One of the standard Chinese greetings is 吃了吗 or “have you eaten yet.” It has been such a natural part of the culture, that when I was in China and was greeted this way, the reply was always an automatic 吃了 (yes) or 没呢 (no). It never crossed my mind how strange such a greeting would seem, since the person asking almost definitely is not interested in the information whether I have eaten or not. Westerners have written about this greeting and interpreted this as evidence that food is of primary concern in the Chinese culture. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Cultural Comparisons’ Category
I think American ones are still exposed to Moby Dick, some Shakespeare and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, if nothing else. Do Chinese students read the classics? Mao’s Little Red Book and Outlaws of the Marsh? What literature are all Chinese high school students compelled to study? Is the curriculum standardized across the country, or across provinces, or at all?
I’ve been bumping into stories about cricket-fighting and famous champion crickets in the stories about the monk Ji Gong, and in one of Pu Songling’s Strange Stories. It seems that there was a wild China-wide fad for cricket fighting, that people submitted their crickets to regional and national contests, and that some places experienced an extortionate cricket-collection tax system. Did the emperor really run a cricket-fighting den? (And if so, didn’t he have anything better to do, like training the troops?) Does anyone know if this fad really happened? Could you explain, please?