Mean to say "Laguna Beach" and it comes out "Laguna bitch"?
This is among the many English pronunciation challenges facing Chinese Americans, World Journal reports in a story that looks at linguistic misunderstandings. To make matters worse, some Chinese words even sound offensive in English, which may cause a quarrel or confusion.
In addition to the words words "beach" and "bitch," other troublesome frequent problems are "snack" and "sneak", and "coke" and "cock".
Words in Chinese may also be lost in translation and come across as offensive or rude to a non-Chinese speaker, according to World Journal. The filler “那個” is commonly used in Chinese conversation and sounds like "nigga" or "nigger" in English. While the word has no direct English translation, an African American who hears it may be insulted or upset, World Journal warns readers.
The paper cites a recent example where a misudnerstanding almost led to violence. A Monterey Park incident in which Chinese and Hispanic neighbors were arguing over a dog stemmed from this issue, according to World Journal. A Chinese resident, upset that his Hispanic neighbor's dog was barking nonstop, threatened to sue. But the Hispanic man heard it differently:
The Hispanic called the police when he heard “I ‘vil’ shoot you.” The police came and talked to the Chinese neighbor who told the police that his name "vas" Hector Lee. Spokesperson Carrie Mazelin of the Monterey Park Police Department later confirmed that Lee was not armed and even though he was upset by the dog and the quarrel at the time, he was not about to shoot anyone.
Read the full article at World Journal.