It’s only two weeks away

It’s that time of year again. How will you be celebrating Serf Emancipation Day?

I find it kind of droll that on the big day I’ll be in the Long Beach Opera House watching this. An eerie coincidence. My heart, of course, will be with those who were liberated, whether they wanted to be or not.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

Mao Zedong’s Contribution To the English Language

The English language has many imported phrases and words, mostly from Greek and Latin, but with very few examples from Chinese. Most notable ones are crude and basic words like “Chow mein”, “Kung fu”, “To fu”, “Kowtow”, “Long time no see”, etc, these words were evolved from Pidgin English as spoken by Railroad workers from China in the 19th century. There are even fewer literary and high-level words and phrases borrowed from Chinese in English. One major exception is a long list of words introduced by Mao Zedong during his speeches and interviews with Western journalists, many words and usages became so popular in English that many British and American politicians often quote them as a symbol of their literary knowledge and culture. Here are some examples:

1) “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend” . This is a phrase from the English translation of the “Hundred Flowers” campaign in China during Mao’s time which encouraged diverstiy in literature and arts. The original Chinese sloagn was “”Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.” “A hundred school of thought” was also borrowed from the Pre-Qin dynasty, where hundreds of philosophical schools competed with each other, historians called that the “A Hundred Schools Period.”. Today, this phrase is used in the English world to mean to encourage different opinions and foster healthy competition. It’s recently used by McCain in his campaign, and often by other jounalists.

2) “Third World”. Even though this phrase itself was not invented by Mao Zedong, he was the first person to group countries into the First, Second, and Third World. And those groupings became the standard during the Cold-War.

3) “Long March”. This is a period in which the Chinese Communist Party was almost on the verge of defeat by the US-supported Natinonalists, and Mao led the entire force of the Communsit insurgency on a strategic withdrawal, basically walked 1/4 of China to escape government army’s “anti-Communist”, and “anti-Terrorists” campaigns. They basically hid in caves and in people’s homes, and built home-made explosive devices and buried them near where the government’s army’s vehicles would pass, these homemade explosives were so low-tech against the much better equipped government army, but yet so effective that it struck fear into soldier who walked into a village or drove onto a road. Today, the phrase “Long March” refers to a long and arduous journey or effort that led to something signfiicant and rewarding. It was used recently by the US Army in Texas to describe their military marathon training. It’s also the name of the Chinese Rocket series, called the Long March Series.

4) “Paper Tiger”. Anna Louise Strong, an American journalist conducted an interview of Mao Zedong in his Yanan cave during the height of the Communsit insurgency in China, and during the interview, the topic of American imperialism came up, and Mao said famously in Chinese: “In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. I believe that is nothing but a paper tiger.”. Mao’s interpreter, after struggling with translating that Chinese phrase, came up with “scarecrow”. After the interpreter said “scarecrow”, Mao asked the interpreter, “what does scarecrow mean?”. The interpreter said “It means a fake grass human figure placed in the fields to scare off crows”. Mao shook his head and said “that’s not exactly the right translation”. The interpreter said “Yes, but that’s the closest I can think of in English”. Mao then said: “Why not translate directly, in Chinese it means “paper tiger”, so let’s call it Paper Tiger in English”. So the translator of course obeyed and put “paper tiger” on record. And this is the birth of this famous phrase. It was also rumored but unconfirmed that Mao later had sex with that American female journalist Anna Louise Strong in his cave. Later, inside the cave, after they finished, Ms Strong asked Mao “you guys are out-trained, out-numbered, and out-equipped, what is your prospect of winning this revolution?”. And Mao said “I’ll see you in Beijing on top of Tiananmen in 2 years.”

March 16, 2010 @ 10:01 am | Comment

Perhaps Mao invented the word Serf Emancipation Day.

March 16, 2010 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Just a quick post.

Visiting Vietnam. Personal business.

Checking……

Facebook…OK
Youtube…OK
Wikipedia English…OK
Wikipedia Tieng Viet… OK
Gmail… OK
Pekingduck… OK

And without VPN.

Ah yes. Still some problems, but a serious country.

March 16, 2010 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

but a serious country.

Also one of the most corrupt in the world, more so than even India.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

Vietnam also has a lower income and GDP growth than China.

Only a fourth of Vietnamese have internet access, but at least whiteboy can read his facebook.

However it has a low crime rate. Food isn’t bad and the people are nice too.

March 16, 2010 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

“Vietnam also has a lower income and GDP growth than China.”

They are not destroying the country to get some some extra GDP %

“at least whiteboy can read his facebook.”

I am browner than you whitey.

“and the people are nice too.”
And they do not instrumentalize past grudges for some “ulterior motives”, although they have more reasons than many to do so.

March 16, 2010 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

They are not destroying the country to get some some extra GDP %

Because it’s already destroyed by agent orange

And they do not instrumentalize past grudges for some “ulterior motives”, although they have more reasons than many to do so.

They got to shoot French and Americans for decades, I guess they are satisfied.

March 17, 2010 @ 12:24 am | Comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJxb7CY13uc

Bet you don’t see this in your fancy hotels catering to Westerners, ecodelta

March 17, 2010 @ 2:58 am | Comment

You mean “westerners” like yourself, Merp?

March 17, 2010 @ 8:52 am | Comment

@merp #7

I did not finish watching it.

March 17, 2010 @ 9:28 am | Comment

Holy crap. Merp, get a grip. I don’t want to read about you up on a tower with a rifle some day. But that’s pretty much the endgame of your current “logic” (if one can even call it that)

March 17, 2010 @ 9:40 am | Comment

I think I have to start banning the trolls again. I’ve really had enough. Today’s mega-dose of troll comments was simply too much.

March 17, 2010 @ 9:44 am | Comment

“They got to shoot French and Americans for decades, I guess they are satisfied.”

Brilliant merp.

March 17, 2010 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

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