Posted on | May 18, 2007 | 2 Comments
This morning, I needed to call the doctor’s office to reschedule my daughter’s appointment for next week. From the other side of the line came a female voice:
“The doctor’s office…”
Both receptionists speak Cantonese. I usually speak to them in English when booking appointments. But today for some reason, I felt like speaking Cantonese.
“唔該…” (May I…)
“Excuse me, would you speak in English, please?”
Oops, it was the nurse who picked up the phone. I was so embarrassed!
In Toronto, it is of course a normal practice to engage in a phone conversation in English first. You never know what other languages the other person can speak. But if I know the person whom I am calling speaks the language I speak, and I know the person well, it does sound odd if I would kick off the conversation in English.
But then there were many occasions in the past in which I dialed a wrong number and asked for a particular person in Cantonese. Then I was shocked that the other side replied in Cantonese, “冇呢個人, 你搭錯線” (There is no such person. You’ve got the wrong number)!