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第6课 COMPUTER TROUBLE

2006-07-29 10:03

  Yesterday's point was 'botak'. This is a Malay word. In good English, we should say 'bald'. Nora also asked 'So how?', which isn't good English. She should have said 'So how do I say it?'.

  Gary and Jane are just leaving the office……

  Jane: What a busy day! Well, bye, Gary.

  Gary: Wait. I never off the computers!

  Jane: You are a hard worker, aren't you?

  Gary: Nooo. I say I never off the computers!

  Jane: Come on, Gary You do do other things, like answering the telephones, for example.

  Gary: Hey wait! I never off the computers!

  Jane: What do you expect, Gary. You do work at a dot com company. Anyway, I can't chat all day. Bye, Gary, see you tomorrow.

  Gary: (dejected) Aiyou!

  The next day Mei Ling wants to speak to Gary……

  Mei Ling: Thanks for coming to see me, Gary. So, do you understand, then? If you leave the computers on all night, you'll burn out the monitors.

  Gary: I know. I tried to tell Jane, but she make like don't know.

  Mei Ling: Do you mean she pretended she didn't understand?

  Jane: Yes. She pretended she didn't understand what I was saying.

  Mei Ling: OK, I'll talk to her.

  Later, Jane wants to apologise to Gary……

  Jane: Gary

  Gary: Yes?

  Jane: I'm so sorry. I didn't understand you. If you say you're never off the computers, it means that you spend all your time working on them.

  Gary: Oh, that's OK.

  Jane: So you didn't switch off the computers.

  Gary: Yes.

  Jane: Oh, you did switch off the computers.

  Gary: No.

  Jane: (not understanding) You didn't switch off the computers?

  Gary: (exasperated) Yes. That's what I'm trying to tell you!

  Jane: Oh dear! I'm very confused now!

  Gary: Oh no!

  Narrator: Jane and Gary just couldn't quite manage to communicate again today. When they were leaving work, Gary tried to tell Jane that he hadn't switched off the computers. He made a common Singaporean mistake:

  Replay……

  Gary: Wait. I never off the computers!

  Narrator: A better way to say this is 'I haven't switched off the computers'. You can also say 'turn off' but you shouldn't say 'to off' something. In the same way, it's not good English to say 'to on' something. Better English is 'to switch on' or 'to turn on'. Another communication breakdown happened because Singaporeans reply to negative statements and questions differently from other English speakers. Listen:

  Replay……

  Jane: So you didn't switch off the computers.

  Gary: Yes.

  Jane: Oh, you did switch off the computers.

  Gary: No.

  Jane: (not understanding) You didn't switch off the computers?

  Gary: (exasperated) Yes. That's what I'm trying to tell you!

  Jane: Oh dear! I'm very confused now!

  Gary: Oh no!

  Narrator: In good English, when you agree with a negative question or statement, you should say 'no' instead of 'yes'. For example, 'So, you're not English, then.' 'No, I'm Singaporean'. When Jane said to Gary:

  Replay……

  Jane: So you didn't switch off the computers.

  Narrator: Gary should have said:

  Gary: No, I didn't

  Narrator: Finally today, Gary also used the common phrase 'make like don't know' which, in good English, is 'pretend you don't understand.'

  So, thankfully, our computers suffered no permanent damage and Gary's English has improved a little, too. That's all for today at HotDotCom. Bye for now! Don't forget to phone in tomorrow!

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