To understand this blog, you need to understand Becky. Due to her brain injury, she can be obsessive, repetitive, and can lack some subtle social skills. She will play computer games for hours, and about two years ago she was particularly taken with a Scooby Doo mystery set in Chinatown. She had also been to the Japanese Cultural Centre in Toronto as part of a school trip and had found it fascinating; result, a teenager slightly obsessed with Asians.
Whenever we went past somebody who looked Chinese, she would always stare. This was mostly okay, but when we became confined, even for a short time, with someone who looked chinese, then she would begin her spiel. In elevators, waiting rooms, grocery stores, and pretty much anywhere that we stood still for a minute or two, Becky began.
“Chow”, she would say. Inevitably there was no response. “That means, Hello”, she would prompt the person, probably figuring that they had forgotten what it means. “In chinese”, she would finish, because obviously this person was a lost soul and need some help to remind them how to say ‘hello’ in their own language. Still no response from the other person, and I would be cringing, knowing what was coming next. There was usually a pause; then.
“I learnt it from Scooby Doo”, she added smugly. Translation; in case you want to pick up some pointers on how to speak your own language, because obviously you don’t know how, here is a good place to start. The thought of learning a language, especially chinese, from Scooby Doo was beyond funny; it was hilarious. Put Scooby Doo’s voice in your head and start talking in chinese; does anything remotely understandable come out? No.
Over and over again, she completed this dialogue to Asians all over the Toronto area. Not one of them responded to her; no one said “Hello” in english or chinese, but it never fazed her. She was adamant about practising her new language skills at every opportunity.
So just incase you were thinking of learning a new language, you could do worse than to check out Hanna-Barbera. You could learn to be ignored in every country, including your own.