Chinglish with a Touch of Blarney

Cara Dillon is a wonderful young folksinger from Ireland who has just discovered she is hugely popular in China. She and her partner Sam Lakeman (brother of the more famous Seth) went there last year, not knowing if they would be playing small venues or stadiums. They were surprised to find huge audiences, all under 25 years of age, who could sing every song word perfect. It seems that for the past 12 years, ie since China began teaching English in schools, they have been using Cara’s songs as teaching aids, so everyone knows them, even singing them in a faint Northern Irish brogue. Which is rather astounding.Cara found herself mobbed wherever she went, and even going to the ladies room became a major problem, especially as she is blonde, so had to dash there buried in a hoodie.

But then it gets even stranger. Sam thought it would be a good idea to have some business cards printed out with their names on it, and put the names of all the band members through Google translator. Cara’s name just refused to translate, and eventually he found out why – her name in Chinese (not sure which version) means Dragon Galactica, which explains why people were chanting Dragon at Cara wherever she went. So it seems she is seen as some sort of super hero as well as a source of language skills.

So perhaps if you want to connect with a young Chinese person you should launch into one of Cara’s most popular songs. Or if your singing is as tuneless as mine, perhaps not.

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