Poll

Is it...?

Offensive
6 (9.4%)
A bit dated
11 (17.2%)
Absolutely fine
10 (15.6%)
A rich vein of humour
13 (20.3%)
What's the subtext to this thread?
14 (21.9%)
I dunno. How’s your Mandarin/Arabic/Spanish/Italian?
10 (15.6%)

Total Members Voted: 64

Author Topic: Laughing at broken English  (Read 1887 times)

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2021, 03:38:41 PM »
Comin' On Strong wasn't that funny...

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2021, 03:44:19 PM »
It's hilarious:
https://youtube.com/watch?v=uWu3JqLMImY

Jason Statham's dancing....

hamfist

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2021, 04:05:36 PM »
I sometimes laugh at BBC Pidgin news stories. They’re just phrased so amusingly sometimes it takes the drama out of big stories.

If that makes me a MASSIVE RACIST then I should be cancelled.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #33 on: June 09, 2021, 04:06:55 PM »
I always feel sorry for people who get subtitled even though they're speaking English very well. Imagine spending years learning a language and the BBC goes "can't understand half of what this cunt's saying, subtitle him"

This really made me laugh, lovely turn of phrase.

I had to do loads of languages at school and can barely remember any of them. I retain conversational (at best) French good enough to crack a few jokes, and the word “sacapuntas” which means pencil sharpener in Spanish.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #34 on: June 09, 2021, 04:23:24 PM »
I saw The Edge subtitled once. Everyone who plays an instrument in U2 has a speaking voice that sounds like the noises a small child makes when they play with matchbox cars.

Poirots BigGarlickyCorpse

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #35 on: June 09, 2021, 04:31:38 PM »
I like Nigel Ng's Uncle Roger character and I have to admit that part of that is his delivery, but Nigel Ng is Malaysian himself and that's a choice he's made in the portrayal of the character. A white person doing it? No, fuck off.

Interestingly, when Nigel trialled a new character, Zio Rogerio (or Italian Uncle Roger) complete with cod Italian accent, on the Rice to Meet You podcast, his co-host Evelyn Mok's reaction was "OH GOD DON'T NIGEL YOU WILL BE CANCELLED"

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2021, 07:10:35 PM »
Uncle Roger is a good example of the time honoured gag of a person speaking as though they have broken English, but actually has the English skills only someone who makes a living as an actor or writer could have. Pretty cringy when you see the fried rice video shared by people who don't know its a schtick!

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2021, 07:48:12 PM »
His understanding of the Asian "l" and "r" shows through too. A very subtle trick to pull off which someone who isn't surrounded and familiar with the language can never hope to pull off with a "velly solly".
There's a great Vox episode about it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yzMUs3badc

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2021, 08:41:14 PM »
It works both ways. I have Greek in-laws. They frequently laugh at my broken Greek.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2021, 11:17:49 PM »
I very much doubt I'll ever be anywhere near conversational in another language, I'm aware of the huge amount of privilege that comes from having English as your first language and I have utmost respect for anyone who can speak more than one (even if they didn't have much say in the matter, or it's just what everyone gets taught wherever they grew up).

Having said that, I think misunderstandings can be very funny, they don't have to have any malicious intent. A few years ago one of my colleagues at the time (who's from Dehli and speaks fluent English, but wasn't necessarily familiar with lots of British phrases and colloquialisms) called me over to her desk and said, "Can I ask you something? This word in this email - is that definitely correct? Like, is that a real word?"
"Yep, it's a real word." (the word was "bullock")
"What does it mean?"
"It's a cow, like a small bull."
"Oh, I was thinking it was a rude word."
"No, it's definitely not rude!"
"Oh." She paused, before calmly adding, "Sorry, I was thinking of bollock."

Looking back I suspect she may have been trolling hard but it was pretty funny nonetheless.

On a serious note I know loads of people living in the UK who get incredibly frustrated by people thinking their English must be shit just because they have a noticeably foreign accent. Another Indian friend of mine, who has quite a strong accent, says people always tell her "wow, your English is really good!" even though it's essentially her first language - she just has an Indian accent because, well, she is Indian.

(She's also joked that clients calling her at her well-paid job for a bank in London probably think they've been put through to a call centre when she answers the phone. As an aside, look at any of those websites where you can check phone numbers to see if they're dodgy, and 99% of the reviews start with "Indian/Asian accent so obviously a scam").

Someone else I work with, who's Italian, confided recently that she feels self conscious about presenting at work because of her accent. She actually speaks with a very measured pace and probably enunciates things far more clearly than lots of English people in fact, due to the nature of having Italian as a mother tongue. I know there are plenty of far more extreme examples of people feeling underappreciated and marginalised because of how they talk, but that made me really sad.

When I was about 20 I went off on a volunteer archeology dig just outside a small village in Norfolk (mainly to bolster my CV) and made friends with a couple of Spanish lads who were there.
They had public viewings on Sundays for the locals to have a look at the site, and one of the Spanish lads asked me "When will the village people arrive?"

After I'd finished laughing I explained why I found it funny to him.

Oh that's good.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2021, 11:54:19 PM »
The irony is that a bullock is actually a bull that has had its bollocks lopped off.

Buelligan

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2021, 11:58:45 PM »
How interesting.  Always thought it was the term for a young male cattlebeast, heifer being the word for a young female cattlebeast or teen cow, didn't know about the debollocking.

Poirots BigGarlickyCorpse

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2021, 12:38:15 AM »
How interesting.  Always thought it was the term for a young male cattlebeast, heifer being the word for a young female cattlebeast or teen cow, didn't know about the debollocking.
On this side of the Atlantic it's a castrated bull. In the US it's a young, uncastrated bull (chop off its nuts and it becomes a steer, Stateside).

Echo Valley 2-6809

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #43 on: June 10, 2021, 01:45:17 AM »
Every year from March to September we have a flock [? check collective noun later] of bullocks in the field behind our house. They're so good-natured, curious and friendly that it breaks my heart when they disappear in Autumn, presumably to go on holiday.

Castrate all young males!

zomgmouse

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #44 on: June 10, 2021, 02:44:03 AM »
borderline xenophobic tbh

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2021, 03:05:02 AM »
Been in the receiving end. I had a bunch of airport staff in Germany laughing at me when I tried to speak German. They were really nasty and I ended up having a meltdown.

English football fans are proper cunts about foreign managers. Like all the Arsenal fans going ‘lol Emery says good ebening’ or Everton fans mocking Marco Silva’s English. Like any of you cunts speak Portuguese.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #46 on: June 10, 2021, 04:16:37 AM »
A sincere but obviously leading question then:


Is Borat now unacceptable?

Manuel?

Data from The Goonies?

Dr Shakamoto?

What's up, Tiger Lily?

...

RONALADO?


There are many more. The answer may well vary for each but the characters' broken English is part of their charm.

___

The story that prompted the thread is that several international cricketers have been criticised for tweeting each other in the format and vernacular of sycophantic Indian Premier League fans, such as 'well batter sir' and 'Sir you're my favourite batsman'. If you visit the cricket subreddit, you will find overwhelming support from Indian fans who find the posts funny and that they cut through the grotesque hero worship that exists in Indian sport. And yet, these fans may in turn be trying to curry favour with the English and Aussies on the sub by 'laughing along'. Even more complex is that the Indian fans have a number of memes mocking the English of Pakistani fans and players.

My personal opinion for the avoidance of doubt is there's a phatic recognition here which I find amusing as a fan but I think the imbalance of power and 'biting the hand that feeds' makes it unacceptable for players to make a joke out of this in public. The IPL fans are extremely sycophantic and then full of hatred and contempt in the next breath and it must be wearing to be receive so many of these messages. I say get it off your chest in the dressing room or in your back garden with a few tinnies.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #47 on: June 10, 2021, 04:44:48 AM »
Ghostbuster 2016 - Corbyn?

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2021, 08:27:11 AM »
A sincere but obviously leading question then:

Is Borat now unacceptable?

Manuel?

Data from The Goonies?


Yes, but clearly purposefully so. Whether it's justifiable or not is a different question.
Yes. Sadly. A product "of its time" which is no excuse. You wouldn't write or film that character now though, rightly so.
Yes. And was at the time. That film is awash with horrendous stereotypes and awful characterisations and how it's not avoided a cancelling is incredible. Asian Super Genius/Broken English - Tick. Disability Mocking - Tick. Fat Shaming - Tick. I'm sure there are more but I've not watched it for decades.

The other two I don't know.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2021, 09:10:27 AM »
It's mostly cunty. But if you get beyond the "lol foreigns" side of it, the fact languages don't map 1:1 and translation and mistranslation requires a degree of human inference, that reveals the human condition makes it inherently interesting.

Machine translation has pretty much added another level to this too. I thing laughing at 'engrish' is a bit shitty in general but did do a snorty lol when I saw this on Aliexpress:

Paul Calf

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #50 on: June 10, 2021, 09:18:08 AM »
When foreigners speak Hindi in the Hindustani parts of India, native Hindi speakers often find it hilarious because language schools usually teach a very polite, mannered form of Hindi that's very different from the vernacular register as used by the majority of speakers.

Imagine an Indian man or woman approaching you on the street and asking "Excuse me, gentle sir, but would you please be so kind as to vouchsafe to me the location of the central business district?"

Another thing that marks non-native speakers is overuse of dhanyabhad (thank you). It's not a word used lightly in Hindu-speaking countries, more a very specific and grateful thanks for doing something especially helpful or sacrificial. Politeness is conveyed through pronouns and inflections and doesn't need to be expressed with vulgar interjections.

Speaking Hindi in the Tamil belt of the deep south will elicit a range of reactions from bemusement to outright hostility. Imagine turning up in South Carolina speaking Japanese and expecting people to understand you.

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #51 on: June 10, 2021, 09:19:54 AM »
I think it's reductive to imply that Borat and Manuel are just comedy accents, or that the only object of Cleese or Baren-Cohen is to get us to laugh at them.

Basil Fawlty is someone who thinks he is the quintessential middle class gentleman, and having a servile foreigner around feeds his ego. What's more, only an extremely naive, but also such a forgiving and good-natured person as Manuel, would ever tolerate an abusive employer like Fawlty. So it's funny that Fawlty tolerates the incompetence (linguistic or otherwise) of Manuel for the sake of having a whipping boy foreigner to abuse, and it's funny that Manuel is so naive and wide-eyed that he has accepted this sub-standard position of employment for himself.

As for Borat... perhaps some or many of its millions of fans simply take it at face value as a funny foreigner doing funny fish-out-of-water stuff. But at its heart the character is a satire of western ignorance: the accent itself is a mix of middle eastern and eastern European, and the choice of Kazakhstan as Borat's country is a joke at the expense of westerners who couldn't locate it on a map, despite it having a huge population and land mass.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #52 on: June 10, 2021, 09:28:18 AM »
When foreigners speak Hindi in the Hindustani parts of India, native Hindi speakers often find it hilarious because language schools usually teach a very polite, mannered form of Hindi that's very different from the vernacular register as used by the majority of speakers.

Imagine an Indian man or woman approaching you on the street and asking "Excuse me, gentle sir, but would you please be so kind as to vouchsafe to me the location of the central business district?"

Another thing that marks non-native speakers is overuse of dhanyabhad (thank you). It's not a word used lightly in Hindu-speaking countries, more a very specific and grateful thanks for doing something especially helpful or sacrificial. Politeness is conveyed through pronouns and inflections and doesn't need to be expressed with vulgar interjections.

Speaking Hindi in the Tamil belt of the deep south will elicit a range of reactions from bemusement to outright hostility. Imagine turning up in South Carolina speaking Japanese and expecting people to understand you.

Isn't that largely what happens with high-school foreign in general? It turns out most French people, when asked how old they are, rarely respond with something like "I am x years of age".

I worked with a Ukrainian woman who was fluent in English but you could tell which parts she learned in Ukraine and which parts she picked up in the UK because she uttered colloquialisms like "fuck it" with a pure brummie lilt.

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #53 on: June 10, 2021, 09:38:28 AM »

I think it's reductive to imply that Borat and Manuel are just comedy accents, or that the only object of Cleese or Baren-Cohen is to get us to laugh at them.

Basil Fawlty is someone who thinks he is the quintessential middle class gentleman, and having a servile foreigner around feeds his ego. What's more, only an extremely naive, but also such a forgiving and good-natured person as Manuel, would ever tolerate an abusive employer like Fawlty. So it's funny that Fawlty tolerates the incompetence (linguistic or otherwise) of Manuel for the sake of having a whipping boy foreigner to abuse, and it's funny that Manuel is so naive and wide-eyed that he has accepted this sub-standard position of employment for himself.

As for Borat... perhaps some or many of its millions of fans simply take it at face value as a funny foreigner doing funny fish-out-of-water stuff. But at its heart the character is a satire of western ignorance: the accent itself is a mix of middle eastern and eastern European, and the choice of Kazakhstan as Borat's country is a joke at the expense of westerners who couldn't locate it on a map, despite it having a huge population and land mass.
And his 'Khazakh' is a twisted hybrid of borrowed and bastardised Polish words and perfect Hebrew. I actually didn't realise until I read the article below that Hebrew speakers have an extra level of satire and humour because they understand what he's saying.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2006/dec/20/israelandthepalestinians

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #54 on: June 10, 2021, 09:42:48 AM »
In the case of Marco Silva, yes, it was cunty because the guy was genuinely trying to learn English, as was Emery, and Everton fans in Silva's cases were just looking for things to bitch about. Same with Koeman and Martinez overusing certain words and Koeman using 'what' instead of 'that' (eg 'what did it'). Koeman is trilingual (I don't know if he speaks Catalan), as is Martinez, but sure, let's act like dickheads about them not being fluent in English even though very few English managers speak more than one language (Hodgson being a notable exception).

AllisonSays

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #55 on: June 10, 2021, 09:46:41 AM »
My girlfriend called a 'tax haven' a 'fiscal paradise' last night, and if that isn't funny I don't know what is. She laughs at my French too so it's equitable.

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #56 on: June 10, 2021, 09:50:37 AM »
I saw The Edge subtitled once. Everyone who plays an instrument in U2 has a speaking voice that sounds like the noises a small child makes when they play with matchbox cars.

For those of you who don't know how ridiculous Bono and the Edge sound, here's a clip from when they were on Kelvin's show on CaB Radio[1]: https://www.51055.com/cab/edgeshitvoice.mp3
 1. with added Baxter

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #57 on: June 10, 2021, 09:53:54 AM »
A housemate had a dvd of Mad Max where the default language setting was a dubbed (and poorly synced) version into American English. You had to poke around with the language settings to get the original Australian recording. Maddening, it's not like it's Kes or something.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #58 on: June 10, 2021, 09:58:10 AM »
Annie Lennox sees thread and starts rewrite.

Re: Laughing at broken English
« Reply #59 on: June 10, 2021, 10:09:39 AM »
I think it's reductive to imply that Borat and Manuel are just comedy accents, or that the only object of Cleese or Baren-Cohen is to get us to laugh at them.

I didn't, but it is an element of the comedy.

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