"Goddamn Mongorianzh! Shtop breaking down my shitty warr!"translation
Oh, herro! Talkee 'bout Asian Speekee Engrish here.
This a trope about race that is now largely a Dead Horse Trope
This trope is in play when an Asian character (sometimes, but not always a recent immigrant) uses sterotypical mangled English, either for comedy or to establish their foreignness. Common mistakes they make in their English include:
- Swapping "L's for "R"s and vice versa;
- Omitting articles and particles like "the", "this", "that", and "it";
- Adding "ee" to the end of nouns or replacing the actual final consonant with "ee" ("ticket" becomes "tickee");
- Dropping the leading "A' from words ("about" becomes "'bout"; "across", "'cross"; "away, "'way" and so on).
- Eliding entire verb clauses ("With no ticket, you can't get your laundry" becomes "No tickee, no laundry.")
- Extreme politeness to the point of obsequiousness;
- Extreme self-denigration;
- Complete lack of tense differentiation ("he takes", "he will take", and "he took" all become "he take").
Of course, this is a caricature
—good luck finding a real Asian immigrant who has all
these traits! However, due to language differences, some Real Life
immigrants may have some
of these tendencies, and some of the trope's characteristics derive from Chinese Pidgin English
May be used to have a character represent the Yellow Peril
. Other common character types that use it include Asian Rudeness
, Asian Store Owner
, Chinese Launderer
, Japanese Tourist
, and Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow
. If due to a translation convention or error rather than deliberate characterization, it's "Blind Idiot" Translation
instead of this trope. Subtrope
of You No Take Candle
. Compare Tonto Talk
for the Native American version.
Anime and Manga
- Axis Powers Hetalia does this to some extent in the Gag Dub with China and Japan. They seem to become slightly more grammatically articulate when speaking to each other or monologuing than when they speak to the Europeans, which implies switching between languages, though they keep up the Japanese Ranguage.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ling's English is normally perfect, but he briefly does this as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity; after his bodyguards have a fight with the Elrics that destroys half the town, the Elrics try to tell the increasingly angry mob that it's Ling's fault. He replies "So sorry! I no understand much language of this countly! Ok, bye-bye now!" and scarpers.
- Unsettlingly, many American comics used a Japanese variant of this, especially during WWII, as a form of propaganda. It's enough to make most modern readers flinch.
- The Tintin villain Mitsuhirato talks like this, and is depicted with all the worst Japanese stereotypes, including buck teeth, thick glasses, big ears, bad pronunciation etc. At the time the character was written, Imperial Japan was at war with China, and engaged in a very brutal occupation of much of its territory. Hergé sympathised with the Chinese, and made no attempt to conceal it. This even carried over to the Nelvana adaptation - Almost to Unfortunate Implications levels. Thankfully, he got better, as The Crab with the Golden Claws features a Japanese person who, despite speaking with a stereotypical accent in the Nelvana version, he is not portrayed as being stereotypical at all.
- Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese talks like this.
- A Chinese character in The Sandman uses this as Obfuscating Stupidity, switching from perfect English in a private discussion to "velly solly, me no speakee" in order to get rid of an opium addict.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, Duncan invokes this trope when the Asian or half-Asian Heather tries to sit with him and Ezekiel during the Awake-a-thon. Duncan says, "She so horny, love us long time" with a stereotypical Far Eastern accent and a bad imitation of Heather's voice.
- A joke making the rounds has a Chinaman at his broker wondering why the stocks he invested in were losing money. The broker tells him "Fluctuations." The Chimaman responds "Fluck you Amelicans, too!"
- What time is it when a Chinaman goes to the dentist? 2:30 (Tooth hurty).
- Subverted and deconstructed in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. The character of Lee seems to be this, but is actually faking it to go along with white people's expectations.
- Lampshaded in the Phryne Fisher stories, when Lin Chung plays 'stage Chinaman', usually to tease Phryne. She isn't amused.
- In Shanghai Girls , Pearl speaks English perfectly, but reverts to this trope because tourists tip better when she speaks stereotypically.
- In The Dark Tower, a group of Japanese Tourists in New York City speak Engrish while trying to get a character to take their picture.
- One of the many racially insensitive things edited out of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books during their rewrites in the 60's.
- Sing the cook in Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men. To be sure, he's from Southeast Asia and would have had little practice speaking English.
- A prostitute in Lawrence Block's Tanner's Tiger spoke like this - until Tanner revealed that he spoke perfect Vietnamese.
- Wu in Star Bridge initially talks like this ("No killee poor Chinee boy!"). Until Horn calls him on the act by noting that Wu's parrot speaks perfect English. From then on, Wu does as well.
- Rucka Rucka Ali's Song Parody "I'm A Korean", in addition to playing Interchangeable Asian Cultures for all its worth, is sung entirely in this style.
- Invoked in Utada Hikaru's song Dirty Desire where she sings "In my fantasies I love you long time". Presumably she has N-Word Privileges.
- Parodied at the end of Allan Sherman's song "Lotsa Luck", where he sings thus...
When you buy a tape recorder of the automatic kind,
Lotsa luck, pal, lotsa luck.
If it's simplified for folks who aren't mechanically inclined,
Lotsa luck, pal, lotsa luck.
There's a small instruction booklet that's a hundred pages long,
And on page one, you get stuck.
It says, "If unsatisfactory,
You must bring this to the factory,"
But the factory's in Japan,
So rotsa ruck!
- Compare with her song, Bali Ha'i;
Bali Ha'i will whisper
On the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"
- However, it may be worth nothing that other characters sing "Bali Ha'i" at other points in the play as well, so she may just be parroting a popular song, not making it up herself. Bloody Mary's song "Happy Talk" is much more of a piece with her dialog.
- Hogs Of War plays this to comedic effect with the Japanese squad members.
- The Interactive Fiction game Recluse sports a hulking Asian butler with a pronounced physical resemblance to Oddjob and utterances such as "Next time, have appointment!"
- Deus Ex has been criticized for the stereotypical accents all Chinese characters employ in the game's Hong Kong chapter.
- Bioshock's Dr. Suchong shows some of these habits: he doesn't use 'be' verbs, tense differentiation, or plurality, he refers to himself in the third person, etc. One example: "You can no reuse protector suit. Take a man, graft skin and organs straight into suit, otherwise suit not work. Ryan say Big Daddy too expensive. Ryan can go suck egg."
- Yuffie in Ansem Retort talks this way so that people will be under the impression that she knows martial arts.
- Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat sprite cartoons speaks like this.
"I am Ruu Kang!"
- Though to be fair, he IS voiced by an in-character Peter Chao, who uses an overly exaggerated Chinese accent.
- Used among many Asian Youtubers, usually to imitate and satirize their parents/culture.