SINGAPORE: In a four-and-a-half-minute video, an Indian salesman fluently switches between Mandarin, Hokkien, and a bit of English, as he demonstrates the use of a mop to fascinated viewers.
At one point, the man told his audience in Hokkien, “Fifty years ago Indians didn’t speak Mandarin. Now Indians can speak Mandarin … It’s time to change mop too. “
The video – uploaded Sunday, February 21 – went viral, with various posts from the clip totaling tens of thousands of views on Tuesday afternoon. Many asked in the comments section where they could purchase the mop, while others noted the seller’s Mandarin fluency.
11 LANGUAGES AND DIALECTS
When TBEN spoke with the seller on Tuesday, the 30-year-old Singaporean did not seem impressed with his newfound fame.
Asking to be known only as Mr. Ng, the man said he was half Chinese and picked up his grandparents’ Mandarin, Hokkien and Teochew as he grew up.
The man said he could speak a total of 11 languages and dialects, including Cantonese, Hokchew, Hokka, Malay, Tamil, Vietnamese, Thai and some English.
The man, who works as a demonstrator with appliance retailer DHomez SG, said he didn’t think the video had made him famous.
“It’s nothing at all – they’re just curious, someone who speaks so many languages,” he said in an interview conducted entirely in Mandarin.
He had just finished a protest in Ang Mo Kio, he said, where many people recognized him. They would pull out their phones and ask for the mop in particular in the video, even though he was selling a different mop that morning, he added.
Mr. Ng said his family and friends were “happy” for him when they saw his video go viral.
“’Wah, you’re finally famous.’ “Wow, you are popular now,” “he said of the messages he received.
LIVING IN CHINA, VIETNAM AND THAILAND
Mr Ng said he moved from Singapore to China to live with his sister and brother-in-law when he was 13.
It was there that he learned Chinese dialects, Ng said, adding that he had worked as a service staff member in China.
Before returning to Singapore four years ago, he also spent two years each in Vietnam and Thailand, and learned their local languages.
Learning new languages was a way for him to communicate with people, Ng said.
“I am very curious about languages … I have friends all over the world and hear some of them speaking Hokkien … I think it’s quite interesting so I’m just learning. When I hear someone else talking about Teochew, I learn.
“And because I work in sales, I thought that the more languages I know the better,” he added.
In Singapore, he uses a mixture of English, Malay, Mandarin, Hokkien, and Teochew to sell his wares.
Mr. Ng’s story is reminiscent of the Cambodian boy, Thuch Salik, who went viral in 2018 for being able to speak 16 languages.
Mr. Ng said, “At first, when I saw him, I laughed. Because it’s like looking at me.
READ: From poverty to accomplishing the impossible: The life of a young Cambodian linguist after viral fame
READ: Despite Salik’s success, concerns remain for the welfare of Cambodian children working in tourism
While he plans to stay in Singapore for the duration of the pandemic, Mr. Ng plans to move to Taiwan for a few years and then to Japan after. Eventually, he wants to return to China where he plans to make sales via live streams.
He said, “There are so many people in China. I speak fluently and accurately so if I can get S $ 2 from half the population that would be enough. I would have made him rich.
But for now, he’s looking to capitalize on his viral fame by selling products on Facebook live.
As for his future aspirations, he will take “one step at a time”. Although he’s not sure what language he plans to learn next, he says it will likely be Japanese.
“Whatever language I want to learn, I will go to this country,” he said.