Extreme Code-switching with Chinese CEOs
05 Nov 2015
David Moser recently attended a professional conference and shared this observation about code switching. I’ve edited the content just a little bit to anonymize it, but preserved the original text when possible:
> I attended an all-day series of talks today. Some of the panels were in Chinese, some in English. One that I found particularly interesting was an afternoon panel with [quite a few big-name CEOs]. The panel was supposed to be in Chinese, but I found it hilarious that all of these participants, steeped as they are in American and Western culture and business, seemingly can no longer speak pure Chinese. It is simply impossible for them. Some of the panelists could hardly speak even one sentence without throwing in an English word or two. I started writing down some of their code-switching, but it was so ubiquitous I soon stopped even trying. Here are some examples:
- 我们公司最近 celebrated 我们的 16th birthday.
- 小刘，我 wonder 你能不能预测这个 market trend 如何？
- 你要上课，必须得上那些可以 get involved 的东西。
- 你最好还是 enjoy 这个过程。
- 这么做，我真是出于 passion 才行。但这个 passion 的 definition 是啥?
- 这个 particular 中国 market 是非常 fragmented, 但那 bubble 后来 busted 之后，我们可以 reconsider 我们的 options.
- 他们从 blood 里面就有 business 的 DNA, 他们就算 natural innovators.
- 我觉得中国人比美国人有更多的 desire.
- 张先生是不是觉得有点被 left out在外, 我建议你参与进去就会 live up to 她刚才说的职员的那种 expectations.
- 我要讲一个 personal experience, 你可以 believe it or not.
- 没有，我 just kidding, 但不妨 tell you the truth…
- And this delightful misunderstanding:
A: 这是为什么有人说我们中国人是 the Jews of the Orient.
B: The juice of the Orient? 东方的橙汁？？
> And on and on. These poor elite CEOs literally can no longer speak like normal people. This kind of linguistic mixing is incredibly common in China, as we all know, but I’ve never experienced such an orgy of code-switching in my life.
I like #6 the best. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Moser!