Barrelled Thoughts #48 – Overseas Chinese: Self-Determination

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who or what is an overseas Chinese? This mind-boggling concept has a story of its own; it’s complex and confusing, even to me. This post is a long time in the making, and in it I try to explain the term to all those who may be curious, but first and foremost to myself.

I’ve often tried to explain to people what the phrase overseas Chinese (海外僑民) means. To most audiences I would simply define it as any Chinese descendent born, or living for an extended period of time, overseas—i.e. outside of China—and, as a consequence, may hold a Chinese passport and the passport issued by their country of origin or residence.

I am overseas Chinese. And here, when applying my own definition above, we encounter the first problem: I don’t hold a Chinese passport, but a Taiwanese passport. This is because I’m not Chinese, but Taiwanese—or am I?

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Daoists of Mt. Lao Pt. 1 – Wesley Holzer [EN]

Submitted Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Translator’s note: This story is retold faithfully, leaving out no details from Pu Songling (蒲松齡)’s original. But unlike the myriad translators who have come before me, I have elected to forgo the inevitably ill-fated strategy of maintaining the original author’s ingenious structure and infallible flow in Chinese. For scholarly pursuit, such a translation is understandable – perhaps commendable – but it does not make for good reading. Stubbornly trying to render the linguistic conventions of 18th century Classical Chinese into modern day English is the main reason that more than 150 years of translations of Liaozhai Zhiyi read almost identical to one another: all very academic. My aim is, instead, to give you something worth flipping through while relaxing on the couch, sitting on the train, or (heaven forbid) wasting away in the office.

“The Daoists of Mt. Lao” (勞山道士) is one of the most enduring tales from the 18th century masterpiece Tales of the Strange from Liaozhai (聊齋誌異) for its moral of humility and patience. A well-off young man heads to the mountain to learn the mystic arts of the immortals, bust struggles when reality at first falls short of his expectations. This is the first of a two-part translation of the story. – W. Holzer

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時代、 故事與我的縮影 – 鍾鍾靈 [CN]

Submitted Friday, May 9, 2014

編輯留言:語言無所不在,而語言和思想總是緊緊相扣的,在閱讀鐘鐘靈寫的這篇文章時,不僅能透過文字的敘述去聆聽他的故事,還能觀察到這些文字背後所包含的文化與成長背景。身為中文編輯,在不影響讀者理解的前提之下,我選擇保留這些字詞,畢竟這是他的故事、他的語言。– 湯玉如
Editor’s note: Language is such an integral part of our daily lives, so much so that you could say that thought cannot exist without words. While reading Chung Chung-ling’s article, the words not only painted a panorama of his life, but they carried the weight of history and culture. As Chinese -language editor, I’ve chosen to reserve these words—word choices and usage that differ greatly from the Taiwanese Mandarin discourse—because these are his words, and this is, after all, his story. – J. Tang

前言 : 一個出生於台灣、熱愛歷史(目前就讀東吳歷史系)與Breaking靈魂(街舞的一種)集結於一身的男孩,父親為馬來西亞華人,母親為台灣原住民排灣族。雙元的背景有一度讓我苦惱,但卻也激盪出我不一樣的世界觀和看事情的角度。

一直以來,我都是一個愛說故事的人。首先感謝John讓我有這個機會向大家說有關於我的故事。故事說得好與壞,這靠得是說話的技巧和聽者有沒有興趣聆聽你所說的故事。我不確定我的故事好不好聽或有沒有趣,但請仔細閱讀,看你可不可以從中開拓出一些屬於你的故事呢?好,直接切入主題吧,其實說穿了,我要說的是就是關於我的身份的故事。The story begins… – 鍾鍾靈 Continue reading

Monks and Sinners – Wesley Holzer [EN]

Submitted Thursday, May 8, 2014

Translator’s note: Author Pu Songling (1640-1715), a native of Shandong, China, was like so many great talents largely unknown during his troubled life of frustrated ambitions that never amounted to the career he envisioned. It may be of consolation to his wandering spirit that his magnum opus collection of supernatural stories, Liao Zhai Zhi Yi 聊齋誌異 (Tales of the Strange from Liaozhai), is widely regarded as among the finest Chinese prose produced in near-modern times.

Audiences came for the ghosts and wherefoxes, but they ended up staying for the exquisite turns of phrase and moral lessons neatly tucked into each carefully crafted story. The following is a translation of one of the 492 tales usually included in what some label the Chinese answer to One Thousand and One Nights. – W. Holzer

A Monk’s Sins

Upon dying an unfortunate and sudden death, Mr. Zhang found his spirit taken into the custody of infernal envoys who issued him a summons to see their master. He followed them to the netherworld, where Yama, judge of the dead, was reviewing the records of life and death. As the transcendental judge flipped through the pages, he flew into a rage – for his spectral servants had grabbed the wrong soul! – and once berated and rebuked, they were tasked with bringing Zhang back to the world of the living where he rightfully belonged. But as Zhang was heading out from the capital of the dead, he asked his otherworldly escorts if they could first take him to do a little bit of sightseeing.

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從名字開始 – Tinsey Huang [CH]

Submitted Wednesday, May 7, 2014



幾乎每個台灣人在面對外國人的時候都會使用英文名字。Cindy, Sunny, Patty, Peter, Lawrence, Sam…等,各式各樣的名字。這些名字大多是我們的國小、國中老師幫我們取的。我也不意外地,用了五年的Cindy。直到我上高中的第一堂英文課,老師希望我們用英文介紹自己,並且以後在課堂上都叫我們的英文名字。



我很喜歡自己中文名字裡「婷」這個字和它的發音,於是當時的我只有一個要求:發音裡要有「Tin」。字典來來回回地翻,最後我在姓氏的地方找到了一個字「Ginsey」,於是就直接把第一個字母改成「T」。 Continue reading