My wife and I spent most of our time on Bei Luogu Xiang (北锣鼓巷) or Nan Luogu Xiang (南锣鼓巷). We stayed in a nice little 四合院 hotel in the area called 吉庆堂. Thanks to Brendan, we ended up at a bar called Amilal both nights, which was a pleasant 20-minute walk from our hotel.
We had a good time, and my Shanghainese wife is liking Beijing more every time we go.
When I mentioned a presentation on homosexuals in the West for my critical discourse analysis class, I gave the Chinese translation of “metrosexual” as 都市玉男. That’s not the only translation, though. In his research, Pepe turned up quite a few other translations currently in use online. Here are the ones Pepe collected, along with their literal meanings:
1. 都市玉男 city jade man
2. 都市美型男 city beauty type man
3. 都市中性美男 city neuter beauty man
4. 都会美直男 city beauty straight man
5. 都市生活自恋者 city life narcissist
6. 花样美男 variety beauty man
7. 花色美男 variety beauty man
8. 雌性男人 female man
9. 后雅痞 post yuppie
1. 都市 means both “city” and “metropolis,” as does 都会.
2. 美 could also be translated “beautiful” in all instances above
3. The same word “variety” was used for both 花样 and 花色, even though they’re different words. When examined at the character level, both contain the “flower” character, but the latter also contains 色, which in other words can mean “color” or something close to “sex.” I’m not sure exactly how the use of these words impact the feel of the Chinese translation.
Translation into Chinese can be pretty tough. I do find it very interesting to see the variety of translation attempts when a new, diffult to translate English word appears in Chinese media. Usually a certain period of time is required while society settles on one or two, effectively pushing out the rest, which are then are mostly forgotten by society.
After several years of hype, the whole metrosexual fad seems to be dying, and the English word might just die with it. If it does fall out of usage, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean its corresponding Chinese translation will. The Chinese might decide to keep the word around for their own purposes. Time will tell.
My critical discourse analysis class is getting interesting. The professor has assigned small group presentation topics. All five topics are related to homosexuality. Pepe and I have “homosexuality in the West.” Yeah, pretty huge topic. Other topics are pretty narrow, such as “lesbians in China.”
Just as a reminder about what we’re going to be analyzing:
> Discourse analysis challenges us to move from seeing language as abstract to seeing our words as having meaning in a particular historical, social, and political condition. Even more significant, our words (written or oral) are used to convey a broad sense of meanings and the meaning we convey with those words is identified by our immediate social, political, and historical conditions. Our words are never neutral (Fiske, 1994)! This is a powerful insight for home economists and family and consumer scientists (We could have a whole discussion about the meaning that these two labels convey!). We should never again speak, or read/hear others’ words, without being conscious of the underlying meaning of the words. Our words are politicized, even if we are not aware of it, because they carry the power that reflects the interests of those who speak. Opinion leaders, courts, government, editors, even family and consumer scientists, play a crucial role in shaping issues and in setting the boundaries of legitimate discourse (what is talked about and how) (Henry & Tator, 2002). The words of those in power are taken as “self-evident truths” and the words of those not in power are dismissed as irrelevant, inappropriate, or without substance (van Dijk, 2000). [source]
It’s also important to note that discourse includes not only traditional language, but all forms of symbols contained in advertising, media, fashion, etc.
So my idea was to examine what’s going on with the term “metrosexual.” Here are some questions I think are worth exploring:
– Does the “metrosexual” style, by making stereotypical visual clues of homosexuality ambiguous, serve to bring homosexuals closer into society? (Is it a sign of greater tolerance?)
– Are the “sterotypical visual clues” just ridiculous or are they significant?
– How do homosexuals feel about the metrosexual phenomenon? How does it impact the gay community?
– Why is “metrosexual” strictly a male phenomenon? What’s going on there with the gender dynamic?
I’d be interested in hearing my readers’ ideas on this. Helpful links are also welcome. I haven’t really been in the US for most of the metrosexual phenomenon, and I don’t know how widespread it is either.
The presentation will be a mere 10-15 minutes long, so we don’t need to go super in-depth. We also need to provide visuals with a PowerPoint presentation.
I was never particularly interested in homosexual studies, but somehow discussing it in grad school in China makes it way more interesting to me. (By the way, Pepe says “metrosexual” in Chinese is 都市玉男. I’m a little disappointed that the -sexual (-性恋) got nuked in the translation.)
Note: Hateful, ignorant, and useless comments will never see the light of day.
– Saturday, Sept. 2, I stayed home and wrote a 4,000 character paper for a class.
– Sunday, Sept. 3, I stayed home and wrote a 4,000 character paper for another class.
– Monday and Tuesday nights, Sept. 4-5, I worked on a 3,000 character paper for still another class.
– Wednesday night, Sept. 6, Pepe helped me clean up my papers. Alf showed up.
– Thursday, Sept. 7, I turned in my three papers and attended my two new classes for the semester: Semantics and Pragmatics and Critical Discourse Analysis.
– Friday, Sept. 8, I went to meet Greg at the airport with Alf and John B.
– Saturday, Sept. 9, I went to meet my friend Nobuhiko at the airport.
– Procrastination is bad. I know this. Sort of.
– Not much beats seeing good friends again. Especially over hot pot and beer.
– A new semester is here already, and I still have a list of linguistic topics I meant to blog about over the summer. (Does anyone enjoy the linguisticky posts?)
For the two years of classes I must take for my masters program at ECNU, I have the same 11 classmates for almost every class. All of them are Chinese, and only one of them is male. My one male classmate distinguishes himself by far more than his gender, however, so I’d like to introduce him here. I’ll call him Pepe.
Like most of my classmates, Pepe is not from Shanghai. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he came directly to Shanghai to study applied linguistics. Faced with a difficult job market, more and more Chinese college grads are electing to go to graduate school before joining the rat race. In that respect he is not very special.
I first observed something about Pepe in our initial semester, when I had only one specialized linguistics class. I noticed that in a room full of students furiously scribbling the teacher’s every word–and I doing my darnedest to keep up–Pepe never wrote more than a few lines of notes down. And yet no one was more engaged than he, no one impressed the professor more with insightful comments than he, and no one got away with more good-natured irreverent remarks than he. There were times when the professor would make a statement in all seriousness, and Pepe would laugh at it out loud, all alone, earning him a dirty look from the professor. He obviously understood a lot that the other students didn’t.
I would later learn that one of Pepe’s favorite pastimes was combing through Hong Kong and Taiwanese news. He loves the idea of a government under the scrutiny of a Chinese free press. He’s a realist, so he dares not dream of the impossible, but he devours the outsiders’ analysis of the CCP’s power struggles, past and present. What interests Pepe most of all, however, is Taiwanese politics. It’s like politics in bizarro China, and it fascinates him.
I have also learned about Pepe’s struggles within the academic machine. He wants to do real scientific research, to make a creative contribution to the field of linguistics. But his advisor repeatedly swats down his aspirations because “that’s not the kind of thesis that gets approved in this department” or because of the limitations of his advisor’s expertise.
Pepe is the sort of student I always hoped for more of when I taught English to Chinese students, and he’s the sort of student China would benefit greatly from if it could only recognize the importance. I’m fortunate to have at least one classmate who thinks critically and shares my grievances with the system, discontent with the role of academic atomaton (although to be sure, this burden weighs far heavier on him than on me).
You will hear more about Pepe from me in the future.