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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馬來西亞華人語言的多重性 – 鍾鍾靈 [CN]

Submitted: Thursday, June 5, 2014

編輯留言:鍾靈充滿有趣知識的文章永遠是我在忙中的小確幸;可以轉發他的文章是個樂趣,也是個小小的榮耀。世界上沒有人關注的話題,就是要由你這種人來照明。謝謝!– 馮加恩
Editor’s note: One of the guilty pleasures of my hectic professional life is the odd moment I find to edit some of Chung-ling’s writing; sharing his articles is as gratifying as it is respectful. The world needs more people like him to enlighten us about topics not widely known or discussed. Thank you! – J. Feng


馬來西亞,這個我住了有十二年頭的國度,位於泰國以下,印尼以上;人口大約有二千六百萬左右吧,我沒記錯的話。馬來西亞作為東南亞的一部分,跟其他東南亞諸國又有甚麼差異性呢?我自己認為是種族的多樣性。當然緬甸、泰國、中南半島地區的人一定會說,「那有甚麼了不起?我們國家的種族也同樣很多樣啊。」但我要說的是,馬來西亞最主要的族群分別是馬來人(當地人)、華人(中國移民)、印度人(很奇怪吧?印度人怎麼會出現在馬來西亞呢?),當然還有原住民和我住的地區所有的,所謂的「暹人」(我住的地方比較特殊一點,靠近泰國南部;泰國和馬來西亞的邊界區。所以暹人是泰國人和馬來西亞華人所生出來的混血兒)。三個主要族群:馬來人、華人和印度人,分別是不同文化、不同語言的民族,而且這三個族群相差的比例沒有很大的懸殊。在我住的馬來西亞地區,三個族群的面孔比比皆是。 Continue reading

甚麼是南島語族?– 鍾鍾靈 [CN]

Submitted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

編輯留言:參與「沙拉碗」令我最開心的一點是我們時常有機會分享一些比較少被關注的話題,而鍾鍾靈與「沙拉碗」分享的第二篇文章正如此。在這篇文章中,我帶著微笑學習了鍾靈的背景,更學到南島語族的來源。而且,就像我們的中英文編輯湯玉如在看鍾靈的第一篇文章時做的,我選擇將鍾靈的習慣用語留在文章中,因為這樣讀起來比較「真實」。– 馮加恩
Editor’s note: One thing I really enjoy about The Salad Bowl is that we have the chance to share topics that are rarely spoken of – Chung Chung-ling’s second article is a perfect example of this. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about his past, as well as the routes of the Austronesian language. Like our English- and Chinese-language editor Judy Tang did when editing Chung-ling’s first post, I chose to leave his distinct cultural and language markers in place—just because it makes for a much “realer” read. – J. Feng

「南島語族」這個名詞,相信有很多人都是第一次聽到。在台灣就算聽過這個名詞的,也只是把它當成一個考試題目來死記起來,對這個名詞應該也不會有太多的想像與概念。

我的第一篇文章裡有提到有關於我是半個台灣原住民的身分。在這裡,我要從這個概念向更大的範圍來延伸,告訴各位一個族群的大冒險與史詩(你沒看錯,真的是「史詩」,但是沒有文字記載的史詩。沒有人會為它大歌大誦,因為這是一段被遺忘的故事)。在切入主題之前,我想先介紹一下台灣的原住民(因為台灣的原住民跟南島語族有很大的關連)和重新認識自己的一段小故事。 Continue reading

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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Afrikaans: Post-colonial South African English – John Scot Feng [EN]

Submitted Sunday, June 1

Preface: During my four years at National Chengchi University, I’ve met many friends from different cultural backgrounds who speak different languages. I believe we don’t truly understand our uniqueness until someone around us points it out. Before that point, we are just “normal”; “ordinary” even. Here is a short piece for all my friends who have pointed out the differences in my English and embraced them. Hundreds, okes. – J.S. Feng

Introduction

Afrikaans is a regional dialect of Dutch used mainly in the Republic of South Africa and in Namibia respectively either as a mother tongue or as a second or third language. The purpose of this paper is to introduce Afrikaans as a practical language used daily in the lives of most, if not all, South Africans. The academic aspects of Afrikaans can remain well and truly in the textbooks and theses that analyse it. The aim here is to introduce Afrikaans from a different point of view—from a more everyday-life, personal angle. Continue reading

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

Barrelled Thoughts #46 – A Usually Unusual Family Gathering

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Every now and again, my distant relatives come flocking back to Taiwan for a bi-annual visit. It could happen on any given day, but it more than likely falls on Chinese New Year or, in this case, Mother’s Day.

Until my sister was born, I was the youngest in the generation of my late grandma’s grandchildren, and for as long as I can remember, the routine has been the same: those who’ve made the trip back to the “motherland” are summoned by the family elders to a restaurant of their choosing that is often too noisy and too ludicrous for its own good.

It’s a time when relatives talk about things in the past that I didn’t even know happened, and so I always take it with a pinch of salt. Some of these things are about me or my immediate family, but over the course of the past 20-odd years, with one or two meetings per year, they might have neglected to bring it up for reasons blatantly obvious: there’s just too much to tell—or they’re just waiting to embarrass the older, more sensitive me.

However, when a relative does bring up something that you, your father, your uncle, your great-aunt or second-cousin did decades ago, this is usually followed by an endless battle between the elders to resolve the now dominant issue of “when” said event took place.

“Wait, guys, what actually happened?”

The conversation soon takes a turn for the worse after someone says, “Oh! Do you still remember when you were living on that street in that city in that year? You know? A year after you finished high school?”

“Ah, yes! That was when you had your first child. That was a great time.”

“No, that was after my second child was born already! Don’t you remember!?”

This is all very unusual, yet this is the only norm I’ve ever known when it comes to the Feng family—my family.

Away from all the gatherings with friends and colleagues; old friends and once-in-a-blue-moon acquaintance, there remains an epitome of truth and candidness—that is one’s embarrassingly loud, messy and shameless relatives.

There’s no artificial politeness here. There are no superficial moral standards; there’s no saving face. And you are always obliged to answer at least two questions regarding marriage and children before you reach dessert. If you avoid the topic, that simply means you’re cooking up a plan—and that makes them want to prod even more.

I’ve been asked the same question for the past 10 years, and they will keep asking for the next 10 and the 10 after that. It’s not that they don’t remember, it’s simply that, in their eyes, I will forever be 加加; the mischievous Johnny that couldn’t stay away from trouble. The youngest of grandma’s grandchildren who always got to keep the cool toy because, well, I was me.

Being with relatives is about being overfed. It’s about not being able to catch your breath as item after item of edible greatness is shoved in your bowl—if not directly into your mouth.

Amidst the chaos and the constant glances in our direction by other diners in the restaurant, there appears a certain ease.

You want to save your face; you want to show restraint. But you soon realise that, as you sit still, level-headed, cool, calm and collected, it’s you who is the odd one out; you soon realise that your relatives are allowing themselves the only time in the year when they don’t have to care. And if on an occasion like this, you’re still there trying to give too much of a damn about petty 21st-century impediments such as “image” or “reputation”, then, as they say in Chinese, 「你已經輸了」(you’ve already lost).

My relatives don’t care if I’m 4- or 24-years-old. To them, I will always be the youngest. And I won’t find a group of people as blunt and honest as the ones sat around me at this very moment.

I love my relatives. Even when they’re fighting over the bill like a pack of hyenas.

It’s time to get up from your seat and yell across the table for the pork.

Happy Mother’s Day. But really, happy Relatives’ Day. JSF.

_____

P.S. I regret to inform readers of the English language’s lack of precision when defining family roles. I am sorry and ashamed that, in English, it’s impossible, with the help of one simple phrase, to differentiate between a cousin on your mother’s side and another on your father’s; between your aunts and uncles on your mother’s side and their counterparts; or simply between your older sister’s daughter and the daughter of your female cousin whose mother is the first of your father’s two older sisters.

But just in case you’re interested to know, here is a lovely illustration of just how complex a pedantic Chinese family tree can be.

Happy holidays!