Arousing Hong Kong quality English awareness etc

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    Martin W

      I often come across distinct quirks in English by Hongkongers, which I figure can be traced to the local education system. It seems some words and phrases have become entrenched here, even though they might be rarely seen or just plain wrong elsewhere (well, plain wrong here too, but they occur even so).

      Revert to – used in emails to mean “get back to”, as in “can you revert to me by tomorrow morning?” I recently told one young lady that it was impossible for me to revert to her by the time she specified, though I could do the work by then. Evidently originated in India; certainly handy usage but still seems odd given original meaning [adding in Aug 2022]

      Moreover – rarely seen by me in normal English, but here in Hong Kong it’s commonly used to start sentences. I’m told that one (native) English teacher I know has banned his students from using it!

      Besides, – also used too often to start sentences.

      Including … list of things … etc. Somehow, including can introduce a complete rather than partial list [we have three colours, including red, yellow and blue], and “etc” often slapped on the end of lists.

      Talents – in Hong Kong, talent isn’t just an attribute. A person can be a “talent”, so can encourage “talents” (rather than talented individuals). [maybe an Americanism, being adopted here; though I still usually balk at it when editing.]

      Elites – also used for individuals (elite individuals), rather than groups of people belonging to more nebulous “elite”.

      Quality – used as if it means excellent. So may have quality projects, which really means excellent projects.

      Arouse – used to mean increase, quite commonly in “arouse interest”, without any apparent notion that arouse tends to be used in sexual connotation.
      Even worse, though, I once saw an editor use “roused up”.

      He/she pointed out – unnecessary variation for he/she said.

      Kick-off – events don’t simply start; they are kicked off, without a football in sight.

      The above … for “the preceding …”, and never mind whether physically above or not, as info on a printed page can be. Heard a TVB Pearl announcer blithely saying “The above information was brought to you by…” – made me wonder, at times, when hear westerners reading poor English: tried changing, or just taking the money and never mind if pointing out with quality? Moreover:

      The below – also happens too; as in the below information.

      [something was done] successfully is also common; and like several of the above errors – which in this case are indeed “above” – stems from translating Chinese nigh on directly to English, but with very poor grasp of actual English as used in the big wide world.

      Under – under all sorts of things, when “in” or “during” might be better. Under the covid epidemic; under the hot weather, and so forth.

      cum – boy, does the government here love “cum”! Just quick googling and, after links to a couple of articles on this usage, I find the Hong Kong Island cum Marine Welfare Office, Kindergartens-cum-Child Care Centres, The Fire and Ambulance Services Education Centre cum Museum, a Steering Committee cum Command Centre and so much more. Often open to ready ridicule, like Hong Kong Country Parks Photo cum Video Competition – got any cum videos to enter?! And how about the “SNLU cum gala dinner”? – yes, a cum gala dinner … scrumptious.

      Really, it’s sad that so many locals teach/learn English within Hong Kong’s education system – and surely work hard, but evidently spend little or no time reading and listening to English as widely used.
      Arguably, I shouldn’t grumble hugely, as fair chunk of my income stems from editing local English (often translated from Chinese); yet I’d still like to see some of the silly errors vanish, and better knowledge of actual English.
      – mind you, I also live in hope that Americans might someday learn to spell properly! :woohoo:

      Post edited by: Martin, Aug 2022

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