Sunday, April 29, 2007


I was at the neighbourhood bakery just now to get something for breakfast tomorrow and I settled for a raisin swiss roll. While one of the sales assistant was slicing up the roll for me, I heard the cashier, a young lady, saying, “Fai tee.” (Cantonese for ‘faster’). I then walked over to the other corner of the shop to look at some of the other buns and muffins and back to the counter. Again, I heard the cashier said “fai tee”. I smiled and said in Cantonese, “mo siong kon. marn marn lei” (it’s ok, take your time) as I thought she was hurrying the assistant who was looking for a small box to pack the roll. Ms Cashier then gave me a funny look and pointed to the display bar on the cash register which read RM5.50 and repeated what I still took to be “fai tee” .

I took a good 10 seconds before it struck me that she had, for the past few minutes been trying to collect RM5.50 from me for my order. Only then did I realized that she had said, “fai fi tee” (it’s FIVE FIFTY, for heaven’s sake) and all the while I had thought she was hurrying her co-worker.

I did not laugh because I did not find it funny at all. There were just too many times I was stumped by what the young cashiers were trying to say when I checked out at the counter. Do you think this has anything to do with our education policy or the way English is taught in schools today? And I am not even going to talk about some atrociously written letters and reports I had the misfortune of reading. Help! Help!

P.S. Yours truly will be away for a few days. Here's wishing all my friends here a Happy Labour Day and a Blessed Wesak.
posted by nyonyapenang at 5:05 PM, |


  At 8:22 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, If you don't understand the lingo there, what about me when I balek kampong? I make don't know? I not be knowing? Ha ha.
You have a good holiday, Nyonya. Take care. UL.
  At 9:27 PM Blogger angel said:
All I can say is...

Siu sei ngor!

Happy horniday!!! Waaa, everyone going horniday wan... I also wanna go liao! ;)
  At 10:06 PM Blogger Jonzz said:
OMG... Fai tee for 5.50.

No normal human being would have understood that.
  At 10:25 PM Blogger Wennnn said:
HAhahahahah Nyonya they all really can be jokers lor.. they way they speak... when I went bek sometimes I dun understand either...

Have a nice horniday lor...
  At 10:36 PM Blogger may said:
you didn't laugh, but I did! LOL!! so the farnee, fai tee... happy holidays, take care wherever it is you're going, and enjoy!!
  At 11:27 PM Blogger Winn said:
happpy wesak day and labour day!!
  At 11:53 PM Blogger zewt said:
wah... pergi holiday eh.... have a blast!
hi Uncle Lee,
Bila nak balik kampong? No worries, I be your guide. If both of us not be knowing what they trying to say, we give can try using fingers to point-point and poke-poke and shake-shake and nod-nod the head lar.
Or maybe can ask Angel for help...I think she speaks many lingo. :D

Thanks for your wishes. You too have a good week ahead. :)
Happy Horriday! You going by aeroplane, gua going by 'Aeroline'.

I didn't hear her well. She said it quite fast I think - 'fai fi tee'.
this one, can i call it Cantlish? a mix of Cantonese and English. hahahahah....
i sure bet you dun understand them lar...they speak also never heard before. hahahah.
thanks for your wishes. and you remember to take a rest. dun work like no tomorrow lidat. :)

would you have understood her?
thanks for your wishes too. you have a good week ahead. :)

happy horriday to you too. :)

thanks. you have a big blast too.
take care. :)

But it's really not surprising because I have came across lecturers who pronounce "honour" as hor ner and "soccer" as saucer.

Yes, inevitably that's the boo boo of our education system. Took them some 28 years to realize it and they are finally reverting back to english!

It has always been the language of business and engineering and if we are not proficient at it, how are we going to compete globally?

Happy holidays, Nyonya!
  At 5:46 AM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, How long you in Waikiki? UL.
  At 8:45 AM Blogger said:
nyonya, enjoy your holiday.
When you are back, hop over to mine. An award waiting for you ^-^
  At 9:00 AM Blogger ah nel said:
go whre go whre?

kam we go temple pai sin... ;)
  At 10:54 AM Anonymous suituapui said:
Over here, it's the effect of speaking nothing but Mandarin - English adversely affected, cultures die out (Mandarin is just a language-we have the various cultures: the Hokkein, the Cantonese, the Foochow culturesetc...) and many dialects become extinct e.g. Hokkein parents speaking only Mandarin at home, their kids will not be able to speak their own dialect.
  At 12:51 PM Blogger William said:
Sometimes in our mind, we block the way we hear certain things or read certain words. Nyonya daydreaming eh... hehe

Hope you have a nice holiday.
  At 2:39 PM Anonymous Vern said:
LOL! That's funny - a bit embarrassing nonetheless I think.

Anyways, happy holidays to you too!
  At 6:32 PM Blogger eve said:
Happy holidays...yippee..i m going some where too..
  At 1:00 AM Blogger Will said:
i'd definitely laugh out loud if it happens to me :P
  At 4:39 PM Blogger Kenny Ng said:
LOL... luckily is RM5.50, if RM 3.50 in hokkien will be sounds like 'baju seluar koyak' lor. If RM 3.60 in hokkien lagi funny right? :P
  At 6:33 AM Blogger plink said:

Wonder how Ms. Cashier felt when she realized what you thought. Or if she even knew.

Kesian all of us: our Engrand not good enough to understand them summore.... :D
  At 1:55 PM Blogger J.T. said:
Hello Nyonyapenang, I was in U.Lee's blog reading that lovely and touching story about Jimmy finding his mummy at last. I saw your comments and decided to hop over to your blog.
Isn't sad when locals can't even understand each other? What about those visiting. I laugh everytime my husband, an American, tries to decipher what a local is saying. He gave up sometime back and now asks me to speak their lingo (when we are on holiday in Msia). Amazingly enough, when I speak like them, they understand. hahaha
Maybe it is the way English is taught in schools now.
Ok ah, have a happy vacasyen. I go and come.
  At 9:12 AM Anonymous zeroimpact said:
Happy holidays to you too
I think we need to relook at how languages are taught again
kakakakaa! Reading this now makes me laugh. But I guess I too wouldn't have found it amusing then.
  At 4:52 PM Blogger Sasha said:
Hahahahaha i tot what fai tit...apa la. ENJOY yr holiday NYONYA!
Sorry for these late replies to your much valued comments:-

hahaha....tell me about it. i had my fair share of teachers who made me scratched my head in frustrations too.

cocka doodle,
i sometimes flip through those English workbooks belonging to my young nieces and nephews and OMG, the standard...I can say sudah jatuh longkang liao.

Uncle Lee,
Waikiki??? mmm...maybe next destination.
pssst...You wanna join me and teach me how to swim?

**cover face with paper fan**...soooooo maluuuuuuu.
Anyway, I thank you very, very much for thinking about me and giving me the award. I appreciate that very much.

ah nel,
next time you come and fetch me go pai sin. :)

you are so right there. i am old-fashioned...i insist on speaking my dialect at home, lest it be lost forever.
my 2 boys can speak hokkien but the intonation is a bit out. need some work here.

william, may be right there but that gal sure spoke funny. her speaking engrand so powerful sampai gua tak faham ler. LOL

hi vern,
how are you and your mummy? nice of you to pop by again.
that gal sure needs some work on her pronunciation.

thanks for dropping by and you have a good rest too.

you and family have a good break too.

err...laugh at the gal or laugh at me? hahahha...

hahahaha....ya lar...pronunciation a little bit out, then it turns out something else.

oh, i was sure Ms Cashier did not realise it at all. maybe she was thinking what was wrong with me...simple engrand gua pun dun understand.
Hi j.t.,
A very warm welcome!
You sure had a good time reading Uncle Lee's ceritas. He writes very well and his blog is my favourite read too.
I have come across many instances whereby I have to speak in Bahasa Malaysia to a young Malay/Chinese/Indian sales assistant because they cannot speak simple English! Sad, huh? Something must have gone wrong in the schools.

Thanks for your kind wishes. Do feel free to 'go and come'. :)
Have a good day.

teaching of englisg - it sure needs some serious work there.

king's wife,
ya, come to think of it, it's quite funny also. hahaahahha...
i summore go and said to her, "mo siong korn..."

thanks for your wishes.
hahahaha..i learned something new.
fai fi tee
  At 12:50 PM Blogger Chen said:
5.50 become fai tee
really laff die me liao
siu sei ngor
dr chen,
dis engrand tak tau man belajar mia...sampai gua pun tak faham.
  At 3:27 PM Blogger _butt said:
err.. but it's funny to me wo.. kekeke..

fai tee reminds me of pie tee though. duno why. lol
she never realised she spoke funny. :)