Thursday, December 01, 2005

Confucius say Fuck off

It’s not like speaking another language is a riveting talent. Being in New York for a few months, I hear a symphony of dialects on every street corner. But why is it when someone learns that I can speak Chinese, the dreaded question always arises: Can you teach me to say curse words? (The other equally dreaded question is: Can you say my name in Chinese? Sorry but my ancestors didn’t bother to come up with the translation for Harold.)

I guess I wouldn’t be as peeved about the question if I in fact knew any curse words in my native tongue. The reaction to my inability to dish out profanities is usually met with a look of confusion, disbelief and sometimes even a cringing look of pain that seems to be emoting a stronger reaction than if I was actually able to tell them to go fuck their mom up the ass.

How in the world can I speak another language and not know how to convey the most vital aspects of communication?!

Sorry, but my only exposure to Chinese are my elder relatives, who have enough restraint to not let the expletives fly at the dinner table; younger relatives, who only do their cursing in English; and Chinese television stations that only show, at best, PG-13 shows with no cursing allowed.

I guess I could look into the matter and flat out ask my cousins or uncles how to say asshole but I think I’m about 15 years too old to start looking into that.

So I guess I’ll rely on portraying my culture in other ways than obscenities. Hell, I’m illiterate in Chinese too so I’m probably already pretty low on the list of Ambassadors of my peoples.

And if you want to get anal about it, English is my "other" language and I know plenty of curse words in that language. All you have to do is ask nicely.

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