23 December 2010


I am just reading an interesting book by Xu Zhichang, Chinese English (Open University Press, HK, 2010), in which he describes the lexis, syntax, and discourse of Chinese English.

One of the sources of data in the book is a set of interviews with undergraduates in Beijing in which they were asked about their hometown; and the wording of one of the responses caught my attention. The interviewee said that he came from a small city in Hebei province, and:
Maybe it is isn't very busy. But I think it's very beautiful. (p. 128)
Now, I would use and rather than but, as to me, being not very busy is beautiful. I always find crowds problematic, which is one reason why living in Brunei suits me well. In contrast, in Chinese culture, crowds are often something to be appreciated.

There is a Chinese phrase 看熱鬧 kàn rènào which is literally 'watch the noisy bustle', and it means to go out and enjoy the noisy crowds on the street. It is rather difficult to translate into English, as noisy crowds are less often regarded as something you can enjoy in western culture.