d-cage

:: freedom :: is an abstract that only exists in the imagination

4.02.2005

Language game (part I)

Well, the idea of localizing foreign languages wouldn't be a surprise to the Cantonese speaking population, especially for those who grew up in HK.

Some examples:
bus - 巴士; cheese - 芝士; cookie - 曲奇
But why is "cheese cake" called "芝士蛋糕" and not something else?
Why is "fillo pastry" called "酥" and not "菲酪"?
But, "coffee" is "咖啡," "brown" is more commonly known as "咖啡色" or "啡色" rather than "褐色" or "棕色" in colloquial language.
How does the local culture decide what to name foreign imports? And how do people resonnate these foreign imports in their local lives?
What happens in post-97 when you may come across a person who does not understand what you mean by "菲林," "熱狗" or "威化餅"?

Some mysteries: (please post your guess in the comment; if you have something interesting, please post!!)
a. 江戶川亂步 (Japanese name for an American writer)
b. 福特主義 (Chinese name for an American practice; this is probably easy...)
c. devil's tongue (English name for the name of a food that probably started in Japan, Chinese (HK people) has started using them in 火鍋 in recent years.)
d. fortune cookie (a North-American 'Chinese' snack; does anyone know where this may have originated from? Is it pure American creation or does it actually have roots in "Chinese"?)

3 Comments:

At 11:59 AM, Blogger sauceh said...

Is this why I haven't seen you in such a long time? Too busy playing language games?

I can't offer any answers to your questions, but your section on hybridized language in Hong Kong totally reminded me of Xi Xi's (西西) My City: A Hong Kong Story (我城) - which my class just finished reading. The novel takes place in 1970s HK, at a time when the city was beginning to make a name for itself on the international stage. Xi Xi is known for her unorthodox use of language. And in response to your post, I think the language of HK - Cantonese mixed with English - is central to HK's sense of identity, a paradoxical post-colonial identity. But what to do about post-97? I have no idea... I speak English while in HK. ha!

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Stannum said...

B. Fordism
C. 會不會是蟹柳?
D. 只見過字條寫英文的fortune cookies,未見過寫中文的……

 
At 5:49 AM, Blogger d-cage said...

*haha* (hi there, sauceh)

A. Edgar Allan Poe
B. Fordism
C. 蒟蒻
D. yes, I really wonder where that comes from

 

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