Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"Long Time No See" = "Chinglish" or not?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "long time no see" is an expression which originates from (American) Native speakers making fun of Non-native speakers of unspecified L1 background. The first recorded usage the OED has is a reference to Native American (not Chinese) speech.

While its similarity to 好久不見 (hao jiu bu jian)is notable, I haven't seen any proof that this is actually a "loan translation," and I'm not sure you could ever "prove" such a thing.

c. Colloq. phr. (orig. U.S.) long time no see, a joc. imitation of broken English, used as a greeting after prolonged separation.

1900 W. F. DRANNAN 31 Yrs. on Plains (1901) xxxvii. 515 When we rode up to him [sc. an American Indian] he said: ‘Good mornin. Long time no see you.’1939 R. CHANDLER in Sat. Even. Post 14 Oct. 72/4 Hi, Tony. Long time no see. 1940 [see HIYA int.]. 1959 D. BEATY Cone of Silence viii. 105 ‘Hello, Clive.’ ‘Long time no see.’ 1959 C. MACINNES Absolute Beginners 68 Hail, squire... Long time no see. 1971 D. E. WESTLAKE I gave at the Office (1972) 164 ‘Hello, Arnold,’ I said... ‘Long time no see.’