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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Harlowelkumkanwee L. pyoo?

At my school, the Sun newspaper company stacks its sheets on the entrance to the workstation, prompting every Tom, Dick and Harry (as well as every Joan, Nor and Chanti) to take apiece and leave it somewhere where the Kakak-Janitors clean up their messes.

Oh, and it’s for reading too.

I enjoyed this article very much so other than the reason of lifestyle entertaining more intelligent than I could offer (for the week, at least), I’m keeping it here to remind myself that it’s not always a bad thing to make fun of tourists. Kudos to Nury Vittachi for writing it and the Sun newspaper for the print.


Fast food & faster words.
By Nury Vittachi (

Monolingual English American often hears Asian-English words differently...

My friend’s daughter works in a fast-food shop in an airport. I watched her and her friends in action the other day.

The weird thing is that the staff can communicate perfectly well in English with anyone from Hong Kong, South Asia, East Asia or pretty much any other part of the region.

But when a fresh-off-the-boat tourist enters the restaurant, communication gets difficult. Monolingual English speakers from America, for example, ‘heras’ Asian-English words differently.

Fast food server: Harlowelkumkanwee L. pyoo?
Customer: What?
Ffs: Harlowelkumkanwee L. pyoo?
Customer: Er, yes, I’d like one cheeseburger, please.
Ffs: Dull Swiss wit Baygon?
Customer: Excuse me?
Ffs: Dull Swiss wit Baygon?
Customer: Oh, no, I don’t want a double-Swiss with Baygon. I mean bacon. I just want a normal cheeseburger.
Ffs: Humbugger wit jees. Setter Al Eckart?
Customer: Pardon me?
Ffs: Setter Al Eckart?
Customer: Ah, got it. A la carte, please.
Ffs: One-for-rice wee tat?
Customer: No, I don’t want rice, thank you very much.
Ffs: One-for-rice wee tat!
Customer: Oh, yes, please, I want fries with that.
Ffs: Swormy dyumludj?
Customer: I’m sorry, would you mind...?
Ffs: Swormy dyumludj. U juan smor, me, dyum, ledj?
Customer: Medium.
Ffs: Ad too duller soup a size.
Customer: What?
Ffs: Ad too duller soup a size.
Customer: Not supersized, thanks. I’m fat enough already, ha, ha!
Ffs: Wad rink u juan?
Customer: Fresh orange juice, please.
Ffs: Fray soringe ad too duller. Chippa u buy set.
Customer: Okay, gimme a set.
Ffs: Wit set you juan?
Customer: Cheeseburger.
Ffs: Dull Swiss wit Baygon set?
Customer: Excuse me?
Ffs: You juan dull Swiss wit Baygon set?
Customer: No, I don’t want - actually, maybe I do want Baygon. At least it would kill my appetite.

How come Asians can communicate with other Asians using this bare-bones English, while tourists struggle with it?

Because English is really a whole group of languages.

A tourist who speaks only the ‘Queen’s English’ limits himself to communicate with speakers of that dialect. But if you speak Asian English - which I propose we call Englasian - you end up with a language the majority of people on Earth can understand.

In fact, I reckon we should train the Queen of England to speak it. I can just picture her on her next royal tour of Asia stepping off the royal yacht and saying, “We are most amused to be here. My husband and I would like to say harlowelkumkanwee L. pyoo.”


Duly recommend you to visit his website at for more wise-cracking columns like these. It’s amazing to see our Asian (and ourselves as Asians) through a foreigner’s perspectives.

1 Minds bloomed here too...:

kyels said...

Okay, that's totally hilarious!

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