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Ang Moh = Red Hair = Whitey, but does it = Rude?

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Postby earthfriendly » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 12:39 pm

pollyminaz wrote:Anyway, I have never heard another word for 'ang moh' until secondary school. So i am just trying to explain the rationale behind people using it.
My mother too, have never heard the word caucasion until recently. And she had trouble pronouncing it as well.

:cool:


People should be more culturally sensitive. Unfortunately, most people around the world live a rather parochial life. There are many whose horizon do not stretch beyond their little villages in Germany, USA, China etc. I would say the forummers here are more worldly. We are a smaller subset of the population and not the norm. My mom, non-English speaker, probably only know 2 terms for caucasian "Angmo" and "Yang Ren". Since she predominantly uses hokken, "angmo" is the word of choice. I am not defending her usage as not being rude by western standard. Like most Singaporeans she hardly interacts with westerners, how she gonna know? In Singaporean (Chinese?) sense, it is truly not meant to offend but a term describing a group of people. You may call it dumping down, pragmatice or unsophiscated, but it is very straighforward way of identifying people by visual and very acceptable within chinese culture. Since this may come across as offensive to others, they should be more careful with their words in cross-cultural communication.

And what about the term "white"? Why would it be less offensive then "Angmo" (red hair). At the end of the day, whose standard do we use? The group that has more clout (economically, culturally more superior, the more squeaky ones?).

Turtle wrote:Singapore, as a whole, advertises it's multiculturalism, "melting pot" history and wishes to gain more foreign talent. Therefore expats have this expectation when coming in to the country, so it seems a bit shocking when we get called these names that we don't quite understand. I think that's the difference, that if Singapore advertises that it is for all, locals should go out of the way not to offend foreigners, and foreigners should likewise go out of their way not to offend locals (i.e. like that disgraceful behaviour on the trishaw some time back).


Singapore touts itself as multicultural society as in "Chinese", "Malay" and "Indians". It still lacks western sensitivities but as this group expands, their presence will be felt and people will start to learn about their way of life.

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Postby earthfriendly » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 1:04 pm

pollyminaz wrote:Sigh, i can't be bothered wasting my time debating here if you all decides to attack my debating style.


I find your posts to be rational and not unrespectful. I hope you would continue to post. It is always nice to hear different POV, including the Singaporean side.

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Postby earthfriendly » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 3:07 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:My wife grew up on a British Military camp here in Singapore and lived there her entire life. Her views on the British of the day were/are quite a bit different I must say. I guess it might have had a lot to do with how much actual interaction the locals had with the foreigners and how much was perceived.


The "British reserve" and class ridden society set it apart from many other western cultures. Britain reminds me of Japan. Geographically they are both disconnected from the continents and hence allowed to develop a distinct culture of its own. Japan is very unAsian in many respects. I can understand and respect their wish to be dissociated with rest of asia !

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Postby ksl » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 3:20 pm

Good posting EF, I must agree with you, because that's the way i see it!

The term laowai which means old foreigner, is an informal word that appears often in spoken and written Chinese, and is none offensive, until it is used in a pejorative way, and implies contempt or disapproval! Used in mainland China more than Taiwan I believe.

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Postby Way_Fast_Whitey » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 9:56 pm

It's rude and racist period and I for one give it right back so the ones using the term can have a taste of their own traditional Chinese medicine! If a Chinese here calls me an "ang mo" or uses it in his conversation I call him a Chinamen and use it to refer to other Chinese in mine.

I lived in Taiwan where they don't call Caucasians "ang mo"; they call us "big nose" so, I would just call them "rice dick" ! :lol:

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Postby earthfriendly » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 12:57 am

Wind In My Hair wrote:Would it be fair to ask you to adjust because this is Singapore? Anyway, I hear you and understand where you are coming from. I only wonder how long this understanding will remain one-sided.


I agree and understand where you are coming from. However, one may also try putting themselves in the other person’s shoe. PC has overtaken the western world, especially USA. Neutral and diplomatic terrms are helpful in minimizing conflicts especially when dealing with the unknown e.g. foreign cultures. Singaporeans would probably have a better interaction with westerners if they practiced that but unfortunately, most lack exposure in this area. So for a westerner landing on SG soil, don’t expect them to suddenly changed their ways of thinking. Some things are hard wired into our minds due to constant exposure from early childhood. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks, not easily.

Not to mention the Chinese (and other Asian) immigrants who live in the USA. Many of them do not have an understanding nor adopted the well-manners of the new land. They still insist on their old (and sometimes undesirable) bahaviours. Why?

There's no need to since they live an insular life! They do their grocery shopping in the Chinese markets. Rent their movies from the Chinese stores. And if they are hungry and need to eat out, just go to the Chinese restaurants. What happens when they need to take summer vacation? They visit their homeland in China or Taiwan :P . But one can't really fault them since the English language is a major hurdle for most. It is very difficult for Chinese speakers to pick up the English language and vice versa.


Sometimes we are more similar to the people we disagree with then we think, methink ! :P




EADG wrote:hmmm...this was one of my inital impressions of Singapore when I first arrived from Japan

there, where people are perhaps apologetic to a fault, here I've witnessed countless examples of difficulty or outright refusal to admit, accept or even share fault, even when it's obvious to both sides



That’s not a very fair comparison since the Japanese are the most polite people in the world. Nobody can beat them at this game. Fundamentally, their culture is centered around “acting nice and polite”

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 4:35 am

"Acting nice and polite" is certainly the right way to put it as if you really know the Japanese you'll realise that many of them are down right among the most racist people around.

My sister lived and worked in Japan for a while and she realised that the polite exterior was what it was - polite exterior. It's not easy to integrate no matter how well you speak Japanese or try hard to be like them - because you are not Japanese. And their attitudes towards women in general suck. That coming from all the Japanese girls (all very well educated including career diplomats etc) I know when I was doing my postgrad in Paris. So personally I wouldn't be over enchanted with other people's pretty shells.

In Singapore we are often torn between wanting to be polite and wanting to tell the truth. And I believe that most people here are sincere when they tell you something - because there is no overpowering need to be polite. I usually do not say anything if I have nothing nice to say, but I wouldn't be flowing to the brim with my compliments either. We are all scared of being complacent and making others so, I suspect :P
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Postby earthfriendly » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 4:56 am

Way_Fast_Whitey wrote:I lived in Taiwan where they don't call Caucasians "ang mo"; they call us "big nose" so, I would just call them "rice dick" ! :lol:


Many Chinese enjoy eating rice though! Ooops, sorry for being crude, unlady-like and derailing your post :oops: .

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 5:14 am

Wind In My Hair wrote:
banana wrote:In general (meaning not referring to you SMS) today's expats are much nicer. Less of a superiority complex and more open to experiencing a different culture. More willing to mix with locals and seek to understand rather than expecting to lord it over us. And therefore the expat-local conversation is only just starting, because only with mutual respect can there be any hope of listening to each other and meeting halfway.


WIMH, this is true of expats probably everywhere nowadays. First, there are more channels for dialogue and discussion than in the past. Secondly, most expats are no longer sent to very underdeveloped places like before where even if you used to be a farmer back where you came from you would feel like a lord where you now live. Thirdly, expat priviledges are often no longer like what they used to be, so if they don't loosen up being an expat wouldn't be fun any more. Fourthly, the newer generations of expats also tend to be better educated (in societies where good education has become widely available to all of their co-citizens) and may even have grown up in rather mixed societies (thanks to migrants from former colonies etc) themselves, making them less isolationist right from the start. Fifthly, look around us, China, India, Russia etc are rising and rising. Even the Saudis are no longer just paying for foreign help, they are now using their petrol dollars aiming for sustainable development. Nobody should walk around feeling superior to others because tomorrow you may be badly outnumbered and drowning.

In the same vein, Singaporeans have in the last decade become expats themselves elsewhere in the world. Its people are well educated and many widely-travelled. Do you think they'll sit around and let you lord over them even if you want to try? So smart people (as most expats by definition are and we can assume that locals nowadays are too) try to meet half way and make the best of the situation. No point cutting off your nose to spite your face just because you are paid to live in a condo while the rest of the people around you live in a HDB flat. Because if you've visited some of those HDB flats, they're really not too bad.

I've been an expat myself in different countries in the West. With my Asian face I have had locals and other expats trying to talk down to me. When you say you come from Singapore, many either don't even know where it is and when they do, believe it or not, you often get attacked for all the rubbish they've been getting about us on their foreign press! (either they were sincere or they were just trying to show off) I try never to react badly because I like to think that I understand why. Besides, I know my own worth and know how to defend it. Glad to say that in general, things usually work out well, I have good local friends and a pretty strong standing in the expat communities where I belong. And all that is a combination of factors : give and take and a willingness to receive and learn on all sides.

Having said that, it is good that (even :P ) in Singapore the expats have a forum where they can express themselves and vent or whinge if they want to. I find it interesting watching the exchanges and hope sincerely that at the end of the day that would be a part of their (positive :lol: ) experience living in Singapore.
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Postby earthfriendly » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 5:26 am

Petales Soufflez! wrote: And their attitudes towards women in general suck. That coming from all the Japanese girls (all very well educated including career diplomats etc) I know when I was doing my postgrad in Paris. So personally I wouldn't be over enchanted with other people's pretty shells.



I don't know if it is a generational thing or it is the norm there? However, I have met many Japanese men and dated few, both in SG and USA. They have all been very respectful, not just to me but to other women too, and rather gentlemanly in their behaviours. And it is inline with what I read about their world today. Maybe the Japanese ladies tend to be more critical of their men??? But being a wife to a Japanese men definitely entails hardwork and hardship. They expect a lot from their wives.

I agree that Singaporeans are rather sincere as sugar-coating and PC have not taken its grip, yet !

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Postby EADG » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 10:11 am

You can choose not to be. I can tell you from extensive experience that the genralizations you made here exist but are not what I experienced while there. If you actually know when to not confuse being cordial with being polite, there certainly is a lot of depth behind most of those 'pretty shells'.

Petales Soufflez! wrote:My sister lived and worked in Japan for a while and she realised that the polite exterior was what it was - polite exterior. So personally I wouldn't be over enchanted with other people's pretty shells.
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Postby earthfriendly » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 10:44 am

Actually, many asians (notably the Koreans) do find the Japanese rather hypocritical wearing a facet. They are thought of as kissing up and being submissive to the westerners whereas very unkind to other Asians. In short, extreme rascits.

I do understand the undercurrent feeelings most have towards their asian counterparts. However, it is highly possilbe to have deep and meaningful friendships with them. And I won't completely attribute it to rascism either. It is a progressive culture, not afraid to admit its shortcomings (unless it is war time crimes :P ), eager and hungry to learn from the best. And in this case, western technology and biz management (though not that feasible with the Japanese structure) had helped Japan recover, (in part due to the disciplined and coherent nature of Japanese workforce) and from its WWII damage. You can't really fault them for looking towards the west for inspiration. Right?

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Postby Plavt » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 1:15 pm

Petales Soufflez! wrote:"Acting nice and polite" is certainly the right way to put it as if you really know the Japanese you'll realise that many of them are down right among the most racist people around.


I have to agree, having met many here in London I have found not a few who are amongst the rudest let alone racists people in the world while appearing to be 'oh so polite'. My sentiments are echoed by at least one Japanese female who works in a local store serving mainly Japanese people!

Those in doubt should consider and I hasten to add I do not know if my information is current; sizeable number of Korean descendants live in Japan (mainly offspring of forced labour in World War II). When they reach a certain age they are finger-printed and registered as aliens.

:(

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Postby hiking out » Wed, 18 Jun 2008 7:16 pm

same reason why the Japanese government built a "Peace" Memorial in Hiroshima and refused to build a proper one in Nagasaki, sites of the atomic bombs in WW2. Nagasaki had a significant number of Koreans, many in forced labour camp/factories. Selective ammensia.
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Postby durain » Wed, 18 Jun 2008 8:03 pm

hiking out wrote:same reason why the Japanese government built a "Peace" Memorial in Hiroshima and refused to build a proper one in Nagasaki, sites of the atomic bombs in WW2. Nagasaki had a significant number of Koreans, many in forced labour camp/factories. Selective ammensia.


why the ang moh go bomb the korean? maybe they cant tell the difference? :P


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