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Pidgin: How to communicate with the servants
”Pidgin-English” is a curious jargon commonly used as a means of communication between the foreigner who has no knowledge of the Chinese language and the Chinese shopkeeper and servant with a limited knowledge of English.

Actually, the lingo is made up of both Indian, Chinese and a few English words (often mispronounced) expressed more or less in accordance with Chinese idiom. In spite of its limitations, it works surprisingly well. It is not as easy as it seems, however, and any Chinese can soon tell if you are a newcomer. Nevertheless, we advice you to master at least the most common words and phrases listed below. It must be stressed, however, that you have to take caution. Do not try your pidgin English On every Chinese. If a Chinese can speak good English his dignity is highly offended if he is spoken to in pidgin. Try English first and if necessary break into your pidgin:

 

 

Maskee: Never mind

Talkee he: Tell him

No wantchee: I don’t want that

Can do: That will do

No can do: That wil not do

My no savvy: I don’t understand

Pay my: Give it to me

Pay my look see: Let me look at it

Topside: Upstairs

Bottomside: Downstairs

Bym-bye makee pay: I’ll pay later

Pay chow: Serve food

Catchee one piece rickshaw: Get a rickshaw

My wantchee: I want

My no wantchee: I don’t want

Cumshaw: A tip

Catchee chop chop: Fetch quickly

No b’long plopper: This is not right

No squeeze: No overcharging

Walkee-walkee fish: Live fish

Joss House: Temple

Pay Master chit: Give Master the letter

B’long Shanghai side: To live in Shanghai

Chop chop: Quickly

B’long my pidgin: That’s my business

Catchee baby: To have a baby

Learn piecee: Apprentice

Savvy box: Brain

How-fashion?: What for?

Amah: Chinese nurse or maid

Solly: Sorry

My catchee chow: I’m going to eat

Chit: A note or letter

What thing?: What is that?

This side: Here

Talkee my: Let me know

This b’long my: This is mine

What fashion no can?: Why not?

Talkee come morning time: Tell him to come in the morning

This b’long number one: This is very good

Three piece man come diner: There will be three guests for dinner

S’pose no can do catchee coolie: If you can’t do it get the coolie

Missy have got?: Is Mrs. - at home?

What side my room?: Where is my room?

This price b’long true?: Is this price genuine?

S’pose catchee two piece can more cheap?: Will it be cheaper to take two?

My wantchee walkee: I want to go for a walk

Pay two piece: Give me two

Can puttee book?: Is the bargain settled?

This article has kindly been put at Shanghai Modern’s disposal by The Standard Guide Book All About Shanghai and Environments.

 

Imagine being unable to communicate with the barber. What a peculiar hairstyle you would get!