dragons and translations

some articles I've been reading today, and I must admit most of this is new to me, so it's good to hear different viewpoints.

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Redefining the Great Wall - this article mentions that the "Great Wall" term in the English translation is not correct - rather it should refer to a town, not a wall.

[quote]Returning from a research trip to the Changcheng, I had the intense feeling that its English name, “The Great Wall,” is incorrect. This translation to a large extent not only affects the appreciation of China’s Changcheng on an international level, but also directly influences our own preservation, development, and utilization of the Changcheng.

Viewed as cultural heritage, the Changcheng is not a ‘wall’ (墙) but rather an ancient Chinese frontier “town” (城镇); not merely solitary mountain passes, but an ancient Chinese cultural system comprising army posts, residences, supply depots, and border trade, and which included various ethnic groups with different folk traditions. In the context of ancient military affairs, the Changcheng is a “town defense,” the “wall” being just one part of the frontier town. The ancient town of Chadao, for example, was a military post at the Ming Dynasty Badaling Changcheng, but it was also a hub through which border trade passed, as well as a typical Ming Dynasty town.[/quote]

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[quote]The Changcheng is a world cultural heritage site, and from the perspective of heritage preservation, the frontier towns should all be systematically protected. Full and systematic protection of the town regions, including the Changcheng wall, means “area” preservation of each and every town region, not “point” protection of beacon fires and watchtowers. Since ancient times, the Changcheng has never been just a wall or a series of beacon fires; it was always a series of defense towns. And the “Great Wall of Ten-Thousand Li” is not a wall extending ten thousand li, but rather a defensive region formed out of the many frontier towns. The emphasis of Changcheng preservation should be on the “town” (城) and not on the “wall” (墙) so that an overall plan and systematic protection of these frontier towns can be achieved.[/quote]

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dragons and branding - the article on danwei's site asks if dragons are becoming less of a symbol of China because they're being confused with the Westernized meaning of them.

[quote]Wu Youfu, a professor at Shanghai International Studies University and the author of the recent International Review article "On Branding the Chinese National Image", was interviewed last week by Guangming Daily on the subject of image, soft power, and the "China threat". In the course of the interview, Wu brought up the example of the dragon as an element of traditional culture that is misunderstood abroad when used as a national symbol. "Brand China" is supposed to project a harmonious image of a peacefully-rising nation, one that bears ill will toward none. The western connotation of the dragon as a fearsome, aggressive, malevolent beast is, in the minds of Wu Youfu and other experts, at odds with its symbolism in Chinese culture of honesty, good fortune, and happiness.[/quote]

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[quote]Of course, the dragon as it stands today is a crafty bit of branding. A view most closely associated with the modern poet Wen Yiduo says that the mythical dragon started out as some sort of snake before becoming the totem of a unified China by incorporating elements of the totems of separate nations that made up the empire (or the states conquered by the advancing empire). This theory had obvious applications throughout much of the 20th century.

However, according to an amateur paleontologist who has written a new, dragon-themed novel, Wen's explanation is utterly mistaken. Dragons were used as totems, says Yan Tie, author of Traces of the Dragon (ÈæôËøπ) because, like other totem animals, they actually existed.

Yan cites examples throughout Chinese history, from a note in the Zuozhuan that "That autumn, a dragon appeared in the outskirts of Jiang [capital of Jin]" up through 1934, when a giant carcass of a horned beast turned up in the port city of Yingkou, Liaoning. According to Yan's calculations, dragons will most likely be found in certain parts of Hunan's Zhangjiajie Forest, Hubei's Shennongjia Forest, and Heilongjiang's Zhalong Nature Preserve. [/quote]

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Rectification of Names: China or Zhongguo? - this article talks about the incorrect use of the word "China" in the West to describe this country

[quote]Oftentimes our use of language becomes so habitual that we do not question its innate meanings. The term “China” for most Chinese has little relations to the original Chinese name. For the most part, Chinese people refer to China as “Zhongguo” or the Middle Kingdom, and likewise the Chinese are called “Zhongguoren” (People of the Middle Kingdom). The point of contention arises from the western label of Zhongguo as “China”, a term almost universally used today. For some nationalistic Chinese, this term represent both foreign arrogance and ignorance, but for others it is just pointless argument over semantics.[/quote]

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[quote]Apparently, the term “China” is what the foreigners call us. China in the past was also named based on the dynasties such as “Qing”, “Yuan” and “Ming”, etc. In reality, foreigners’ naming of parts of china came out of their custom or ignorance. For example, “台湾” (Taiwan) was called by the Portuguese “Formosa, “澳门” (Aomen) was in turn called “Macau”, “广州” (Guangzhou) was called “Canton”, “,厦门” (Xiamen) called “Amoy”, etc.

What foreigners call us shouldn’t be what we accept, let us all change. Chinese places should use the local names, this is a simple reason. We must also use Chinese customs to sinicize foreign place names, such as “旧金山” (literally Old Gold Mountain or San Francisco), “加州” (California), etc; using it among the Chinese people, not necessarily as official names.

Therefore, “中国” is “中国”, we have the right to do away with the foreign name of “China”, and change it to the pinyin form of “Zhongguo”, “中国人”or Chinese people now called “Zhongguoes”, while “中华” (greater China) now called “Zhonghua”, this way it will have the proper namesake, and we do not have to follow the foreign name of “China”. Overall, we have 1.3 billion people, some 700 to 800 million do not understand the name foreigners’ call us, and don’t you think this is a serious problem? From this day on, I advocate the abandonment of the English name for “中国”.[/quote]

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Vitally worst: "Chinese" sounds like "to tear you to die" - about English words transcribed in Chinese characters

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