LONG TIME NO PIDGIN
The phrase no can do secretly has racist origins. It was first written down in the late nineteenth century to parody the English pidgin that Chinese immigrants to the United States used. They actually used phrases similar to that because of syntactical differences, but this was used in a derogatory manner by white people for a while before it became mainstream. The same thing happened with some other phrases such as long time no see, which first showed up in imitation of Native American speech in an 1894 edition of the Boston Globe, and chop-chop (meaning "quickly"), which emerged around the same time period when American sailors borrowed the term from Cantonese sailors. That comes from the Cantonese word cuk cuk, which is from Mandarin kwai kwai, also meaning "quick, quick".
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.