If you’re an introvert or usually not much of a talker, you’ve probably been asked, ‘Why are you so quiet?’. You’ve also probably wondered how to respond to this question.
You might feel this question is annoying, rude or not polite, feel that you’re being judged for being quiet or silent. Or judged for simply not being in the mood to talk in a world that favours extroverts and sees quietness as weird and not normal.
Some ask the question because they are concerned you are too quiet. Or they want to have a conversation with you to get to know you. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to come up with a response.
You probably have been asked the question, ‘How are you?’ a fair bit in life. On some occasions you may have wondered how to answer it.
It’s a classic, common question you hear when meeting someone for the first time. It’s a question someone uses to introduce themselves to you and start a conversation. It’s a question where your friends ask when you’re catching up.
There are different variations to ‘How are you?’. For instance people also say, ‘How are you doing?’, ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘What’s up?’ and mean the same thing.
When I moved back to Australia about a decade ago, the typical Aussie ‘hellos’ confused me. When someone greeted me in Australian-speak, it always took a moment for me to realise that they were actually saying hi to me.
If you live in Australia or have travelled around Australia, chances are you’ve heard the word ‘mate’ a lot here. For instance, you might’ve heard, ‘G’day, mate’ or ‘How ya doin’, mate?’
Living in Melbourne, I’ve friends from different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different age groups living different lifestyles. Western, Asian, Indian, hippies, hipsters, corporate business types, baby boomer types – so many of them say ‘mate’ all the time.
The idea of ‘mateship’ goes hand-in-hand with the word ‘mate’. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, very broadly ‘mateship’ is ‘an Australian code of conduct that emphasizes egalitarianism and fellowship’. Throughout Australian history and up until today, saying ‘mate’ is a mark of Aussie culture:
Swearing in Chinese culture is always a colourful affair. Some vulgar, curse words in both Chinese language and Cantonese dialect get straight to the point, while others are more subtle and rather hilarious.
When I was growing up, my parents threatened to slap my palm with a ruler if they heard me uttering a profanity in English (my first language), Chinese or Cantonese. Being the quiet kid that I was, I never did. The years went by and today this is no longer true: I’m not anti-swearing and do swear and curse.
Swear words are said for certain reasons in certain situations at certain times. Quite a few of them in Chinese and Cantonese may seem confusing at first but breaking them down word by word, they translate into nothing really complicated and the meaning behind them is simple.
There are times when we find certain names harder to pronounce than others. Maybe ethnic names, cultural names or names with more than a few syllables. Names we have never heard of that make us stop and wonder if we’ll ever get the pronunciation down pat.
I was born Mabel Kwong in Australia to Chinese-Malaysian migrant parents. Or Kwong Li Teng (lee ting/lìtíng, 丽婷), Mabel – that’s how my name is written on official documents in Malaysia and Singapore. While the first-middle-last-name convention is standard in the Western world, surname/cultural names usually come first before first names in Chinese culture – think last-first-name or first-last-middle-name conventions in a culture where family and seniority are esteemed.
Although I go by Mabel in professional and social settings, I’ve encountered numerous people who are convinced that that’s not my real name, lumping me in the same boat with those going by non-Anglo names. Sometimes these instances are annoying. Sometimes there is more to these instances than meets the eye.