Ramble & Babble 8: No Zou No Die

A patient once told me that even though I spoke or wrote well or better than him, more people would understand him better than me. That statement is both true and factual. If language is meant for communication, I have to admit he communicates better with his peers than me. Indirectly, why do I bother to do a Masters in English at all?

The standard of “Good English ” is falling in this country. Singapore is better than us, but expatriates complain the English spoken and written by Singaporean graduates are poor too. Perhaps too much Singlish over the causeway, and we have our Manglish. No Zou No Die is Chinglish, and a lot of melodious song is sung on that theme. In this country we have education in Malay, and students learn their own mother tongue, either Chinese, Tamil or English, or Chinese dialects. Our neologism is wide, many idiolects, dialects, languages-mix (hybrid or creole), sms, emoticons and even Arabic figures to represent sounds that match with the written (Chinese is tonal). This is the modern trend, with complicated syntax that amuses the young, who are lazy to learn the hard way.

No Zou (walk), No Die (fall). Well, if you don’t walk, you don’t fall, so the second negative “no” is conditional on the first “no”. It’s a novel way of expression, albeit the confusion. However, I would not dare to speculate how I would feel or think if my grand children were to speak to me in such languages, or idiolects. Is the evolution a retrogression or progression? Moreover, in this country the races have their own sensitivities to words, certain words are exclusive right of the dominant race and cannot be translated or even uttered. The hegemony has gone even to language and literature. Our richness in multi-cultural diversity is often a show, good for tourism and marketing. No zou no die, no talk, no trouble; more talk, more trouble. Cut off the grammar and tenses, keep things simple. The language purist will faint, but better than putting a lot of our students under stress. In a digital world, there’s no need for “Good English”, as long as you are understood, and business can run, and money flows into your account incessantly.

no feng no lang (no wind, no waves)

No zuo no die: I was told that zuo is not walk, but implies work, pretend, affect; die is English, not Chinese tonal! The second “no” is still conditional on the first “no”. If language is for communicating, then I must comment unless you are in the peer wave length, it is difficult to guess the meaning.

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