America had The Dress, China has duang!

America had The Dress, China has duang!
While the rest of the world was debating the colors of The Dress, people in China were busy popularizing a new word: duang. Jackie Chan may have been the first to coin the word, but he used it as a sound effect, like “Boing!” in English. Chan used it during a commercial for a shampoo he endorses, saying it “Duang! Made my hair thick and fluffy!” The word has gained a new meaning that’s gone quickly viral in the last few days. It now means something like “digital effects,” i.e., not real. There’s even a viral video spoofing the original commercial by editing it to seem as if Chan is rapping lyrics. Tóu fa 头发, by the way, means “hair.” Why the sudden popularity? It’s hard to say, but it’s probably because of duang’s association with Chan. His son, Jaycee, recently served time for drug offenses. And the “all natural” shampoo Chan extols in the ad is alleged to contain artificial ingredients and chemicals. Plus, Chan, a Hong Kong native, has publicly criticized his birthplace for being too wild and free. Many of his critics believe Chan dissed Hong Kong so he could make movies more easily on the more ...

Chinese origins of English phrases

[Cross-posted on my QQ diary page.] JISHOU, HUNAN — Last week, two of my colleagues and I debated whether the common English greeting, “long time no see,” was Chinglish or English slang. Since I’ve heard it since I was a kid, I contended it was authentically American. They insisted that its origins are Chinese, because there is a phrase in Chinese that is identical word for word. It turns out we are both right. I checked for the origins of this phrase. One early appearance apparently was in a 1901 book about Native Americans; the white writer had a Native American speaking pidgin English, “long time no see you.” But a more likely origin is from western trade with the Chinese in the late 19th century. “Long time no see” is the literal translation of the Cantonese 好耐冇見 (hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3) and the Mandarin 好久不见 (Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn). British (and perhaps American) seamen brought the phrase back home, where it eventually became part of the English language. (I also suspect it spread quickly because of early movies, and radio and TV programs featuring Chinese characters, like the Charlie Chan detective dramas, but I have no evidence.) As it turns out, ...

Funny car sticker: You got the right nozzle?

Funny car sticker: You got the right nozzle?
I saw this sticker this weekend over the fuel door of a parked car. The caption reads 力油嘴呢? li you zui ne? and the “+93#” refers to the octane value. Freely translated, it means “You got the right nozzle?” The car is an Emgrand EC8 (the Chinese name is 帝豪品牌 di hao pinpai — literally, Grand or Heroic Imperial Brand), a luxury marque of the Geely Holding Co. of Zhejiang. Geely is already exporting these cars to the European Union, Africa and Asia, and may soon enter the US market. Geely is best known for buying Volvo from Ford Motor Co. last year. While I’m on the subject of cars, a few weeks ago I rode in the back seat of a co-worker’s Škoda automobile, which had the roomiest back seat second only to a Checker Cab (or a Hudson Hornet). Škoda is a Czech brand that exports to China and other Asia-Pacific countries, and the UK. His model would be equivalent to a Buick Regal, another popular upscale car in China among those who can’t afford the stratospheric prices of a BMW or a Mercedes.

So many jobs, so few teachers 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — If you have not caught on by now, there is a huge demand for native English-speaking teachers worldwide. That demand is especially acute here in China. Here’s why. Every student has to take English while in middle and high school. College students have to pass an English competency test in order to earn a four-year degree and/or obtain a decent white-collar job. Yikes! That’s a lot of students, and consequently there’s an enormous demand for English teachers. You have no idea. To teach here as a “foreign expert,” you only need to show you have a bachelor’s or higher degree and a willingness to teach. There are hundreds of these jobs advertised every day on hundreds of websites. I signed up with one website several months ago, www.seriousteachers.org. At the time, I was in the States and I got no offers. Once I changed my location to China and my availability to “immediate,” I started getting at least four job offers a day! Of course, I turned them all down, since I am under contract here. And I had to pull out of the email notification service, or I’d be spending all my time saying, “not now, ...
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