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"Goddamn Mongorianzh! Shtop breaking down my shitty warr!"[1]
Tuong Lu Kim, South Park

Oh, herro! Talkee 'bout Asian Speekee Engrish here.

This a trope about race that is now largely a Dead Horse Trope.

This trope is in play when an Asian character (sometimes, but not always a recent immigrant) uses sterotypical mangled English, either for comedy or to establish their foreignness. Common mistakes they make in their English include:

  • Swapping "L's for "R"s and vice versa;
  • Omitting articles and particles like "the", "this", "that", and "it";
  • Adding "ee" to the end of nouns or replacing the actual final consonant with "ee" ("ticket" becomes "tickee");
  • Dropping the leading "A' from words ("about" becomes "'bout"; "across", "'cross"; "away, "'way" and so on).
  • Eliding entire verb clauses ("With no ticket, you can't get your laundry" becomes "No tickee, no laundry.")
  • Extreme politeness to the point of obsequiousness;
  • Extreme self-denigration;
  • Complete lack of tense differentiation ("he takes", "he will take", and "he took" all become "he take").

Due to language differences, some Real Life immigrants do speak this way, and some of the trope's characteristics derive from Chinese Pidgin English.


May be used to have a character represent the Yellow Peril. Other common character types that use it include Asian Store Owner, Chinese Launderer, Japanese Tourist, and Asian Gal with White Guy. If due to a translation convention or error rather than deliberate characterization, it's Blind Idiot Translation instead of this trope. Sub-Trope of You No Take Candle.

Examples of Asian Speekee Engrish include:


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Anime and Manga

  • Axis Powers Hetalia does this to some extent in the Gag Dub with China and Japan. They seem to become slightly more grammatically articulate when speaking to each other or monologuing than when they speak to the Europeans, which implies switching between languages, though they keep up the Japanese Ranguage.

Comic Books

  • The villain Mitsuhirato from The Adventures of Tintin talks like this, and is depicted with all the worst Japanese stereotypes, including buck teeth, thick glasses, big ears, bad pronunciation etc. At the time the character was written, Imperial Japan was at war with China, and engaged in a very brutal occupation of much of its territory. Hergé sympathised with the Chinese, and made no attempt to conceal it.
  • A Chinese character in The Sandman uses this as Obfuscating Stupidity, switching from perfect English in a private discussion to "velly solly, me no speakee" in order to get rid of an opium addict.
  • Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese talks like this.
  • Hot Charlotte has the title character's Chinese friend use "L" for "R" in French (the entire comic is in French). When she thinks Charlotte has delivered a magnificent tirade to an irritating sexual harasser, she applauds: "Blavo! Blavo! Blavo Challotte! Tes tlop folte!"

Film

  • Mickey Rooney's "Mr. Yunioshi" in Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the more enduring examples of this.
  • "Me Love You Long Time," from Full Metal Jacket.
  • One of the crew in the original King Kong is a Chinese Stereotype who plays this trope constantly.
  • Charlie Chan dropped pronouns and articles, called himself "humble self", and uttered wise proverbs, but used few of the other conventions, which are typical of "pidgin". Earle Derr Biggers, his creator, specified that Chan learned English by reading poetry. In one story a man he's been working with catches a fake pretending to be him over the phone because he says "savvy," which Chan would never do. Sidney Toler and Warner Oland, who played him in the movies, for the most part kept to this characterization.
  • Inspector Sidney Wang (a Expy of Charlie Chan) talks like this in Murder By Death. This is apparently Lionel Twain's Berserk Button:

 Milo Perrier: What do you make of all of this, Wang?

Sidney Wang: Is confusing.

Lionel Twain: It! It is confusing! Say your goddamn pronouns!

  • Team America: World Police had Kim Jong Il speaking exclusively like this. He also sings like this. Specifically, the song "I'm So Ronery".
  • At the end of A Christmas Story, the waitstaff of a Chinese restaurant attempt to sing Christmas carols to Ralphie and his family, but their accent is so thick that they sing the "fa la la" line in "Deck the Halls" as "fa ra ra." The maitre d', whose accent is respectable, keeps trying to correct them, but they get no better. When they start to butcher "Jingle Bells," he shoos them away.
  • Usually avoided with Fu Manchu. Despite being the archetypal Yellow Peril villain, he speaks perfect English.
  • The women in The World Of Suzie Wong do some of this, mostly dropping pronouns.

Literature

  • Subverted and Deconstructed in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. The character of Lee seems to be this, but is actually faking it to go along with white people's expectations.
  • Lampshaded in the Phryne Fisher stories, when Lin Chung plays 'stage Chinaman', usually to tease Phryne. She isn't amused.
  • In Shanghai Girls , Pearl speaks English perfectly, but reverts to this trope because tourists tip better when she speaks stereotypically.
  • Japanese secret agent |Mr. Moto, Obfuscating Stupidity in one of the books, was very apologetic about being unable to pronounce "L" correctly. But he slipped up in the apology, revealing that he could handle "L" just fine.

Live Action Television

  • An episode of Frasier had obnoxious sports host Bulldog invoking this while attempting an ad for a Chinese restaurant.

 Roz: We are so gonna get sued again.

  • Mad TV had the character of Ms. Swan.

  "Yeah. I tell you e'ery-ting! He look-a like a man!"

  • Two Broke Girls has Han "Bryce" Lee own the diner at which the two main characters work. He sometimes talks like this.
  • Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report occasionally trots out his character "Ching Chong Ding Dong," who speaks in an exaggerated Engrish accent, spouting stereotypical lines like, "Ooooh, me rikey tea!" Colbert admits that the character is incredibly racist, but also insists that he's not racist for performing the character, because, "The character is speaking through me."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Erizabeth L." portrays a Japanese man, Yakomoto (sic) posing as Luchino Visconti. As well as his own speech, the entire dialog of his play is in R/L swapping.
    • "I bling a dispatch flom Prymouth."
    • "When you have a rine, ling your berr. Ling ling. Rike this."
    • "Me vely impoltant Itarian firm dilectol. 'Alliveldelchi Loma...'"

Music

Theatre

  • Brian's Japanese fiance/wife Christmas Eve from Avenue Q, particularly her use of Rs in place of Ls and the exclusion of certain articles in her sentences.
  • In the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, Bloody Mary talks like this, but her songs are excellent, sometimes complex English in construction. Here's her talking to Billis:

 Bloody Mary: [giving a shrunken head to Lt. Cable] You like I give you, free!

Luther Billis: Free? You never gave me anything free!

Bloody Mary: You no sexy like lieutellen.

Compare with her song, Bali-H'ai;

 Bali Ha'i will whisper

On the wind of the sea:

"Here am I, your special island!

Come to me, come to me!"

Web Comics

  • Yuffie in Ansem Retort talks this way so that people will be under the impression that she knows martial arts.

Web Original

  • Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat sprite cartoons speeks like this.

  "I am Ruu Kang!"

    • Though to be fair, he IS voiced by an in-character Peter Chao, who uses an overly exaggerated Chinese accent.
  • Used among many Asian Youtubers, usually to imitate and satirize their parents/culture.

Western Animation

  • South Park has featured this trope a number of times:
    • South Park's resident Chinese-American is Tuong Lu Kim, who owns the City Wok restaurant and whose thick accent causes him to repeatedly call it "Shitty Wok." Many seasons after his introduction it's revealed that he's actually a white man with multiple personality disorder.
    • Subverted in "The China Probrem," where the Chinese people at the restaurant speak with an American accent, while Cartman and Butters adopt a stereotypical Chinese disguise and speak like this. Cartman is wearing a paddy hat, while Butters is wearing a fez. They're both squinting and wear large fake front teeth. The real Chinese man tells them they're not Chinese.
  • Surfaces occasionally (along with other Asian stereotypes) in "Fortune Cookie Caper," the Chinese master-villain episode of Mister T.

Notes

  1. Goddamn Mongolians, stop breaking down my city wall!
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