Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Working China- Dumb Foreigners

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 9, 2011


Chinese in the big cities, for the most part can usually utter a few words of English and many have decent English skills. They are taught English from the age of 4 or 5 nowadays and so they have quite a bit of experience with it. They never seem, however to get some things correct. For instance in doing some research I have been reading the works of Chinese PhD’s and oftentimes their written English is incomprehensible. An example would be a book on Chinese contract law written by a professor now teaching at Temple, I would say that 35% of the book is not written in recognizable English. The book is the only one of its kind and thus those of must who are interested must suffer through it.
What is my point? My point is that the Chinese in addition to being tribal, are also somewhat headstrong or overambitious in their understanding of their true level of English. I have a friend who works as an editor at a very well known Chinese company and I have helped him with some documents on occasion. For the most part, they are the best I have seen here, but produce manuals that, according to their customers, are “written In unintelligible English and they need to hire native speakers”. Being Chinese this is a bitter pill to swallow. They resent the fact that after studying English for twelve years that they are not as proficient as the Germans, for instance. While the Germans may not be native speakers, they have very good structure and logic, two things Chinese writing lacks, which makes their documents intelligible.
The Chinese, being tribal, thus resent their inability to write in a flowing and logical fashion and resent the foreign devils who seem to change their 2000 word missives into useful English. When my friend’s colleagues are forced to ask him for help, it is done in a condescending manner and rarely are his words heeded. In addition, the company, which is run by a communist, has no native speakers in positions of power. Thus, although they employ some foreigners as editors, those foreigners do not play a roll in assisting with the big decisions and the company churns out garbage they call user manuals.
This is the Chinese way of doing business. They believe that foreigners are overpaid whiners with too many rights.

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