Friday, January 11, 2013


Teaching English in Guangdong province has challenges that are unique to China.  Most of the people here speak Cantonese rather than Mandarin as their first language.  This is a very tonal language that lacks consonants at the end of its words.  As a result, most of the people who speak English here fail to add the consonants to the end of their English words.  They just aren't used to closing their mouths at the end of a word.  Time becomes "tine".  Sometime is "suntine"  Have is "haa". Handsome is "hanson".  Stop is "stah".  I am is aiyah.  You get the idea.
Too many of the English teachers have this speech impediment and they in turn pass it on to their students.  Our head Chinese English teacher has this trait, and the lessons she imparts to our students are rife with these errors.  She has taught the kids a song that uses the melody of the "Happy Wanderer".  I don't know the lyrics, but when the kids sing it, it goes something like this:

I ha a buh uh noh nuh ah.
Puh ma na dah uh wah.
Aaa hey no wah,
Ah hi oh dee,
I luh ih oh ah nee.
la la la
la la la
la la la
la la la ha ha ha ha ha
la la la
la la la
I luh ih oh ah nee!!

In my opinion, it's the single biggest pronunciation problem in this province.  There are people who are fairly fluent in vocabulary and grammar, but are nigh impossible to understand when they open their mouths.  It's not quite English, it's more of a Guanglish.  I've gotten good at understanding it, and can speak it pretty well, although I don't have a lot of need to, since these same folks understand my speech just fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got a new post. Woo hoo!