Banana People!

Banana People!

I’m a banana.

No, not the fruit. It’s a term used on a Chinese who doesn’t have good command in Chinese language.

I’m not sure about others, but in Malaysia, people tend to label a Chinese who is weak at their mother language as “banana”. Why?

Firstly, it’s because the fruit is yellow outside but white inside. So this applies to Chinese bananas too – they have Chinese skin, but they are White inside. Get it?

banana chinese

Can you spot the banana in the picture?

It’s not a bad thing actually. In fact, many Chinese these days aren’t that “traditional” anymore. Quite a number are English-educated, therefore they possess good English, but weak Chinese.

A few years back in high school, I was a total banana. I can’t even construct a proper sentence in Chinese. I was called a “banana” sometimes. Maybe I looked like this to them…

banana man


Anyway, things went better when I started learning. So currently, although I can speak some Cantonese and Mandarin, I’m still a banana because I can’t read and write in Chinese.

However I still find it hard to understand some Mandarin at times. Take this scenario for example… Let’s say I’m in Taiwan, traveling. And then this girl suddenly came and started talking to me in Mandarin.

banana cyndi wang

I can only hear this – Chi chi ge ge cho cho chi leeerr!

banana cyndi wang

Since the chances of me understanding is low, I guess I’d be staring at her with amazement. I was speechless, and she says something again.

banana cyndi wang

Then again – Chi chi ge ge cho cho chi deeerr?

banana cyndi wang

P/S: If you are non-Chinese or a Chinese banana like me, get some non-bananas to interpret the conversation for you.

So that’s what I usually encounter when I’m in a total non-banana environment. If people use super-damn-hard Chinese words to me, I’ll be super-damn-blur!

Sad case huh? I bet most of the bananas in Malaysia experience this all the time.

Or… to prevent such thing from happening – maybe I should come up with a t-shirt!

banana shirt

And wear it wherever I go! Then everyone who sees me will automatically speak English with me, or avoid me if they’re 0% banana. Or… can it be fan shirt, since some of the “fans” in‘s Facebook Fan Page requested for it? =P

Anyway, here’s the point – none of us bananas wanted to be born as a banana. It’s probably just the environment we grew up with. So do cut some slacks on us, still can use English what… right? =)

Oh yeah, not forgetting our very special guest for the entry – Cyndi Wang!

cyndi wang

She’s a total mango (outside yellow, inside yellow) and she definitely made me feel more banana. Hmm…

banana man

167 thoughts on “Banana People!

    1. Hey can I link u to my blog? Your banana post is relevant to my topic ^^. Hope u dont mind that I put one of ur pic on my blog and link ur name next to it. :)

      I’m finally learning Mandarin now! i dont want to be a banana no more.. :(

  1. I’m fortunate enough, I know how to read and write in Mandarin as I am chinese-educated. That is why I am practicing and trying to enhance, polish up my English.

  2. In fact, my whole family, and yes including mum, dad, bro, cousin, yi ma, gu je and the likes… alll banana lorr..

    Only me. Haha. i have 6 years of primary sch Chinese Ed. Proud aye? LOL.

  3. haha..
    i have a lot of banana friends too..
    and they always make fun of him.
    but i think being a banana is kinda cool.
    i dont know why.

    n btw that mango sure looks tasty, lol.


  4. “P/S: If you are non-Chinese or a Chinese banana like me, get some bananas to interpret the conversation for you.”

    You mean get some non-bananas right?

    Eh, if I’m Chindian but don’t know Chinese then what am I?

    Thank you for the spotting mistake! A Chindian that doesn’t know Chinese? Hmm… I’ll tell when I get it!. =P

  5. chi chi cho cho… LOL!
    that’s what all my banana friends will say when try to imitate us speak mandarin! ahaha~~

    cyndy is total mango? outside yellow inside yellow?!! what’s this supposed to mean?! LOL!

    if u dunno how to write chinese, at least learn to understand mandarin lar. it’s seriously important at this centuries dohh. see the country China is *evolving* d

  6. Lmao oh you always crack me up! xD
    i’m not chinese, but i’m taking mandarin classes and can speak some, so what does that make me? an apple?? ahahahaha
    actually if you wear that tee over here, ppl would think you’re some kind of pervert hahah

  7. Nevermind ken, can learn. I’m not chinese-educated too. I learn myself and i can now listen, speak fluent mandarin, read and write.

    Even if you can’t, doesn’t matter. We speak English globally what…. Right?

  8. Who’s Cyndi Wang?…I’m a banana too in the sense that I did not study MANDARIN but these days, so many people speaking are MANDARIN and in the end, I can communicate a bit in the language also. By the way, Chinese does not = Mandarin. I speak Hokkien – a Chinese dialect, so I CAN speak Chinese…but only a bit of MANDARIN language!

    I read somewhere that the Chinese culture will die out as everyone is speaking Mandarin (which is just a language) and in the end, nobody can speak the many dialects…and Chinese culture = the dialects. All the traditions and customs belong to the dialects eg Hainan Chicken Rice, Foochow mee sua, the tea ceremony at weddings, the traditional rites and practices at funerals… Likewise, in English-educated/speaking families, if they do not bother to practise, the culture dies out also. Those would be the 100% bananas.

  9. aiya… be a banana is better than pure ah beng or ah lian who can’t speak A B C correctly actually..
    as long as you can speak SOME mandarin/Cantonese then ok already loh…
    muahahaha… i am not banana… XD

  10. some of my friends are also banana, what they do is learn a word/phrase a day.. HAHA…
    Chinese is very easy only… just around a million words then can mix-match with another million of words and brings out another million of meaning only..

  11. chinese is actually awesome..
    not to insult you but just feel that it’s a waste if u dunno much about chinese..
    jia you~

    oya, did you pay cyndi for the appearance in your bloggie?

  12. My indian friends who cant speak Tamil but great english we call coconut, dark choc outside, white inside. Malays that cant speak Malay but great english we call Langsat, since the white colour of the inside of the fruit. But my indian friend call some of his indian friend Roti Sambal. Like the 80 cent Sambal Bun. Because cant speak Tamil but great at Malay. hahaha

    I’m a Malay. And I do have a chinese look on my face. And it troubles me when all the aunties and uncles in shops (but not amois hehehe) speak chinese to me….

  13. I speak and read Chinese. I even publish a few Chinese posts in my blog. But I am still a banana.

    I don’t care how people think of me. Aren’t we Malaysians and World Citizens too? Why do all these chauvinists only stress our identity as Chinese?

    As for myself, other than being a Chinese Malaysian and World Citizen, I am a Buddhist too. That’s another reason to speak English…

  14. I think most of the Chinese banana knows how to speak mandarin and dialects but with difficulties in reading Chinese….

    Well.. i learn most of my Chinese words when I was attending Japanese classes.. lolx

  15. Haha… That’ hilarious!
    I’m a banana too, but now picking up some chinese characters.
    China is a huge piece of ‘fei chu yuk’. Don’t want to miss it.
    Hope u understand what I’m talking about.


  16. uish..i never heard that people tend to label a Chinese who is weak at their mother language as “banana”….but anw, u’re so funny…hehe

  17. LOL~ never thought of “pure Chinese” are called “Mango” ! Thats new… haha~

    Try learn basic vocab from your friends, learn some simple questions… Thats how my banana friend learn to talk, and thats how I learn Japanese too !

    One more thing though: practice. =D

    Nice post anyway.

  18. I love reading this post.. cos i m sort of banana too! oopps..
    your banana head coming out from your white shirt is cool, man.. want to learn from u.. cute…

  19. ken ah ken..better learn chinese to kau lui la..hehe…a proverb for you
    if you are born banana it is not your fault, but if you die as a banana it’s your fault XD. keke..

  20. My wife is mango, I am … rice?! My daughter came home from pre-school recently singing the nya-nya (teasing) tune with the words “bai se banana, bai se banana”. She seemed as happy as a lark, but I … don’t really like it. Nice post though! Reminds me of ‘pulling’ in a nightclub in Berlin once, a very long time ago … I don’t know what she said either, she only tried twice too, before she looked confused and walked away. I wish I was better at languages…

  21. Great post, made me laugh out
    my bf is a banana too, but he speak well in cantonese (just not mandarin), and he can’t even write his own chinese name!

    Do you know that indian who only speak english not tamil, we call them coconut??XD

  22. if someone who looks like cyndi wang actually walks up to you to talk to you in chinese, and then you just stammer and fumble your way around… wouldn’t that be a waste…..

  23. i CAN write and speak chinese, and i got A2 for chinese (spm)…but my friends still find my chinese a tad off key wo =.= hence they call me papaya (banana for guys ma…)

  24. I’m a rojak I guess xD
    Manderin cantonese hokkien english malay and some indo, but not really good in anyone of them xD as some in talking and some in writting.

  25. muahaha…den i am a better mango than u i least i can speak good canto…very bad mandarin..muahah…
    i can even sell my pads to some mandarin speaking fella….i duno wtf she was toking

  26. Ahaha, im slowly de-banana-ise myself dy… at least i understand mandarin by now.. mix with chinese speaking friends more often and u can see the results in you soon.. hah

  27. hahaha you mean that … if want to date beatiful girl… must know how to speak chinese lo hahahah

    i think nowaday… alot of people study learn chinese language.

  28. I think i should delete my previous comment and reply in chinese! hahahahaha. =D.

    加油!香蕉万岁?!我要吃香蕉。. bet u cant understand what i typed also. LOL

  29. Sometimes I pretend to be a banana, just to fit in a bunch of bananas and not look too awkward as a mango in a bunch of bananas. Man, bananas come in bunches and they’re really putting a pressure on us mangoes to be not so mango-ey

  30. I’m kind of a banana too, so I can definitely sympathise with how you feel! I left China at a very young age and grew up in Canada, so other than my parents, no one ever speaks Chinese to me.

    But I have been improving a lot in the last few years, mostly because I started watching Asian dramas and wanted to reconnect with my roots. Now I have no problems speaking in Chinese (at least conversationally, although people say I speak slower than they’re used to), and I can read more Chinese too, just from learning the lyrics of Chinese songs. I think this sort of learning, absorbing a language through doing things I enjoy, is a lot easier than sitting down and memorizing characters, which is what my parents used to try to get me to do. You should try it too! I imagine you have far more opportunities to use Chinese in Malaysia than I do in Canada – although I’m actually moving to Singapore next year for work, so I’ll finally be back in Asia after a lifetime of being in Canada.

  31. Heehheheh.. I will call my hubby a banana man also lah.. Chinese but dun knw how to read Chinese.. but at least he speak mandarin but not that fluent.. LOL..

  32. YESYESYES MAKE TSHIRT but please not banana design la…it’s for bananas but not for!!!!! Anyway I was a banana too and life in inti for the first few weeks were quite horrifying because everyone speaks mandarin!!!

    well you don’t look banana-ish either to me ahaha =)

    love this post, esp the W de F!

  33. fellow banana… dun worry.. am one too.. ;p

    wow… u must be damn lucky if cyndi wang approach u and said those words 2 u… haha…

    i can only understand a little from the 1st bubble though.. the last line was saying tht she fell in love with u.. ahaha.. but dunno for what reason..

  34. hehe..same goes to other people. Like javanese where now the new generation mostly cant even speak javanese at all..

    we should treasure our herritage..

  35. Kenwooi.. let’s start a Banana club! I can be one of ur exco :P
    We have no choice to start as a banana in the environment we grew up.. but we do have a choice to be less banana for sure :)
    And I think u’ve done well in that… Oh well, of cos myself too being in S’pore for some time… wahaha. ^^

  36. Hi Banana goh goh gimme a five. Managed to learn to speak Mandarin but not good in read and write. What a coincidence currently starting a blog all about Bananaz Blues. Like your post quite hilarious. Care to drop by for a peel. Thanks ക

  37. well,well,

    i am a banana too,
    but then my English is not that good too.Maybe I hate to read story books when I was young…

    it’s hard to communicate when you move to fully chinese speaking community.Well, i study in Johor, If I don’t poccess a little bit of Mandarin Skills, I think I will die without food, because when you go eat in chinese restaurant….every words are Mandarin….

    Not only you heard of chi chi cha cha at first

    well, now I improved…in mandarin..i can speak and understand 70% for most of the conversation..but my English is still that bad….



  38. I am a banana now but learning more chinese words. I’m proud to say that I can read all the words in the conversation above! OMG! But I’m still a far cry from being a mango :P

  39. hi i feel tt its not wrong to be a banana. its how our surroundings are. we are afterall malaysians – and influenced by many cultures :) (just like the abc from usa)

  40. I guess only you are so faithful to your readers, you always visit your readers and have great relationship built.
    You care of two way communications…..that really not banana to me!
    Thanks yeah Kenwooi, I salute you.

  41. some years ago i dun speak a word of mandarin nor english. just hokkien. hahaha! can speak english la.. but if u speak the chim chim i hear the hin hin lo…same goes to mandarin.

    now i can speak quite fluent mandarin. but i only dun understand mandarin news on tv and radio. and some event where theres an mc speaking mandarin. sibeh chim man hahah!

  42. Haha, good post. (: I think i’m a banana too. One of my first times stumbling upon here, it’s very interesting. I like your writing style. Will be back to tune in for updates. (: Have a good one.

  43. Hahaha… your blog post just never failed to amazed me and made me laughed!!!

    Speaking of being called a ‘banana’… well… I was from Chinese school(Primary & Secondary), so that means 12 solid years of being in Chinese speaking environment!

    But… my chinese language is the worst! (*embarrassing*). My friends always tell me my chinese sounded ‘mat salleh’. Anyways… it’s just good to know many language… higher possibilities of making new friends!

  44. yes that’s true.. I’ve been called a banana ever since I come to KL. back at my hometown, a chinese who were not able to speak or write mandarin wasn’t such a big deal. I feel discriminated!

  45. HI kenwooi! visiting from joegrimjoe site.. :) yes u r funny! I have a lot of chinese friends who is ‘banana’ and i am so greatful that they r bananas! ahahahah so i can talk to them more!

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