"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 stereotypical 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.
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- This Jell-O ad
- This Calgon ad, though in a subversion only one Asian speaks this way (and it might be an act).
- Kellogg's Corn Flakes at one point had a tie-in for a "Cornfucious say" jokebook (complete with Chinaman stereotype) along with Cornfucious tagging along with country comedy duo Homer & Jethro (their normal spokesmen at the time).
- When the Isuzu car came out, TV ads placed a Japanese dealer with a customer who was unable to say "Isuzu" properly. It ends with the dealer saying "It's all right, bud. I can't say 'Chevroret'!"
- So-Hi shills for Post Rice Krinkles. You won't believe the premium.
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.
- Shenhua of Black Lagoon speaks like this in both the Japanese and English dubs, something Revy makes fun of whenever they see each other to the point of nicknaming her "Chinglish."
- 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 . Thankfully, he got better, as The Crab with the Golden Claws features a far more heroic Japanese police officer who, despite speaking with a stereotypical accent in the Nelvana version, 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).
- One joke mocks and subverts this trope. A (presumably white) woman at a banquet is sitting next to an Asian man. Turning to him, she asks, "Likee soupee?" He nods and they continue eating. After dinner, it turns out that the Asian man is actually one of the speakers. Approaching the podium, he gives a speech, intelligently discussing difficult subject matter in perfect, unaccented English. Returning to his seat, the man turns to the woman and asks, "Likee speechee?"
- 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.
- As a Heroes Tie-In Novel, Hiro's English is as poor as it is on the show in Saving Charlie. Part of the plot is that spending so much time in Texas teaches him better English, as he's forced to practice with everyone he speaks to except Charlie (whose Photographic Memory lets her pick up phrases in languages with ease).
Live Action TV
- Rucka Rucka Ali's Song Parody "I'm A Korean",note 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.
- Billy, Reno, and Moonface's disguises at the climax of Anything Goes definitely falls into this category.
- 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."
- Played straight in Vietcong, where any Vietnamese character speaks this way, except the Hue Mayor, Captain Soat, and Major Thu, all of whom speak English fluently.
- In Police Quest: Open Season, the Korean 7-Eleven owner talks like this. "No steal from me, you pay!"
- The announcer of Kasumi Ninja speaks like this. Unfortunately, it's not even the most offensive stereotype in the game.
- Averted in The Matrix: Path of Neo, all the Asian characters speak perfect English except for the fact that they have accents.
- 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.
- Taken to extremes in one episode where a Japanese man and Chinese man argue with each other with the nearly the exact same accent and can't understand each other.
- 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!").
- In the season 18 episode "Yokel Chords" there's a one off gag with a Chinese restaurant owner who speaks English without an accent to his wife but then puts on an exaggerated Chinaman act, complete with a hat with a long braid to get Homer to come drink at his restaurant.
"Mr.Simpson! You good man! We happy see you! You not come long time! Come sit, drinky-drinky"
- 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 Brothers Matzoriley" segment of The Super 6, Wong (the middle head of three) was a chinese stereotype,particularly when he went "Confusion Say . . ."
- 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. (e.g.: In "It Won't Be Long," a botanist has a sign reading "Dr. Ah So—Honolable Ploplietor.")
- In Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips, a Japanese soldier is presented trying to attack Bugs and rambling in incoherent Japanese. When Bugs impersonates a Japanese general, the soldier tries to commit hari-kari when he almost kills him, but then Bugs gives himself away by eating a carrot:
) Ooh, honolable ah-ha! That no Japanese general. That Bugs Bunny. I see him in Walner Blothers-Reon Schresinger-Mellie Merodies cartoon picture. Oh, he no fool me!
- In American Dad! Francine's (adoptive) parents are very much the first generation stereotype of Asian Americans, speaking in short, curt, sentences and dropping articles.
- King of the Hill has the Souphanousinphones, who are Laotian, and the man of the family, Khan, frequently slips into the curt-rudeness as well as having an accent and dropping the occasional articles. Played with in that most of his curtness is him deliberately being rude because he is just a massive jerk and he's playing it up just to mess with Hank Hill's head.
- Played straight and subverted in the same sentence on an episode of Archer
Archer: With who? 'cause that bucktoothed little shit doesn't even speak English.
Bucky: I do a rittre note bit.
Archer: No you don't!
Bucky: And correct syntax is 'with whom!'
- The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan completely averts this. Chan himself speaks good English with just a hint of Oriental flavor. His ten kids speak perfectly clear English (Henry, the eldest has a noticeable Oriental twang in his voice but otherwise perfectly understandable).
- The Daffy Duck vehicle "China Jones" goes to town with this. Porky is Charlie Chun, whom Daffy thinks is a detective who he thinks wants in on the possible reward for capturing the deadly criminal Limey Louie. At the end, it turns out Chun is Jones' laundryman, come to collect on a big laundry bill. The cartoon has Jones' encounter with the Dragon Lady.
Jones: And why might they be calling you the Dragon Lady?
Dragon Lady: (breathes fire on Jones) Is answer question?
Jones: (wearily and defeatedly) Yes...is answer question!
- Website Engrish.com is dedicated to humorous examples of oriental (and other) malaproprisms in English. Its counterpart, Hanzi Smatter is dedicated for the inversion of this trope (Western malaproprisms and mistakes on Oriental languages and script).