Monday, September 05, 2005

"Really Hope See You Caain"

Ah, Chinese "Art"
Originally uploaded by billmcgonigle.
These are the words emblazoned on the 300+ invitations my school recently mailed out in hope to attract new students/new business to out school.

And yes:
1. It SHOULD read "Really Hope TO See You"
2. "Caain" is not a word.

I pointed out both of these errors to one of our office managers before they began any real work on them. It was my assumption that they could return the cards for a proper printing. Instead, all she did was shrug her shoulders and state that the other Chinese wouldn't know the card held any mistakes.

I've mentioned this "ChaBuDuo" attitude before; that is to say a prevalent attitude in China that accepts whatever is "good enough," or better translated, "Not a big deficiency." For me, especially after my year and a half working in immigration at BAL where the job was the details, attitudes of this nature are straight out maddening.

Another example: The sign outside our main branch states that our school is open everyday from 18:00 (6PM) until 20:00 (8PM). It should have been "8:00," not "18:00." I told the boss. She had never noticed. She didn't give it another thought.

Another example: My TA had to prepare a vocab list for one of my classes. I instructed her, explicitly, to use the Merriam Webster American English Dictionary. She didn't. How did I know? Well, for one, half the words were defined or spelled in accordance with British English. Secondly, it was obvious that she had used a Microsoft application, as the word "Explorer" had been defined as "the fastest and most convenient internet browsing application available for today's consumer." She couldn't understand my disappointment, as her job was "ChaBuDuo." So I started mispronouncing her name, simply by chanigng the tones, and began calling her the Chinese equivalent of "Pig Face." She got angry and asked why I was butchering her name. I said I didn't understand her disappointment, as my pronounciation was "ChaBuDuo."

Sad to say, she still hasn't learned her lesson. But, on the bright side, I have met many dust bunnies here more intelligent than that particular TA.


Some do understand that "ChaBuDuo" is not the way to run a business, some realize its a mentality that will hinder China from ever being as great as a certain other nation *cough* USA *cough*. A sliver of hope shined through when one of our staffed came up to me and asked what should be done about those misprinted cards.

Me: "Can you get them reprinted?"
Her: "No, and we have to have them mailed today anyways. What can we do is anybody asks about that word, 'caain?'"
"Tell them its an ancient Scottish word of well-wishing and friendship."
"Oh, is that what it is?"
"No, but you just believed it, so they probably will too."


At 1:36 PM, Blogger Dan Wintermantel said...

Best post yet. Caaaaaaiinn!


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