! I like it a lot! 8)


Regards


M.
 

whl626

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" Maybe " is an indirectly way to show one's opinion that he may not agree with you.
 

RonBee

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whl626 said:
" Maybe " is an indirectly way to show one's opinion that he may not agree with you.

Um, say indirect.

I do think you are right. It is a way for somebody to show that he doesn't necessarily agree with you, but in a nonconfrontational way.

:)
 
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