Great Chinglish in a Dramatic Video from a Machinery Company That Teaches Much About Chinese Culture

Great Chinglish in an impressive video from Peixin Machinery Corporation in China

Great Chinglish in an impressive video from Peixin Machinery Corporation in China

“It inherits the wisdom of Minnan Merchants. It assembles numerous elites.” Spoken in perfect English with a dramatic deep voice, these words begin an impressive and instructive video prepared as an advertisement for Peixin Machinery Company and their advanced systems for the paper industry. There is so much that may be puzzling to native English speakers when they watch this video, and so much that teaches unintended lessons about Chinese business culture. I feel that the video and its Chinese equivalent could be a valuable addition to any course studying Chinese and especially business Chinese or business culture in China.

Some of the scenes selected for the video also teach a lot about culture in China. You can see the intense deference to authority in several sections, for example. Quite interesting. But it’s the English that I enjoy most.

“Big waves wash the sand, but we still go ahead bravely with the pulse of the times.” That’s one of many intriguing statements that are important in Chinese speeches and ads, but seem really strange to Western ears. The Chinese version of the video has been translated well, I think, as far as direct translations go, but it’s the whole mindset and nature of the content that needs to be retranslated and reworked for this to be an effective video for native English speakers. For example, starting off with a boastful link to Minnan merchants is just crazy–even Americans who have been living in China for years are not likely to appreciate the old lore of Fujian Province merchants known as the Minnan merchants. One of many moments that makes this fun video a great example of the very large cultural gaps that sometimes look like language gaps between the East and the West.

No offense intended to Peixin. Their video is better than most and has been done much better than most. The equipment also looks pretty good, but I don’t know one way or the other.

Racial Tensions in Appleton?

While Appleton has come a long ways over the years and is generally a healthy, vibrant community with a lot of racial harmony, recent events have stirred up some racial tensions between the Hmong and white communities. The problem involves a Hmong man, Chuetoua (“Toua”) Lor, who was accosted by a white man while squirrel hunting. The man called the police and reported that Toua had pointed a gun at him. Toua was arrested and now faces felony charges that could result in 13 years in jail.

Toua is well known in the community as a gentle, cooperative man, a US citizen who has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with whites and others to build this community. He has a wife, kids, a home, a job, is active in his church, and is a true Appletonian. And the many people that know him, myself included, know that he is calm, gentle, lacks a temper, and would never threaten someone else except in pure self-defense.

Sadly, the local media don’t seem interested in Toua’s side of the story or in understanding the impact this case has on the Hmong community. They have unfairly and repeatedly linked this case – a case in which no one was injured in the least – with a massacre of six white hunters in 2004 by an angry Hmong man, Chai Vang. I’m pretty upset with how the press is handling this case, and how they are ignoring important aspects of the story. See my page, “The Challenge of Being Hmong: How a Gentle Hunter Got Arrested.” Also see my reports on the Appleton Blog: “Time for the Media to Cover the Rest of Toua Lor’s Story,” “Giving Up on the Post-Crescent,” “My Letter to the Post-Crescent on the Recent Hmong Hunting Case,” and The 2006 Hmong Hunter Story: Local Media Stirs Racial Tensions in Wisconsin.”

By |October 14th, 2006|Categories: Hmong, Society||0 Comments

Support Your Police – But Also Get a Lawyer Before Talking

I’m a big supporter of law, order, and local police, but a tragic event involving a friend of mine leads me to this tip for all of you: If the police question you about an event where there is any chance that someone might accuse you of wrongdoing, don’t talk until you get a lawyer.
My friend is a US citizen who was born in Laos and speaks English but not terribly well. He was hunting squirrels with a 22-calibre rifle on property open to the public for hunting when a white man accosted him for the second time that day (the first time was allegedly on the white man’s property, but I doubt that), accused him a second time of having trespassed his land, began firing questions at him and accusing him of being a liar, and began moving toward him.

I can’t go into too many details, except to say that the white man later called the police and said my friend pointed a gun at him. The police showed up later at his home and an officer began asking him a series of questions concerning the incident. My friend, always a gentleman and always trying to be nice, was extremely cooperative and answered a series of questions and tried to tell him what happened, but did not know what the issues were, did not know the law, did not know his rights, and did not know how little details in his answers would be used against him. He did not have an interpreter and surely did not understand all the questions he was being asked and also may have explained things in poor English that further confused the situation.

After lengthy questioning, the officer took my friend to the police station and arrested him. Only at the station were his legal rights read to him. Had he had the help of a lawyer during questioning, it is very unlikely that the case would go as far as it has.

He was surprised to find that the confrontation with the white man in the woods would make major headlines suggesting a link to a past massacre of white men by a Hmong hunter, as if he we some kind of crazed criminal out threatening helpless white property owners. A media circus would form on his property that night, with so-called journalists trespassing on his property, refusing to leave when the wife demanded it, repeatedly pressuring family members for statements, ringing their doorbell into the night, and leaving only after the family contacted a lawyer and had him call the TV crew’s superiors telling them to back off or have the police be called again.

The man faces 13 years in prison if convicted of a felony charge of reckless endangerment, when the charges perhaps should not have brought against him in the first place, in my opinion. Had he had a lawyer during questioning, the stress on the family and the harm to the community from racially-charged news stories might have been much less.

By |October 7th, 2006|Categories: Hmong, Society||0 Comments

Free Proofreading of Business Cards: One Easy Way to Help Your Immigrant Friends in 10 Seconds or Less

Chef Tasty - An Interesting Hmong Business Card

While I got a chuckle from the message of this business card that I picked up at an oriental grocery store recently, it made me realize that native English speakers could do a great service to their immigrant friends and acquaintances by simply offering to proofread materials that they might wish to print for their business. Ten seconds of proofreading would have made this business card more effective.

When it comes to offering help to our friends and neighbors with English as a second language, it’s time for more of us to step up and say, “We delivery!” Or words to that effect.

By |September 4th, 2006|Categories: Hmong, Humor||0 Comments