Good, Bad and Ugly


#1

I was recently on a bus and this nice elderly man smiled and sat next to me. He was obviously confused on where to get off, and asked the girl on his other side, in what sounded like broken English, where the stop with the Jieyun Zhan was. The girl, either unable or too terrified to reply, just got up and changed seats. So he sat there, looking depressedly lost. So I asked him, in Chinese, where he wanted to get off. He replied in Chinese that he could NOT speak Chinese (a post for ‘h0nkys h0nkys h0nkys’?) and that he was from Japan, and then asked if I could speak English. This shocked me - since in Taiwan, I have never had anyone here ask me if I CAN speak English. He was extremely polite, didn’t want to assume that my white face meant I could speak English, and so I was more than ready to speak English and help this man out. Maybe after my Chinese improves, I’ll start on Japanese…

Thats the good.

I’m curious though - on the Jieyun or bus, does any other foreigner find themselves next to an empty seat while about 20 Taiwanese stand around it. In fact just last week I was on the Jieyun and in the section with the four seats facing each other, and people walked to them and did NOT sit down. they stood at those seats and wouldnt sit, and all i heard were giggles, whispers to each other and so on. maybe i’m just too paranoid. but maybe since i’ve been here i’ve been trained to be. once on the bus a group of schoolboys entered and sat next to me and around me. the first thing they start doing is asking each other, in regular loudness voices, if they think i can speak chinese. they decide that no, i cant, and procede to go through a list of different stereotypes. when i left the bus, i turned to them and told them, in Chinese ‘your opinions are really interesting, but youre wrong. be careful when you decide to be stupid who you be stupid around’ (or something very close to that - my chinese is hardly fluent). i left them looking stunned and hopefully, a little wiser.

The Bad and the Ugly

Wai Phy


#2

Hi wai phy

It does not only happen where racial appearance is an issue.

I was in a club in Paris, talking to my wife in English. Two girls at the next table started talking, in French, about how many foreigners were in the place and how it was going downhill etc etc.

The waiter came and spoke to me in French and the girls asked for another table.


#3

I used to think people would avoid me on the jieyun, but not anymore… Lately there have been a lot of people who sit next to me and leave another seat vacant somewhere else…


#4

I was on the bus today, and somebody sat down next to me.


#5

Maybe i wasnt all that clear on my topic…

i didnt meant that nobody ever sat next to me on the bus or MRT. it happens quite frequently. it just seems to be the last seat taken or taken hesitantly most of the time and occasionally people would rather stand than sit next to me. maybe BFJ and XRG is just a lot cuter than i am…


#6

I agree


#7

I never noticed. I prefer to sit by myself anyway. But, to tell you the truth, school kids LOVE to talk about you if they sit next to you. This is inevitable. Everybody’s sitting there noticing this foreigner. The question is: who will dare to talk about the foreigner first? Grin and bear it.

But, about the Japanese guy: one time I was on the bus and I saw this other white guy and I wanted to ask him where Caves Books was. First I asked him if he spoke English and he made this “gimme a break” face and kind of hissed and said “OF COURSE”…

That guy was a real piece of sh1t. And Caves Books is only good if they have the dictionary from zhongwen.com

Big Dork


#8

Ok, why phy. I only visit Taipei occasionally so I really haven’t noticed. But when I go there it’s no problem. Maybe you have B.O. or something.

But, I have to say about that shitty guy on the bus - I guess he’s right. Let’s look at where white people are on the Earth: the Americas, Europe, Africa, Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand. In all of these places the majority of them know at least rudimentary English. So my question was a stupid question. I’m sorry. I suck. Do you find this explanation to your satisfaction, sir?

Love,
BiG DorK


#9

I heard whites stink to many Asians. Something about lactose or something.


#10

Yeah. Right. My father (who fought in the Pacific in WWII) told me that Japanese were lousy shots because they all had to wear glasses because all they eat is fish heads and rice. (They made great snipers though).

My wife told me that Taiwanese were afraid to sit near foreigners because they were afraid they might speak English to them and they wouldn’t know how to answer. I think the fear of loss of face is the most likely reason.


#11

This is an interesting topic from a socialogical point of view. Where did this vast fear of English come from? Why are non-Chinese and especially white people seen as walking time bombs just waiting to explode into English speaking confusion? Is it a national inferiority complex that so many people think that they are expected to know a foreign language, or is it just a general view that non-Chinese are generally incapable of speaking Chinese? If the latter, did the colonial mentality of previous foreigners in Taiwan have anything to do with the development of this phenomenon?


#12

What colonial mentality? That of the Dutch? That was what…350 years ago? Anyway, they spoke Dutch, not English. Perhaps you should read this Taipei Times story: http://www.taipeitimes.com/news/2001/06/27/story/0000091687

I really like the quote from Kinmen Deputy County Commissioner Yen Ta-jen: “foreigners are just not as smart as we Chinese people.”


#13

I really like the quote from Kinmen Deputy >County Commissioner Yen Ta-jen: “foreigners are >just not as smart as we Chinese people.”

I’m not sure if you are much better than Yen Ta-jen. You use his words as example of Taiwanese xenophobia. However, his view is NOT representative of the Taiwanese majority by any means. If anything, the Taiwanese has a blind worship of Western and Japanese products/technologies/etc.

Please do not use the words of an idiot as proof of the racism you think you are experiencing here.

I also find your handle (Mai Longdong) culturally insensitive. But, I guess you really don’t give a damn.


#14

Is it a national inferiority complex that so >many people think that they are expected to know >a foreign language, or is it just a general view ?that non-Chinese are generally incapable of speaking Chinese?

Both. Since Taiwanese were taught English in school, they are embarassed that they remembered nothing practical. Westerners are not “incapable” of learnign Chinese…rather, they prefer a latin based language. However, we admire those who take the effort to learn Chinese.

Also, some people (esp the monolingual English speakers) associates fluency in English with general intelligence. Having worked with more than 10 countries, I can testify that there are plenty of smart Germans and Japanese who do not speak English well.


#15
quote:
Originally posted by Urbanjet: I'm not sure if you are much better than Yen Ta-jen. You use his words as example of Taiwanese xenophobia. However, his view is NOT representative of the Taiwanese majority by any means. If anything, the Taiwanese has a blind worship of Western and Japanese products/technologies/etc.

Please do not use the words of an idiot as proof of the racism you think you are experiencing here.

I also find your handle (Mai Longdong) culturally insensitive. But, I guess you really don’t give a damn.[/QB]


You’re right…I don’t give a damn. I see no reason to. The difference is, if some government officer in the States said something as stupid as Yen did (and I’ve been here long enough to know that his type is VERY common), they’d be out on their ass. And you would find FEW Americans to complain about it. In otherwords, if his ideas do not reflect the thinking of the Taiwanese majority, WHY IS HE TOLERATED?

When my wife was pregnant with our youngest, she took our oldest to see a children’s movie near Sunrise Department Store. She took a taxi home and while talking to our son in English, the taxi driver started screaming at her asking if she thought she was better than him. He told her that if she wasn’t pregnant, he would beat her. He stopped the taxi and tossed them out near Sung Shan Train Station. When she got home to Hsi-chih, I called the Police and complained (my wife had gotten the driver’s name and taxi number). After talking to an English speaking policeman twice, NOTHING happened. There was no followup and we were unable to contact the policeman with whom we had spoken. Whether it’s having to deal with people at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Police or the local Household Registration Office, this racist, cha-bu-dwo, mei-you-guan-syi attitude seems to be ingrained.
So, who was insensitive? What would you have done if this had happened to you in the States? What would have been the reaction of the Police?

I think the difference is (and this is a generalization of course) Americans/Westerners tend to have a much greater exposure to foreign people, concepts, foods, ideas and languages than Asians/Taiwanese along with MUCH less cultural arrogance wrapped up in denial.


#16

Hmmm Mai…

“I think the difference is (and this is a generalization of course) Americans/Westerners tend to have a much greater exposure to foreign people, concepts, foods, ideas and languages than Asians/Taiwanese along with MUCH less cultural arrogance wrapped up in denial”…

Agree, but what happened to you was a very isolated enraging case. I also bet that the taxi driver was one of those who spends his days chewing binlang and scratching himself no matter where he is (then you can see how far his perception goes…) Besides, the taiwanese police are not THAT qualified to deal with anything, so in most part of the cases (even when it involves murder of a civilian) they just try to throw the hot potato to the willing one. No one willing, no action !

And why is that?

Remember that Taiwan was a society of peasants and in just 30 years or so developed to be what it is now. One can change the hardware (infraestructure) very fast by just burning money, but how are you going to change their minds at the same pace??? It takes time and wise minds to educate the masses… But when the supposedly wise “leaders” are not that wise or just want to manipulate those people for selfish reasons, you get what you see now. :slight_smile:

And if you think that there’s nothing worst do what I’m did: Move to China!!
Now, everytime I go back to Taipei it is like: “Ah! Back to Civilization!!” Move to China"Ah! Back to Civilization!!"


#17

I never leave home without my can of whoop-ass, which I am usually slow to open. Once opened, however, I apply liberally. The best part of learning more advanced Chinese is being able to give as good as you get. And then some. It helps that I’m tall and weigh 200lbs too…


#18

[QUOTE]Originally posted by STL@:
[QB]Hmmm Mai…

And if you think that there’s nothing worst do what I’m did: Move to China!!

I made that mistake BEFORE I came to Taiwan :^)…never again! But my Taiwanese wife does NOT want to go to China and she’s the main reason I get so ticked off. I get along just fine but she’s gotten abuse from Day One and sees no reason why she should have to leave her own country just because of a bunch of ignorant pricks.


#19
quote:
something as stupid as Yen did .......they'd be out on their ass. And you would find FEW Americans to complain about it. In otherwords, if his ideas do not reflect the thinking of the Taiwanese majority, WHY IS HE TOLERATED?

Because he is obviously a fool. If Taiwanese think that foreigners are so dumb, why are they sending their kids to universities aboard?

quote:
Wu Meng-te (吳孟&#24503 [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] said yesterday that he made his decision to resign from his post as director of the Kaohsiung City Government's Bureau of Public Works for the sake of ethnic integration

Apparently, dumbass politicians do get fired for ethnic slurs. It was against a powerful minority in Taiwan (Mainland Chinese). However, the precendence has been set. Although this might make them more Politically Correct with the press, I’m not sure if their ignorance/racist attitude will just become hidden.


#20
quote:
she's gotten abuse from Day One and sees no reason why she should have to leave her own country just because of a bunch of ignorant pricks.

She’s a wise woman who is willing to stand up and fight the pricks. For her sake, please learn from her.