Hong Kong-isms

When taking a name from a foreign culture…

It is very common for “Hong Kongers” to take western names to use in business and travel. Often, these are quite lovely, and sometimes unique names such as Winsome, our real estate broker, or names taken from pop culture like Raymond, our landlord. Why not? Everybody loves Raymond. Sometimes, however, you wonder if the name-taker (or giver, in such instances) understood (1) the language, (2) the meaning, or (3) the connotations. Here are some of my favorites so far…

  1. Twinkle – she works at the front desk of our Residence Club
  2. Banana – no joke, works at the FroYo shop in the mall… I wonder what her favorite flavor is?
  3. Angus and Eunice – two adorable but unfortunate siblings at the park with whom the twins were playing
  4. Goatee – works at and is the Foursquare Mayor at Triple-Os. I wonder if he had facial hair when he took the name.
  5. Skin – the IT guy for a local club. Maybe it is silky smooth. Maybe he has excess. Maybe I am better off not knowing.

Interesting food and drink…

  1. The very popular “Pork Floss“. I don’t know what it is, but those two words just don’t belong in the same sentence… you can even pay a little extra to have it piled on top of whatever you just ordered. – June 2011 edit: OK – I will eat my words and the floss. This is yum!
  2. The single dish named in English on an otherwise all-Chinese menu: Western Miscellaneous Grill Set. Wow. That sounds appetizing. I think I’ll have that, with an order of Random Cold Beverage and a side of Whatever.
  3. I just purchased a Black Beauty mini-watermelon at the store. My receipt says “Black Lady”. Aunt Jemima didn’t jump out of my bag, so I think we are square.
  4. Want an Icee Pole? That would be a popsicle. I have a catalog of jokes for this one, but my mother reads this blog…
  5. When building your English menu in China – you should take translational and phonetic considerations. The delectable Flower Valley cocktail at the Ritz Carlton is ordered by the locals as a Fwower Wowee. Two or more of these and you lose your ability to keep a straight face when the bartender repeats your drink order…

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