Seek truth from facts

The Atlantic has a post by Matt Schiavenza entitled “What’s with the Chinese Communist Party and Slogans” It’s a nice little piece on the vapid sounding slogans that post-Deng Chinese leaders announce to set the tenor of their reigns. Like papal names these are often pretty opaque to outsiders. What Schiavenza does not discuss is […]

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Ngram

All the cool kids are playing with the new Google Ngram viewer, which lets you make graphs of word usage over time. You can search for usage in Chinese, but I’m not sure if they have enough Chinese books to get much out of it. Here is a search for Beijing, Peking, and Peiping. You […]

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Old Friends in New Contexts

One of the fun things for me about the “Rise of China” and the prominence it continues to gain in Western media, economics and culture, is reconnecting with old friends from the China side in sometimes random ways. A few months back, for example, my old friend Caroline Reeves hit the blogosphere, guest-posting at China […]

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No need for Clever Speech

It is recorded in the Han chronicles that when Emperor Wen visited his pleasure park he went to the area called Tiger Garden. There he questioned the official in charge of the park about the various animals. The official did not respond. The caretaker beside him, however, answered in great detail. Emperor Wen instructed Zhang […]

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他媽的

I caught a couple of episodes of Firefly on TV a bit back. The thing that hooked me was that some of the characters were swearing in Chinese, of a sort. The series is about space smugglers in the far future, and every so often one of the crew will break into Chinese. The Chinese […]

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Earliest Chinese Writing?

People’s Daily Online is reporting that 7000 year old characters have been found which seem to be direct precedents to known Chinese characters. [via] The symbols include rivers, animals and plants, and activities such as hunting, fishing and arable farming, as well as symbols recording events, said Han Xuhang, a research fellow with the Anhui […]

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danger + opportunity

This entry on pinyin.info looks at the misunderstanding of the construction of characters. This tendency – particularly among the writers of motivational/new age books it seems! – to interpret every hanzi character as imparting some kind of philosophical lesson is fascinating. I suppose it is part and parcel of the ‘Eastern Wisdom’ fetish, which also […]

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7/7 and a Wartime Dictionary

While I’m spending the summer studying Korean in Seoul, one of the books I brought with me for some recreational reading is a Chinese wartime dictionary (“encyclopedia”) with mostly political and historical terms. It is often quite arbitrary with entries on everything from Lappland to one on Owen Lattimore. It is about 370 pages in […]

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