Taishanese.

A Language Log post quotes Bob Ramsey on the history of American Chinatowns, originally settled largely by immigrants from Taishan, “a tiny, rural district on the southern coast of China”:

The result of this sustained immigration from Taishan (“Toisan” in Cantonese, “Hoisan” in the local language itself) was that an estimated 86 percent of Chinese-Americans traced their ancestry to that little out-of-the-way place.

These residents of Chinatown would tell you they were “Cantonese.” But were they really? My Cantonese colleague at Columbia told me she found it frustrating. People in Chinatown understood her Cantonese fairly well, but she could not understand much of anything they were saying, she said laughing. The reason is that the language of Taishan–or “Hoisan”–is closely related to, but distinctively different, from Standard Cantonese. Taishanese was the language on the streets there, not (Standard) Cantonese, and definitely not Mandarin.

The post goes on to quote the Wikipedia article:

Taishanese, or in the Cantonese romanization Toisanese (simplified Chinese: 台山话; traditional Chinese: 台山話; Taishanese: [hɔi˨san˧wa˧˨˥]), is a language of Yue Chinese. The language is related to and is often referred to as Cantonese but has little mutual intelligibility with the latter. Taishanese is spoken in the southern part of Guangdong Province in China, particularly around the city-level county of Taishan located on the western fringe of the Pearl River Delta. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, a significant amount of Chinese emigration to North America originated from Siyi (Seiyap), the area where this variety is natively spoken; making Taishanese a dominant variety of the Chinese language spoken in Chinatowns in Canada and the United States. It was formerly the lingua franca of the overseas Chinese residing in the United States.

The earliest linguistic studies refer to the dialect of Llin-nen or Xinning (traditional Chinese: 新寧; simplified Chinese: 新宁). Xinning was renamed Taishan in 1914, and linguistic literature has since generally referred to the local dialect as the Taishan dialect, a term based on the pinyin romanization of Standard Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. Alternative names have also been used. The term Toishan is a convention used by the United States Postal Service, the Defense Language Institute and the 2000 United States Census. The terms Toishan, Toisan, and Toisaan are all based on Cantonese pronunciation and are also frequently found in linguistic and non-linguistic literature. Hoisan is a term based on the local pronunciation, although it is not generally used in published literature.

These terms have also been anglicized with the suffix -ese: Taishanese, Toishanese, and Toisanese. Of the previous three terms, Taishanese is most commonly used in academic literature, to about the same extent as the term Taishan dialect. The terms Hoisanese and Hoisan-wa do appear in print literature, although they are used more on the internet.

An interestingly complex history — it’s striking that the traditional term Xinning was replaced by the new name Taishan when discussing the dialect; I would have expected the old one to stick around (with a parenthetical explanation that the village had been renamed). And I can never figure out why Wikipedia uses bold for some terms and italics for others.

Taishanese was mentioned in this 2004 LH post:

In South China, where you can get three mutually incomprehensible dialects within ten miles of each other, the locals tweak their neighbors with expressions that sound obscene on this side of the mountain but harmless on the other. Taishan people, for example, will mutter Kip ma-go hoi! among speakers of “regular” Guangzhou Cantonese, to whom it sounds like “Go ride a horse across the river.” To a Taishanese ear it is actually much more potent than that.

Comments

  1. Lest “an estimated 86 percent of Chinese-Americans” sound like a suspiciously large fraction, keep in mind that the percentages involved are not going to add up to 100. Many of the Chinese-American people I knew on the west coast had ancestors from all over southeastern China.

  2. Good point.

  3. “Toishan” is the traditional Hong Kong-style Cantonese romanization which is based on the traditional pronunciation before the distinction between alveolar and alveolo-palatal sibilants was lost. 臺山 is today pronounced Toi4saan1 [tʰɔ̭ːy̯.sáːn] in Cantonese, but until the early 20th century the initial of 山 would have been [ɕ] instead of [s]; the third edition of The Student’s Cantonese-English Dictionary from 1947 still writes 山 as “shaan”. 山 is consistently romanized as “shan” in Hong Kong place names.

    The postal romanization of 新寧 was “Sunning”, also based on the Cantonese pronunciation San1ning4 [sɐ́n.nɪ̭ŋ] (the initial of 新 was also traditionally [s]). Here, “sun” is meant to be pronounced as in English, with the STRUT vowel. Both “sun” and “san” are commonly seen for 新 in Hong Kong names, e.g. Mei Foo Sun Chuen (美孚新邨) and San Tin (新田). 新寧 was renamed 臺山 in 1914, long before the Hanyu Pinyin “Xinning” would have been applied to the home of this linguistic variety (though of course there are other places in China known as Xinning).

    I’m struck by the Welsh-style romanization “Llin-nen” for 新寧 Lhin1nen3 [ɬīn.ⁿdèn]. This is used by Alexander Don, an Australian-born New Zealand missionary, in the 1882 description “The Llin-nen Variation of Cantonese”. Because of the prestige of Guangzhou (and later Hong Kong) Standard Cantonese not to mention Standard Mandarin today, not many Yue Chinese names would have been romanized based on local pronunciations that differ from the standard.

    Wikipedia uses bold text to highlight the title of the article and any alternative names that could be used for it. Here it seems the editors may have gone a little overboard.

  4. Wow, thanks very much for that! I now know much more than I did before.

    I’m struck by the Welsh-style romanization “Llin-nen”

    Me too.

  5. J.W. Brewer says

    “Xinning” wasn’t renamed “Taishan” in 1914. “Sunning” was so renamed, and respelling Sunning in accordance with a totalitarian-sponsored orthographic system that had not yet been invented in 1914 is anachronistic at best. At less-than-best it evokes Orwell’s ” “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” I personally do not think the regime that regrettably controls the present of mainland China is a particularly trustworthy steward of China’s past.

  6. J.W. Brewer says

    In terms of “But were they really?” I believe it was David E. on another thread reporting that Sylheti-speaking immigrants in Wales (or perhaps the U.K. at large) would insist that they spoke Bengali, which seems perhaps a parallel situation. Although of course speaking as if “Cantonese” is an ethnic designation and then presuming that the ethnic designation ought to map perfectly onto speaking “standard” Cantonese seems both naive and a recipe for various sorts of misunderstanding and trouble.

  7. “Xinning” wasn’t renamed “Taishan” in 1914. “Sunning” was so renamed, and respelling Sunning in accordance with a totalitarian-sponsored orthographic system that had not yet been invented in 1914 is anachronistic at best. At less-than-best it evokes Orwell’s ” “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

    What the ever-loving fuck are you talking about? I don’t like the current government of China either, but Zhou Youguang was no Maoist hatchetman, he was an extraordinarily learned and accomplished man who studied linguistics and did a good job of romanization. The village 新寧 was renamed; whether you choose to romanize that in the modern fashion as Xinning or as the old postal “Sunning” (which few living souls can now pronounce in the intended fashion) has nothing to do with your politics. Do you also insist on “Lu Hsün” and consider anyone who calls him Lu Xun to be a Commie stooge? Or would you prefer no one mention him, let alone read him, since he was approved by the ChiCom government and Mao loved his work? Sheesh.

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    If you let Commies tell you how to spell, in English, proper names from the time period before the Commies had even come to power (proper names that had romanized spellings in English-language texts of the time) it does, in fact, have something to do with your politics. If you protest that you are not really doing what the Commies tell you to, you are merely doing what Western universities, publishers and other such corporations have been doing in recent decades, after they all agreed to do the Commies’ bidding in the (well-founded) hope of receiving squillions of dollars in revenue from the post-Mao PRC, that still says something about your politics. Perhaps it merely says that you are pragmatic and non-quixotic; perhaps more.

  9. Wow, you’re taking me back to the salad days of Commie-hunting. The funny thing is that it’s the exact mirror image of cosmopolite-hunting in the Soviet Union. “Are you aware of the political implications of what you’re reading, citizen?” Glad you’re not in power!

  10. Let’s all sing along: If mommy is a Commie then you gotta turn her in!

    (Citizen, you don’t appear to be singing with sufficient enthusiasm. Come this way, please…)

  11. J.W. Brewer says

    But which of us is the one acting as the regime prefers us to act? I’m also a bit puzzled because it was less than a week ago that you said this https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53453#comment-1591841. What happened over the weekend?

  12. The proper answer is simply that the government of the ROC (still the only legitimate government of China, btw) renamed 新寧 as 臺山 to avoid confusion with other towns named 新寧. End of story. Arguing about “Sunning” vs. “Xinning” is just anachronistic since in 1914 no one in the region affected or the Chinese government cared all that much about how Western barbarians tried to write it.

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    I am likely more reactionary than Vanya and not at all certain that any post-1912 government of mainland China ever attained legitimacy. But consider the interesting mix of topolect and romanization styles in this sentence from a reasonably scholarly book that appears at first glance to have been published in 2019*: “Up until World War I, 60 percent of all Chinese immigrants to America came from the one Guangdong county of Toishan (Taishan or Hoishan), which prior to 1914 was known as Sunning or Hsin-ning.” I will say that postal-map spellings are relevant to the extent that the Imperial government (and its would-be successors) didn’t much care what the barbarians did amongst themselves but did wish them to converge on a one-per-toponym standard latin-alphabet spelling for any envelopes or packages they wanted the Chinese postal authorities to deliver.

    *This turns out to be misleading, because the 2019 edition is either a reprint or light update of a book originally published in 1980.

  14. Ever since my best friend in graduate school lived in Boston’s Chinatown, it has been a dream of mine to learn Taishanese so I could walk into every American Chinatown and speak with the old shop-owners and restaurateurs like a friend in their language, and to learn Wenzhounese so that I could do the same in European Chinatowns.

    I have heard that the vowel of mein in English chow mein (and yaka mein and lo mein?) reflects the specifically Taishanese pronunciation mein32 (Chao tone numerals) of 麵 “flour, dough, noodles”, as opposed to Cantonese min6 (Jyutping tone numbers). I don’t know if this is true or not and I am hoping that someone can enlighten me on the point. I had conversations with Zev Handel and Victor Mair and maybe Jerry Norman to this regard 15–20 years ago, but we were lacking North American English evidence, and there was less available on the internet then.

    Here is the first cite in the OED for chow mein, from an American work, Conversations of a Chorus Girl (note the spelling):

    1903 R. L. McCardell Conversat. Chorus Girl 142 Chaw main is good, too. That’s chicken and ginger and mushrooms and bamboo sprouts and other stuff.

    You can hear a synthesized pronunciation of Taishanese 麵 mein32 here, by pasting the PRC simplified character 面 into the search box:

    https://www.stephen-li.com/TaishaneseVocabulary/Taishanese.html

    I don’t know how accurate this is (n ~ ŋ?), but it was the best tool I could find for the moment to illustrate the point. For comparison, here is a group of words having this final (a random group I could pull based on what the online Taishanese tool had) with links to a Mandarin and Cantonese online pronouncing dictionary:

    (PRC 面) “flour, noodles” Mandarin: miàn Cantonese: min6 Taishanese: mein32
    “face” M: miàn C: min6 T: mein32
    “sleep” M: mián C: min4 T: mein22
    便 “convenient” M: biàn C: bin6 T: bein325
    “slant, bias” M: piān C: pin1 T: pein33
    (PRC 烟) “smoke” M: yān C: jin1 T: yian33
    “sky, heaven” M: tiān C: tin1 T: heiŋ33 (!)

    A nice article on Taishanese phonology here.

  15. David Marjanović says

    Hànyǔ Pīnyīn was made the sole official Romanization in Táiwān a few years ago, and I really can’t imagine that was done to appease the Commies.

    (Similarly, the PRC character simplifications were made official in Singapore a longer while ago.)

    If only democracies are legitimate governments, then the current government of Táiwān is legitimate, but the GMD dictatorship that preceded it both there and, up to 1949, on the mainland wasn’t any more legitimate than the commie dictatorship.

  16. Bône was renamed Annaba in 1962 or so.

    Būna بونة, on the other hand, had already been renamed `Annāba عنابة several centuries earlier – at a time when, as far as I know, no one used macrons to transliterate Arabic into Latin script. Insisting on adopting some contemporary transliteration scheme to achieve historical authenticity doesn’t seem very helpful to me.

  17. But which of us is the one acting as the regime prefers us to act? I’m also a bit puzzled because it was less than a week ago that you said this https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53453#comment-1591841. What happened over the weekend?

    Your puzzlement puzzles me, because the two have nothing whatever to do with each other. I see transcriptions as inherently nonpolitical, and I also see traditional names of cities and countries as perfectly adequate. To really blow your mind, I also like apple pie.

    Insisting on adopting some contemporary transliteration scheme to achieve historical authenticity doesn’t seem very helpful to me.

    To me either.

  18. GMD dictatorship

    being how you spell ‘KMT dictatorship’? That persisted as a dictatorship in Taiwan until 1990’s.

    Curiously, of the two major political groupings in Taiwan, it’s the KMT that still leans towards rapprochement with PRC (for example they’ve sent official representatives to the Winter Olympics). And their party constitution still talks about unifying ‘one China’.

    Like the Republican Party/Trump/Tucker Carlson cosying up to U.S.S.R. Putin as the only other power to stand up to China. Weirdly inverted times we’re living through.

  19. it’s the KMT that still leans towards rapprochement with PRC

    I’m not sure what you mean by that formulation; when I was teaching college in Taiwan in the ’70s, even hinting at “rapprochement with PRC” could get you arrested and possibly never seen again. Yes, their turnabout is quite reminiscent of the GOP cozying up to the Russkies, but in neither case is “still” a word I’d use.

  20. The KMT has remained the major Taiwanese political party most committed to the notion that Taiwan is part of China; on this they agree—at the level of a general principal—with the PRC. However, their position should not really be too surprising, since the KMT was historically controlled by and (after democratization) most strongly supported by mainland exiles and their descendants (waishengren).

  21. Yes, of course, which does not in any way imply “rapprochement with PRC”; that was a weird turnabout occasioned by desperation once they lost power.

  22. languagehat: Don’t use (what I am given to understand are) slurs.

    Huh?

  23. If we’re telling each other what to do, don’t be so eager to delete your comments.

  24. David Marjanović says

    A nice article on Taishanese phonology here.

    Interesting. Five tones are claimed as basic, four of them can get an extra rise at the end as a matter of (mostly derivational) morphology, for a total of nine tones. (One of the basic level tones can similarly “become” a falling tone, but the outcome is identical to one of the “basic” tones.) The derived tones reminded me of African segment-free tone-bearing morphemes, and indeed the author compared the phenomenon to ordinary morphemes elsewhere in Cantonese and in Mandarin – but then she stated (and showed) there are “residues” and “exceptions” to the derivation process and waffled about “lexical diffusion”. Nine phonemic tones it is, then.

    being how you spell ‘KMT dictatorship’? That persisted as a dictatorship in Taiwan until 1990’s.

    Yes and yes. Kuo²-min²-tang³ is Wade-Giles transcription, Guómíndǎng is Hànyǔ Pīnyīn.

    the GOP cozying up to the Russkies

    That does not surprise me at all, and never has. Russia hasn’t been communist in 30 years, and Putin is exactly what Trump wants to be – he’s a kleptocrat who pays lip service to Christianity, justifies his rule by Making Russia Great Again, makes macho and otherwise reactionary noises and systematically eliminates all potential opposition. Most of that is appealing or at least tolerable to a wide range of more traditional Republicans as well.

    The GMD cozying up to the PRC is much stranger, but may have the same kind of reason as filtered though a heaping helping of wishful thinking: the PRC, these days, is communist only in that it has a Leninist power structure – in most other respects it is thoroughly capitalist (doesn’t even have free, or even just affordable, healthcare, FFS!), and the CCP makes a lot of nationalist noises about Making China Great Again. These are mostly things the GMD can support. Meanwhile, at home, the GMD is utterly horrified by the people who want to formalize the status quo by a Taiwanese declaration of independence from China, and calls them traitors. Perhaps the PRC seems like the slightly lesser evil.

    (I hope I’ve stuffed enough TLAs into that paragraph.)

  25. Calling them “Russkies” is just stupid.

  26. Such is your opinion, and you’re entitled to it. Me, I think it’s funny. And one thing I love about Russians is that they don’t take offense at words (unless they’re wrongly stressed).

  27. J.W. Brewer says

    So why is “Sunning,” as a traditional latin-alphabet spelling of a placename (which also tries to approximate local phonology rather than non-local Mandarin phonology) not preferable to “Xinning,” above and beyond the fact that “Xinning” is not to be found in Western-language texts written back when the place was still known by that name, however romanized?

    Back in the 1920’s, Chiang Kai-Shek and the embryonic KMT were trained and funded by the Soviet Union. The Soviets eventually dumped them after determining that Mao’s crew were more ruthless and perhaps more competent. Which isn’t to say that their later anti-Communism, after they saw what Communism meant in practice in a Chinese context, was exactly insincere, only that they were never really enthusiasts for anything like Western-style liberal parliamentary democracy. And that they never tried very hard to become a legitimate government of Taiwan rather than just imposing a military occupation (with the acquiescence of the U.S. et al.) to take advantage of the power vacuum caused by the withdrawal of the Japanese colonial administration and the military that had upheld it.

  28. If a unified Taiwan/China were to be governed by the current Taiwanese political system, many people would find that agreeable.

  29. David Marjanović says

    Calling them “Russkies” is just stupid.

    In this context it’s an obvious quote of, and allusion to, what Republican anti-communists called them a lot during the Cold War. Or so I thought.

  30. J.W. Brewer says

    It might have been more the centrists and pragmatists* who would have pejoratively condemned Russians-qua-Russians. Or Pottsylvanians or what have you. The more rigorous anti-Communists generally appreciated Solzhenitsyn’s line to the effect that mixing up the USSR with the Russian people was like calling a man by the name of the disease he was suffering from.

    *The Democratic Party tout court was only structurally soft on Communism in the presidential election cycles of 1968 through 1988 inclusive, a fairly brief historical period that is now rather a long time ago.** Indeed, one of the themes of Kennedy’s winning (if you trust the Chicago results …) campaign against Nixon in 1960 was that he would be tougher on the Soviets than the Eisenhower-Nixon administration had been. And the old-timey smoke-filled-room types that still ran the Democratic Party in 1944 were sufficiently anti-Communist, even at a time when the USSR remained our military ally, to dump Wallace as Vice-President because of their concern that FDR would not survive another four years and that it would be a disaster to have someone as insufficiently anti-Communist as Wallace in charge.

    **Johnson in 1964 was, to be sure, less fervently anti-Communist than his GOP opponent, but still anti-Communist enough to get us bogged down in a costly and perhaps imprudent land war against the Communists in Southeast Asia, so you can’t take that away from him.

  31. many people would find that agreeable.

    Most of these people would have to be Mainland Chinese. And I don’t see how you could claim to know what they’d find “agreeable” — there is simply no mechanism to ‘know their mind’. Many in Mainland China might feel disaffected from the state, but CCP has such a tight control over information, and has painted such a horrendous picture of Taiwan (chiefly dating back to the KMT dictatorship, during which there were indeed atrocities against the ordinary people/Taiwanese who’d lived there since before 1949), Mainlanders would mostly not know what they were agreeing to.

    In the case of Taiwan, what is weird is that KMT continues to talk in terms of ‘one country two systems’ — even after seeing how that’s turning out in Hong Kong.

    when I was teaching college in Taiwan in the ’70s, …

    I.e. under the KMT dictatorship. Sorry, so out of date as to be useless. KMT these days has a PRC liaison Committee, which seems to think unification is just a matter of negotiating suitable terms.

    What I meant by “still” is still subscribing to the legal position that China is one country including Taiwan and HK. Which is a fiction: at no time was Taiwan part of the 1912 Republic of China. It was briefly 1946-48, except I’d say the Republic had ceased to be (except as a legal fiction) in the 1930’s.

  32. David Marjanović has it right. However, that jocularity is only possible because Russkies is such an incredibly mild slur to begin with, at least today. In the galaxy of slurs, it’s about one notch worse than Dutch oven.

    Tangentially, this reminded me of something that happened earlier today. The chair of our graduate admissions committee sent around the complete application from a student that he and another committee member had interviewed via Zoom a couple weeks ago. The file looked very strong; the student’s grades and recommendations from Moscow were top tier. However, his performance during a short stint in Cambridge had been quite a bit weaker, which suggests that he might still have some English language problems (although his scores on that appeared to be okay). I e-mailed the interviewers, both from the former Soviet Union, to ask whether they had gotten an impression of his English fluency—insinuating, without actually saying anything specific, that it might be a problem if they had only interviewed the student in Russian.

  33. In this context it’s an obvious quote of, and allusion to, what Republican anti-communists called them a lot during the Cold War. Or so I thought.

    Sort of, except that it has to be modified by Brett’s “Russkies is such an incredibly mild slur to begin with.” I mean, it’s less of a slur than “frogs” or “krauts”; it’s more of a slangy term. And it wasn’t just Republican anti-communists — it was very common in the US back in the day. I myself use it nostalgically and with affection. (No one who has spent more than five minutes on LH could possibly suppose I have anything against Russians.)

    I.e. under the KMT dictatorship. Sorry, so out of date as to be useless.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Of course “under the KMT dictatorship”; that’s what I was talking about. And we’re discussing history — what does “out of date” have to do with it? Sorry if my point is awkward for your argument, but it still stands.

  34. I’ve never heard “Russky” except when making fun of the stuck up cold war types who would use it with a straight face (Dr. Srangelove and such), and now even that mockery is pretty ancient. In my mind, “Russky” belongs on the same dusty shelf as “Papist”.

  35. Hi all
    I am a WASP living in Melbourne, Australia. I am a long time reader but never before commenter on LH. I have no linguistic training and I don’t IPA so please bear with me.

    It happens that my wife is a Toisan speaker. I gave a (brief) speech in Toisan at my wedding.

    To an outsider the most unusual feature of Toisan is the voiceless lateral fricative that is a very common consonant in the language. To my ear it is more lateral and more fricative than the Welsh ll but I’ll use the same symbol. When I say it I have to spread my mouth wide to get enough air around the sides of my tongue. It is widely used e.g.
    yit nyei llum llei is 1234. My (phonologically) favourite Toisan word is ‘cricket'(the insect) llæt lloot. oo as in book.

    In my wife’s extended family it is a disappearing consonant. My wife can say it but rarely does in normal conversations. It has reverted to s so more like Cantonese. The next generation never says it. Her mother b. 1916 d.2014 said it always. Her mother was born near Taishan.

    I can confirm that:
    speakers of any of the See Yup dialects feel an affinity to each other. They are distinct but mutually intelligible dialects. My wife has a brother-in-law who speaks Huiping but they have no trouble conversing.

    Speakers of standard Cantonese can understand almost nothing a See Yup speaker says (nor do they want to).

    My wife gets a thrill whenever she hears Toisan spoken by others. In her community Toisan was a minority language so was spoken almost only by her extended family. When we lived in Vancouver in 1981 she would hear Toisan being spoken in the Chinatown and turn around, expecting to see one of her aunties! Recently we were queueing for a cable car in PRC and someone in the queue was speaking perfect Toisan. That really made my wife’s day.

    As in North America, there is a long story to be told about the See Yup speakers on the Victorian goldfields 1851-.
    But I’ll leave that for another day. If anyone is interested they can ask……

  36. Wow, thanks a lot for that — what a great comment! And it’s nice to be reminded that there are people who read without participating (but don’t be afraid, come on in, the water’s fine!).

  37. Regarding the renaming of Taishan, in Chinese history it is routine for a new government to rename selected cities and provinces. Beijing used to be Beiping (contemporary spelling). ( Peiching would have been the Wade Giles Romanization of Beijing but I don’t remember ever seeing it used — the weird romanization Peking was the one you saw).

    You can date manuscripts by which name is used for various features, and I believe you can spot irredentists the same way.

    In Taiwan 1983 public romanizations seemed a little random — there’s a Hoping Road which I found amusing, which means Peace Road (“Hoping for Peace”). They were resistant to the CPA / pinyin but they pirated mainland books by photo-offset and didn’t bother to purge them.

  38. didn’t bother to purge them.

    Largely but not entirely true — I bought a very useful Mandarin dictionary that had one glaring white space where some censor had decided a term was just too awful to be allowed. (I no longer remember what it was.)

  39. We’ve entered the world of deep irony. The slur “Russky” is the Russian word for “Russian”, just as the slur “Yid” is the Yiddish word for “Jew” and the slur “Polack” is the Polish word for “Pole”.

  40. Hat: I may have had the same Matthews dictionary, What I remember seeing purged was the English translation of the third of the “Three Principles of the People”, 民 生 主 義, which was presumably too socialistic.

    What wasn’t purged was a nice popular series of little books dedicated to the great Chinese poets of the past, where the contemporary pronunciation of rare words was indicated in pinyin.

  41. Let me throw this out: My understanding is that in Chinese history irredentism on even lasts a generation or two. People might honor irredentism while their father or grandfather is alive and then start working to cut a deal. I don’t think that there’s even been anything like the multi-generation Jacobites , Bonny Prince Charlie (the Frenchman), etc.

    In “Woman Warrior”, Maxine Hong Kingston’s semi-fictional semi-autoboiography (she calls it a “talk-story” in the Chinese tradition) the main character applies for jobs as bilingual and finds that she doesn’t speak Chinese (Mandarin). I can’t remember if she also finds that she doesn’t even speak Cantonese.

  42. Sorry I came in late.

    When I was in Taiwan in 1983 the official position was that Taiwan was part of China and that the only legitimate government of China was the KMT/GMT. Everybody knew that, and few tried very hard to conceal the fact that they did not believe that (in particular, they did not believe that the KNT/GMT would even again be the government of a united China). But open dissidence was still forbidden and there were some mysterious killings of dissidents.

    People would let on that they thought that all of the high KMT/GMT (note how I have cunningly managed to offend everyone and no one) leaders were making back door deals with the mainland, with the goal of using their connections in the US to become brokersand middlemen in mainland China’s trade with the US. everyone could see that there was a ton of money lying on the table. (Did it happen that way? I don’t know).

    My guess is that the main KMT/GMT loyalists were the members of mainland families with no local roots, unwelsom in Taidu (Taiwan Indeendence) who were not high enough on the totem pole to start making mainland connections.

  43. I think it’s supposed to be GMD (Guómíndǎng). But I prefer KMT myself. That’s the historical term, even if the initials should be GMD according to pinyin.

  44. But I prefer KMT myself. That’s the historical term

    Same here.

  45. J.W. Brewer says

    Whatever the KMT’s nominal current commitment to hanyu pinyin may be, they don’t appear to use it for the romanization of their own name on their own website. http://www1.kmt.org.tw/english/index.aspx Similarly, the current KMT chairman has not hanyufied the romanization of his surname from Chu to Zhu.

    To the current KMT’s credit it had an acting/interim chairman a few years back who uses a romanization of his name that is conspicuously non-Mandarin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin_Junq-tzer

  46. @Xerîb: I have heard that the vowel of mein in English chow mein (and yaka mein and lo mein?) reflects the specifically Taishanese pronunciation mein32 (Chao tone numerals) of 麵 “flour, dough, noodles”, as opposed to Cantonese min6 (Jyutping tone numbers).

    I remember hearing this as well, though I’m not sure where. Derivation from Taishanese is claimed in the Wiktionary entry on chow mein. But the corresponding entry on lo mein claims a derivation from Cantonese. The Oxford English Dictionary only says that chow mein is derived from “Chinese” without elaborating further, and does not contain an entry for lo mein.

    According to Wiktionary, 炒麵 in Taishanese is cau2men5 /t͡sʰau⁵⁵ ᵐben³²/. The Taishanese pronunciation of 撈麵 is not given, but if we go by the characters individually it would be leu3men5 /leu²² ᵐben³²/. In Cantonese they are caau2min6 /t͡sʰäːu̯³⁵ miːn²²/ and lou1min6 /lou̯⁵⁵ miːn²²/ respectively. So if we go by Wiktionary’s pronunciations, the first syllable of lo mein seems closer to Cantonese than to Taishanese.

    I see that stephen-li.com gives a slightly different pronunciation for 炒面 (the simplified version of 炒麵), i.e. /tsɔu55 mein32/. It doesn’t contain an entry for 捞面 (the simplified version of 撈麵), but for 捞 it gives /lɔu33/ in 捞埋 “to mix” and 捞(埋) “to blend” versus /ləu22/ in 捞(起) “to scoop up”. If we take the reading /lɔu33/ which also seems to go with the meaning of the dish, then lo mein seems seems a good fit for the hypothetical reading /lɔu33 mein32/.

    As Taishanese has not been standardized, some variation in the pronunciation is to be expected. The pronunciations given in stephen-li.com seem closer to the English forms chow mein and lo mein than those given in Wiktionary. Normally I might check the Chinese dialect references in the local library to see what pronunciations they use for Taishanese, but it’s currently closed due to Covid.

    I had not heard of “yaka mein” before. The Wikipedia article mentions the similarity to the Cantonese pronunciation for “one order of noodles” (一個麵, jat1 go3 min6), but says that it is unclear if this is the origin of the name. 一個 is yit2 goi1 in Taishanese so it doesn’t quite work as the etymon. But some of the variant spellings mentioned are slightly closer, such as “yet ca mein” and “yet gaw mein”. The 一個 explanation does feel like it could very well be folk etymology though.

    @LHgroupie, I really enjoyed that story!

  47. To an outsider the most unusual feature of Toisan is the voiceless lateral fricative that is a very common consonant in the language. To my ear it is more lateral and more fricative than the Welsh ll but I’ll use the same symbol.

    I wonder if that is anything like the /l/ sound in Khalkha Mongolian…. Anywhere on the Internet where you could hear it?

  48. J.W. Brewer says

    “I’m getting at something completely different, at how we Rooskies are inveterate fans of degenerates and scoundrels, and that’s what makes us truly remarkable, the way we ‘go hankering, like some old village biddy, after false prophets.'” From a piece titled “Glory” (Слава, apparently first published 1924) by Ivan Bunin, as translated into English by Robert Bowie. Not sure if the Russian word being translated “Rooskies” is itself pejorative, or is a neutral endonym that the translator thought was in context best rendered in English as a pejorative. And (to mix threads) I do not know if we are to take the first-person narrator as reliable and/or assume his views are congruent with Bunin’s own.

  49. The original:

    […] цель моя заключалась вовсе не в том, чтобы их обличать: я вел совсем к другому, к тому, что мы, русичи, исконные поклонники плутов и выродков и что эта наша истинно замечательная особенность, наша “бабская охота ко пророкам лживым” есть предмет, достойный величайшего внимания.

    Interesting choice; there isn’t any good way to render русичи, an old term for inhabitants of Rus popularized by the popularity of the Lay of the Host of Igor and sometimes used for contemporary Russians, but given the paucity of variants of “Russian” in English, that’s probably as good a choice as any. I recall that Hemingway and Pound talked about “the Roosians” (meaning the 19th-century novelists), which is also a fun word.

  50. @Bathrobe: There is a Wikitongues video of someone speaking Siyi Yue, but it sounds much closer to Cantonese than what I was expecting based on the descriptions. I was even able to make out some of what he was saying although my Cantonese is terrible to non-existent. I don’t hear the Welsh ll sound is his speach either but a Cantonese-style s. He says he’s speaking the dialect of Xinhui (新會, one of the “four counties” of the eponymous Siyi), which he pronounces much closer to Cantonese San1wui6 than to Taishanese Lhin1voi5 (going by Wiktionary).

  51. J.W. Brewer says

    Google translate gives “we Russians are primordial admirers of rogues and degenerates” for Bowie’s “we Rooskies are inveterate fans of degenerates and scoundrels,” which seems close enough for free. I don’t even know which is better, because I can’t read Russian and thus can’t assess whether Bowie’s more colloquial register is a better fit, although that certainly seems plausible. I.e., that’s the sort of judgment that human translators are better at, although of course any given individual human translator can be idiosyncratic or wrongheaded in a given situation.

  52. I am not a Rooshan or a Prooshan, and consequently cannot suffer Spies to be set over me.

    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/968/968-h/968-h.htm

  53. “We Russians are primordial admirers of rogues and degenerates”.

    So unlike Americans.

  54. David Marjanović says

    Let me throw this out: My understanding is that in Chinese history irredentism on even lasts a generation or two. People might honor irredentism while their father or grandfather is alive and then start working to cut a deal. I don’t think that there’s even been anything like the multi-generation Jacobites , Bonny Prince Charlie (the Frenchman), etc.

    Is this about irredentism, or about pretending to the throne? Because there the obvious difference to the European tradition is that the Mandate of Heaven can be lost. You can claim for a generation or two that the fallen dynasty ought to continue, but at some point die normative Kraft des Faktischen kicks in, and you can only give up and admit that the usurper has the Mandate now. But if a dynasty rules by the Grace of God, that is not possible. Facts count for nothing. A ruling dynasty has to rule till it dies out. If you’re the legitimate heir to the throne, there’s simply nothing you can do about it. That’s the point of The Lion King.

    To the current KMT’s credit it had an acting/interim chairman a few years back who uses a romanization of his name that is conspicuously non-Mandarin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin_Junq-tzer

    The article says he’s “林政則; pinyin: Lín Zhèngzé”. I think the spelling is inspired by Gwoyeu Romatzyh, where -nq is -ng in the 4th tone.

    An English non-rhotic er [ɜ] is very similar to a Mandarin [ɤ]. I’ve seen it used to transcribe [ɤ] before.

    I wonder if that is anything like the /l/ sound in Khalkha Mongolian…. Anywhere on the Internet where you could hear it?

    The Mongolian one is supposed to be the voiced lateral fricative. Here you can hear both voiced and voiceless ones… in isiZulu.

  55. J.W. Brewer says

    I stand corrected. I had thought the odd-looking syllable codas in the KMT gentleman’s name might reflect Hakka pronunciation or something like that and had lacked sufficient imagination to recall the wackiness of Gwoyeu Romatzyh. Looks like hanyu Zhèngzé would come out in GR as Jenq-tzer, so only one idiosyncratic letter off. The GR fourth tone includes the sequences -anq, -enq, -inq, and -onq, but not -unq, presumably for reasons that would be obvious to the initiate.

    The current non-KMT President, Tsai Ing-wen, uses GR for her given name, perhaps having the good fortune to have a particular combination of syllables and tones* where the GR doesn’t look aggressively weird, but uses Wade-Giles for her family name, which would be Tzay in GR.

    *Usually its the first tone that looks least-weird in GR, but for syllables that everyone else agrees should start with w- it’s the second tone, with “wen” (one of those where Wade-Giles and hanyu are in complete accord) coming out as “uen” in the first tone.

  56. @ DM

    Having listened to the isiZulu example, I can assure you that Khalkha Mongolian /l/ is a voiceless lateral fricative.

    @ Jeongsong Park

    Pity about the Wikitongues video. If you potter around the Internet you can hear examples of all kinds of English accents. Perhaps other languages are not so well served.

    @ JE & DM

    Whether it’s a cultural tendency to irredentism or pretending to the throne, the modern PRC government shows tenacious irredentist tendencies. Any kind of territorial claim is invariably bolstered by arguments that such-and-such a territory has “always belonged to China”. This applies to Taiwan, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Tibet and adjacent territories in India, Xinjiang, and even the South China Sea, where the Chinese claim was first manufactured in the latter years of KMT rule. I expect that irredentist claims will also be trotted out if China is ever in a military position to reclaim Mongolia, parts of Siberia lost to the Russians, or even the Ryukyus. If the Chinese ever decide to annex Vietnam, I’m sure similar claims will be used.

  57. I even heard people talk about Vietnam that way when I was teaching in Taiwan. Long memories…

  58. John Emerson says

    Bathrobe: I was thinking solely of dynastic irredentism. Even the territorial claims you mention are a polite compromise. The true Chinese territory is All under Heaven.

    GR is a contender for Worst Romanization despite the fact that in one respect it is the best. There’s a XIXc European romanization that’s worse but I’ve never known its name.

  59. Actually I just meant the Bonny Prince Charlie Jacobite kind of thing. Irredentism was probably the wrong word entirely.

  60. The Japanese use 天下を取る tenka o toru (‘take what is under heaven’), which kotobank tells me means 国全体を自分の支配下に治める。 政権を握る。 また、絶対的な権力を握る意にいう (‘put the entire country under one’s control, seize power, or seize absolute power’).

    But when Hideyoshi, having conquered all of Japan (usually referred to as tenka o toru), decided to invade Korea, his larger goal was apparently to take China. I’m not sure if at the time he considered this as tenka o toru in a broader sense.

  61. J.W. Brewer says

    John E.: I think you want something in the neighborhood of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimists_(disambiguation). Of course, if it had gotten U.S. support that exiled-Ming-loyalist regime that was established on Taiwan in the late 17th century (after evicting the Dutch) could have held out indefinitely.

    Bathrobe: The ROC only took steps to acquiesce in the de facto independence of Outer Mongolia in 2002 and there may be some remaining ambiguity as to whether that independence is fully de jure as a matter of ROC fantasy-territorial-claim law. I assume that for much of the latter part of the 20th century being the bureaucrat in Taipei in charge of maintaining the theoretical ROC claim to sovereignty over Outer Mongolia had to be one of the least-taxing government jobs available. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolia%E2%80%93Taiwan_relations

  62. J.W. Brewer says

    Further to my prior post (don’t want to edit to add another link for fear of dumping it into moderation limbo) here’s a claim that the acquiescence re Outer Mongolian independence also meant the ROC was sub silentio discontinuing its claim to sovereignty over Russian-occupied Tuva. https://www.quora.com/Does-the-Republic-of-China-still-claim-Tannu-Tuva-as-part-of-its-territory

  63. The PRC has relinquished all claim to (Outer) Mongolia, probably because Mao acquiesced in Mongolian independence. But there is still a strong feeling in China that “Mongolia really belongs to us” and I would not be surprised if the Chinese were to revive their claim at some time in the future as an excuse to annex Mongolia. I personally don’t believe that any relinquishing of Chinese territorial claims is completely irreversible. They can always be revived as needed. And even new territorial claims can be historically “justified” retrospectively, as seen in the case of the South China Sea.

  64. @Bathrobe: the funniest thing (for certain values of “funny”) is that “South China Sea” is a loanword from Japanese into PRC Mandarin.

  65. David Marjanović says

    The GR fourth tone includes the sequences -anq, -enq, -inq, and -onq, but not -unq, presumably for reasons that would be obvious to the initiate.

    Yes – there is no distinction between -ong and -ung in Mandarin; the actual sound is in between, different transcriptions pick one or the other.

    (This is very much unlike Cantonese.)

    Having listened to the isiZulu example, I can assure you that Khalkha Mongolian /l/ is a voiceless lateral fricative.

    Interesting.

    Is that a recent development by any chance? The Tibetan voiceless approximant is rendered лх and not simply л…

    his larger goal was apparently to take China.

    This is what peak ambition looks like.

  66. Interesting.

    Mongolian монгол [mɔŋɢɔ̆ɮ] ‘Mongol’ Sometimes realized as [ɬ]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_dental_and_alveolar_lateral_fricatives

  67. @juha I haven’t seen “ɮ” in years.

  68. @David Marjanović: This is what peak ambition looks like.

    Hideyoshi also has designs on India, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

    @V: “South China Sea” is a loanword from Japanese into PRC Mandarin.

    In Korean we used to call it 남지나해 Nam Jina Hae which is the Sino-Korean reading of Japanese 南支那海 Minami Shina Kai, nowadays written as 南シナ海. 支那 (Zhīnà in Mandarin) is originally a name for China derived from Sanskrit Cīna but is considered derogatory today, so we switched to 남중국해 Nam Jungguk Hae, the Sino-Korean reading of 南中國海 using the usual name for China.

    It looks like the usual name in Chinese is still simply 南海 Nán Hǎi “South Sea” but 南中國海/南中国海 Nán Zhōngguó Hǎi and even 中國南海/中国南海 Zhōngguó Nán Hǎi are also used.

    Considering that 支那 survives only in a couple of geographical terms like 印度支那 Yìndù-Zhīnà “Indochina” and 交趾支那 Jiāozhǐ-Zhīnà “Cochin China”, neither of which is Chinese, the Japanese name 南支那海 Minami Shina Kai doesn’t particularly make it sound like China should have a claim to it compared to 南中國海 Nán Zhōngguó Hǎi.

    I had assumed that 印度支那 and 交趾支那 were based on the European names like Indochine and Cochinchina, and that 南支那海 also was a translation of South China Sea or some European equivalent. I’m less sure about the last bit, though it would be interesting to look up where the name came from. It does seem really unlikely that the Chinese would have been the ones to include “China” in the name originally.

  69. I am not a Rooshan or a Prooshan, and consequently cannot suffer Spies to be set over me.

    ah! now i finally understand an offhand jab in HMS PInafore!

    he might have been a rooshan
    or french or turk or prooshan
    or perhaps i-tal-i-an
    but he himself has said it
    and it’s greatly to his credit
    that he is an englishma-a-an

    (and be reassured: good old august would never allow himself to be set over you)

  70. @Bathrobe: I found a video of a Taishanese speaker that uses [ɬ]. It’s a good introduction on Taishanese in general.

  71. But I prefer KMT myself. That’s the historical term,

    Whatever the KMT’s nominal current commitment to hanyu pinyin may be, they don’t appear to use it for the romanization of their own name

    There’s so many romanisations in Taiwan that are well-known outside the country (and within), the authorities haven’t revised their spelling. Indeed you can walk along a street and see the name spelt three different ways on road signs.

    Kaohsiung City. Quemoi Islands as in ‘Incident’ of the 1960 US Presidential Election/Kinmen is the ‘postal spelling’. Feng Chia University next to Fengjia Night Market (which also has other spellings on battered neon signs advertising it). Google Maps can’t cope, especially because some streets seem to change name (or do they?) at arbitrary points.

  72. South China Sea, where the Chinese claim was first manufactured in the latter years of KMT rule.

    As in South-of China, not part-of China.

    I’ve taken to calling it the North Borneo Sea, to avoid mentioning any particular country. Or will that give irredentists even more grist?

  73. Here’s another video by the same speaker. She covers the consonant which she denotes by lh at 5.00.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ7lJ8Mg7u4

  74. Quemoi Islands as in ‘Incident’ of the 1960 US Presidential Election

    You mean Quemoy. The Quemoy-and-Matsu crisis is one of my earliest political memories.

  75. J.W. Brewer says

    If the Chicoms seize Quemoy, they’ll turn it into Jinmen. Don’t let that happen!

    Quemoy is hypothesized to be a Portuguese or perhaps Spanish rendering of one version of the Hokkien toponym, which might be modernly transcribed as “Kim-mui.” The ROC authorities still use the Mandarin-but-postal-system spelling “Kinmen” which presumably has a k rather than j for the same reasons as the Nanking/Nanjing variation. But interestingly enough I read on the internet that in 2003 the local college rebranded itself (for English-language marketing) from the National Kinmen Institute of Technology to National Quemoy University.

  76. Ok, this is from The Phonology of Mongolian by Svantesson et al.

    The liquids in Mongolian are the lateral fricative [ɮ], the vibrant [r], and the corresponding palatalized consonants [ɮj] and [rj]. The presence of the lateral fricative [ɮ] while a plain lateral [l] is absent is a typologically unusual feature. This conspicuous pronunciation of the lateral is seldom mentioned in the literature; exceptions are Ramstedt (1902: 27) and Saitō (1986: 116). There is a tendency to devoice [ɮ], speaker BB does this consistently, while the other speakers DD and HB have at least partially voiced [ɮ], except before aspirated stops.

    There is also a voiceless lateral [ɬ] found in word-initial position in a few Tibetan loan-words. It differs from [ɮ] not only by being voiceless but also by having higher intensity and more high-frequency noise, and it is differentiated from [ɮ] even by those speakers who devoice [ɮ]. [ɬ] often consists of two phases; the second phase may be described as strong postaspiration.

    This suggests that [ɮ] is the norm and the pronunciation [ɬ] represents a strong tendency to devocalisation by some speakers, or by all speakers in particular environments. For me, the [ɬ] pronunciation is the more salient one, and the pronunciation [ɮ] is less audible as a voiced consonant than as a kind of ‘watered down’ (and thus less noticeable) form of [ɬ] found in rapid speech or in vocalised environments.

    I would not be surprised if [ɬ] were historically newer. In Mongolian dialects of Inner Mongolia the lateral consonant is voiced and closer to English /l/, although, if my memory serves me correctly, it can also be heard as a kind of flap. At any rate, the typological oddity of a lateral [ɮ] appears to be a peculiarity of Khalkha which possibly developed from an earlier, less marked form. That would suggest that the voiced form [ɮ] might indeed have been the original form in Khalkha, which later became devoiced.

  77. Mongols once conquered China. Can the principle be: “when you conquer China, you become a part of China”?

    As for seas, I always thought that names lie “Irish sea” etc. are given NOT by the respective “Irish” and mean: “a sea you can use to reach X or where you can meet X”.
    Thus Arabian attempts to rename “Persian gulf” to “Arabian gulf” looked funny to me.

  78. David Eddyshaw says

    “when you conquer China, you become a part of China”?

    Happened to the Manchu …
    Probably as well for Japan (and China, of course) that Hideyoshi’s plans failed.

    I would say “Arabian Gulf” rather than “Persian Gulf.” I don’t think it’s unusual to call it that in English.

  79. Maybe not, but “Persian Gulf” is what I learned as a wee lad and I’m sticking with it.

  80. I would say “Arabian Gulf” rather than “Persian Gulf.” I don’t think it’s unusual to call it that in English.

    I will quote the first three paragraphs of WP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf_naming_dispute):

    The Persian Gulf naming dispute is concerned with the name of the body of water known historically and internationally as the Persian Gulf (Persian: خلیج فارس), after Persia (the Western exonym for Iran). This name has become contested by some Arab countries since the 1960s[1] in connection with the emergence of pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism, resulting in the invention of the toponym “Arabian Gulf” (Arabic: الخليج العربي) as well as “Gulf”, which are terms still used in some Arab countries. The body of water is historically and internationally known as the “Persian Gulf”. [2][3][4]

    On almost all maps printed before 1960, and in most modern international treaties, documents and maps, this body of water is known by the name “Persian Gulf” (see #Persian Gulf or equivalent). [2] This reflects traditional usage since the Greek geographers Strabo and Ptolemy, and the geopolitical realities of the time with a powerful Persian Empire comprising the whole northern coastline and a scattering of local authorities on the Arabian Peninsular coast of the Persian Gulf.[5] It was referred to as the Persian Gulf by all Arab historians and geographers, including the Arab Christian writer Agapius, writing in the 10th century.[6] [7] An official letter from former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to a Bahraini official. The name “Persian Gulf” (الخليج الفارسي) has been used. The document dates before the initiation of Nasser’s pan-Arabism policies.[8]

    According to authors Philip L. Kohl, Mara Kozelsky, and Nachman Ben-Yehuda in their work Selective Remembrances, Sir Charles Belgrave (British adviser to the ruler of Bahrain) was “the first westerner to use and advocate the name ‘Arabian gulf’, first in the journal Soat al-Bahrain (Voice of Bahrain) in 1955.”[9] Mahan Abedin of The Jamestown Foundation agrees with this, noting that Arab countries used the term “Persian Gulf” until the 1960s.[10][11][12][13] However, with the rise of Arab nationalism during that decade, some Arab countries, including the ones bordering the Gulf, adopted widespread use of the term الخليج العربي (al-Khalīj al-ʻArabī; Arab Gulf or Arabian Gulf) to refer to this waterway. Teymoor Nabili (a senior presenter for Al Jazeera English) said “ironically, among the major drivers of the movement for change were Arab perceptions that Iran, driven by Washington, had supported Israel during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973”.[14] This, coupled with the decreasing influence of Iran on the political and economic priorities of the English-speaking Western World, led to increasing acceptance, both in regional politics and the mostly petroleum-related business, of the new alternative naming convention “Arabian Gulf” in Arab countries.

  81. When I was in Taiwan Kinmen Kaoliang was the most highly prized, or advertised that way anyway.

    Keelung City seemed to be with no effort to make it Jilong. Keelong was founded by the the Spanish, who called it La Santisima Trinidad, in 1626 when Taiwan wasn’t really Chinese yet. Wiki says the name derives from a Chinese name for the Ketagalan.people who lived there.

    Per Wiki the Ks are from Old Manadarin, not from Hokkien or from a transcription convention. Does this also account for Oeking? It would seem so. But should we trust Wiki.

    When I was there two friends took me on a tour and on a hill over the city there were two cannon from the 1895 war with Japan just lying there with (as I remember) no marker or anything.

    The way I understand, each stretch of a Chinese road can have its own name. One o the main roads in Taipei is Roosevelt Road, but at a certain point it becomes the Beixin Road (Taibei-Xindian) and then a little later the Beiyi Road (Taibei-Yilan) and maybe, not sure, for some purposes the Xinyi Road (Xindian-Yilan). I know the Yangtze also has several names that way.

  82. Oops. Sorry. I thought it is a short excerpt and now on my screen it is much longer than I intended. I won’t cut it after I posted it, but I did not mean it to be that long. I think I prefer “Persian” — there is an Arabian sea anyway and I am not into renaming in general. I am fine with “slave < Slav" — but what I found funny is that I thought such names are given exactly by others. For Arabs it must be “Persian” and for Persians it must be “Arabian”.
    And in this case it is Arabians who want to speak “Arabian gulf” – identifying with the people from far away (don’t use it to reach Persia! Use it to reach Arabia and associate it with Arabia!) and abandoning their own subjective point of view (drasvi calling his pond “drasvi’s pond” is impossible)

    But I certainly see “Arabian” here and there.

  83. To my ear it is more lateral and more fricative than the Welsh ll but I’ll use the same symbol.

    Sounds like лъ ‘ɬ’ in Avar.

  84. The Mongols who ruled China did not become Sinified, though the Mongols ruled by China in Inner Mongolia somewhat did. The Mongols ruled China with foreign experts, of whom Marco Polo was one. Polo seems to have been a special agent of the Khan who reported to Khublai Khan himself, not part of the regular administration, and there’s one passage which seems to indicate that the Khan enjoyed Polo’s storytelling abilities, and Polo’s reports on what is now South China but wasn’t then yet Chinese, where they used salt money, follow a stereotyped format which I surmise was the format of his reports to the Khan.

    There were four categories in the ruling group in China and Chinese were not one of them..As I remember it was Mongols; Ongguts and other Turks; Khitans and Jurchens; and then Muslims, in that order. (Marco Polo was probably lumped with the tall-nosed Muslims), But Chinese could be part of the ruling group in non-Chinese areas (Central Asia).

    The Mongols did not mingle much with the Chinese but just took the finest things they had to offer. They governed fro military encampments from outside the cities (whose walls they had torn down) where they lived as Mongols, and only their elite shared in the Chinese and other luxuries . When they were driven out the just returned to Mongolia. , though I’m sure the adjustment was painful.

    This translation of a recipe book book describes the international diet of the Chinese Mongol rulers:

    https://www.amazon.com/Soup-Qan-Paul-D-Buell/dp/1138982571

  85. An example of Avar spoken (brace yourself for a lot of ɬ’s and various ejectives).

  86. Very nice! And it sounds like Makhachkala has antepenultimate stress in Avar, which is good to know.

  87. The Wikipedia article on Avar doesn’t say anything about stress, which is all too common and always annoys me.

  88. Even the otherwise incredibly detailed Avar article doesn’t seem to have any information on stress (as far as I can tell, which isn’t far, of course).

  89. The Wikipedia article on Avar doesn’t say anything about stress

    Ударение в аварском языке подвижное и слабое. Оно падает или на первый, или на второй слог в слове, причем ведет себя непредсказуемо: необходимо запоминать ударение в каждом слове. Ударение также имеет смыслоразличительную функцию, хотя и не такую выраженную, как в русском языке.

    https://postnauka.ru/longreads/155222

  90. дуе баркала!

  91. the Russkies

    русня

    Russian
    Etymology

    рус- (rus-) +‎ -ня (-nja) or Русь (Rusʹ) +‎ -ня (-nja).
    Pronunciation

    IPA(key): [rʊsʲˈnʲa]

    Noun

    русня́ • (rusnjá) f inan (genitive русни́, uncountable)

    1. (derogatory, collective) Russians

  92. Are the Avars of the Caucasus related to the Avars of the Avar Khaganate (Pannonian Avars)? Does anyone really know?

    Wixman’s “Language Aspects of Ethnic Patterns and Processes in the North Caucasus” is now available free online. In it I long ago read about some area where most people spoke obscure languages, but the the lingua franca was Avar. It amused me to see Avar as a cosmopolitan language.

    https://abkhazworld.com/aw/Pdf/Language_Aspects_of_Ethnic_Patterns_and_Processes_in__the_North_Caucasus_by_Ronald_Wixman.pdf

  93. Ударение в аварском языке подвижное и слабое. Оно падает или на первый, или на второй слог в слове, причем ведет себя непредсказуемо

    There is a bit more, but not much, on p. 21f in a chapter available here, Lena Borise (2020) “Word stress in the languages of the Caucasus, in M. Polinsky, ed. Handbook of the Languages of the Caucasus:

    In Avar, stress typically targets the first or the second syllable, but the conditioning for stress placement often evades explanation. Stress variants for some lexical items are possible (Charachidzé 1981:18), and there is considerable dialectal variation (Mikailov 1958; 1959). In some dialects, such as Tlokh Avar, the disyllabic stress window does not hold (Nurmagomedova 2009).

    Most nouns carry stress on the second syllable, though exceptions and minimal pairs are numerous: k’úlal ‘key.PL’, k’ulál ‘lock’; ráʁi ‘fight’, raʁí ‘balcony’ (Isakov 1981: 88). There are productive morphological processes that derive minimal pairs based on stress, such as pairs of deverbial and deadverbial nouns: bák’ɬi ‘heavening, weighing’ vs. bak’ɬí ‘burden’ (Mikailov 1958: 120; Charachidzé 1981: 19).

    Many case affixes don’t shift stress: rúq͡χ’ː ‘house’, rúq͡χ’ːaɬ ‘house.ERG’, rúq͡χ’ːaɬul ‘house.GEN’, rúq͡χ’ːaɬe ‘house.DAT’ (Isakov 1981: 94). On the other hand, some do, so that certain case forms differ in stress only, such as singular and plural instrumental forms (Uslar 1889: 65; Charachidzé 1981: 18). Monosyllabic roots typically retain stress when modified by suffixes: gṹ͡tʃʰ-ab ‘strong-ADJ’, sóʕ-ab ‘stern-ADJ’ (Isakov 1981: 94).

    Many masdars and numerals are stressed on the initial syllable, and most verbs are stressed on the last syllable of the root/stem. Some verbal affixes, such as iterative and evidential ones, can attract stress out of the stress window: wusaníla ‘return.PST.3SG.M.EVID’ (Isakov 1981: 97).

  94. Great find, thanks! (I added itals for clarity.)

  95. Jongseong Park, thank you for those comments and links! I never thought to consult the Wiktionary.

    The Wiktionary also provides a Taishanese etymology for one other American Chinese dish, moo goo gai pan, reflecting 蘑菇雞片, apparently Taishanese mo3 gu1 gai1 pen1*, with changed tone, it seems. Both Taishanese etymologies in the Wiktionary, chow mein and moo goo gai pan, were provided by editor Justinrleung, so hat tip to him!

    In English moo goo gai pan, the 片 pen1 “slice” in 蘑菇雞片 (with changed tone here, mid-rising? cf. Cantonese pin3-2) shows up as English pan. I wonder if that reflects folk-etymology to English pan (the cooking implement), or regional variation in Taishanese, or something else (the vowel system of the American English topolect in which it was first adopted)? The English spelling moo goo gai pen is also found, but seems to have always been less common. The earliest Google Books offered to me was from 1932. The OED’s earliest cite for the word, from 1902, has the spelling with pan. After a more century in North America, I wonder how much American Taishanese topolects have diverged from those in China, and whether each American city’s Chinatown (once?) had its own Taishanese accent, resulting from the local proportions of dialect mixture in each immigrant community and subsequent local developments.

    The videos were interesting to listen to. The presenter used several words with finals in -en corresponding to Cantonese -in: 前 ten4, 顯 hen2, 邊 ben1, 然 ngen42, and in the second video, 練 len3 (as well as Taishanese -en of other apparent Middle Chinese origin, such as 清 ten1 (M: qīng C: cing1)). I couldn’t hear any diphthongization in her pronunciation of these that might inspire the mein in American English chow mein, nor was the vowel particularly close.

  96. искóнные поклóнники плутов

    iskónnyje poklónniki plutóf
    primordial admirers of rogues

    Or even:
    Russians are primordial admirers of rogues and degenerates

    Google won.

  97. I mean it. The Russian sequence without the context is obviously alliterative, it is striking.

  98. If I have translate that from Middle Bulgarian it would probably be “inherently worshiping”, and it would sound like “исконни поклонници” but the stress pattern is _probably_ right. I remember little of Middle Bulgarian stress patterns with regards to long and short vowels.

  99. > Are the Avars of the Caucasus related to the Avars of the Avar Khaganate (Pannonian Avars)?
    Maybe, but it’s hard to tell. Probably yes.

  100. V, both words I wanted to include in a vocabulary for JWB.

    Поклонник is admirer of an art form or artist or a woman (or both as in “I am a great admirer of your talent”).
    Literally it is one who bows.
    поклоняться “to worship”, идолопоклонник, огнепоклонник “idol worshipper”, “fire worshipper”.

  101. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say? Поклонник is a Bulgiarian word that mean “worshipper”? I don’t know what it means in Russian, but it meant the same in middle Bulgarian. I don’t know what it means in modern Russian.

  102. I am describing its modern Russian usage (in case you or JWB are interested). “admirer” as applied to male admirers of art, artist and objects of romantic interest. “worship” in a verb поклоняться. “worshipper” in compounds. (and “someone who bows”, literally, but you know that).

  103. “when you conquer China, you become a part of China”

    A Chinese person once boasted (?) to me that even if the Japanese had won the war and taken China, they would have ended up becoming sinicised. Such is the confidence of the Han, although tinged with a kind of masochism that isn’t usually found in Western conceptions of superiority.

  104. We giggle about Chinese school history books that admittedly show 13th century Russia as a part of China. There is a problem here indeed: in Wikipedia the only map that shows that state of affairs is the one in the infobox “Great Mongol Nation” (in the article Mongol Empire).
    Now, we identify “Yuan” with “China”, and include the Golden Horde in Yuan…

    Anyway, I have not seen Chinese shoolbooks (sadly, actually).

  105. About adv. искони, adj. исконный:

    искони бѣ cлово и слово бѣ отъ б҃а. и б҃ъ бѣ слово. се бѣ искони оу б҃а. и тѣмь вса бышѧ….
    in the beginning was the word…

    (the spelling of Ostromir Gospels. In Zograph codex (In Cyrillic transliteration): iскони бѣăше… I do not know what is that diacritic over a)

    In other words, it is the first word of the gospel of John and the first word of Genesis. In 18th century here it was replaced in our Slavonic translation with:
    въ нача́лѣ бѣ̀ сло́во, и҆ сло́во бѣ̀ къ бг҃ѹ {ѹ҆ бг҃а}, и҆ бг҃ъ бѣ̀ сло́во…
    though it was preserved (and even added) here and there in other places.

  106. Oops. The Zogrpah link does not work.
    For the Glagolitic page of John 1, you need л 225. Or this

  107. I can never figure out why Wikipedia uses bold for some terms and italics for others.
    Bold for introducing synonyms of the headword?

    “The terms Toishan, Toisan, and Toisaan are” rather than
    “The terms Toishan, Toisan, and Toisaan are”
    …because that would be too bold?

  108. Since we’ve been talking about the KMT, I have to share this startling excerpt from Storm Clouds over the Pacific, 1931–1941, by Peter Harmsen:

    In late summer 1939, a 22-year-old man in the uniform of a Wehrmacht officer was on his way to Germany’s border with Poland. His mission was to attach himself to a German division as an observer during the invasion that was only days away. The young man must have attracted considerable attention since his features were anything but Aryan. His name was Chiang Wei-kuo, and he was the adopted son of China’s leader, Chiang Kai-shek. For the past two years he had undergone advanced military training at the War Academy in the south German city of Munich. In that capacity, he had even taken part in Germany’s peaceful occupation of Austria in March 1938.

    Chiang Wei-kuo’s story was a reflection of how close Sino-German ties had grown in the 1930s, as Germany’s resurgent armament industry was exporting vast quantities of military equipment to the Nationalist Chinese regime, whose efforts at building up a large modern army were also assisted by a corps of experienced German advisors. The assistance had proved particularly useful since 1937, after full-scale war broke out between China and Japan. By 1939, however, Germany was growing friendlier with Japan and was busy distancing itself from Chiang’s regime. As a result, Chiang Wei-kuo’s presence was beginning to appear out of place, and when he passed through Berlin en route to the Polish border and paid a visit to the Chinese embassy, he received new orders: he was to travel to the United States for military training there.

    Consequently, by the time German panzers rolled into Poland in the early hours of September 1, Chiang was already on a ship bound for America, which was emerging as an important new ally for China. He would soon commence studies at the Armored Force Center, Fort Knox, before returning home three years later, his brain filled with the latest military knowledge. He was not the only one in his family to travel widely. His stepbrother Chiang Ching-kuo had spent 12 years in the Soviet Union. He had a Belarusian wife and even a Russian name, Nikolai Vladimirovich Elizarov.

    The two stepbrothers formed just a corner of a corner in the immensely complex web of relations and interactions that characterized Chinese and Asian politics and society during the 1930s, the decade that saw the Sino-Japanese War flare up and, little by little, set in motion events which would eventually lead to Japan’s conflict with an array of Western powers. What the Chiangs do exemplify, however, is the extent to which the war in the Asia Pacific was, right from its earliest origins, a global affair, involving both indigenous actors and actors from thousands of miles away.

    Startling to me, anyway; I knew about CCK living in the USSR, but had no idea about Chiang Wei-kuo’s ties with Nazi Germany. I guess that got hushed up after Nationalist China became our plucky ally.

  109. Well, after Nationalist China became our plucky ally the earlier Soviet connections of the KMT in general and future ROC supremo Nikolai Vladimirovich in particular likewise got played down, I should think.

    The actual birth father of Chiang Wei-kuo (who was married to a woman other than the birth mother, thus making the situation awkward and leading to the boy being adopted), was himself an interesting figure in the history of the KMT, in particular taking the ideological lead in helping to reconfigure the KMT as an anti-Communist group with a positive view of Confucian tradition, which was largely done by retconning Sun Yat-sen after his death as a more traditionalist and less left-wing figure than he may in actual fact have been. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_Jitao

  110. Well, after Nationalist China became our plucky ally the earlier Soviet connections of the KMT in general and future ROC supremo Nikolai Vladimirovich in particular likewise got played down, I should think.

    Played down but not forgotten — when I was in Taiwan it was common knowledge.

  111. David Marjanović says

    Are the Avars of the Caucasus related to the Avars of the Avar Khaganate (Pannonian Avars)?

    Maybe, but it’s hard to tell. Probably yes.

    No evidence. Of the few names & words we have, some look Turkic, some Iranian, some like nothing at all (especially those connected to the entities north of China that are supposed to have become the Avars), but none have anything in common with an unremarkable East Caucasian language. Even the name Avar has a Turkic etymology. I guess Awar is another Caucasian coincidence like Iberia and Albania (Alwan in this case).

    helping to reconfigure the KMT as an anti-Communist group with a positive view of Confucian tradition, which was largely done by retconning Sun Yat-sen after his death as a more traditionalist and less left-wing figure than he may in actual fact have been.

    Confucianism: 2500 years of retconning!

  112. There is another Mt. Tai in China, but it has the 4th tone rather than the second:

    Mount Tai (Chinese: 泰山; pinyin: Tài Shān) is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai’an. It is the highest point in Shandong province, China. The tallest peak is the Jade Emperor Peak (simplified Chinese: 玉皇顶; traditional Chinese: 玉皇頂; pinyin: Yùhuáng Dǐng), which is commonly reported as being 1,545 meters (5,069 ft) tall.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tai

    – The Chinese idiom “Mount Tai & Big Dipper” (Chinese: 泰山北斗; pinyin: Tàishān Bĕidŏu) is an epithet for a person of great distinction.
    – The Chinese idiom “有眼不識泰山” (literal translation Has eyes but doesn’t recognize Mount Tai) refers to an ignorant yet arrogant person.
    – The Chinese idiom “穩如泰山” (literal translation Stable as Mount Tai) is used to describe an entity that is very safe or firm.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tai#Cultural_references

  113. From P.H.C. Lucas, Protected Landscapes: A Guide for Policy Makers and Planners (1992): “By Neolithic times it had become a significant cultural centre and for over 3000 years Chinese emperors of various dynasties made pilgrimages to Taishan for sacrificial and ceremonial purposes.”

  114. From Pound’s Canto LXXIV:

    from the death cells in sight of Mt. Taishan @ Pisa
    as Fujiyama at Gardone
    when the cat walked the top bar of the railing
    […]
    dark sheep in the drill field and on wet days were clouds
    in the mountain as if under the guard roosts.
     A lizard upheld me
     the wild birds wd not eat the white bread
     from Mt Taishan to the sunset
    From Carrara stone to the tower
     and this day the air was made open
     for Kuanon of all delights
    […]
    in the light of light is the virtù
     “sunt lumina” said Erigena Scotus
     as of Shun on Mt Taishan
    and in the hall of the forebears
       as from the beginning of wonders
    the paraclete that was present in Yao, the precision
    in Shun the compassionate
    in Yu the guider of waters
    […]
    one day were clouds banked on Taishan
     or in glory of sunset
      and tovarish blessed without aim
    wept in the rainditch at evening
       Sunt lumina
    […]
    between NEKUIA where are Alcmene and Tyro
      and the Charybdis of action
      to the solitude of Mt. Taishan
    […]
    surrounded by herds and by cohorts looked on Mt Taishan
    […]
      Haec sunt fastae
      Under Taishan quatorze Juillet
    with the hill ablaze north of Taishan
    and Amber Rives is dead, the end of that chapter
    […]
    nox animae magna from the tent under Taishan
    […]
    Περσεφόνεια under Taishan
     in sight of the tower che pende
    […]
     How soft the wind under Taishan
      where the sea is remembered
     out of hell, the pit
     out of the dust and glare evil

  115. From Canto LXXVII:

     and Mt Taishan is faint as the wraith of my first friend
     who comes talking ceramics;
       mist glaze over mountain

     “How is it far, if you think of it?”
    […]
    in flat Ferrarese country seemed the same as here under Taishan

  116. Re “and Amber Rives is dead,” the name rang a vague bell but the internet associates that name overwhelmingly with a model/actress/songwriter born in 1988 who is fortunately still among us. Pound’s reference is, I am further advised by the internet, thought to be to the writer more commonly known as Amélie Rives or Princess Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy, who did in fact die (aged 81) in June 1945, early in the period when Pound was jailed near Pisa.

  117. Exactly so.

  118. Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy:

    Princess Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy (August 23, 1863 – June 15, 1945) was an American author of novels, poetry, and plays. The Quick or the Dead? (1888), her first novel, which sold 300,000 copies, created more of a sensation than any of her later work. Her 1914 novel, World’s End was reputed to be “the best seller in New York City”. Described as a genius who was morbidly sensitive, she was a woman of moods and fancies, but in manner, as simple as a child.
    […]

    In 1888, Amélie Rives married John Armstrong Chanler, a great-great grandson of John Jacob Astor and the oldest of 10 orphaned siblings, born to John Winthrop Chanler and Margaret Astor Ward of the Astor family. The courtship was at Newport. They spent the years of 1890–91 in Europe. The Rives-Chanler marriage was scandalous, and unhappy. The couple spent seven years as husband and wife, but most of the time lived apart. Rives reportedly flirted with George Curzon and began using drugs.

    In 1896, just four months after their divorce, she married Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy, an artist and aristocrat after Oscar Wilde introduced them in London. The couple resided at Castle Hill.

    She studied art in Paris, and her friends feared that its fascinations would interfere with her literary work. Her health became impaired, however, so that she was forced to abandon the brush and then it was that she resumed the pen. Troubetzkoy was a close friend of novelist Julia Magruder, a frequent guest at Castle Hill, as well as prominent New York novelist Louis Auchincloss, who included a chapter on her in his memoir, A Writer’s Capital.

    Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy was Пётр Петрович Трубецкой (Пьер Трубецкой; 1864—1936), older brother of Paolo Troubetzkoy. Poor Prince Pierre, artist though he was, doesn’t get a Wikipedia article even in Russian.

    On Paolo:

    Troubetzkoy was a vegetarian. His vegetarian friend George Bernard Shaw remarked: “Troubetzkoy is a gigantic and terrifying humanitarian who can do anything with an animal except eat it”.

    Alexandra Tolstoy, daughter of the great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote in her father’s biography: “From time to time he posed – a tiring obligation – for painters and sculptors: for Repin, Pasternak who did a study of the family, Aronson, and Paolo Troubetzkoy. Troubetzkoy, a Russian educated in Italy, did some splendid little statues of Tolstoy – one of him on horseback. Father was very fond of him. A sweet and childlike person in addition to his great gifts, he read practically nothing, spoke little, all his life was wrapped up in sculpture. As a convinced vegetarian he would not eat meat but cried: “Je ne mange pas de cadavre!” if anyone offered him some. In his studio in St. Petersburg there was a whole zoo: a bear, a fox, a horse, and a vegetarian wolf.

  119. J.W. Brewer says

    The or at least a nexus between Princess Troubetzkoy and E.P. is that “Pound played tennis with her in London at the South Lodge horne of Ford Madox Ford.” Because of course he did and of course FMF managed to insert himself into the tableau.

  120. Fordie knew everybody.

  121. @languagehat: That second excerpt makes it sound as if Tolstoy only sat* for portraits very rarely. However, for Repin, at least, Tolstoy posed multiple times for several different kinds of portraits. There is an interesting article about the pair’s relationship here, naturally with a lot of illustrations. Most of the portraits (probably all except the famous painting of Tolstoy at the plow) shown in the article were unfamiliar to me, and many of them are clearly not Repin’s most polished work, but there are several (including the plowing painting) that are fully detailed.

    * I find it odd to use sat to denote posing for a painting when standing, or riding, or plowing; however, that seems to be the standard terminology in the art world. The person depicted in a portrait is the sitter, regardless of how they are posed. For example, the provenance of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, by John Singer Sargent is listed as:

    1882, Edward Darley Boit (1840-1915) and his wife, Mary Louisa Cushing Boit (1845-1894), Paris and Boston; 1915, by descent to their daughters, the sitters, Mary Louisa Boit, Florence D. Boit, Jane Hubbard Boit, and Julia Overing Boit; 1919, gift of Mary Louisa Boit, Florence D. Boit, Jane Hubbard Boit, and Julia Overing Boit to the MFA,

    even though obviously only Julia is actually sitting. (I remembered this example because this is another one of my favorite paintings to look at, especially in person. Besides being one of the greatest masterpieces of American Impressionism, and its subtle allusion to Velázquez’s own masterpiece, Las Meninas, another favorite of mine, there is the remarkable fact that The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit is displayed along with the very same giant vases that appear in the portrait itself!)

  122. That second excerpt makes it sound as if Tolstoy only sat* for portraits very rarely. However, for Repin, at least, Tolstoy posed multiple times for several different kinds of portraits. There is an interesting article about the pair’s relationship here

    That is interesting, thanks. But I quote from it: “Tolstoy, who hated posing, steadfastly endured sitting for the portrait…” It would seem that Repin was a decided exception.

  123. I find it odd to use sat to denote posing for a painting when standing, or riding, or plowing; however, that seems to be the standard terminology in the art world.

    This reminds me of a conundrum: Shouldn’t the seated statue of Herman Wells on IU’s campus be called a sessue?

  124. @Rodger C: A seated representation isn’t a sessue unless it is counterposed with Colonel* Nicholson standing over it with his foot on the bench.

    (Actually, I always found that statue of Wells vaguely unsettling; when I was eating my lunch outdoors, I never sat on those benches. Maybe it’s just that the sculpture is slightly larger than life size that I find off-putting.)

    * The Bridge on the River Kwai is perhaps my favorite film of all time. It has so many little touches that are emblematic of the various characters’ codes of behavior. One that I didn’t notice until I had seen the film a few times is that the sign Nicholson has put up beside the bridge reveals that “Colonel” Nicholson is actually only a telephone colonel,** not a full colonel.

    ** Is telephone colonel used in the British military to refer to a lieutenant colonel? The term seems particular apt for a fellow like Nicholson, who is incredibly stiff. Obviously, the contrasting term in the American military, chicken (or bird) colonel is based on the particular rank insignia, which is an eagle, so that wouldn’t make sense in other countries’ systems, but telephone colonel might.

  125. We giggle about Chinese school history books that admittedly show 13th century Russia as a part of China.

    Lu Xun on this exact subject:

    By the age of twenty, I heard that “our” Genghis Khan had conquered Europe, which was the most lavish era of “us”. It was not until the age of twenty-five that I realized that the so-called “us” of the most lavish era was actually the Mongols who conquered China and we became slaves.

    It was not until August of this year that I had to look up a little story and read through three Mongolian histories. Only then did I understand that the Mongols conquered the “Orros” and invaded Hungary and Austria, before conquering all of China. At that time, Genghis was not Our Khan, on the contrary, the qualifications of the Russians to be slaves are older than us. They should say that “our Genghis Khan conquered China which is our most lavish era.”

  126. I’ve read Lu Xun’s comments on this, too. There are times when reading him is a breath of fresh air. Also his putdown of Chinese pride over their long history (in Ah Q).

    While Lu Xun was adopted by the Communists, a lot of their modern-day nationalist teachings don’t really jibe with his views at all.

    You can still hear Chinese wax bullshitty about how the great Chinese race fought all the way to Europe, so Lu Xun’s correction doesn’t seem to have had much effect.

    This kind of slant is one reason why Chinese history can sometimes be so puke-inducing.

  127. PlasticPaddy says

    @bathrobe
    Self-irony is something nations develop after they cease to be (economically/militarily/culturally) dominant within the limits of their known world. Give China a few more millennia, I am afraid Britain and France might need more time than that.

  128. telephone colonel

    I had to look this up:

    Army and Air Force Lieutenant Colonels (O-5) aka Light Colonels are customarily addressed as “Colonel” on the phone or in the salutation in letters. This is sometimes is used to their advantage to obtain the preferential treatment afforded Full or “Bird” Colonels (O-6) which is a flag grade.

  129. Herman Wells was larger than life.

  130. The assertion that the great Chinese race fought all the way to Europe is actually a product of the Zhonghua Minzu (中华民族) ideology developed in the early 20th century. Zhonghua Minzu was designed to appropriate everything about the ‘ethnic minorities’ (including their territory and history) for “China”, and justify the expansion of modern China from just “China Proper” to everything the Qing had conquered. Since the Mongols are considered to be part of the greater Zhonghua Minzu, then their feats can be attributed to “China”. As we have since discovered, Zhonghua Minzu is a low-cost, weaselly means of aggrandisement. You can pay vague lip service to non-Han Chinese and appropriate everything they have without conceding them very much.

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