For better communication and to avoid embarrassment, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has one advice for his esteemed colleagues — brush up on English.
The veteran politician knows whereof he speaks: He has presided over hundreds of plenary sessions and attended so many committee hearings at Legco where the English language has often fallen victim to outrageous use by his colleagues.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Tsang is directing his advice in particular to members of his own party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).
Local newspapers have had a field day reporting some of the most memorable assaults on the language by some DAB members.
In late May, for example, Christopher Chung used dubious verbs, strange prepositions and Cantonese-style pronunciation when he confronted MTR Corp. chief executive Jay Walder on the Express Rail Link fiasco.
“What are is your daily work? …Same (Shame)! Same (Shame) on you!” Chung shouted.
Gary Chan, another party stalwart, is well remembered for his “goodest English” remark. (The phrase has since become a favorite of local netizens in describing people with fractured English.)
Tsang’s ruminations about his adventures in the English language are part of a newly published book, English, Life, a collection of interviews with politicians and business celebrities by authors Tong Ming and Chan Kwok-wing. The book is published by Oxford University Press.
“I used to cry every time my parents forced me to recite the English textbooks,” the Legco president recalls. “But later I found the beauty of English in novels and thus became so interested in English grammar.” And he has been polishing his communication skills even years after leaving the university.
In the book, former chief secretary Anson Chan notes that although English is an official language in the city, some of the government’s consultation papers on political reform contain grammatical lapses.
Despite the highly charged atmosphere at Legco, Tsang asserts there is no partisanship in the world of English. He said he once sought the help of Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee on how to excuse a waiter in English, Sing Tao Daily reported.
Say what? Chinglish does it for Hong Kong
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