scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Translation: China Rising

As part of Mr Xi’s current China Dream campaign, I’ve seen a lot of these kinds of poems plastered all over the subways.

Here’s an interesting one:

 

《中国·向上》

大树郁葱葱

壮我时代风

容聚天地气

吐纳五岳峰。

好日子,

中国向上,

乾坤在握中!

“China Rising”

The great tree grows lush and green

Strong in the winds of our age

Uniting the power of heaven and earth

Breathing the air upon China’s great peaks.

These are good days,

China is rising

The world is within our grasp!

+++

What a difference stopping to read these poems makes! You’d think it’s just some silly stuff about trees, but no, it’s a tree that’s going to take over the world. Whoa.

posted by ferret at 6:10 pm  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Xun You

So… I found a card on the ground for one of those Three Kingdoms card games the kids seem to be playing these days. I didn’t recognize the character on the card, so I thought I’d dig a bit deeper.

 


First of all, I was surprised to find out that this is supposed to be a man. He looks super girly. His name is Xun You, who was one of the head military strategists for Three Kingdoms‘ bad boy, Cao Cao. I suppose that he wasn’t really a fighter, per se, so looking feminine isn’t such a big deal. The inscription at the bottom of the card reads (originally in traditional characters, but I’ve switched the script to make my life easier):

知能过宁武   德可配颜渊

Knowledge surpassing Ning Wu, character on par with Yan Yuan

I guess these have something to do with playing the card game it goes with.

Now to the back!

There’s a bit about what we know about him historically, etc. Most of interest to me is bottom where there’s stats for his “military worth” (武力值), his “strategy worth” (谋略值) and his “overall worth” (综合值). He’s the best in terms of “strategy worth” (92/100) as you’d expect. Man, he really looks like a lady in this picture though, doesn’t he? He doesn’t always look like this though. Here he is in the old school 80s TV version of Three Kingdoms:

Rock out, Xun You.

posted by ferret at 5:37 pm  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Translation: Soul and Body

In the Longhua Martyr’s Cemetery there’s a tunnel full of all manner of revolutionary sayings, some of them communist, some just generally pushing the reader to fight the good fight.

This one seemed interesting enough:

 

如果人有灵魂的话,何必要这个躯壳!

If one has a soul, then one must have a body!

但是,如果没有的话,这个躯壳又有什么用处?

However, if one doesn’t have a soul, then what good is a body?

这并不是格言,也不是哲理,而是另外有些意思的话。

This isn’t just some saying, nor is it a philosophy, it’s something else altogether.

- Qu Qiubai

posted by ferret at 10:45 pm  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cultural Exchange Simplified

It’s come to be the opinion of this humble Ferret that cultural exchanges in China are generally plagued by a kind of Orientalism, a perception of an intractable Other, or a perceived mystery that prevents people from having a meaningful exchange. This happens on both sides of the aisle. Foreigners feel that there are some things about China that are impossible to know; Chinese feel as if there are some things foreigners will never understand. And vice-versa.

Recently, I had a rather truthful exchange. A model perhaps for all future cultural exchanges:

[Ferret walks into a bathroom at Sichuan restaurant. He pees a urinal, thinking perhaps far too much about his expat, Chinese dilettante status. Old Chinese Man walks in as he is zipping up. Old Chinese Man notices Ferret.]

Old Chinese Man

Hello!

Ferret

Hello!

Old Chinese Man

你好!

Ferret

你好!

All things exchanged! All things understood! A four-part exchange where every message is conveyed clearly to the other succinctly and straightforwardly. Oh, that it could be so easy!

posted by ferret at 12:01 pm  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Translation: 春晓

Your humble Ferret recently went to a banquet at a very fancy Cantonese restaurant and stuffed himself silly.

While eating some “hand-fried squid” (手炸鱿鱼), I noticed that they were sitting on a piece of paper with a Chinese poem written on it.

20130214-180624.jpg

Having 干杯’d a little too much wine, I attempted to read it 繁体字 and all in front of some Chinese folks. I did okay and only made a few mistakes, blustering my way through it like a 7 year old. But it didn’t really matter anyway. All the Chinese people there knew it by heart.

<春晓>
唐•孟浩然

春眠不觉晓
处处闻啼鸟
夜来风雨声
花落知多少

“Springtime Awakening”

Meng Haoran (Tang)

A springtime sleep, day breaks without me knowing
Everywhere I hear birdsong
The night was full of the sound of storms
Who knows how many flowers have fallen?

(Apparently there is a political angle to all of this, i.e. flowers getting blown away in the night. I don’t know what that had to do with fried squid. 炒鱿鱼 maybe?)

posted by ferret at 6:11 pm  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Five Years Living in a Chinese City…

…and I still can’t say the word for “city” properly.

posted by ferret at 1:21 pm  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Translation: 《蝉》

My girlfriend recently gave me a bamboo iPhone case made by a company called Cicada. On the box by way of explanation for their company, they included a Tang Dynasty poem:

My translation:

“Cicada”

Yu Shinan [Early Tang Dynasty]

Hanging from a drooping branch drinking dew,

Its sound scatters though the  phoenix trees.

Living high up it makes sounds that travel far,

Not relying on the fall wind to carry them.

Note: The last two lines of the poem are supposed to represent the idea that if you’re doing something good or you’re powerful, you don’t need to rely on the help of others to publicize it. The Baidu review of the poem has this to say: 蝉声远传,一般人往往以为是藉助于秋风的传送,诗人却别有会心,强调这是由于“居高”而自能致远。这种独特的感受蕴含一个真理:立身品格高洁的人,并不需要某种外在的凭藉. So I guess the idea is that these iPhone cases are supposed to be so sweet that word about them will get around without any help at all…

posted by ferret at 8:57 pm  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This Guy

[Ferret and his co-workers, Wolverine, Oriole and Chickadee are eating dinner at a Japanese noodle shop. Ferret's food arrives.]

Waitress 

石锅饭!哪位的?

 Stone bowl rice! Whose is it?

Ferret

这位的!

This guy’s!

[Oriole and Chickadee both gasp! The Waitress serves the sizzling bowl of rice topped with meat and vegetables.]

Ferret

What? What’d I do?

Oriole

You are so rude!

Ferret

What? Why?

Oriole

You can’t call yourself 位 (person).

Ferret

No?

Oriole

No. Just say 这是我的 (This is mine).

posted by ferret at 6:35 pm  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ayi’s Hat

[Ayi is cleaning Ferret's house. Ferret is on his way out the door when he notices Ayi's black baseball cap with the words "Hot and Sexy" written on it in pink. He feels he should say something.]

Ferret

这是你的帽子吗?

Is this your hat?

Ayi

对的,我的帽子。

Yeah, it’s my hat.

Ferret

你知道那个英文词是什么意思吗?

Do you know what those English words mean?

Ayi

不知道。什么意思?

No. What do they mean?

Ferret

意思是性感。

The meaning is “sexy”.

Ayi

[not sure what he's trying to say]

什么?性噶?

What “xìnggá”?

Ferret

性感。

Sexy.

Ayi

性感!真的吗?

Sexy! Really?

Ferret

真的。

Really.

Ayi

那我不应该戴啊!

Then I shouldn’t wear it!

Ferret

但是大部分的中国人不知道是什么意思,所以我觉得没有问题。

But most Chinese people don’t know what it means, so I think it’s not a problem.

Ayi

可是我的客户都是外国人啊!

But my clients are all foreigners!

Ferret

恩,我-我不知道。

Well, I- I don’t know.

[Ferret awkwardly makes for the door.]

我走了。

I’m going.

Ayi

好的。谢谢你告诉我啊!性感!啊呀!

Okay. Thanks for telling me! Sexy! Jeez!

posted by ferret at 1:37 am  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Words: Parturient and 喁唼

Parturient

(yóngshà)

(For Chinese geeks, I found this word in 徐志摩’s poem 《私语》.)

posted by ferret at 12:04 am  
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