Science (something) Sect

I hate celebrity gossip. I think it’s the stupidest thing. Why should we care about that stuff?? What bugs me the most is when I realize I am actually somewhat following it. I don’t want to, I don’t mean to… how does it happen?? I find it even more ludicrous that Chinese people sometimes also follow the celebrity gossip of Hollywood stars. Yeah, I shouldn’t be surprised, in this age of international media… but still. It’s ridiculous.

Last night I accidentally got involved in a celebrity gossip chat with my girlfriend. Argh! (Disclaimer: neither of us really knows what we’re talking about here, so if we’re wrong… ummm… so what??)

> Me: So you wanna watch a DVD tonight?

> Her: What DVD were you thinking?

> Me: How about Mr. and Mrs. Smith?

> Her: (wrinkles her nose)

> Me: Oh yeah, you saw that already… You didn’t like it, right?

> Her: Right. I just can’t believe he would do that to his girlfriend. I feel so sorry for her…

> Me: Huh?

> Her: You know, how he left her for that other woman…

> Me: (realizing what she’s talking about) Oh! You mean…

> Her: Yeah! Peter!

> Me: Haha… Not “Peter”… It’s “Pitt!” Brad Pitt!

> Her: Right… he left that one girl for the woman in this movie.

> Me: Oh, right. He left his wife Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie.

> Her: Right. Because of this movie!

> Me: So you don’t like it because you don’t like him.

> Her: Right.

> Me: OK, I guess that decides that…

> Her: Which one would you choose if you were Brad Pitt?

> Me: (suddenly sensing very dangerous ground) Ummm…

> Her: I think I would choose Angelina Jolie. She’s younger and sexier.

> Me: (relieved) Yeah, me too.

> Her: Men always go for the younger woman. Like Tom Cruise.

> Me: Yeah.

> Her: I think they’re kind of a cute couple.

> Me: What?? Why don’t you hate Tom Cruise? He did the same thing that Brad Pitt did. He was married to Nicole Kidman, and then he did a movie with Penelope Cruz and divorced his wife. And he didn’t even stay with Penelope Cruz long!

> Her: Oh, really?

> Me: Yeah! And plus he’s crazy!

> Her: He is?

> Me: Yeah, you haven’t heard?

> Her: I heard that he and his girlfriend are having some troubles. One reason is that it’s Tom Cruise’s third wedding and he wants to keep it small and simple, but his girlfriend would like her wedding to be a big affair.

> Me: Hmmm.

> Her: The other is that her family is Catholic, and one time when Tom Cruise was talking to her father, he got in a big argument with him over religion. It almost came to blows! You know, because Tom Cruise is in that one religion… science something sect… [科学-什么-派]

> Me: Oh yeah… [“Scientology”]. (I had no idea what that was in Chinese)

> Her: So Tom Cruise is really crazy?

> Me: So it seems. There are all sorts of clips documenting it on the internet. Wanna see?

> Her: OK.

Celebrity Names in Chinese (absolutely worthless — don’t learn these!):

– Brad Pitt: 布莱德·彼特/皮特 (His last name in Chinese sounds like a transliteration of the English name “Peter,” so he gets called “Peter” a lot by the Chinese.)
– Tom Cruise: 汤姆·克鲁斯
– Angelina Jolie: 安吉利娜·茱丽 (Characters vary somewhat. Why didn’t they just use 周丽 for her last name??)
– Jennifer Aniston: 珍妮佛·安妮斯顿
– Katie Holmes: 凯蒂·霍尔姆斯 (This one was slightly harder to find.)

Scientology” in Chinese (could potentially result in some interesting conversations and/or jokes!): 科学论派 (literally: “science theory sect”)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Da Xiangchang Says: August 18, 2005 at 8:06 am

    Hahaha, very, very funny. Personally, I LOVE celebrity gossip. The American magazine People is an all-time fave. Yes, it’s true, you CAN lose 50 IQ points reading it cover to cover, but it’s still utterly fascinating. Who doesn’t want to find out about rich, famous, and beautiful people? However, I restrict my celebrity gossip to TRUE celebrities–i.e., the biggest stars, not half-famous people. I don’t believe TV stars are truly stars; they’re peons so I don’t give a ^(%*@ about Teri Hatcher or that horsefaced Sarah Jessica Parker! But a guy like Tom Cruise–there’s a REAL star. He might be crazy, but you can’t argue with his success. Top celebrities I love to read about: Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, and J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown (the two highest-paid novelists of last year, so they deserve respect). The fact that Mel Gibson personally made like $250 million off of Passion of the Christ dazzles the mind as does the fact that Rowling, entirely from typing on a keyboard, is worth over $1 billion. Schwarzenegger, however, takes the cake; he wildly succeeded in 3 difficult, totally different arenas–bodybuilding, movies, AND politics! Amazing, absolutely amazing.

  2. I think we only call Peter 彼得, not 彼特. Prad Pitt sometimes writes 布莱得·皮特.
    If your girlfriend calls him Peter, probably she was trying to pronounce Brad’s Chinese name. 😉

  3. 布莱德·皮特

    Will the real Brad Pitt please stand up?

  4. haha! cute!

  5. Kastner,

    I really wanted “Pitt” to be 皮特 in Chinese, since it’s closer to the English, but I entered “brad pitt” (no quotes) into Baidu, and two of the top entries listed his name as 布莱德·彼特. None of them used 皮特. So I used 彼特.

    Was it a fluke??

  6. Da Xiangchang Says: August 18, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    Who gives a crap about Brad Pitt?!! He’s a pretty boy, a second-rate star; without his looks, he would be a college dropout working in a chicken suit (which he was once). I’m more fascinated by people with no physical/material advantages succeeding in life. Look at Tony Leung. He’s a VERY average-looking Chinese guy, but entirely through his acting talent (which is phenomenal), is now probably the biggest non-kung-fu star in Asia. These are the artists we should admire. Same thing with Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Martin Lawrence–all average-looking, all rich and famous due to their talent ALONE. The problem with celebrity worship is people worship the wrong people: Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc., no-talents elevated to fame and fortune. What’s wrong with this world?!!

  7. Da Xiangchang,

    I disagree with you. I think Tony Leung is definitely a good-looking guy. Yeah, he’s small, but he’s good looking for sure.

    And I think Brad Pitt is a decent actor. Maybe not top-notch, but pretty good. Better than Tom Cruise for sure (key words describing Tom Cruise that I once read in a Salon review: “directionless intensity”). Brad Pitt doesn’t get a whole lot of credit because people like you are prejudiced against him for his good looks. Fortunately for him, he has a big pile of cash and Angelina Jolie to console himself with.

  8. Tom Cruise Says: August 18, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    How dare you! You obviously know nothing about Scientology, otherwise you would be an active follower of our late, great leader, and one of my close personal friends, L. Ron Hubbard. If you knew the combine power of his teachings mixed with a daily dose of vitamins, you would be a happy and successful individual instead of the envious, scornful person you are today. I would suggest you see a psychiatrist to help you with your troubles, but that would be buying into the lie. You see, not only do I know everything about Scientology, but I know the history of psychiatry and it should be outlawed. And lastly, Katie and I are very happy and my age is irrelevant! So what if she was ten when I was filming such hits as Top Gun and Days Of Thunder. Love is love and I guess it takes a Scientologist and lots of vitamins to see that.

  9. Hi Tom Cruise, it’s amazing to see you here. ;P
    Please calm down, or you’ll get more wrinkles, hehe.
    I prefer to use Google, and Prad Pitt is called 布拉得.皮特 by most of us, someone even call him 布拉得.匹. I checked the English Name Dictionary this afternoon, it says Pitt should be translated as 皮特.

  10. Kastner,

    Fair enough, but I just did some Google searches:

    • 布莱德·彼特 (19,900 results)
    • 布莱德彼特 (20,700 results)
    • 布拉得·彼特 (132 results)
    • 布拉得彼特 (4,960 results)
    • 布莱德·皮特 (11,700 results)
    • 布莱德皮特 (640 results)
    • 布拉得·皮特 (719 results)
    • 布拉得皮特 (5,020 results)

    So, online at least, it looks like 彼特 is still most common.

    What is this English Name Dictionary you’re talking about?

  11. Ehhh~~~, no idea. Well, it’s Ok.
    The dictionary I use is 《英语姓名译名手册(第二次修订本)》1985年修订第3版. It’s a kinda standard for the translators when coming to English names.

  12. Madness and blasphemy! Jennifer Aniston is SO much hotter than Angelina Jolie!

  13. Thanks to Brad Pitt, I can make an entire room full of 30+ year-old Chinese businessmen instantly break into giggles just by introducing myself.
    “Hi, my name is Brad.”
    “Brad? Brad Pitt? hehehe…Brad Pitt…hehehe…Brad Pitt…hehehe”
    And then we have to go through the whole thing again when I get to my surname: “Waaa…are you related to Alex Ferguson from Manchester United? hahahahahaha!”

  14. Da Xiangchang Says: August 20, 2005 at 7:07 am

    Who the hell is Alex Ferguson? If I don’t know the name, I doubt the Chinese do either.

    Besides, “Brad” is a pretty common name–and Brad Pitt a pretty common actor. I wasn’t saying he’s a bad actor, just an uninteresting one. He’s a bland blond. Throw a stick on the beach in Malibu, and you’ll hit ten of them.

    And yeah, I have to admit, upon closer inspection, Tony Leung is indeed a good-looking guy, though hardly exceptionally so. But considering he’s over 40 and still lean, wrinkleless, and has white even teeth, yeah, he’s handsome. But I’m not so impressed by his looks as John is. Haha.

  15. greg pasden Says: August 20, 2005 at 8:24 am

    Hollywood Tonight will be excited to know that you have fallen into their web

  16. I also hate celebrity gossip, but somehow it makes its way into real news and is hard to avoid. I probably know just as much as you do about “Peter” and his girlfriends. It’s what people want to hear instead of reality, so they want more of if all the time.

  17. Ooohh! Celebrity gossip!

    Tony Leung, I’ll grant you, is a little goofy looking, but certainly not “very average”. You’re right about his acting, though. He’s good in Prison on Fire playing opposite Chow Yun-fat, and his characterization of the chess prodigy Wang Yisheng in King of Chess is excellent. He does a nice portrayal of a man coming apart at the scenes in Double Vision with David Morse. Even in insubstantial stuff like Zhou Yu’s Train he still outshines his material. Yeah, he’s made crap, too (The Spy Dad was simply embarrassing), but his goofiness is still watchable in things like Okinawa Rendezvous.

    [Note: I’m sure that everyone would agree that it’s absolutely impossible to call the dark, smouldering good-looks of In The Mood For Love Tony Leung Chiu-wai “average-looking”, so I could only conclude you meant Tony Leung Ka-fai. Besides, turn up the lights and take away his cigarette, and tell me what’s so special about Mr. Seoul Raiders?]]

  18. John:

    Where does your girlfriend stand on the Zhang Yimou – Gong Li affair? I know quite a few people who detest Gong Li because “she tried to steal Zhang Yimou from his wife.”

  19. Seoul Raiders should be an embarassment to what’s left of the Hong Kong film community. I can’t believe I paid RMB [censored to protect the dignity of the commenter] to see it in the theater.

    Brad, that made my day.


    Transliteration of Western names into Chinese characters. I’d paste some examples here, but as the results are output as graphics, I’ve no idea how to type them in.

  21. Paul Nizinskyj Says: September 18, 2005 at 12:52 am

    I’ve been scouring the net trying desperately to find a Mandarin translation of the ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, because i share his name! (just a different translation from the Russian)
    If i can find that i’d know my surname in chinese characters, can anyone try look up Nijinsky for me?

    Thanks 😛


  22. Paul Nizinskyj Says: September 18, 2005 at 1:18 am

    hmm i got this on baidu 尼金斯基 but it translates on babelfish as ‘Nepal Jin Si Ji’! Close, but why is it ‘Nepal’ instead of just ‘Ni’? Not that i’m complaining 😛


  23. Well, a gossip is a gossip. I think, talking about the lives of famous Hollywood actors is already a part of our lives. You can hear and read them everyday and they are all over the net and newspapers/tabloids. But even if I were Brad Pitt, I’ll choose Angelina Jolie.

  24. Wow. I have to agree with this one. Celebrity gossip sucks ass. You know, it really isn’t fair for Tom Cruise to be in all these magazines. He’s not a great actor. He’s a dick. I mean, he yelled at an interviewer for spraying him in the face. C’mon, that guy didn’t deserve to be called nasty and a jerk, these people AREN’T GODS! Seeing Britney Spears pregnant is just as fascinating as seeing a woman down the street pregnant.

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