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!"
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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