Taking the piss?

Decided to make a new topic on this as it drives me insane.

Poagao wrote:

Lordy I’m with you on that one. Hope this hasn’t been covered elsewhere but what’s the best strategy for dealing with it?

I tend to respond in mangled Englishee and judging by the hurt looks that I’m met with am starting to think that they just might not be taking the piss. Yet I don’t get the feeling its a shared joke. Anyone know the source of this because it appears to have arrived fairly suddenly and rather uniformly? I’m thinking that wanker, Jacky, or some other game show flunky may have kicked it off.

Interested to hear other peoples views as I’m really not sure if the piss is being taken.


I don’t think I’ve ever heard this, (Never watched Jacky wu or any other game shop) Can you give an example ?

HG, do you mean like what the annoying girl at Saints & Sinners does?

Could someone please give me some English grammar lessons!

A (Taiwanese) friend heard someone talking this way to a foreigner the other day. She thought it was highly annoying especially because the foreigner speaks Mandarin very fluently.But she also thought the person was doing it without realizing it.

A few years back a friend told me that he was mortified to hear his mother speaking in a fake Iranian accent to an Iranian person who had asked for directions. Again, he thought she did unconsciously.

I must admit that I do the same when speaking to Irish friends, unwittingly of course. Perhaps it’s the rhythm.

Chinese (particularly Hong Kong) movies featuring westerners have long them dubbed in Mandarin with the Chinese actor’s voiceover attempting this type of “foreign accent”. The effect can turn a crappy gangster film into a hilarious comedy.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s where people who do it got the habit from.

I don’t know if anyone will agree, but I find women do this more than men.

Same here! But it’s MORE embarrassing with strangers in bars who eventually have to ask “So hwat part of Ireland ah ye from?” and you realise you’ve been slurring in a lilt for the past half an hour! :shock:

I think you’re right. With Irish/English/Australian/American it’s to do with the rhythm and subconcsiously trying to express “one-ness”; it’s flattering rather than piss-taking, and works in all directions, depending of how many Brits/Micks/Aussies are in the goup.

The fourth-tone mock non-native Chinese doesn’t have any of those elements; it can ONLY be a piss-take as it’s used with someone who’s native tongue is different, not just someone who has a different Chinese accent. They have PLENTY of other stuff for that! :wink:

I do it too, Americans or anyone, I am not taking the piss, I just can’t help myself. New Zealanders have really weak accents and when we travel we always pick up everyone elses accents. Annoying as hell for my parents who now consider me to be an American. Damn it. I need some real Kiwis to talk to.

I like to watch Braveheart before I hit the piss on St Pats day (yes I know they’re different accents, but my Scott and Irish are the same).

What HGC is referring to is a situation where a local, thinking he’s hilarious and original, ridicules a foreigner by speaking in unaccented Mandarin. Speaking this way sounds like the person is spitting his or her words out, rather than speaking precisely. It is designed to make fun of (take the piss out of) foreigners, many of whom in fact do speak wildly accented or atonal Mandarin.

When somebody speaks this way to me, I ask them, with a straight face, and in perfectly accented Mandarin, what is wrong with their spoken Mandarin. Did the person grow up in Hong Kong or the United States? Why does he or she speak such horrible Mandarin? The desired effect is usually acheived–everyone observing laughs at the fact that I’ve turned the joke back on this idiot who thought he or she was funny.

In general, I think people who speak in “foreigner Mandarin” are racists at worst and low class as best. I once had a singer speak this way to me from the stage of a music club I frequent. After his performance, I went up to him and told him I would be happy to smack his face a few times in hopes of correcting his bad accent. He knew exactly what I was talking about, and apologized. We’re actually friends now, of sorts.

I also wonder about the source of this joke. I didn’t start hearing it until about a year ago.

Everybody’s are - I think it’s something to do with the high incidence of drunken slurring sounds in both… :wink:

Mark0938 wrote:

Yes indeed. She’s a perfect example. I did mock her one night by imitating poorly spoken Chinglish and she looked offended and has never put on that nonsense since. However, she’s by no means the only one.

As Poagao put it:

“fake foreign-accented Chinese, done mostly by putting all the words in the fourth tone except for the last one.”

Someone else said something about women doing it more often than men and I think they’re right. They also tend to deepen the voice. I’m surprised more of you haven’t encountered it.

The thing that does my head in about it is that I’m not sure that they are actually taking the piss. I’ve encountered this madness in areas you’d assume the person doing it would not want to be giving you the shits.


I think it is sometimes an attempt to “laugh with us.” Trouble is, if the tables are turned and we’re laughing at the individual’s English, the person is inevitably offended.
That’s why I always take the piss out of them right back, but try to do it with a smile on my face (except in the case of the singer who used me to make a cheap joke from the stage–a joke that nobody laughed at. He was that same asshole who called a guy in the audience with a turban on his head “Bin Laden”).

LOL ! What an annoying little twat she is !

In my experience, it’s only very simple and poorly educated people (such as doormen, taxi drivers, shop assistants, lowly government clerks, etc.) who do that. I put it down to their not having much idea how to communicate with foreigners – they expect us to have difficulty understanding Chinese, so they adjust their mode of speaking in a way that they think will make it easier for us to understand them. I haven’t detected any malice behind it, and therefore haven’t been offended. So I just respond as normal, in the best Chinese I can muster. I’ve never encountered it from anyone who is the least bit sophisticated or used to dealing with foreigners.

I think making fun of other people’s accents happens quite frequently, and of course it’s the people who don’t speak the target accent who are insensitive to how it will be received by speakers of the target accent. Seeing comedians who do it on TV only seems to legitimize it. However, I find that people who are the ones making fun at another accent usually don’t think they’re being offensive and that how it is received varies depending on the sensitivity of the receiver.

I personally find it offensive when you’re in conversation with someone and they start using a foreigner accent with you in the conversation. At the same time, somehow I find it funny to hear foreigner accents made fun of on TV.

Yeah, me too, but there’s not nearly as much as there used to be – Les Dawson used to do a good one on British TV, made even better by making his eyes all slanty with his fingers “Hey you lookee lookee, me likee Chinee flied lice Oh so solly, solly, I crean you shirts you rike? Ahh so, Confucius say `man who sclatch ass in bed wake up with stinky finger’”

Hilarious! But he hasn’t done it for ages. I wonder why not? :unamused:

Some of my friends told me tonight that Jeff on ICRT uses the fake foreigner accent quite frequently. I have trouble listening to him for more than two minutes, so I can’t verify. They attribute the popularity of faux foreigner Mandarin to him.

Has anyone found a reason to like this guy? I don’t get the whole sleeveless shirt, “I went to Yale,” “I have no ESL training but am an English teaching expert” personae.

Among his other roles, Jeff is now a euphemism, it seems. A couple of weeks ago, a man with tight leather shirt and leery eyes responded to my brush off (I’m male and I’d been speaking only English) saying,“I think you know Chinese better than Jeff, you know? I think you are better than Jeff, you know?”


Among his other roles, Jeff is now a euphemism, it seems. A couple of weeks ago, a man with tight leather shirt and leery eyes responded to my brush off (I’m male and I’d been speaking only English) saying,“I think you know Chinese better than Jeff, you know? I think you are better than Jeff, you know?”

Salmon, I spoke recently with Matthewh and its true – he really does think your Chinese is better than Jeff’s.