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Culture
12
Sep
2013
China's Incredible Find E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by ND
The terracotta army was discovered by accident in 1974 at Xian, in China, when local farmers digging a well broke into a pit containing 6000 life-size terracotta figures. Excavation in 1976 revealed two further pits both filled with terracotta warriors. On the eastern side of the tomb a number of small pits have been found containing the bones of horses and smaller size terracotta figures of grooms. Since then discoveries have continued to be made at the site and to date the remains of nearly 8000 terracotta figures have been recovered. The terracotta army was guarding the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang di, who lived over 2200 years ago. He became famous for unifying the warring states into what is now China, and for becoming the country's first emperor. He is remembered for instigating the building of the Great Wall of China, and the fanatical fear of death and an obsessive quest for the secret of immortality.

 
11
Sep
2013
Cross-cultural communication E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Daniel
Some time ago, I read an interesting linguistic article called Inscrutability Revisited by Linda Wai Ling Young ("Language and Social Identity", 1982, Cambridge University Press) comparing English with Chinese discourse strategies, and arguing that, basically a lot of the frustration English speakers encounter in "getting things done" in China can be attributed to a clash between acceptable discourse strategies between the languages. The article argues that the choice of discourse strategies employed by speakers of either languages is in fact determined by the structure of the language itself. It notes that many utterances (some 50% of them) in Chinese follow a grammatical structure typed as "topic-comment" which stands in direct contrast to the format of European (inc. English) languages which is described as "subject-predicate".

 
07
Sep
2013
Chinese Banquets E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Momo
As a foreigner living in China, I've had countless banquets thrown with me being the guest of honor. A banquet to welcome me, a banquet to see me off, and banquets in between with numerous leaders, members of the communist party and sometimes just interested people who want my friendship and a chance to practice their English. The banquets start off with handshakes all around, translation when needed, and creating a seating arrangement that is suitable for the neccesary 'feng shui', with the guest of honor facing the door. Drinking is a major deal at the banquets, and any excuse to drink will be made. "Lets drink to this" and "lets drink to that..." Sometimes it's exhausting.

 
23
Jan
2013
Eating out for "Nianyefan" E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Local Ren
Nianyefan is the Chinese term for the dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year (CNY). Marking the end of the year and the coming of the new lunar year, it is regarded as the most important reunion meal for Chinese families and is traditionally cooked at home as a big event, with delicacies usually unavailable and different from everyday dishes.

Traditionally, Chinese will travel from all over the country to be with their families for the meal, which always includes a fish dish - considered a symbol of prosperity - and plenty of toasting with rice wine. Until a few years ago, almost every family in the city ate at home, while restaurants shut for the evening. When I was a little kid, I always looked forward to the CNY for good meals and some other entertaining things.

 
23
Jan
2013
Chinese Superstitions E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Local Ren
Many Chinese sank into absurdity, rushing to wed before the coming of the Rooster Year (2005), a "widow's year" made by an ancient superstition arising from a calendar quirk. Because of the vagaries of the Chinese lunar calendar, that Rooster Year did not contain the traditional Start of Spring. For many here, that means the Chinese year is a bad one in which to marry.

It is true that Chinese New Year is a high time for practicing Chinese superstitions. Regardless of the year you were born, there are certain customs that many Chinese adhere to during the New Year. Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the new. On the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be opened to allow the old year to go out. Many people also abstain from eating meat on the first day of the New Year because it is believed that this will ensure a long and happy life. Some may eat a whole fish, that represents togetherness and abundance, or a chicken with its head and feet intact, which symbolizes prosperity.

 
22
Jan
2013
It's Teatime! E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Joe Luke
I want to talk about three things, in my very first article for New Dynasty. Learning chinese, my perceptions of concepts of personal space and spacial perceptions in general in China, and tea.

Learning chinese is a real trip.  I've had to really change my attitude towards speaking chinese recently.  Previously, chinese was something I just spoke, and usually other chinese speakers would compliment me on my ability to speak with the appropriate inflections in pronouncing each word, and I would assume I was speaking chinese. Not so. Chinese is, I've figured out, not spoken in words. Chinese is almost spoken in sentences, but not quite.  That is to say, there are very set patterns.  English, english, well, I'm not sure.  I think when we speak english we have some of the same forces at work - that we speak in culturally accepted and tried-and-true patterns, that we, or I at least, am not totally conscious of when I speak. 

 
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