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What Does It Mean “Banana” For Malaysian Chinese

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by Miss Lim Mandarin (MAMA)

Last updated:


Saturday, 8 October 2022

Interesting Facts

What Does It Mean “Banana” For Malaysian Chinese? Hardships That They May Go Through.

It is safe to presume that the majority of Chinese people in Malaysia can speak Mandarin or at least one dialect, such as Cantonese, Hokkien, or another. However, a small portion of this group actually lacks the ability to speak any Chinese at all.

They have a yellow exterior (Chinese) and a white interior (European). Those who look like a Chinese but only speak English are frequently called "bananas." Although it has occasionally been used in a derogatory manner, the phrase is often used in jest. Due to their illiteracy, bananas often have pretty unusual life experiences—some good, some bad.

These are just a few of the difficulties they can encounter in Malaysia. Can you relate if you think of yourself as a banana?

1. Awkward When Talking to Other Mandarin-speaking Chinese

This is a situation that bananas frequently encounter. Many Chinese speakers mistakenly believe that bananas are similarly fluent, so they attempt to communicate in Chinese only to have their words entirely misunderstood.

The typical reaction of the banana is frequently a trembling laugh and an admission that they are a banana. They might feel uncomfortable to tell other Chinese that they don’t understand Mandarin and ask them to shift to another language. This situation is really awkward.

2. Being Looked Down

People may be harsh, especially those who are narrow-minded. For many bananas, receiving negative remarks is a typical occurrence. Normally, some uncles and aunties would say, “Har? You don’t know how to speak Chinese but you’re a Chinese. Aiyo”

Possibly because of cultural pride, but some people do consider bananas to be "fake" Chinese foods. A kind of purity test involves linguistic proficiency: "If you can't speak it, you're not it."

Sadly, even if bananas fully accepted every other aspect of Chinese culture, bananas probably won't acquire their respect.

The worst thing is when bananas really try to speak it and are publicly made fun of for their terrible grammar and mispronunciations. Sigh.

3. Not Able to Mix Well In Chinese Community

During study, if bananas don’t speak Mandarin well, chances are they seldom join the Chinese community. As the Chinese friends 90% use Mandarin to communicate among themselves, it would be not so comfortable to shift to English to accommodate with bananas. Therefore, you would find that bananas always stay with friends of other races or other bananas.

This habit will bring along even when bananas graduated and start working. Some bananas give up on trying to communicate with people who speak Chinese altogether after one too many aborted efforts. As a result, they can wind up making it a practise to avoid speaking to Chinese strangers because they are afraid of having the same uncomfortable encounter again.

It can be extremely crippling to avoid places like hawker centers, medical buildings, or convenience stores. The same can be said at family reunions, especially if some members only talk in Mandarin or a dialect.

There isn't much actual discussion to be had during most interactions, just fake smiles and head nods.

4. Fewer Job Choices

Recent discussions have focused on the morality of hiring practises that exclude candidates who do not speak Chinese.

Whatever one's opinion, it is undeniable that linguistic barriers can cause doors to remain closed. Illiteracy is frequently a disadvantage because some firms prefer to hire people who speak multiple languages.

Chances are bananas themselves would avoid the working environment which most people speak Mandarin.

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Miss Lim has coached over 5000+ students in learning Malaysian Mandarin. She is a certified HRDCorp trainer and able to speak 5 languages which are Mandarin, Hokkien, Bahasa Malaysia, English, and Cantonese.
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