井底之蛙

7/13/2011

Names and Dates In English and Chinese

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 9:15 pm Print

I recently discovered Beijing Time Machine, run  by Jared Hall. His recent piece Time over Place: Naming Historical Events in Chinese (ironically, it is not dated), is a striking and useful observation:

In English, we generally recall important turning points in terms of where they unfolded. Simple place names conjure up entire historical epochs. “Pearl Harbor” marks the American entrance into the Second World War and the global struggle against fascism. “Bandung,” the conference in of newly independent African and Asian nations that pledged to stand together in 1955 against imperialism and Cold War division. And then, of course, there is “Tian’anmen.” It is doubtful that mention of the square here in China would, by itself, raise any eyebrows. But try “6-4″ (六四) and you are can expect quite a different reaction.

There is also a useful chart of name years in the sixty year cycle, which you can download to put on your desk calendar or refrigerator door.

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