Opinion on Asian Customs

I’ve seen a lot of these types of videos and I generally find it demeaning and mean spirted to the native speakers, especially if they’re caught saying something negative about the prankster.

That said, I find this video hilarious, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43qdkAACeV8. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s because Hani is so cute or if it’s because it’s a Korean tricking a white guy.

I’ve said that before. But when I’ve used (badly) the few Chinese and Korean words* I know with native speakers, they’re usually delighted and ask I’m part Chinese or Korea. When I say I’m Okinawan/Japanese, they say, “Okinawan? Ahhhh…close enough, you’re Chinese or you’re Korean!”**. The highest compliment that can be given.

*Warning, be very careful and judge the room first. Be sure it won’t be taken as an insult to their language, but Aiya! (the same across all Chinese dialects) and Aigoo! (Korean), the equivalents of “My goodness”, “Oh my”, “How sad”, surprise and a sigh all rolled into one, is usually met with a smile and a laugh and sometimes a friendly acceptance slap on the arm. If it’s not an expression of surprise, extending out the last syllable, Aiyaaaaa! Aigoooo! will usually get a bigger smile and laugh.

“I cannot find it now but there is a good reddit discussion about Americans who can speak a foreign language and they pick up alot of not so good things said”

This is universal. I know more swear words in Chinese, Korean and Tagalog than anything else. Same is true of most immigrants I’ve spoken to. It’s just human nature.

I’ve seen the word F*** on t-shirts from China, Korea and Japan in photos and videos. And Lina from the Japanese Jpop group MAX who have a generally squeaky clean image*, wore a necklace with F*** emblazoned on it for the inner sleeve photos of one of the CD releases. Fans almost universally agreed that she had no clue what it meant.

*Lina and Reina did do implied nude photobooks, but swimsuits and implied nude photobooks are the norm for most female celebrities, especially early in their careers.

Yes I’ve seen a few of these and don’t generally like them (thanks for sharing though, urbanredneck2). The foreigner is often wasting the locals’ time in a way you just wouldn’t if you couldn’t actually speak the language. Then, they’re embarrassed after the reveal because they’ve often expressed that annoyance in their language.

Also (I don’t know why I’m turning this into a full-on rant, but let’s see it through now), it reinforces the misconception many have, of language learning being some all-or-nothing special ability.
Like a character in a TV show who busts out his fluent Malay just for one throwaway joke.

Anyone remember “Everyone laughed when I sat down at the piano.”?

YouTube is full of vids of “Unlikely looking person plays piano beautifully in public space to astonished onlookers.” Most of which seem to me to be faked pranks. IOW, hire a pianist to dress as a janitor, not find a real janitor who happens to be a fine pianist.

Heh. I stepped onto an elevator in an office building in Bangkok one day. Already aboard was this strikingly pretty Thai lady, maybe early 20s, and she was wearing a T-shirt that said, in English, “I fuck on the first date.” I am convinced she had no idea what it said, and I almost hurt myself stifling my laughter.

Thai soap operas went through a period where everyone was telling everyone else, “Fuck you!” in English. You heard it all the time. My guess is they thought it was akin to “Drop dead!” or some such as far as severity goes. Then one day it stopped, so I guess someone finally clued them in.

You’ll always find people from all sorts of countries - East or West - who proudly wear something mortifying or embarrassing in another language that they don’t know the meaning of, be it a tattoo or T-shirt.

But some Asians don’t recognize how serious some offensive things are in the West. Hitler and the Nazis is a prime example. To many Asians, the Holocaust is an obscure thing that happened in a far away place. You have people dressing up as Nazis as a lark, a Hitler restaurant in India, other such things.

On the Korean variety show Running Man (ep 413), while playing a game where they had to guess what something dangled between their faces was, one of the guests clearly said WTF? and they even repeated the shot. Whereas profanity in Korean is bleeped out.

Witness my thread from nine years ago: Naughty Little Girls: Thai Female Catholic Hitler Youth

Dialing back a step, some things – like the word “fuck” aren’t equally offensive even in all of the West.

I won’t say it’s meaningless in Australia, but it’s notably /less/ offensive in white upper/middle class Australia than it is in white America. Based on the experiences of my siblings. Except specifically “fuck you”. That’s an expression heard only in American movies.

Sounds like when a westerner will get an Asian symbol tattooed on them and find out it doest mean “dragon” or “power” or something cool but something bad.

A couple more “surprise” videos:

Two little American boys speaking Korean. These kids are only 13 and 11.

American orders food in an odd chinese dialect and shocks everyone. The coolest thing is seeing the expressions of surprise on the people in the background.

American pranks Chinese teachers. This is kind of what was mentioned where the american pretends to be learning Chinese. They laugh at how he pronounces things then he suddenly speaks fluently.

A cute video where the man speaks to Korean children who are learning english… There responses are very interesting.

Anyways I wish I would have had the chance to learn an Asian language because it would be a great business skill.

As I said above, I find most these types of pranking videos distasteful. Here’s a guy who I think does it right, his ‘prank’ is done with respect to the other person and their language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_096OF6MtA

He’s absolutely amazing with multiple languages!

Edit: This is compilation of him speaking in different languages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2N_eBD2Zio

Thats cool. Even more trying to be understood under a mask.

Again, this would be an amazing skill to have and then go into foreign business relations.

One thing I’ve noticed is that immigrants to the US from India tend to use their Indian names in the US, while immigrants from China tend to use (very stereotypical) American names, at least in work situations and the like (not necessarily among each other).

I assume this derives from underlying cultural differences between the two groups. Thoughts?

Being of South Asian origin myself, and having a keen interest in names, this is a subject I’ve often talked to others about.

In the Indian-American community, it’s often assumed that Indian parents will give their kids Indian names. They might choose an “easier” name or use a nickname, but most often the Indian name is the formal one. Very occasionally, someone like Bobby Jindal will actually change his name, and it’s usually someone in a public professiona. For example, actor Kal Penn uses his real name (Kalpen Modi, if I recall correctly) in his personal life.

Whenever I make friends with a person of Chinese background, or other East Asian background, I usually ask at one point why E uses a Westernized name. The answers are usually some combination of:

(1) You need an “American” name to get along in American society
(2) My parents didn’t want people to have trouble with my name
(3) I have a (secret, familiy-only) Chinese name, but Americans will stumble over the pronunciaton
(4) Americans will never get the pronunciation of my Chinese name exactly right, so why bother?

I find these reasons fascinating, because they are counter to my ideas, which include:

(1) I am an American, so whatever name I have is an American name. I don’t accept that “American” names must be of European origin.
(2) I don’t care if people don’t pronounce my name exactly correctly. I want them to treat it like any other American name.

Partially so, but also it depends. Bobby Jindal was mentioned, but Nikki Haley goes by her middle name (her first name is Nimrata).

I think it may have something to do with the fact the British colonization of the Indian subcontinent has made South Asians feel more comfortable using their given names in English speaking contexts.

What follows is a longwinded musing stated in the form of factual assertions.

I don’t now recall if it was you @Acsenray or another South Asian person who pointed out in another thread that it’s culturally common among Indians in India to have multiple names / nicknames for use in different social situations. Something vaguely along the lines of “My legal name is X, my grandmother calls me Y, I’m Z at work and A to my pals.”

If that’s an accurate sketch, then it becomes plausible that one of those several names is “simple enough” to use as your USA name, while still being sufficiently “Indian flavored” to be recognizable to Americans as such. And if it happens that none of one’s several names are simple enough, it would not be a big deal culturally to pick another simpler Indian name as one’s USA nickname.

Contrast that with China which, arguably, does not have such a deep cultural tradition of multiple names / nicknames for the same person. If they’d be going way out on a cultural limb to even have any kind of nickname, it seems easier to go all the way and pick an Anglo type name. Them selecting a “Chinese-lite” name has all the origin culture’s disadvantage to them of any nicknaming, and little of the adopted culture’s advantage of a name familiar to the adopted culture.

I’m as whitebread 'Merkin as they come and I have my one and only given name. A few people I know use dimunitives and there are one or two J.B.'s or whatever, but nicknaming is just not part of my segment of 'Merkin culture. People know people by the same name that’s on their driver’s license.

Coming from my cultural POV, were I to expat to someplace where English and Anglo names were awkward for the locals I’d be far likelier to adopt the uncomfortable clothing of a name the locals are familiar with than an equally uncomfortable-to-me different but simpler Anglo name that would still be unfamiliar to my new hosts.

Does any of the above make sense or am I spouting nonsense?

That’s sometimes the case with nicknames.

For example, I knew a guy whose first name was Sukhanderpal. His email signature, nameplate on his office, business cards etc. all said “Sukhanderpal”. But a lot of his (American) friends called him Paul.

But the Chinese equivalent would not only have pals call him Michael but have his email signature, nameplate, business cards etc. all say Michael, and only by chance might you find out that he has a Chinese name (which may be nothing at all like Michael).

While that’s plausible, I think you might be making too much of it. A lot of Indian-origin people end up using their actual names in American society.

And a lot East Asian names, for example Chinesa and Korean names, are usually short one-or-two syllable names. I have a doctor named Heyjin and a friend named Wen. I don’t see any reason why they would present particular problems to Anglophones…

In response to that let me share my take on a common criticism that Americans made about Pacific Islanders when I lived in Micronesia. The Americans would complain, “Micronesians don’t know how to say ‘no’!”

My take on it - it’s not that Micronesians can’t or won’t say “no”, the problem is that Americans don’t know how to hear Micronesians say “no.” Just because someone doesn’t baldly say “no” to your face doesn’t mean they aren’t telling the truth. Evasive language, obvious discomfort, and similar signals can convey “no” if people are sensitive to culturally appropriate means of communicating.