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CBC May 25, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Canada, Cantonese.

The other day I and my wife walked pass a mobile phone sales booth. My wife was considering upgrading her phone.

A young salesman approached us and started to introduce to us all kinds of phones available. He was a CBC (Canadian-born Chinese) speaking English with a perfect Canadian teen’s accent. Then he got stuck in a question and had to redirect it to another salesperson behind him. She was also a CBC. Somehow she overheard I and my wife exchanging in Cantonese, so she started speaking Cantonese to us. This really surprised me.

Her Cantonese was not perfect and had to switch to English from time to time. Although I wished to switch back to English many times, but I had this feeling that she was seizing the opportunity to practice her Cantonese, so I decided to stick with Cantonese and tried to speak as clearly as possible.

For most CBCs, if they were in the same situation, they would probably choose to speak English right through, just as the first salesperson did. Speaking Cantonese is troublesome to them. Why bother? We all know English anyway. The only time that they would attempt is when they have to talk to their grandparents, who happen to know no English at all.

I don’t have a clue why this saleslady would bother to speak Cantonese with us. There must be a motivation behind it. In any case, I sincerely wish her a great success in her Cantonese acquisition.



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