“If Johannes Pong taught first-year linguistics, we might have lots of sexy (and fabulously foul-mouthed) academics. And I would probably have stayed in academia! But, btw, I want to read the troll’s letter. Has anyone got a link?”
That’s what Island East Markets founder & foodies e-ting, the Switzerland of HK food bloggers 😉 wrote when she posted a link to my column on Facebook.
I don’t think HK Mag puts their weekly letters page online, my sweet canelé, but here’s my reply to Mr. Troll’s riveting email.
So there I was, packed for Seoul with a column about my alabaster skin ready to be filed early as I knew I was off to Korea for a long weekend of fusterclucked fabulousness (four luxury hotels; Seoul Fashion Week; Halloween in Itaewon); and here I am, finishing up another version at 6:29am in my gaudilicious room at the thumping W Seoul-Walkerhill (the music in the lobby is louder than some clubs) before I hit their handsome pool overlooking maple trees dressed in their full vermillion and bright yellow autumnal glory—all just to respond to some doucheBAG’s letter. Which we printed two issues back to coincide with my “Bust yo’ Cantonese Myth” column. And to show all of HK how some people can be total cuckoos.
Yes, I feel that it’s my moral duty to answer back the letter of some troll (who probably lives under a bridge in Lantau) who decided to inform me with “facts” on the state of the Cantonese language, and how I’m going to just turn into a Mandarin-speaker someday. LOLz. Actually, I already AM a Mandarin-speaker (and fluent in two varieties—relaxed, coquettish Guoyu whilst I’m in Taiwan, and slightly Beijing-accented Putonghua with the pirate Cap’n Jack Sparrow RRRRrrrs when on the mainland). Most Chinese do not actually have a problem speaking Putonghua (which just means “Common Speech”) PLUS the language/dialect that they grew up with, and possibly another lingua franca or prestige dialect of their province.
Did that letter get to me? Of course it did. It’s not the troll’s thinly veiled cheap-ass attacks on me—and my mother tongue and my culture—that exasperates me. It’s really the flat note of sheer IGNORANCE that irritates me. My editors are probably going: “NOOooo~~ Do not feed the trolls!!!” But I’m not here to bait the troll, I’m here to slay it. I’m your Billy Goat Gruff and I’m telling you: Bitch, please. Shut the fuck up. (Oh it rhymes! Har. Har.)
My original column you responded to basically refuted all your misinformed ideas on language already, honey, so please read before you open your mouth or your laptop. And the column in the same issue that your letter was published should address your shallow understanding on the Chinese tongues (“Slang?” “Bookstores?” You make no sense.) Please hone your game until you can step up to the tee without embarrassing yourself publically. I don’t know anything about economics or rocket science, so I SHUT THE FUCK UP about it. If you’ve never even read Chomsky or Karlgren before, don’t start yapping about Chinese sociolinguistics.
What I would like to address here is the quandary underlying some people’s sociopolitical views of language acquisition: I simply cannot fathom how some people actually come into this world trying to take down diversity. Desperate, insecure governments do it because they need to control the population, but why would actual individuals whittle down existing ideas, belief systems and languages to just a handful of “good” ones that he—and everyone else around him—should agree on?
How utterly safe and BLAND it must feel to exist in a small, little world in your small, limited mind? I don’t see diversity as dangerous or confusing. From variety springs forth all new ideas and creative expansion. Are you aware of the tremendous value and just plain entertaining drama (and FUN!) in linguistic/cultural diversity?
Dear Troll, you should thank your lucky stars that the Cantonese are comparatively more reserved than, say, the Spanish. Try talking shit about Catalan in a Barcelona tapas bar—“There’s no need for Catalan to exist! Everyone will speak Castilian (standard Spanish) in the future; ahyuk!”—and watch your cojones get kicked in. Hasta la vista baby. [baai1 baai3].
An edited (but never censored) version was published 6th October 2011 in HK Magazine