19 September 2006

Lingua Franca

Back in college, most of my friends spoke Mandarin. Being the boring banana that I was, I didn't take Mandarin too seriously. After all, English is the lingua franca, and I am sufficiently good in it. Nevertheless, my command of spoken Mandarin has grown by leaps and bounds over the years in college. It was the only logical thing to happen, really, when all your friends speak Mandarin among themselves even though you are sitting right there.

Try as they might, they failed to coax me into speaking Mandarin for their amusement. I will not be used as an object of abject pleasure! I tolerated them, knowing that once I join the corporate world, English will be the most important language.

Long time readers would know what to expect next.

To my dismay, most of my colleagues also use Mandarin for their casual chit chat during lunch. They can speak English perfectly fine, but in informal settings, they revert to their strong Chinese roots. And you can imagine how depressing it is to me.

I know it's just my second week, but I have yet to make any good friends. The blame is mostly on me, I guess. Most people who just got to know me think I'm pretentious and a snob, and for good reason! I mean, if you were a native Chinese speaker, what would you think of someone who can understand Mandarin but insists on replying in English?

I'm hoping for a good opportunity to let them experience the joy and warmth that is Zemien.


William said...

My Mandarin is passable. But when I fumble for words, I slip back into Cantonese. Perhaps you'll find a Hokkien crowd.

I have heard "Lingua Franca" since my Sejarah days...

Zyklon22 said...

Same old problem here mate. It isn't so much refusing to talk in mandarin but more of being more comfortable talking in English I guess. I can only understand a little of mandarin and none of the other chinese dialects. I use to think it will all be over when I start working but now I know it will be the same. Sigh miss my old schooldays of la Sallian boys and convent girls when everything was english, english and more english.

ZemieN said...

william: Thanks! I'm glad I can make you feel old! :P

zyklon22: Ah yes. We, the stuck up children from missionary schools.

William said...

Apa salahku, kau buatku begini....?

ZemieN said...

william: Aww... I'm sorry for making you feel old/aged/used/sagging/past-your-expiry-date

Here, let me give you a non-commital hug. ({)