Language a sign of the Times

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 12:00am
 

Lai See has just been informed that filth and 'x-rated language' have infiltrated Hong Kong television.


We're told local censors stood idly by while impressionable viewers were exposed to the unsavoury habits of a pervy businessman.


Yes, it's another scandalous advert from those, outrageous people at the Financial Times.


Honestly. The things people will do just to sell a newspaper.


Oh sure, on the surface it's all pink paper and earnest analysis.


But beneath lurks moral lassitude and loose women.


This we learned from an SCMP letter to the editor that was re-routed to Lai See's desk. The reader was outraged by a TV advert for the 'purportedly prestigious newspaper'.


It stars an Asian-looking man who, in flawless English, informs viewers that the FT isn't as stuffy and dry as they might think.


The speaker then flags down a taxi and displays his linguistic flair by giving directions in another language.


Our letter writer informs us that 'the few words he says are most disturbing'.


To be fair, we're not entirely sure what language he's actually speaking.


But the syllables can be romanised more or less as follows: 'Hui gai cheung, ng koi'.


That's Cantonese for: 'Take me to the brothel please'.


The ad ends with the businessman being whisked whore-ward in a frenzy of Financial Times-induced excitement.


Still, he's made his point.


There's lots of stimulation between the pink sheets.


Here's proof: Lai See has long suspected that Hong Kong suffers from a chronic shortage of proof readers.


The latest evidence of this comes from etranslate.com.hk.


The cyber firm recently began flogging its wares to local Internet businesses.


Phillip Baldwin of First Ecom.com received a letter from their senior consultant.


It informed him that today's Internet businesses must be flawlessly multi-lingual in order to compete.


Fortunately, Etranslate can help any firm become just that.


It's all thanks to their network of 5,000 language professionals in 80 countries.


Of course, Lai See is paraphrasing. Etranslate's exact opening words were: 'We speaks 80 languages.'


And will Mr Baldwin be hiring them?


We doubts it.


Environmentally sound: Have you heard the latest on the oil wars?


Angry protesters were complaining about the price of oil.


Yawn, think Lai See readers, rolling their eyes. Tell us something we don't know.


Well hang on a minute, smarty pants. It just so happens that these protesters were complaining about the low cost of diesel fuel.


It's true. Members of the Swedish environmental group Field Biologists gathered outside parliament yesterday to yell at Finance Minister Bosse Ringholm, who was about to deliver the budget speech.


'We want higher fuel taxes!' they shouted.


Seems a bit contrary of them.


But they're not just saying that for the sake of being different.


Green Party members hope higher prices on diesel fuel will discourage motorists who rely on petrol-driven cars.


Just hours after the protest ended, their wish had been granted. The budget called for the levying of higher taxes on fuel next year in Sweden.


That was quick. Victory isn't coming so easily to protesters on the other side of the issue.


But then, greenies have had a lot more experience with fuelling discontent.


Graphic: whee21gbz


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