Language as submission
We don’t have a specific policy about being political here, except to avoid it when possible. We don’t need any more uniformed sorts showing up at our corporate offices this year. Randy already made a full apology for that incident and promised to mend his ways. That said, the following is going to wade just ever so slightly into the kiddie pool of foreign relations, but it’s really for a linguistic reason so please forgive me my editorial comments, should any slip in.
As you may know by now if you spend any amount of time on Twitter or the China blogs, director Ning Hao 宁浩 punched a foreigner at a public swimming pool and then blogged about it. You can read it in English and Chinese here.
The gut-churning induced by both such heavy nationalistic racism and expat douchebaggery aside, there was one sentence that stood out.
[I] said to him: speak Chinese! (speaking in the language of other countries is a display of submission to the culture of said country)
I’ve always made an effort to learn the local language wherever I go. It’s why I do what I do in Wu. It’s why I tried to learn enough Uуɡhuɾ to order in Uуɡhuɾ at Хіnjіаnɡ restaurants. My (Han) friends never understood why I did that. Maybe because it’s fun to say “ikki polo yäymiz!”
Not half an hour ago I was in the local convenience store. I said something like “hold on I might have 5 mao” to which the worker in the corner said to themself something like “all these foreigners are speaking Chinese now…”
Is Ning Hao right? Do people here tend to think using a foreign language involves submission? If so, is English for some reason mostly exempt from this?
It’s a language act where the act is choosing the language, or possibly the shortest language power struggle in history.