Thursday 7 March 2013

Vocabulary: Body Check? Hong Kong English No More?

Image from HSBC HK
This morning I saw this email from HSBC and I could not actually believe my eyes. Maybe I am too rigid, or too slow in the forever changing English language usage, I just could not foresee that "The World's Local Bank" will one day use Hong Kong English in its credit card promotional page.

The term in our discussion is, of course, "body check", a term very widely used by local Hongkongers which actually means general medical examination or health checkup. Do a quick search in Google and one will easily find tonnes of results from Hong Kong websites, forums and health companies.

Image from Google
If one is persistent enough, you might be lucky to run into the proper use of the term "body check", which is  actually a defensive technique in ice hockey, as seen in the video below.

Anyway, from my experience, the term "body check" is just too tough a word for most Hong Kong English learners to correct. Likewise, maybe HSBC thinks it is easier to get their message across using Hong Kong English and decided to use "body check" instead of "health checkup".

I'm not saying that Hong Kong English is bad, some expressions have made their ways to become widely accepted as proper English too, but when it comes to using them, especially by international corporations like the HSBC, I cannot be confident enough to tell you that "body check" is now accepted as a synonym of "general medical examination" or "health checkup", unless "The World's Local Bank" expects only the local Hongkongers will view this promotional webpage.

rigid -- (adj) stiff or fixed; not able to be bent, moved, changed or persuaded
body check -- (n)[U] general medical examination or health checkup
persistent -- (adj) Someone who is persistent continues doing something or tries to do something in a determined but often unreasonable way


NHL Hockey Hard hits and body checks @ YouTube

Checkup @ Wikipedia

Checking (ice hockey) @ Wikipedia