English, the language pushed upon most of us, now near ubiquitous around the world, one of the most successful endeavors of colonization. Considered almost our species' default, the universal. To a lot of people in hk, intelligence and/or class and english were intrinsically woven. being colonised by british left a strong sense of colonial shame for those who do not speak english or with strong chinese/cantonese accent or simply don’t sound white. if you sounded white you are considered intelligent, sophisticated, advanced, civilised, get more job opportunities, higher pay, easier application to government housing etc
The image carved of non white accents is of inferiority, incompetency and unintelligence – the chinese locusts, savages, slums, urinating in the street, being loud etc
For a long time, I truly believed this. being a indonesian chinese immigrant to colonial hk, I feared people would hear my mother’s chinese / hokkian/indonesian accent and shun her for her foreignness. It took me a while to realise that what I was shushing was more than an accent. I was shushing my culture, rolling my eyes at my history, cringing at my origins. I shushed yellowness / brownness/ asianness in the fear that I would be tainted by it but now i would like to say fuck trying to sound white/british/whatever, i am so proud of my heritage and my unusual mix of chinese/malyasian/singaporean accent that some white dudes mocked once and pretended he didn’t understand well fuck you.
Tell me about your relationship to Engish. Were you mocked for speaking it too well? Not well enough? With an accent? Do you resent the language, or accept its place in your life? Is it your language? Can it ever belong to you?