Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

Archive for the ‘Dictionary’ Category

Gained in Translation

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, June 17, 2010

You will, as you travel about the globe, notice that in every language there are words that have been ‘imported’ from other languages. This is quite normal and understandable. We do it in English all the time. There are many reasons why this happens, but in most cases it’s because the new word expresses something in a way the host language either cannot, or does not do as effectively. The new word eventually becomes part of the host language.

Chinese is no exception, and a great many words have entered their language from abroad. Many of these words were originally English. The Chinese, however, because of the dysfunctional way in which their so-called language ‘works’, are forced to use childish pictographs to represent things, and in the process the actual meaning of the words is irrevocably changed. Thus, “telephone” becomes 电话, which means “electric words”. “Animal” becomes 动物, or a “moving thing”, and “motor car” becomes 小汽车, or “small steam car”, which is ridiculous. The list is long, and sometimes the translation manages to retain some of the meaning, but in most cases it becomes something utterly meaningless.

Why does this happen? Simple: Because a primitive language that cannot easily evolve to cope with new concepts is therefore one that is unable to properly express ideas that are more advanced than it is. It cannot keep up with the times. That is why science, literature, art, mathematics, and all the rest are so poorly expressed in Chinese. It’s why their poems and novels are so childish, why they don’t understand that the stars and the sun are actually the same thing, why melamine is seen to be a nutritious and delicious food additive for the young, and so on. Crikey, they don’t even have a proper way of saying “yes” or “no”.

But at least they try, bless ’em. They don’t actually try in the way that the Koreans or the Vietnamese or the Japanese did, by reinventing their system of little pictures to make allowance for an Alphabet, because that’s what the barbarians from across the big water do, but they do try in the sense that they continue to attempt to force the same square peg into the same round hole again and again. And, sometimes it works.

However, if you listen to folks talking, and especially the young, you soon discover that this tired old method just isn’t enough – some concepts are simply too alien to the Chinese mindset to be incorporated into their ‘language’. When this happens, in many cases they simply insert the English word into the sentence. They have to, because they could never express it in Chinese in a million years. Here’s an example:

什么什么无聊的谈话无聊无聊Cooperation无聊废话什么Working Together什么无聊的谈话无聊无聊Caring无聊的谈话.

Or how about this:

无聊Healthy Food废话钞票钞票钞票钞票Being Nice To Other People房地产无聊Microsoft Excel无聊的谈话无聊无聊.

Or this one:

废话钞票钞票什么钞票什么钞票After You什么无聊的谈话Love废话房地产Personal Hygiene钞票废话房地产.

There’s still some hope, after all. I think there’s something in that for all of us, don’t you?

Posted in Dictionary | 27 Comments »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, May 24, 2007

Han-Deeman (n.): Peasant farmer who is also a plumber who is also an electrician who is also an accountant who is also an expert on International Relations. He’s a guy who can do anything at all. Just not very well.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-dromeda Galaxy (n.): Neighbour galaxy of our Milky Way, believed to be the ancient home of the Han Chinese, and origin of an extremely resistant strain of the clap, also known as the Han-dromeda Strain.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary.

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, May 20, 2007

Han-Djob (n.): Haircut with Chinese Characteristics.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Tuesday, May 15, 2007

HAN (n.): Computers that have been networked specifically in order to enable a user to operate MSN Messenger and QQ.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-ticipation (n.): Expectation, intuition, or foreknowledge that something will go seriously wrong, because you are dealing with Han Chinese. See also Cluster fuck (Charlie Foxtrott) and Chinese fire drill.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary.

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Saturday, May 12, 2007

Han-Dover (v.): Similar to Bend-Over [and touch your toes while we insert this length of rough-sawn timber]. See also Hong Kong.

– From the MyLaowai Dictionary.

Han-onymous call (n.): Some Han Chinese cunt calls your mobile, because he made a mistake when he jotted down the phone number of that KTV girl he was with the other day. He only bleats ‘wei?…wei!…weiii?’, and refuses to give his name or the nature of his business. You hang up on him, and the above process is repeated another 20 odd times. After all, he is Han Chinese, so he can’t have dialled the wrong number.

– From the StrandedMariner Dictionary

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, May 6, 2007

Han-tipathy (n.): A strong feeling of aversion or repugnance against Han Chinese. (generally developed after an extended stay in areas populated by them.)

From the StrandedMariner Dictionary.

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Definitions

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, April 30, 2007

Han-dicapped (Adj): An inability to complete tasks and function properly because one is born Han Chinese.

From the Yellow Wings Dictionary.

Posted in Dictionary | Tagged: | 1 Comment »