"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 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.
- 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.
- Mickey Rooney's "Mr. Yunioshi" in Breakfast At Tiffanys is one of the more enduring examples of this.
- In Full Metal Jacket, a Vietnamese prostitute offers her services to the main characters with statements like "Me so horny," "Me suckee suckee," and "Me love you long time."
- One of the crew in the original King Kong is a Chinese stereotype who plays this trope constantly.
- Charlie Chan dropped pronouns and articles, called himself "humble self", and uttered wise proverbs, but used few of the other conventions, which are typical of "pidgin". Earle Derr Biggers, his creator, specified that Chan learned English by reading poetry. In one story a man he's been working with catches a fake pretending to be him over the phone because he says "savvy," which Chan would never do. Sidney Toler and Warner Oland, who played him in the movies, for the most part kept to this characterization.
- Inspector Sidney Wang (a parody/Expy of Charlie Chan) talks like this in Murder by Death. This is apparently Lionel Twain's Berserk Button:
Sidney Wang: Is confusing.
Lionel Twain: It! It is confusing! Say your goddamn pronouns!
- Team America: World Police had Kim Jong Il speaking exclusively like this. He also sings like this. Specifically, the song "I'm So Ronery".
- At the end of A Christmas Story, the waitstaff of a Chinese restaurant attempt to sing Christmas carols to Ralphie and his family, but their accent is so thick that they sing the "fa la la" line in "Deck the Halls" as "fa ra ra." The maitre d', whose accent is respectable, keeps trying to correct them, but they get no better. When they start to butcher "Jingle Bells," he shoos them away.
- Usually avoided with Fu Manchu. Despite being the archetypal Yellow Peril villain, he speaks perfect English.
- The women in The World Of Suzie Wong do some of this, mostly dropping pronouns.
- 7 Faces of Dr. Lao:
Ed Cunningham: Hey! How come you speak perfect English all of a sudden?
Ed Cunningham: Oh, it just comes and goes?
Dr. Lao: Whassa matta you? Alla time asking silly questions! Wise guy!
- In Impact (1949) detective Charles Coburn tries to question an aged Asian played by Philip Ahn. When he doesn't answer immediately the detective asks him "Savvy English?" To which he replies (in perfect English): "Yes. Also French, Italian and Hebrew")
- The Departed: Jack Nicholson's character says, "No tickee, no laundry," to insult some Asian gangsters with the broken English and Chinese laundry stereotypes.
- In Keeping The Faith, Ken Leung plays a One-Scene Wonder karaoke salesman who appears to be full of this trope. It turns out to be an act that he quickly drops when he realizes Ben Stiller and Edward Norton's characters aren't buying his sales pitch. From that point on, he speaks perfect English.
- 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.
- Compare with her song, Bali-H'ai;
Bali Ha'i will whisper
On the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"
- 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 criticized for the stereotypical accents all chinese characters eomply in the game's Hong Kong chapter.
- 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.
- Family Guy: Tricia Takanawa, Quahog 5 News' reporter who is Asian-American and speaks in a nasal, blatantly Japanese monotone. Her vocal qualities and placement in various situations are done to play up the "Asian enunciation of English" stereotype.
- South Park has featured this trope a number of times:
- South Park's resident Chinese-American is Tuong Lu Kim, who owns the City Wok restaurant and whose thick accent causes him to repeatedly call it "Shitty Wok." Many seasons after his introduction it's revealed that he's actually a white man with multiple personality disorder.
- Subverted in "The China Probrem," where the Chinese people at the restaurant speak with an American accent, while Cartman and Butters adopt a stereotypical Chinese disguise and speak like this. Cartman is wearing a paddy hat, while Butters is wearing a fez. They're both squinting and wear large fake front teeth. The real Chinese man tells them they're not Chinese.
- Surfaces occasionally (along with other Asian stereotypes) in "Fortune Cookie Caper," the Chinese master-villain episode of Mister T.
- In The Simpsons, a staple of Krusty The Clown's archaic, offensive comedy routine is a "Chinaman" impression, complete with fake buck teeth and catchphrase ("Me so solly!").
- Joe Jitsu from the Dick Tracy cartoon show.
- In The Aristocats, Scat Cat's jazz ensemble is made of cats from all countries. While the American, English, Italian, and Russian cats are fairly mild stereotypes, the Chinese Cat not only talks like this, but has buck teeth, wears a cymbal like a coolie hat, and in the song about how great being a cat is, sings only about Chinese food, while playing the piano with chopsticks. Seriously.
- Danger Mouse: In "The Wild, Wild Goose Chase," DM and Penfold are in Hong Kong looking for Baron Greenback, when they happen upon a native who tells them "he pack glip and take tlip. He give you lunalound!" As DM and Penfold leaves, the guy says to himself, "Insclutible Blitish. Clazy, man...clazy!"
- In the made-for-TV Mr. Magoo cartoons, Magoo had a Chinese houseboy named Charlie. He spoke in fractured Chinese, but when USA Network ran the cartoons in the 90s, Charlie's voice was redubbed with a clearer English accent.
- When MTV and the Disney Channel ran The Beatles cartoons in the late 80s, the opening of the first season was left out because of a scene where Ringo eludes a gaggle of fangirls by impersonating a Chinaman with a garbage can lid as a hat. Similarly, many first season episodes were not aired because of their presentation of Oriental stereotypes.