To me, touché was a one-word admittance of one's error or absurd logic when countered by one's opponent's right-on-target sarcasm against one's statement, or perhaps a polite reminder for one to first look into the mirror before making such a statement. It's almost, though not quite, like a 'stone thrower' confessing to the proverb 'Yes, you right, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'.
Thus it's a word to be said by the person who has the table turned against his/her statement.
Okay, maybe the above explanation of my impression of touché is too much of a mouthful so let me instead provide a few examples, starting from the general to the particular, to wit, episodes in our Malaysian lives.
If an American bloke says to you "Your English is damn good for a Malaysian", and you cheekily (or sarcastically) reply "And yours too for an American", he would, if he has a sense of humour or appreciation for witty conversation, say touché - meaning he admits he has been far too presumptuous in believing only he an American (and not an Englishman) could speak good English.
Incidentally on the description 'American', if I may digress here a wee bit (being t'ng k'ooi or chong hei), I have an Argentinean friend who one day lamented that most people automatically assume that word points to a person-citizen of the United States of America (USA) when the term 'America' refers to two continents which have within them several countries.
He cried out that he too would be an American, and so too the Bolivians, Mexicans, Canadians, Ecuadorians, Cubans, etc. Why must the USA seize the word as a label for only its people? After all, the word 'America' was derived from the name of an Italian, Amerigo Vespucci (Latinised as Americus Vespucius), after he proved that Brazil and West Indies belonged to a new massive land mass totally separated from Asia, hence the term New World.
It was a German cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, who first used the term 'America' to describe the new continent when he published a world map, stating:
"I do not see what right any one would have to object to calling this part, after Americus who discovered it and who is a man of intelligence, Amerige, that is, the Land of Americus, or America: since both Europa and Asia got their names from women".
In other words, the word 'America' was first used to name the southern continent mass, today known to us as South America.
I suggested to my matey that it might be a bit of a mouthful for the USA to call its people ... er .... United-States-ians, and when he rejected that as a poor excuse, offered a new description for citizens of the USA, namely, gringos wakakaka. My mate was finally mollified with that appellation for those Yankee gringos.
Okay, back to touché.
Suppose a Chinese friend of Aneh who sells Indian mee-rebus in Ayer Itam, says, "Aisehman Maniam, for an Indian hoe liao lah, you sure know how to use Chinese mee noodles for your speciality", and he replies with a twinkle in his eyes, "You know Ah Chong, I just love your mum's curry", it would be appropriately gracious for Ah Chong to smile and admit touché to the clever banter.
Hmmm, I wonder whether you've got this one? Never mind, one more.
But this one may not please anwaristas wakakaka. Recall that Perak debacle when the state government changed hands after 3 PKR and one DAP ADUNs defected to the BN. Let us say Anwar condemned Najib for dabbling in underhanded political defections, and Najib responded, "Don't Nasarudin Hashim, Jamaluddin Radzi and Osman Jailu ... reflect the sentiments of their voters, namely the Malays in their constituencies ... as the beginning of a new wave?"
That would have been a situation where Anwar Ibrahim could, if politically gracious, acknowledge touché wakakaka. But alas, the tussle was too bitter to be gracious because the political consequence of the mirrored actions of Anwar and Najib was far too traumatic.
Still don't get it? Wakakaka. Never mind, another one ler.
This story of the bigoted 'kong kali kong' insult may be sensitive but nonetheless needs to be narrated. We all know the gene-denier Dr Ridhuan Abdullah Tee, but do you know he has a twin (twin in denying his genes wakakaka) by the name of Ann Wan Seng. Ann was (is?) an ustaz and a member of Perkim national council.
Somehow, like his better known gene denying twin, instead of doing his work for Islam and Perkim without insulting other races or religions, he just had to insult the Chinese Buddhists, and in a pitifully ill-informed way at that, testifying to his abysmal ignorance on a topic he set out to insult, a typically dubious hallmark of his BTN-ized Boleh-ness.
Sometime in 2010, he delivered a speech to deliberately insult the Chinese, perhaps to ingratiate himself with the Malay-Muslims by suggesting he wasn't a Chinese. His speech went as follows:
Bukan sekadar orang Cina menyembah agama Buddha. Mereka juga sembah berbagai dewa dan juga dewi. Mereka sembah Tua Pek Kong, mereka sembah Pau Kong, mereka sembah Datuk Kong dan barangkali mereka juga sembah King Kong.
Maka jadilah agama dia agama Kong Kali Kong.
Dan inilah keadaan yang sedia wujud itu di mana orang Cina sembah patung-patung ini kerana mereka yakin dan juga mereka percaya bahawa patung ini boleh mendatangkan kebaikan kepada mereka, boleh mendatangkan kesejahteraan kepada mereka, boleh memberikan keselamatan malahan boleh menjadikan mereka ini kaya-raya.
Needless to say, his ill-informed religious bigotry drew laughter, sniggers, giggles from his rapt audience who weren't aware of the religious fact that Buddhists have no god. The ustaz in his ignorance had mistakenly conflated Chinese folklore religion with Buddhism. Shallow superficial snake, but then why should we be surprised!
Just suppose for an instant that Ustaz Ann Wan Seng had been right about Chinese Buddhists worshipping patung (idols), and I then asked him about the black stone in the eastern corner stone of the Ka'aba?
Alas, unlike benevolent smiles and laughter for the bigoted mischief of the gene-denier, based on his shameful ignorance, I'd probably be hauled up by the police for inciting religious ill-feelings or/and insulting Islam [gulp]. Thus, I didn't dare bring that up to him.
Final example, though I am quite reluctant to raise the following one because the end result of its airing (in a Malaysiakini letter in October 2010) had effectively destroyed an erstwhile lovely friendship with Helen Ang. Perhaps I'll just mention it in its most basic outline.
Two years ago, when dearest Helen went on her unexpected and shocking anti DAP crusade (though I know the reason why, wakakaka), she blasted sweetie Teo Nie Ching, DAP MP for Serdang.
In a letter to Malaysiakini, she excoriated Teo for wearing a selendang (shawl) not long after Teo was vilified by UMNO for her surau visit to talk with members of her constituency, purportedly because she had not cover her head when she entered the prayer house, but in reality because of UMNO's political fears of her growing popularity.
Sweetie Helen accused Teo of being overeager (in wearing a selendang) in order to 'hop, skip and jump to her next surau visit'.
So there we were, Helen chewing up Teo Nie Ching for adopting Malay headgear dress for political visits and yours truly cheekily pointing out to sweetie Helen that she too adopted a Malay dress as proof she wasn't anti-Melayu.
It was an exchange of barbs between anti-DAP Helen and pro-DAP kaytee that, had it been conducted in more friendly and congenial circumstances, should have sweetie Helen responding touché sweetly to me, wakakaka. But [sob] it wasn't.
Hah, the fun of the word touché, but alas, not used frequently enough.
Hah, the fun of the word touché, but alas, not used frequently enough.