Why Does Poor People Be Poor? (Engrish as a Second Language)

November 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Books, Culture | Leave a comment


Some time ago, one of my posts tangentially touched on this pressing question: “Why Does Poor People Be Poor?”

Indeed.  Now, in a semi-regular series of posts, I plan to explore the conundrum.  (Actually, I just plan to present other similarly stupid sentences.)

Here’s the deal: I have in front of me two books that I purchased some years ago in China. (During the same trip where I wrote this weird article, which people still write to me about.)  Both books seek to explain American culture to Chinese people.  Both are, for some reason, written in a combination of Chinese and English.  Both are, how should I put it…insane?  My plan is to offer short excerpts from these books, so that we too can learn about American culture from a Chinese perspective.  For today, I will just provide a short description of them.

BOOK ONE: This one’s cover shows a strikingly multicultural group of people huddling together in a street.  Its title is More Than Just Pants.  As far as I can tell, at first glance, its premise is that whereas YOU probably thought that the United States was only about pants (???), it’s actually about far more.  Like, for example, multicultural groups of people huddling together in the street.

On the back there are some other book titles that are apparently in the same series.  Among them are “Why Phones are Replacing Cars,” “Gimme a Decafe Vanilla Latte – and a CD to Go,” and the always popular “God, Himself, Got Married!”

BOOK TWO: This book’s cover shows a man in a white undershirt sitting on a couch.  He is holding a bottle of beer and a piece of pizza.  On a string around his neck is a bottle opener.  He has an absolutely crazy look on his face that seems to suggest that after he finishes eating his pizza and drinking his beer he will probably needlessly invade and occupy several small countries near you.  This book is called Aspects of Contemporary American Life.

COMING SOON: Quotes and discussions from these masterpieces of intercultural understanding.

Image by Flickr user Wm Jas used under a Creative Commons License.

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