I couldn’t believe it when I was recently asked (by someone who holds a senior position in an investment bank in the US) where I had learnt English from. This was after he had asked me where I was originally from – Malaysia. Then, he confidently proceeded to say, “And where did you learn to speak English?” to which I replied, Malaysia. I had to explain that English was (and still is) a compulsory language taught in all schools in Malaysia, alongside the national language – Malay.
So, why is it so difficult for people to understand or accept that Malaysians do speak English, and for quite a few of us, that it is also our first language?
I had my answer when my family sent me the following images. They knew that the errors would drive me nuts, and that I would find them ridiculous, yet funny. However, the pictures also made me understand why the world still sees a lot of Asia as being non-English-speaking.
To be fair, all countries (English speaking or not) have their fair share of typos. In fact, there’s a campaign by Londonist to find the best London typos around. The difference though, is that where the message is representing something, whether a company, an organisation, or even a nation, it’s not the idea of the bad language that drives me mad, it is actually knowing that no one had bothered to get it checked in the first place.