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Wed Oct 3rd, 2018

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09:52 pm - Envy
Hope this twitter thread will export. It's about Chinese usage of poetic references and/or mmh 'four character phrases' that draw on a common cultural background to convey much in little. The effect of "boom, here have lots and lots of associations over all the times you've seen this cascade into your head".

Shakespeare and the King James bible might have worked similarly for, err well, people a hundred years ago, but I get the feeling the effect for the Chinese goes deeper than any 'screw your courage to the sticking place' or widow's mite does for us. If only because 21st century Chinese clearly still say 梨花带雨 and no one mentions widows' mites, or would be understood if they did. No, we are not talking about tiny relatives of the tick.

H/t to incandescens for leading me here.

Tell My Horse

Finn Family Moomintroll
-- because I never have

Rainy Willow 16
-- slowly, to make it last

Next up?
Jane Haddam, Festival of Deaths
-- retired FBI agent solves mysteries. This is the Hanukkah one, supposedly containing many cultural shout outs that I doubt this cradle Catholic will get.

(5 comments | post comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 4th, 2018 07:23 pm (UTC)
I wondered if you'd see that one: it reminded me of some things you'd said before.
[User Picture]
Date:October 4th, 2018 09:42 pm (UTC)
Based mostly on things Mimi has said to me, probably.
[User Picture]
Date:October 4th, 2018 08:00 pm (UTC)
You can get dictionaries of idioms, they are a ton of fun to read. It doesn't really replace the literary knowledge, but it helps. It's why I don't really want to read translations, it doesn't give me all the idioms I really need to know. And idioms were an old way of teaching reading, an entire reading primer built of idioms. I do think a lot of this is going to start to fade away in the modern world, though.
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2018 12:08 am (UTC)
I can see, if these idioms are so commonly used, that they'd be useless in translation. You'd get the sense but not the wrappings. I have a couple of books of idioms related to various categories- flowers, nature, animals- and yeah, looks like it's an idiolect on its own.
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2018 05:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, and the flip side is read it to learn the idioms, which translations also don't help with. My favorite are the history/culture ones like 'Meng's mom cut threads'.

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