Posted by Joel Martinsen on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 6:05 PM
Here's a close-up of an image that's been making the rounds of forums and microblogs over the past few months:
Yuan Chonghuan () was a Ming Dynasty general famous for defeating Nurhaci at the Battle of Ningyuan, which put a temporary halt to the Manchu invasion.
Yuan's ancestral home in Dongguan, Guanggdong, has been turned into a memorial park. Inscribed on the base of a stone statue of Yuan is his battle-cry, shown in the above photo. The text:
The translation isn't perfect, but unlike many previous examples, the profanity is entirely appropriate.
"掉哪妈" (diu na ma) is a widely used colloquial Cantonese expression that has a variety of written forms. The character 掉 is used in place of 屌 (diu2, "penis" as a noun, and "fuck" as a verb), but is now a far less common substitute than 丢 or 刁. (In Hong Kong, the recent construction [門+小] is often used.)
Here's how the Cantonese Profanity Research Web explains the phrase:
"Hit the Hard," on the other hand, is a simply a mechanical mistranslation of an exhortation to forge stubbornly onward. The phrase has been called an encapsulation of the "Cantonese Spirit," and it appears in a coolie chant cited in various places online:
So Yuan Chonghuan's battle-cry, supposedly uttered when his superiors ordered a general retreat to Shanhaiguan as the Manchu armies were closing in on Ningyuan, could conceivably be translated as "Fuck that! We'll give it all we've got!"
Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!