說鬼話 Speak the "Ghost" language



Do ghosts speak a different language? Photo: Internet 

在講求 Globalisation 及跟世界接軌的今時今日,很難想像只能操一種語言的人有甚麼好日子過,但香港就例外。

在大部份的所謂國際大都會裡,能流利操多國語言的人往往特別受人尊重,因為要成功學懂一種外國語言,要求的不只要天賦的語言天份,還要加上後天的努力及相當的國際視野。學好一種外國語文,等如學習那個地方的文化,那絕非是鄉巴佬可做到或會做到的。

但喺香港,情況就有點特別。如果你是香港長大的華人,能操流利而戴有純正英式或美式口音的英語或其他西方語言,同是華人的本地人會對你另眼相看,覺得你必然是出身良好,受過高等教育的上等人。但如果你在某些場合對人家說你不懂中文而又只會用英文溝通,人家會立時對你肅然起敬,因為你是鬼,而鬼跟人相比就總是高級一點點, 說鬼話, 那當然是比說人話優勝。

如上高級餐館,說純正英語的話,你會得到較好的服務;寫投數信,寫英語的話,你的投訴會較快的得到處理;到甚麼酒會或派對,說本地話的好像永遠也不入流,就算是說本地話,也要有那些「鬼鬼哋」的味道,但總好過說爛英語,因為那會同遭人和鬼的白眼;在職場上更不用說了,因為說英語的,無論是說甚麼白痴的話,人家總覺得你蠻「有料到」的,領的薪水也較高,那怕是他的經驗比你少。

當然,香港的畸形是來自長時間殖民的結果。回歸多年,這種情況也沒有甚麼改變,看香港最高學府(店)香港大學,讀中國文學還是用英語來讀就可見一班。唯一改變的是現在除了鬼話,說大陸話也同樣的有優待。去莎莎買東西,說普通話的話,店員會擁着來服務你;到大百貨公司,如果店員跟你說普通話,表示該店員看得起你,覺得你並非是窮港燦。

但說到底,也究竟是本地人根本就瞧不起本地話。港人的種族歧視並非對其他人,而是對自己及窮過自己又想黐自己金糠的人(如外籍家庭傭工)。香港人,為甚麼不能對自己好一些?廣東話的歷史比很多語言都來得要長,也更有生命力。外國的月亮並非特別圓的。


Living in the times where globalisation is the dominated trend, it's hard to imagine a mono-lingual person will have any chance to excel. But in Hong Kong, things are a little different. 

In most cosmopolitans, those who are multi-lingual will get earn more respect from others. That's because to master a foreign language, it takes more than just talents: one must work extreme hard and has a global vision, because learning a foreign language is no different from studying a foreign culture, and that's not something that any narrow-minded country bumpkin is able to do. 

But in Hong Kong, if you are a born and bred local but able to speak English in a flawless British or American accent, other fellow Hongkongers will pay you great respect, as they believe that you must have come from a respectable background and received top quality education from overseas. And if you act as if you do not understand Chinese and is only able to communicate in English, you can easily become the most important person in the room - that's because you position yourself as a "gweilo" or "gweipor", the Cantonese term describing foreign men and women respectively. Gwei is the Cantonese word for ghost. The term had a derogatory origin in the past, but today, it stands for a higher social class in Hong Kong. And thus if you can perfect the "Ghost" language, you are considered superior to other locals. 

Examples are everywhere: speaking the perfect English at a fine dining restaurant, you are guaranteed better services; if you write your letter of complaint in English, you will get a quicker and more serious response. When attending any events or cocktail parties, it still seems that speaking the local language will never make you an insider. Even if you want to talk in your local mothertongue, you should speak with a foreign accent. But still, it's better than speaking broken English, because those snobs will look down on you. The difference is even greater at the workplace - no matter how idiotic you sound, you will still make an impression if you speak English, because for some reason people believe that imports are better than the homegrown talents. You make more money as a native English speaker than the bilingual or trilingual locals, even if you are less experienced than them.

This obscure perception certainly is inherited from the colonial regime, and things haven't changed 15 years after the handover. Just look at HKU, you study Chinese literature in translated English texts. 

The only thing that has changed is that now Mandarin appears to have been added to this upper class. If you are a Mandarin-speaker, you get better service whether you are shopping at Sasa or Milan Station. If you go to Sogo or Lane Crawford, shop assistants will be delighted to greet you, if you are a Mandarin speaker. If a shop assistant greeting you in Mandarin, that means they believe that you are rich enough to shop, unlike those poor Hongkongers who suffer from the great income gap. 

But at the end of the day, this is all about discrimination - discrimination against your own people, your own culture, your own language. Why can't Hong Kong people just have more respect for themselves? Cantonese has a much longer history than many other languages around the world, and is so much more lively and to the point. The moon from the foreign country isn't any rounder than that from home.


Comments

  1. 前半段,我以為陶傑寫,後半段,差不多係香港人通病,細細個亞碼話一定要學好外語(英文).耳濡目染之下,覺得鬼話高級 D D .外國的月亮並非特別圓的 ,絕對應同,徐咗紐約,倫敦(呢句我講)
    William Sze-To as 威利人

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember that Daniel Wu said something like this before too.
    Hong Kong people discriminating Hong Kong People

    os

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember that Daniel Wu said something like this before too.
    Hong Kong people discriminating against* Hong Kong People

    http://www.blackpaper.com.hk/?p=997

    os

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not sure it's about cultural discrimination, it's all about sucking up to the boss -- if Mars owned HK, only those who spoke good Martian would get the best tables etc etc. HK exists for one thing -- making money. And whoever makes the most money, or enables the making of most money, gets the perks. Hence, it once was the British and is now the mainlanders. I'm not sure anything will change while HK's governments insist on the city being the money broker for Asia.

    Mark McCord

    ReplyDelete

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