Prologue: This post was intended to be about English spoken by the Chinese in Malaysia but I went off on several tangents so it lost it's point but I decided to leave my random ramblings "as is" for your amusement.
You have some idea where someone is from by their accent. For English there is a distinct Australian accent, Chinese accent, German accent, Spanish accent and so on. I assume the same goes for any language. If you are from Germany you can tell if someone has an Australian accent, Chinese accent, Spanish accent, American accent and so on.
An American knows if someone is Canadian because they'll pronounce any word with "out" as "oot" so instead of saying "about" they'll say "aboot".
You can tell where someone is from in America by their accent. You know if someone is from Boston because instead of saying "park the car in the yard" they will say "paak the caa in the yaad". There is the Southern Accent and the California accent as well as the New Jersey accent. New York city even has different accent for different boroughs. You know if someone is from Brooklyn, Harlem or Queens by their accent.
Here in Malaysia, the Chinese have a Chinese accent obviously but beyond that, they also speak English differently because they have transliterated their Chinese phrases into English.
If I were to ask someone "can you help me?" instead of answering "yes" or "no" they would answer "can" or "cannot".
They also have phrases like "I do not want!" or "Why like this?"
They also have a filler word "Haahh" which I cannot pronounce very well. When I try to use it people look at me funny. It's used by the listener to indicate they are paying attention. I'm not in the habit of using this feedback so when I'm talking to someone on the phone, they'll pause mid-sentence and ask "are you there?" because all they hear is silence when they are talking and I'm not giving them the feedback they are used to.
In America we have filler words too like "mmm" or "uh-huh" or "yaa", etc. We make sounds to let the person know that we understand, agree or are paying attention while they are speaking. It's just that the sounds American makes are different the sounds Malaysian Chinese make.
They also have a word they use to indicate "surprise". An American might say "oh my" or "wow" or "yikes", etc. but they say "Ayooooo". I think this is a common Asian phrase because I've heard it on TV from shows from Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.
They also tend to end sentences with "a" for example when addressing me they would say "Uncle Jamesa" instead of "Uncle James".
There are also words they have trouble pronouncing like "world".
They also have a problem with gender and mix up his/hers, him/her, she/he but they usually correct themselves.
They also over use "nevermind" saying it in places most native English speaking people would never use it for example using it to replace "no". I may ask "Would you like some carrots?" and they would reply "nevermind".
It's no wonder they speak this way because it is reinforced not only by others around them but TV and movies as well.
We were driving in the car with some children and the mother was playing a music CD of Chinese children singing in English and they had the heavy Chinese accent as well as the bad pronunciation and other mis-uses of English. The parents were unaware that they were teaching their kids bad English.
We've all mis-heard lyrics but I've discovered that with Children's songs the lyrics get mis-heard and new versions get created all over the world in different countries. I don't know what the original lyrics for this song was but I learned it as ...
Ring around the Rosies
Pocket full of Posies
We all fall down
The Chinese children in Malaysia sing
Ring around the Roses
Pocket full of Poses
All fall down
I also found this version on the Internet
Ring around the rosies
A pocket full of posies
We all fall down
In Old English they sang
Ring a ring o' rosies
There is also
Ring around the Rosy
Round a ring of roses
It will forever change and nobody is right or wrong.
I have searched Google and found dozens of different versions from many different countries. You may have heard that this song refers to the Black Plague in 1347 but that's just a urband legend. This site says it is part of Hindu mythology.
And of course the song is sung in many other languages like French
La ronde des roses,
Ma poche est pleine de sauge.
Tout le monde debout.