Sunday, January 22, 2006

Big & Tall

I buy my clothes at the Big & Tall store here in Malaysia. I have a 42 waist but the largest average size is 38. In USA I like XXL t-shirts. Here the same size is called XXXXL or Sumo Size. The same goes for my underwear which is size XXXXL in Malaysia. I wear a size 12 or 13 shoe. The largest average size they carry here is size 10.

They had a good laugh at the Big & Tall shop when I told them that their clothes were average sized in USA and the USA has Big & Tall shops with even bigger clothes!

It must be hard for a D-cup woman to find bras in Malaysia. Asian women typically have A or B cup bras. C is considered big here. I know that bra sizes are not standardized world-wide. What some countries call a D, DD, DDD and DDDD or referred to as D, E, F and G in other countries. And to confuse things there are EE and FF sizes. C in Asia is different from a C in USA which is different from a C in Europe.

I'm just happy that I'm not bigger and taller. If I was, I'd have to special order my clothes from the USA like I did my bicycle frame. I could not find a bike long enough for me here and I tried over a dozen bike shops including some really good ones. Finally I special ordered a frame from USA and it fits. I'm not sure who is going to want it after I leave.

I constantly feel to big for this country. The bus seats are not big enough for me. The chairs are too small. I have to duck my head coming down stairs sometimes or I'll hit my head. Cars are too small for me. The list goes on and on ...

Friday the 13

I had the worst bad luck day ever on Friday January 13, 2006.

To begin with, I got out of bed left leg first (bad luck). As I took a shower, I broke the mirror (7 years bad luck). Later that day a black cat crossed my path (bad luck). Then I walked under a ladder (bad luck).

Later I sneezed and nobody said "god bless you" so the evil spirits that entered by body stayed there. I got the hiccups which made it clear that I was definitely demon possessed. I yawned but did not cover my mouth so my spirit left my body.

To top it off, later that day I saw 3 butterflies together (bad luck) which sealed it as the worst bad luck day ever.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chinese English

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
Ashes Ashes
We all fall down

The Chinese children in Malaysia sing

Ring around the Roses
Pocket full of Poses
Asha Asha
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.
Atchoum! Atchoum!
Tout le monde debout.