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My CBC superior who’s “able to speak, unable to read” 特約轉載:「識講唔識睇」的CBC上司


(中文原文在下方)


MC Jin, a rapper ever in Hong Kong, has a song in his debut Cantonese album called “Able To Speak, Unable To Read”, mocking himself as a US-grown kid who could speak and listen Chinese but not read.


I am so impressed with this song, as I did know a similar guy when first heard it.


That guy was the superior of my first job --- here I call him Dennis.

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Dennis was a CBC (Canadian-Born Chinese in short form), with a serious look accompanied with black frame glasses, deep voice, and sturdy body. Our colleagues all agreed he was outstandingly charming among the Hong Kong guys.


Later I found this sturdy guy was actually very funny and even cute --- he had a Bunny doll on his desk.


Able to speak in pure Cantonese, he was very much like a local guy rather than a Canadian. He could rectify my English spelling and pronunciation. Meanwhile, he taught Cantonese foul languages to our foreign colleagues.


Nearly all the passwords of the company’s servers were the English pronunciation of Cantonese foul languages --- thanks to Dennis’s “great works”. I was so curious if my foreign colleagues could find any secrets in the passwords after Dennis’s Cantonese “tutorials”.


Though being my superior for less than a year, I could learn a lot from Dennis. One of his most impressive words was, “Just remember two ways to succeed: either by making yourself top, or by expanding your networks to make top guys surround you”. Obviously, he preferred the latter, as he usually then invited me to join his happy hour group after such word.


I always thought Dennis was no different than a local guy, until a day when I found he was “able to speak, unable to read”.


Let’s back to the day. Together to lunch with some colleagues at a Hong Kong-style café, locally called “Cha Chaan Teng”, Dennis picked up the menu, searching what to eat.


“No English inside! Can you manage it?” One of my colleagues started making fun on him.


“Stop it. It’s FAAN (rice)!” He pointed at the Chinese word and replied impatiently.


“Any more else?” The colleague kept on the quiz, grinning cunningly.


As soon as pointing at the Chinese word GAI (chicken), he blurted out, “It’s CHICK! I always like to have hot chicks!”.


A sudden dead air. All the guys on the table were considering seriously what he actually meant for “I always like to have hot chicks”.


Then a sudden burst of laughter. Meanwhile, I found that the middle-aged waitress was in fact standing aside, with an embarrassed but mannered smile.


__________________________


Being immigrants nowadays, I think our next generation may generally become “able to speak and listen, but unable to read”, as reading is much more difficult.


If we can communicate with our children in Cantonese, at least they can still practice listening and speaking every day. But as for recognizing Chinese words, I cannot think of another way except reading.


Back to the song, MC Jin rapped, “Well, it’s only yourself to blame. Just blame yourself of being a lazy Chinese learner when young.”


Only when needed do we always find and then regret our knowledge is so limited. Our children do not learn Chinese spontaneously, until a moment when their interest triggered, or it becomes essential. Otherwise, there would not be so many regretful stories about mother language.


I recalled Dennis again. Perhaps menu is the best introductory Chinese textbook for our children.


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“Who can read all the Chinese words of your ordered drink will have my treat.”


“’DUNG HAK TONG JANG JU NAI CHA (Iced black sugar bubble tea),” my daughter answered without any effort.


“Good job! You’ve made it!” I did think my way worked.


“Daddy…there’s English in the menu…”


What a pot of cold water pouring on me… it’s colder than her bubble tea.


To be continued




香港曾經有一個叫做MC Jin既饒舌歌手 (rapper)。佢第一隻廣東話大碟入面有一隻歌,叫做「識講唔識睇」,內容係自嘲喺美國長大既自己識聽、識講,但係唔識睇中文。


我對呢隻歌有好深印象,因為我第一次聽到呢隻歌既時候,咁啱身邊就有一位「識講唔識睇」既人。


佢就係我第一份工既上司 。我喺度叫佢做Dennis。


Dennis係俗稱CBC (Canadian-Born Chinese)既加拿大華人。佢外表嚴肅,戴住一副黑框眼鏡;低沉既聲線再加上粗壯既身型,公司同事一致認為佢應該去選港男。


同佢熟絡之後,發現呢個大隻仔不單貪玩,而且更有可愛一面:喺佢張枱上面,放咗一隻Bunny公仔。


雖然Dennis係喺加拿大長大,但佢俾我既感覺非常local。佢既英文固然流利,但廣東話亦一樣純正。佢可以一方面喺度執我啲英文串字同發音,轉個頭走去教啲外國同事講廣東話粗口。


公司所有佢有份setup既server,password幾乎全部都係英文音譯既廣東話粗口。我成日都好好奇:佢教完班外藉同事粗口之後,倒底呢班同事有無發現其實啲password係內有乾坤呢?


Dennis做咗我上司唔夠一年,不過佢教咗我好多野。我最記得佢同我講:「如果你想成功,一係你就令自己好叻;一係你就擴闊自己既圈子,令自己身邊成日都有叻人。」我好清楚Dennis係選擇咗後者,因為通常佢下一句就係問我:「今晚好多人一齊去飲野,去唔去?」


雖然Dennis一直俾我既感覺都好似土生土長既香港人,不過有一次,我終於發現原來佢係「識講唔識睇」。


話說我地幾個同事去食茶餐廳,Dennis拎起餐牌睇下食咩。


「有無英文㗎?你識睇咩?」同事開始揶揄Dennis。


「咩呀。呢個咪個飯字囉。」Dennis不耐煩地還擊。


「仲有咩字呀?」同事繼續嬉皮笑臉地追問。


「呢個咪雞字囉!雞我成日都叫啦!」Dennis衝口而出。


呢一刻,大家都靜咗一下,認真思考Dennis呢一句:「雞我成日都叫啦」既意義。


然後……喺大家爆笑既同時,發現伙計阿姐原來一直企喺隔離,露出尷尬而不失禮貌既微笑。

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我諗「識聽識講唔識睇」,大概會成為我地呢班移民下一代既特徵。因為識睇比識聽或者識講要難得多。


假設我地日常同子女都用廣東話溝通,佢地至少每日都有機會練習聽同講中文。但要認到字的話,我想不到閱讀以外既途徑。


MC Jin果首歌其中一句: 「Well,你只係可以怪自己,邊個叫你細個學中文唔俾啲心機」。


我諗我地永遠都係書到用時方恨少。未去到有興趣、或者有真正需要既一刻,小朋友唔會無緣無故地自發想去學中文。不然,我地都唔會有機會間唔時聽到一個個後悔細個無學中文既故事吧。


呢個時候,我諗返起Dennis。或者一切可以由餐牌開始。


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「嗱,邊個識得讀哂餐牌上成杯野飲既中文,我就請佢飲。」


「凍黑糖珍珠奶茶。」阿囡答起黎毫不費力。


「Good job!你成功了!」我覺得我既方法湊效了。


「爸爸……個餐牌……其實有英文㗎。」


阿囡呢盤冷水,凍過佢杯珍珠奶茶。


(待續)


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