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The Doctor’s Office May 18, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Cantonese, Toronto.

This morning, I needed to call the doctor’s office to reschedule my daughter’s appointment for next week. From the other side of the line came a female voice:

“The doctor’s office…”

Both receptionists speak Cantonese. I usually speak to them in English when booking appointments. But today for some reason, I felt like speaking Cantonese.

“唔該…” (May I…)

“Excuse me, would you speak in English, please?”

Oops, it was the nurse who picked up the phone. I was so embarrassed!

In Toronto, it is of course a normal practice to engage in a phone conversation in English first. You never know what other languages the other person can speak. But if I know the person whom I am calling speaks the language I speak, and I know the person well, it does sound odd if I would kick off the conversation in English.

But then there were many occasions in the past in which I dialed a wrong number and asked for a particular person in Cantonese. Then I was shocked that the other side replied in Cantonese, “冇呢個人, 你搭錯線” (There is no such person. You’ve got the wrong number)!



1. John Spuler - May 22, 2007

I like these anecdotes. You should do some more of these kinds of stories.

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