“Its not like back home”
The mating call of the elderly English traveller when confronted with the foreignness of being abroad. A statement full of shock and disappointment that other places aren’t like the cities they are used to. As if Shanghai should be like Sheffield , or Beijing is a bigger version of Birmingham. Or as it was succinctly put by a Geordie Granny, “its a long way from civilisation”.
I love watching the British as they try to deal with the fact that when you travel the holiday destination does not fall over themselves to change their language and customs to adapt to those who visit. It is normally the same Brits who complain about foreigners over here not speaking the lingo, so I find it fascinating to just sit and watch the fun.
China is one of the most ‘ foreign ’ places I have been, even though a billion people speak Chinese there is still a abundance of signs in both kanji and English although some of it is the in the Chinglish we all know and love. If you want to find a country hostile to the Anglophone you should try Russia, a strange alphabet and a nation that feels no need to pander to the west.
In China our elderly representatives got by using the time honoured tradition of talking slowly and loudly at the serving staff to make themselves understood, because obviously they are stupid. I mean anyone who is bilingual must be thick, especially if they can’t master the English tongue? Oh those crazy foreign people and their attempt to learn our language, why don’t they do what the Brits do and just expect everyone to speak their native tongue
Ignoring the fact that they are speaking in strong northern accents, or they are using colloquialisms and various bits of slang, it is the way that if the waitress fails to understand one person then the pack of elderly (what is the collective name for a group of pensioners?) will all start chirping away creating a cacophony of noise that even I can’t understand. Saying that my request for a glass of Sprite (not unreasonable as I had just been given such a drink) ended up with me being served with boiling hot water. I may have used the wrong inflections.
Even when they travel to Europe, parts of which are terribly Anglicised, you are just as likely to be able to get egg and chips as you are taramasalata, and Sky Sports is available everywhere you go just in case you want to see Arsenal’s tour of the Far East. All the signs will be in English, and normally staffed by ex-Pats.
Yet still slowly and loudly is the only way to get them to understand.
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