Chinglish is truly 'geilivable'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am

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Mangled English words or strange new ones made up by mainlanders are popular on the internet. An online dictionary of 'Chinglish' features such idioms as 'people hill people sea' and 'no money no talk'.

Recently, I came across the words 'geilivable' and 'ungeilivable'. Wondering what they could mean, I checked a popular internet dictionary. I learned that 'geilivable' is a new word coined from the Chinese 'geili' (giving strength) and means 'great', 'cool', 'powerful' or 'incredible'. Obviously, 'ungeilivable' is the antonym.

These words are so funny. Nevertheless, I think we may have a problem if we start accepting such Chinglish words as proper English. Some students may be misled, and begin using these words as if they were standard English.

Then again, expressions such as 'long time no see' has become part of colloquial English worldwide.

Terry Chan, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Terry. Words are great fun.

The good thing about English is that it is a living language. It is flexible and can change all the time to absorb and create new words.

A lot of words we use today without a second thought were not around 50 years ago. These include 'e-mail', 'dotcom', and 'geo-engineer', to name just a few.

The big question is: should dictionaries reflect a language as it is spoken by many people, or should they regulate a language from a position of authority? That question makes for an interesting debate.

We would certainly love to hear what other readers think and what they have to say on the matter.

Susan, Editor