A Dictionary of Maqiao is a really considered and philosophical book, whilst managing to retain an earthiness and wit throughout. I liked the way the narrator poses the book as an effort to deconstruct traditional story-telling. He sees the traditional novel as directing its gaze selectively – focusing in on those things that relate to the central narrative, while ignoring the things that are on the periphery of this:
Things that can’t be put in the traditional novel are normally “insignificant.” However, when your focus is theocracy, science is insignificant; when it is humanity, nature is insignificant; when it is politics, then love is insignificant; when it is money, then aesthetics are insignificant. I suspect that everything in the world has the same level of significance, however, and that the reason that some things appear insignificant at times, is because they are filtered out by the author’s framework of meaning and are resisted by the reader’s framework of meaning, as they are not exciting enough. Clearly, these frameworks are not innate and unchanging, but rather the contrary, they are reformed by fads, habit and cultural tendencies – this mould is then set in the form of the novel. [My translation]
I recently posted a list of Chinese character variants and the Taiwanvore blogger posted an additional pair of variants to the list in the comments section – one in very common usage in Taiwan, specifically 裡 (for Cangjie fans that is 中田土) and 裏 (卜田土女). This variant pair is quite a rare example in modern Chinese as both are in regular usage, although according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, 裡 is the standard character (正體) and 裏 is the variant (異體). Continue reading →
OK – just a quick post today! Am reading 《馬橋詞典》(Dictionary of Maqiao) by 韓少功 (Han Shaogong) at the minute and came across a word for a woman’s period or menstruation – 例假 – that I hadn’t seen before. For some reason I read this as 例期 however and looking it up I found the variant 朞 – a bottom top variant of 期 – combining 其 and 月. This reminded me of a few other variants that follow this pattern, like 峰 and 峯 feng1 “summit,” and 群 and 羣 for “qun1” crowd.
There’s also 鑒 and 鑑 jian4 which have their ingredients stirred around a little.