Chickens and prostitutes are always correct.

May 24, 2017

Sir Robert Hart, (based on a real person) the main character in “My Splendid Concubine”, knew the importance of translating English into Chinese or Chinese into English. Translation errors can become insults that end in bad feelings that may cause a war. For that reason, when Hart worked for the Emperor of China as the Inspector-General of China’s Maritime Customs Service from 1863 to 1911, anyone he hired had to learn Chinese in classes that Hart had created. He wanted to make sure they learned how to speak and translate Chinese properly.

For instance, recently a middle school English teacher in China asked her students to translate Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Chinese advertisement “We do chicken right (中學老師把 KFC 肯德基店裏的廣告)”, and the teacher received twenty-eight different translated answers.

Please keep in mind that the word “chicken” also means “prostitute” in modern Chinese slang depending on context.

[We do chicken right!](烹雞專家)     發給學生練習翻譯,結果有以下答案:

Here is what the students wrote:

  1. 我們做雞是對的!It’s correct that we be prostitutes,
  2. 我們就是做雞的! We are cut out to be prostitutes.
  3. 我們有做雞的權利! We have the right to be prostitutes.
  4. 我們只做雞的右半邊! We want only be the right side of a chicken.
  5. 我們只作右邊的雞! We want to be chickens on the right side
  6. 我們可以做雞,對吧? We can choose to be prostitutes, right?
  7. 我們行使了雞的權利! We perform a chicken’s right.
  8. 我們主張雞權! We call for chicken’s rights.
  9. 我們還是做雞好! It’s better that we be prostitutes.
  10. 做雞有理! It makes sense to be prostitutes.
  11. 我們讓雞向右看齊! Let’s ask the chickens to look right.
  12. 我們只做正確的雞! We only want to be the correct chickens.
  13. 我們肯定是雞! We are prostitutes–no doubt.
  14. 只有我們可以做雞! We are the only one who could be prostitutes.
  15. 向右看!有雞! Look at your right, there are chickens.
  16. 我們要對雞好! We must be kind to chickens.
  17. 我們願意雞好! We wish chickens all our best.
  18. 我們的材料是正宗的雞肉! We use real chickens.
  19. 我們公正的做雞! We must feel justified to be prostitutes.
  20. 我們做雞正點耶∼∼ Time is right to prostitute.
  21. 我們只做正版的雞! We only want to be original prostitutes.
  22. 我們做雞做的很正確! To be prostitutes is to be correct.
  23. 我們正在做雞好不好? We’re making chickens – will that be okay?
  24. 我們一定要把雞打成右派!We must turn the chickens into rightists.
  25. 我們做的是右派的雞! We are right-winged prostitutes.
  26. 我們只做右撇子雞!     We are right-handed prostitutes.
  27. 我們做雞最專業!We are professional prostitutes.
  28. 我們叫雞有理!The chickens and prostitutes are always correct.

China is a tonal language. There are four tones for each written Chinese symbol.  Each tone has a different meaning. Say a word in the wrong tone, and you might end up insulting someone.

Words that are similar are called homophones – two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings.  The Chinese author Cao Xuegin who wrote Dream of the Red Chamber in the 18th century chose many of the names of his characters to be homophones with other words which hint at their qualities. For example, the name of the main family, “賈” (Jiǎ) puns with “假” meaning “fake” or “false” while the name of the other main family in the story, “甄” (Zhēn) puns with “眞” meaning “real” or “true”.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Will Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Save America’s Global Image?

May 23, 2017

The Independent reports, “Donald Trump has ‘dangerous mental illnesses, say psychiatry experts at Yale conference.” … Mental health experts say President is ‘paranoid and delusional’

With a dangerous nutcase as president of the United States appointing diplomats that think like him, who will become the diplomates of good will in countries like China to influence future generations to love America and see it as a peaceful fun nation to be friends with?

The Financial Times says that Disney Publishing Worldwide has been opening English language schools in China.

The curriculum features Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the Little Mermaid and other Disney characters.

Enrolling children in this privately funded Disney language school is not cheap. It costs between $1,800 and $2,200 annually depending on which publication you read.

I’ve written before about how important an education is to Chinese parents so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Disney isn’t having problems finding students.  The challenge is to find enough qualified teachers.  Each classroom has “a local and a Western instructor.”


A Lesson for Disney – How to Teach English Correctly

Disney English continues to operate less than 30 schools in China nationwide. Since opening in 2009, many English language schools have opened their doors or copied the Disney English teaching method across mainland China. Disney English Centers continue to operate strongly in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, and Chengdu.

On the other hand, we learn from Vice.com that the ESL teachers hired to work for Disney English have discovered that Mikey Mouse and Donald Duck might not be that friendly.

***Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times just because she was Chinese.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 2 of 2

May 17, 2017

My life didn’t start when I became eligible for Social Security and/or Medicare. In fact, I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

I am a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. After the Marines I went to college on the GI Bill and spent close to a decade attending universities to earn an Associate-of-Science degree, a BA in journalism, and finally an MFA in writing. I even worked as a public school teacher for thirty of those years often working 60 – 100 hours a week sometimes arriving at the school where I taught as early as six in the morning.  In addition, in China teachers are respected; not abused.

Confucius ( BC 551 – 479) said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world. … He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers in the world.”

Both Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism stress the importance of paying proper respect to elders, especially parents and grandparents, and deceased ancestors are honored with various ceremonies and rituals.

Confucius said, “Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”

However, in the United States, it is obvious that we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists, and a malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, was recently elected president of the United States. Trump treats many with rudeness and he encourages and supports bullies and racism.

More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.

Only in this sense can one understand the tremendous virtue placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’ not only in China but also many other Asian countries.

I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect, but those lessons have served China well for centuries and is still a vital element of Chinese culture.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 1 of 2

May 16, 2017

I was born in the United States, and when I was a child, youngsters were taught to be seen and not heard. It was expected that we treat our elders and teachers with respect.

After the birth of Disneyland, instant and unhealthy fast food thanks to McDonalds, the Internet, smart phones (I turned mine in for a dumb phone) and the iPod generation, a cultural cancer crept through much of the United States. That cultural cancer killed ‘respect’ for those who are older and for teachers.

In China, that respect, that virtue, is called piety, and piety is very much alive there and in most of East Asia in spite of an invasion of Christian missionaries due to the Opium Wars in the early 19th century, the Korean War (1950 – 1953), the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), and Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966  – 1976) .

In 1999, I married a Chinese woman who was born in Shanghai, China. She grew up during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. I learned that if you marry a Chinese woman, you marry her family and are expected to treat the family’s elders with respect. That’s when I learned first-hand the importance of filial piety in China.

In fact, when I visit China, my white hair is a symbol that earned me respect. In China, I have never heard, “Hey, old man,” but these are disrespectful words I’ve heard in the United States more than once.

For instance (from an actual event), “Hey, old man, you can’t stop us.” Those were the words I heard after dark one night during the summer of 2008 from a pack of kids taunting me as they raced in and out of our steep, hillside driveway on their bicycles. The reason I didn’t want them playing on our driveway was because if one of those children was injured, we could end up in court.

I called the police, and the next day walked the neighborhood door-to-door asking for support to stop the harassment that had gone on for two years during school holidays and the summer.

When I talked to the mother of one of those rude children, she challenged me. “What was your reason for not letting them play on your driveway?”

I’ve read ‘any damn fool can be a parent’, and that helped me think of something I heard too many times when I was a public school teacher (1975 – 2005).  That phrase is, “kids will be kids” and it is often accompanied with a shrug of dismissal by the parent/guardian, but I refuse to accept that excuse for rudeness and unruly behavior in children.

Continue with Part 2 on May 17, 2017

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Ancient Chinese Bongs, Booms, Clangs, and Tinkles

May 10, 2017

In 1977, a complete set of chime bells were unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi, who lived during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC). These chimes were older than the Qin Dynasty’s famous Terra Cotta warriors (221 to 206 B.C.) were.

The sixty-five chime bells weighed about 5 tons.

When the chimes were discovered in Hubei Province, a plot of land was being leveled to build a factory.  The Red Army officer in charge of the work had an interest in archeology.

The officer discovered that the workers were selling the ancient bronze and iron artifacts they were digging up. He convinced local authorities there might be an ancient tomb buried below the site.

When the tomb was unearthed, the bells were discovered.  These musical instruments were an important part of ritual and court music from ancient China. An American professor in New York City called these chimes the eighth wonder of the ancient world.

No other set of chimes like this had been discovered in China, and this set was in excellent condition.

A project in 1979 duplicated four sets of these chimes. More than a hundred scientists and technicians were recruited.  In 1998, twenty years after the discovery of the original chimes, the project was completed, and one set was sent to Taiwan as a gift.

Discover The Return of Confucious to China

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Historical Influence

May 9, 2017

China was a regional superpower in East Asia for about two-thousand years starting with the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C. How did China influence those countries?


China’s Sphere of Influence Japan, Korea, Vietnam AP World History

From Global Security.org we learn “During the T’ang (Thang) dynasty China (in the 7th to the 9th century AD) the two peoples of China and the Philippines already had relatively close relations and material as well as cultural exchanges.”

The Chinese exchanged silk, porcelain, colored glass, beads and iron ware for hemp cloth, tortoise shells, pearls and yellow wax of the Filipinos.

The Chinese became the dominant traders in the 12th and 13th centuries during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 AD). The shift in the commerce between China and Southeast Asia saw Butuan send a tribute mission to the Sung emperor.

Ethnic Chinese sailed around the Philippine Islands from the 9th century onward and frequently interacted with the local Filipinos. Some datus, rajahs, and lakans (indigenous rulers) in the Philippines were themselves a product of the intermarriage between the Chinese merchant-settlers and the local Filipinos

There is a significant number of Thai-Chinese in Thailand. Fourteen percent of Thais may have Chinese origins. Significant intermixing has taken place such that there are few pure ethnic Chinese, and those of partially mixed Chinese ancestry account for as much as a third to a half of the Thai population.

In Vietnam,  approximately 1 million ethnic Chinese, constitute one of Vietnam’s largest minority groups.

Cambodia has more than 152,000 citizens who are Chinese.

Laotian Chinese number about 185,000. Most Laotian Chinese are descendants of older generations who moved down from the Southern China provinces starting in the 19th century.

Chinese Singaporeans make up 76.2% of that country’s citizens – approximately three out of four Singaporeans – making them the largest ethnic group in Singapore.

In Malaysia more than 23-percent of the population is Malaysian Chinese forming the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world, after Thailand. Within Malaysia, they represent the second largest ethnic group after the ethnic Malay majority.

Culturally, most Malaysian Chinese have maintained their Chinese heritage including their various dialects, although the descendants of the earliest Chinese migrants who arrived from the 15th to 17th century have assimilated aspects of the Malay culture and they form a distinct subethnic group known as the Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya.

There has been a recognizable community of Chinese people in Korea since the 1880s. Most early migrants came from China’s Shandong province. It’s estimated that about 780,000 live in South Korea today with another 10,000 in North Korea.

According to the latest population census in 2010, there are 2.8 million ethnic Chinese living in Indonesia, accounting for 1.2% of the total population. Observers say this number is much higher because many Indonesians are still reluctant to admit they are of Chinese descent, fearing discrimination.

Even Japan has its share of Chinese. In 1990, there were about 150,000 Chinese living in Japan. Today, that number is more than 700,000.

In Myanmar (Burma), 2.5-percent of the population is Chinese. Due to deposits of jade,  Chinese merchants have been involved in mining and trade there for more than two thousand years. In fact, during the Qing Dynasty, there were four major invasions (1765-1769) of Burma by China’s Manchu emperors. In 1784, the long struggle between Burma and China ended and regular trade started up again.


Overseas Chinese Make Their Mark

In November 1885, Sir Robert Hart favored a proposal that China, as Burma’s overlord, stand aside and allow the British Empire to pursue her own course there provided that Britain allow Burma to continue her decennial tribute (once every ten years) missions to China.

Instead, the British Empire made Burma a province of India in 1886.

Since independence from the British Empire, Burma/Myanmar has generally been impartial to world affairs but was one of the first countries to recognize Israel and the People’s Republic of China.

Territories such as the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and countries like North Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam and others along China’s long borders were considered vassal states by some Chinese dynasties, and to maintain cordial relations and keep the peace, these vassal states often sent lavish gifts and delegations to China’s emperors on a regular schedule.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Modern China’s Founding Fathers

May 3, 2017

Under Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976), China suffered after he became its leader in 1949, but that isn’t the whole story. During Mao’s Great Leap Forward; what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine (1958 – 62), and the Cultural Revolution, millions died from starvation and purges. What we don’t hear is that China is known as the land of famines. Imperial records show that China has had droughts and famines in one or more of its provinces annually for more than two-thousand years, but there is no mention of the fact that there has not been any famines since the last one in 1962.

In addition, when Mao came to power in 1949, the average lifespan in China was 35. When Mao died, the average lifespan was in the 50s and today it’s in the 70s.

On June 30, 1984, Deng Xiaoping said, “Given that China is still backward, what road can we take to develop the productive forces and raise the people’s standard of living? … Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 percent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 percent. But if we adhere to socialism and apply the principle of distribution to each according to his work, there will not be excessive disparities in wealth. Consequently, no polarization will occur as our productive forces become developed over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Deng Xiaoping was right. Bruce Einhom writing for Business Week, Countries in the Biggest Gaps Between Rich and Poor, October 16, 2009, listed the top countries with the biggest gaps. America was number #3 on the list. China wasn’t on the list.

What does capitalism, Chinese style, look like? Under Deng Xiaoping’s economic policies, China became the world’s factory floor.

Prior to 1979, the year China opened its doors to world trade, it was rare to find anything made in China.

In the last thirty years, something happened that Mao thought he had destroyed. China grew a consumer middle class and that growth hasn’t finished. During a trip to China in 2008, we saw the Chinese middle class everywhere we went. Instead of the majority of tourists being foreigners, they were Chinese traveling to discover their own country.

A middle-class family in China usually owns an apartment, a car, eats out regularly, and takes vacations. National Geographic Magazine in May 2008 said, “They owe their well-being to the government’s (Deng Xiaoping’s) economic policies …”

Current estimates show China’s GDP growth will continue to grow. Since 2000, China’s GDP has grown at an annual average of 9.66 percent. Compare that to the U.S. with a GDP that never breaks 4 percent and was 2.43 percent in 2015. – Google Public Data

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline