(2-2) An ABC Mocked for Being Unable to Speak Chinese

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Jan 15, 2017 01:09
Several days ago, an article in the Chinese national media mocked an ABC (American Born Chinese) woman for being unable to speak Chinese. I knew about this ABC. Over the last two years, she has often appeared on a few Chinese shows. When I read this, I thought, “Puh-leez! Why are people being so harsh on her? She was born in the US, raised in the US. What’s wrong with not being able to speak Mandarin?”

When I scrolled down to the comment section, I was surprised to learn that they all agreed with the author. Their reasons were as follows:

1) She was a 2nd-generation Chinese American. Her parents were former Chinese gymnastic national team members, and moved to LA to open their own gymnastic school. Both of her parents spoke Chinese. Wouldn't she have learned some Chinese from her parents?

2) She married a famous Chinese Olympic gold medalist who was a Chinese national and spoke Chinese. Their daughter attended many shows and also spoke Chinese. Wouldn’t she have learned some Chinese from her husband and daughter?

Just because all her other family members spoke Chinese, it doesn’t mean that she absolutely had to learn Chinese. The most unbearable thing is that she’s been busy lining her own pocket with the Chinese publicity and entertainment over a couple of years. Couldn’t she at least show due respect for this market? Is it really impossible for her to achieve a certain level of Chinese proficiency to be able to at least communicate on the most basic level on these shows all these years?

Her work ethic, and even her parents’ attitude towards education was then called into question. Some commenters said, “That lady’s so lazy. Her parents must have neglected her education.”

A few people even commented, “You know full well that you make quick money in an industry (entertainment) that requires language skills. Now you’re on pace to start business in China very soon, and if you still insist on remaining disrespectful, please go back to your own country!”

Seeing that, I was a bit astonished. Go back to her own country? These people were being so hard on her. But then again, she’s become a celebrity, and celebrities are prone to public criticism. Actually, I hazzard a guess that she’s afraid her Chinese skills are not good enough, so she decided to speak English altogether.

It’s no wonder that many 1st generation Chinese Americans always earnestly exhort their kids not to give up studying Chinese by saying, “You’ll be grateful to me some day.” Chinese Americans invevitably face identity recognition problems. In the US, they may be rudely asked, “Where are you from? I mean, which country are you from?” Meanwhile, back in China, if they can’t speak Chinese, when they start making money in certain industries, they might be not welcomed and told, “Go back to your own country!” Sometimes even their parents will be blamed.

In a way, it’s so tough to be a ABC!



1) 她是美国第二代华裔移民。她的父母是前中国国家体操队队员,移民去了洛杉矶开了自己的体操学校。他们的父母都说中文,难道她没从她父母那里学点中文吗?

2) 她和中国一个著名的体操奥运冠军结了婚,这名体操冠军会说中文,他们女儿也参加了很多电视节目,也会中文。难道她就不能从她丈夫和她女儿那里学点中文吗?





难怪很多第一代美国华裔父母都会苦口婆心地劝他们的孩子学中文,说,“有一天你会感谢我的。”美国华裔难免有时候会遇到身份识别问题。在美国,可能有人不怀好意地问:“你从哪里来?我是问,你是从哪个国家来的?” 但,在中国,如果他们不会说中文,在一些领域赚钱的时候,又不被受欢迎,会被说道:“回到你的国家去!”甚至,有时候他们的父母会被责备。