Tag Archives: Taishan

Offbeat Museums / , , , ,

Fascinating Old Handbook for Chinese Heading Overseas

In Chinese, hello is 你好。 What? Can’t read characters? Just say knee-how (or nǐhǎo1, nixao2 or niihao3).

What about the reverse, though? How do Chinese learn English if they can’t read Latin alphabets? Can you use characters, instead? Can “Hello” be written as 河罗 (héluō4). Can “Who is he?” be spelled out as “夫,衣寺,希” (fu hu, yī sì, xī or “Husband clothes temple hope”)?

Back in 1912, someone tried just this. A remarkable book was published for southern Chinese heading to the US and Canada. It’s called “Half-Chinese, Half-Western English” (半唐番英语), and I recently managed to track down a few pages, hidden in a small museum in rural Guangdong. And it’s amazing.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 4 Comments