Background: Y is a 21-year-old college student from Taiwan who is navigating her new life in Los Angeles, California. Having grown up in and gone to school in Taiwan, she is incredibly familiar with Taiwanese culture and folklore. She attributes her familiarity with modern Taiwanese folk speech to her experience in the Taiwanese education system.
Context: Y remembers first hearing “凱瑞” from a classmate in high school. Y describes “凱瑞” as folk speech which describes someone who is carrying the whole team. It describes someone whose skill, personality, and preparation is so efficient that it compensates for the shortcomings of others. For example, when in a group project, if one student’s efforts outweigh and compensate for the incompetence of others, you can say that this exemplary student is very “凱瑞”. This example of folk speech is most commonly employed in the educational setting and used by the youth.
Analysis: As mentioned, this folk speech is used most commonly amongst the Taiwanese youth, specifically students. Y’s personal example of the group project demonstrates the common occurrence of loafers, slackers or idle workers that can create the need for a more skilled individual to contribute extra effort so that the whole group may meet certain expectations. The usage of “凱瑞” highlights how the person who carries the whole team is venerated for their noble act of stepping up to the challenge. In fact, the existence of such a phenomenon in Taiwan, the word referring to it and its relevance to other cultures (especially American schools) can possibly imply that the experience of a group project is despised in many academic spheres worldwide.