el mango (soyelmango) wrote in linguaphiles,
el mango

I've thought for some years now that it had to happen one day, and this morning, on the bus, it happened: when languages collide!

A young chinese couple are heading up the aisle, between them is a young black guy. The girl is looking for a seat, and the boyfriend directs her repeatedly to a pair of seats. Except that in mandarin chinese, "this one" [ie: these seats here] is pronounced "ni gerr". So the black guy, hearing what sounded like "nigger... nigger... NIGGER" from behind him is less than pleased and a tussle kicks off: angry black guy -versus- confused and increasingly angry chinese guy. The chinese guy invites the black guy to get off at the next stop, and he agrees, but fortunately, other passengers step in to calm them down.

Just thought I'd share that with you: that such a common phrase in Chinese has an unfortunate coincidence when used elsewhere.

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