Sunday, October 30, 2005


(From an email: )
To get the full effect, this should be read aloud. You will understand what 'tenjewberrymuds' means by the end of the conversation. This has been nominated for the best email of 2005. The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service, at a hotel in Asia, which was recorded and published in the Far East Economic Review:

Room Service (RS): "Morrin. Roon sirbees."
Guest (G): "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."
RS: "Rye..Roon sirbees..morrin! Jewish to oddor sunteen??"
G: "Uh..yes..I'd like some bacon and eggs."
RS: "Ow July den?"
G: "What??"
RS: "Ow July den?...pryed, boyud, poochd?"
G : "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please."
RS: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"
G: "Crisp will be fine."
RS : "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"
G: "What?" RS:"An toes. July Sahn toes?"
G: "I don't think so."
RS: "No? Judo wan sahn toes??"
G: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."
RS: "Toes! toes!...Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?"
G: "English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine."
RS: "We bodder?"
G: "No...just put the bodder on the side."
RS: "Wad?"
G: "I mean butter...just put it on the side."
RS: "Copy?"
G: "Excuse me?"
RS: "Copy...tea...meel?"
G: "Yes. Coffee, please, and that's all."
RS: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin we bodder on sigh and copy....rye??"
G: "Whatever you say."
RS: "Tenjewberrymuds."
G : "You're very welcome."
My thoughts:
If that seems funny to you, consider this: How is your Chinese?

If it seems ridiculous to suggest you might one day learn Chinese, consider that China now has already become a huge economic power in the world. They are currently the largest lender of money to the U.S.A.. Our economy would probably collapse if they suddenly stopped pushing $700 billion per year in cash into it. Also, China now seems poised to assume the prominent position of 'economic superpower' within the next 2 to 5 years. Their star is waxing while ours is waning.
In light of this, learning Chinese may not be such a crazy idea. Most of the business people around the world learned English in order to deal with us. Is it so far-fetched to think we may do the same to do business with them? Three years ago, I saw large ads in the airport from Accenture that were focused on how the world is changing, and one said that they had calculated that by 2008, 70% of the websites in the world will be Chinese. As we get closer to that year, that seems less unlikely than it did three years ago.

Imagine the emails that may come as they make fun of our attempts to learn Chinese. Or, I wonder if they will be too polite to laugh. Oh I can just see it now. A Chinese mother and her 8 year old son, and she is chiding him, "Don't stare! Yes, they are Americans, son. But it's not polite to stare. Just treat them like they are normal people." (said in Chinese, of course...)

Oh the taste of grand irony. The universe can be subtley wicked in it's balancing gestures.
The best thing to do is to be as fair and magnanimous as possible toward everyone, and just hope that comes back around along with everything else to help mitigate the karmic payback effect of our past arrogances.


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