I must admit I found Mister Rabbit’s post (no longer available) on Chinglish amusing, though some may find it supercilious. To quote from the Chinglish site:
The term Chinglish is a fusion of the “Chin” from Chinese and the “glish” from English. Chinglish is not a racist or bigoted term and should not be taken as such. If anything, The Chinglish Files are a way of poking fun at how difficult our flawed English language can be to translate at times. It is not intended as a dig at the intelligence or linguistic capabilities of other nations. Anyway, that’s enough “serious” discussion already… time for some fun…
I well remember M coming up with some good ones in his earlier days. “I have a steamed bum and big lunch” was one of the better ones, which being translated meant “I had quite a lot to eat for my midday meal, including a steamed bun” — but it did for a second there make us wonder where he had been.
Lisa See, whose excellent thriller The Interior (1999) I am currently reading, has a good one from a Chinese train.
Dear passengers, security, polite, and hospitality are the service aim of our crew. Please remember:
1. Never speak taboo words.
2. Keep the interior of the car clean and tidy. The environment must be graceful.
3. Our food dishes are meticulously prepared and have four features — colour, fragrance, taste and shape. Muslim food is also available.
4. When you are in the car, please use the complement gloves.
Mind you, having once in one of my rare ventures into Mandarin introduced myself thus: “I am Neil. I am a dumpling” I should not be too critical. I had meant to say I was a teacher.
Do read Lisa See, by the way. She has great insight into Chinese culture and a sharp sense of the politics of globalisation, as well as a gift for narrative.
Of course I would rather The Rabbit hadn’t chosen to revive the term “Chinky”, as such terms really ought to go the way of jackboots as a fashion statement. I really must try to write a sensible post on political (in)correctness at some stage; I find myself firmly in the middle on that. I fear the Uniting Church, much as I love it, severely gets its knickers in a knot on “inclusive language” (especially pronouns) on the one hand, but on the other hand I am not at all nostalgic for a less culturally and personally sensitive use of language either. There is nothing to be said for those obsolescent racist words, whether they are Chinese ones like “foreign devils” or English ones like, well, “Chinky” — which is comparatively mild after all compared with the rest of that unfortunate lexicon.
Such matters form Marcel’s subtext, I suspect, in his comment. I hope the comment stays, I must add, as that would be a positive sign. However, it is true the sentence he criticises is less than elegant, and I would suggest: “despite his being a semester short”. I do love gerunds.