Thursday, May 06, 2010

Long Time No See: Etymology

I'm now apparently obsessed with the etymology of "long time no see." I have a hunch that it is based on making fun of non-native English rather than a direct translation from Chinese, but I don't know how one might "prove" this. I'll let you know what I come up with. The earliest instance I can find it in written form is in Glenanaar: A Story of Irish Life from around 1895-1905 or so. That would certainly allow for contact with Chinese Pidgin English to make its way to England. But how trustworthy is early documentation of CPE? Then again, am I being unfair when I think it can't be "accurate" because it was so blatantly racist?