ABC's vs psuedo ABCs?

first off ABC can be substituted for CBC or even BBC…I just happen to be ABC so I gonna use that term

I’ve been in taiwan (xin dian area) for about 4-5 months now and wanted to share some thoughts. I was born in New York to Chinese parents and grew up learning Mandarin Chinese in Canada from my parents as well, meanwhile living a pretty western lifestyle. I hardly, if ever used Mandarin outside of home but I’m actually quite happy I know how to speak the language (unfortunately not reconize characters).

I met a few friends and decided a vacation to Taiwan this summer would be a great idea, soak in Chinese culture and refine my speaking skills and perhaps learn to reconize characters. Although some people may argue China would have been a better spot, I don’t think China would be as tourist friendly as Taiwan.

It was quite interesting that many people refered to me going to Taiwan as a return as opposed to a vacation or trip. Although I haven’t set foot on an Asian country before.

It all began when I met a few native Taiwanese people who found it curious that I couldn’t reconize Chinese characters, I had to explain that I’ve never written and barely tried reading the language. Almost everyone that I have come into contact with has let me know that it should be normal for an Asian blooded individual to reconize characters and speak Chinese. I doubt this would not be expected from other ethnicities coming to Taiwan.

I later realized that there are a large number of Taiwanese students going to America/Canada for a period of time to learn English and then return to Taiwan. The interesting part is that even if their english is relatively poor or hasn’t even improved (no one seems to notice), they’re considered ABCs. Some music stars seem to cash in on this trend as being hip.

I had a discussion with my aunt who also knew of this situation where a Taiwanese student would litereally come on a plane, touch North American soil and head right back home to be declared an ABC, western educated, internationalized…etc

I could be wrong about this idea but it just gets rather annoying when people start thinking your just plain stupid if you can’t read Chinese when someone who’s as foreign to Taiwan as Joe Smith learned Mandarin off of listening. I think maybe I look too ‘native’ and people don’t look at me like a foreigner.

I think Taiwanese people hold ABC’s as Taiwanese kids growing up in Taiwan, then going to another country to learn english/whatever for a few years then returning, complete with perfect english skills, dancing abilities, and a different attitude, all the while knowing perfect Mandarin and perhaps even Taiwanese.

I’ve had people even say that I don’t look like an ABC (how are asians born in america to chinese parents suppose to have american facial features??), or go so far to say that I’m probably from the mainland…

ahhh, just my rant, all in all Taiwan is a blast with it’s great food, great computer merchandize, and beautiful women. Just can’t get used to the hot weather (EVERYONE seems to be sweating but me!!!), mosquito bites and urban sprawl/density.

Hmmm…Just read your post and have no idea what you are blabbing about. Are you sure you weren’t born in Taiwan and really just a “pseudo-ABC”?? Just kidding…

I don’t think native Taiwanese who go abroad to study English and come back should be called ABC. Like, hello?? ABC=American BORN Chinese. I’m not even a full ABC myself. I was born in Taiwan but came to States when I was one. But because I’ve lived here all my life and speak full English all Chinese here refer to me as ABC. I’ve never heard of CBC or any other terms, but then again I’ve never lived in Canada. Hope that helped.

Oh yeah, if you’re an ABC but people don’t think you look like an ABC but more like a native or, (ahem), a “mainlander”, if I were you I’d sure be a little insulted!!!

DWA (Down With Abbreviations)!


“You can take the Chinese out of China, but you can’t take China out of the Chinese.”

If you’ve got the bloodline, you are Chinese, and Chinese read, write and speak their own language, right? This is what people here (some, not all) think.

I’ve also often heard a lot fo Taiwanese say something like “my sister’s an ABC, she did her MBA in Vancouver”. Like if you go to the US (or somewhere) for a while and come back with a bit of English you’re an ABC. I doubt most people even know that ABC is an acronym.


A pedant writes:

An acronym should actually be a word made up of the initial letters of the phrase concerned which itself is capable of being pronounced, such as WHO, UNESCO, SIPTU. BBC, for example, is an abbreviation, not an acronym. One that springs to mind is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is what I am for posting this.

I know a girl who spent 4 years in America for university and has long since returned to Taiwan. She actively masquerades as an ABC - she teaches English at ****, tells her students she’s from L.A. and speaks Mandarin with a really thick accent and incorrect grammar.

She got caught once by her students. She was out buying a biandang and some of them saw her – so they came up behind and her said something in Chinese, like “Hey, M—! What are you doing here?” and without thinking she replied in perfect, accentless Mandarin, “I’m buying my dinner, what does it look like?” or something to that effect.


I think the reference that you look ABC is not so much physical features as it is general ‘yang4 zi’… your overall style and how you hold yourself (ie anything different from everyone else). I had a few ABC friends come to Taiwan for the first time (some could speak Chinese, some couldn’t); they all hated when people asked, “so how does it feel to be back home?” “It’s good to be back, right?”
My gan a-yi used to have these big arguments with a BBC I knew, saying that he’s not English, he just lives in England. He didn’t take too kindly to that…

I have heard that overseas Chinese look different because they have unusual facial builds due to the fact that they use different muscles for speaking than they would if they spoke Mandarin all the time instead of ‘big tongue’ English ???

And I’ve heard that if foreigners stay in Taiwan too long they become yellow and congregate in KTVs!

It’s the food. ABC’s have Western-style fat deposits in their cheeks, on their hips/butts and other places. It’s also their mannerisms, which is cultural. I can spot an ABC from a mile a way in a crowd of Taiwanese.


i have noticed that the difference, aside from being “americanized” culture-wise, the foreign born and raised abc was, ahem, fatter…and that taiwanese foks who studied overseas, particularly in the US, returned…ahem, fatter.

and ive noticed too that when i return to visit family and friends, they have grown, ahem, fatter, while i remain about the same (75Kg)…maybe some one should study this phenomenon!

Could be true Alien. It’s reported that modern Japanese girls are evolving more dextrous thumbs through manic mobile phone text messaging.

The first bionic man is just around the corner perhaps and lets hope we have that groovy music that accompanied Lee Majors or, better still, Wonderwoman!

“Japanese girls are evolving more dextrous thumbs”

hmmmmm, im evolving my imagination as we speak…


But usually ABCs talk differently, walk differently, if you see a Taiwanese walking on the streets holding a beer can, ABC fir sure.

As physical features are the same, I’d say the best way to distinguish between the two is to ask whether they want a night on the ‘juice’ or a night at the KTV. Or the boring way I suppose, would be listening to a sentence of English. 3rd person plural gets the pretenders all the time. I interviewed an ABC yesterday. Caught her out with her first sentence “my husband live in America”, then I found 150 typo’s on her resume.

Originally posted by Alien: I have heard that overseas Chinese look different because they have unusual facial builds due to the fact that they use different muscles for speaking than they would if they spoke Mandarin all the time instead of 'big tongue' English ????? [img]images/smiles/icon_confused.gif[/img]

No, no, no!! It has nothing to do with physical features at all. And that’s a bizarre explanation if I ever heard one!!

LittleIron explained it. It’s more fashion style and mannerisms. Regarding fashion, well, how do I put it gently? Taiwanese just plain don’t have none!!! No offense to the natives, of course. There are many Taiwanese in NYC, and they just don’t generally dress as well compared to ABCs. Many of them don’t dress any better than some of the poorer mainlanders who immigrated there. And many Taiwanese there are rich, so you’d think they’d have better fashion sense. Like my ex-roommate’s family is loaded, yet he dressed like a slob.

Koreans, are the other hand, are the total opposite. You almost always see them wearing designer labels and the girls wearing full makeup carrying Gucci and Prada bags. I’m always thinking they can’t all possibly be rich. My friend says alot of it is probably fake.

Originally posted by Luna: Ehehehe...

But usually ABCs talk differently, walk differently, if you see a Taiwanese walking on the streets holding a beer can, ABC fir sure.

Are you saying only ABCs drink? Cuz there was a series of posts in this forum about excessive drinking among the Taiwanese.

Yes, Asians tend to “shuffle” when they walk. Whenever I saw an Asian do that in NYC, I immediately would think “F.O.B.” Americans just don’t shuffle. There was a whole series of posts about this topic in this forum under “Appropriate Dress for Western Women” in which everybody was offering their reasons as to why Taiwanese people shuffle when they walk. But I knew Japanese people who did this too.

Well, I have ALL of you beaten into a cocked hat as far as pseudo ABC goes – I don’t have any Chinese on either side of my family and I wasn’t even born in America!