College of Arts and Sciences
Report from The Suffolk Journal.
Prof. Jonathan Haughton was invited to teach in Shanghai in summer of 2013. After that, he took a trip to Tibet, known as the Roof of the World. He will share his experience with us through many fascinating photographs and first-hand observations.
Potala Palace (Photo credit: Jonathan Haughton)
Da Zheng will give a talk at the Royal Asiatic Society on “Chiang Yee and Three Women.” In this talk, Da will describe the wife and lovers who were important in Chiang Yee’s life.
The talk will be on Tuesday 21 May 2013 at the RAS Library at the Sino-British College, starting at 7:30pm. Details are on the poster below.
Last week I attended a seminar sponsored by the Elliott School for International Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC. The topic of the seminar was the Chinese Eastern Railway 中東鐵路 (CER).
When Russia was building the Trans-Siberian Railway in the late 1800s to link St. Petersburg to the port of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, they looked at a map and saw that if they could build a rail line through northern Manchuria, Chinese territory, they could cut both time and costs off of the project. Russia approached China, but the Qing government said “no” to the idea of Russia building a railroad.
So the Russians organized the Russo-Asiatic Bank to fund the project as a “commercial” enterprise. When shares went on sale in St. Petersburg, Russia bought almost all the shares to have a controlling interest in the line. The French bought many bonds in the line, and the Chinese government invested some funds also. But Russia ran the project as if it were all their own. They built the city of Harbin 哈爾濱in North Manchuria, ran lines not only eastward to connect to Vladivostok, but also south to the ice-free port of Dalian. They stationed Russian military units along the tracks to protect the route, they hired and paid thousands of Chinese workers, and many Russian investors, bureaucrats and ordinary adventurers moved into Harbin. The CER began operation in 1902.
The history of the line is one of contestation, and finally in 1935 Russia sold it to the occupying Japanese. Russia re-inherited the line in 1950 when the People’s Republic of China was founded, and they then returned it to China as a gift.
I visited Harbin in early January to look at the old buildings of the CER, many of which are well-preserved (strong brick and mortar construction). I visited the Russo-Asiatic Bank building and saw an exhibition of old Czarist Russian ruble notes. I saw the crumbling facades of the old railway-connected warehouses in the Daowai 道外區section of the city where inscriptions in old Cyrillic still grace their fronts. The old Yamato Hotel built by the Japanese in the 1920s had a nice exhibition of old photos of the hotel in its heyday. I realized that the city administration is trying to preserve the Russian façade by building modern office building and apartment blocks in with fronts that mimic the turn-of -the-century Russian style, with mansard roofs, cupolas at the corners, and fancy decorations along windows and cornices.
My job at the conference was as a commentator on the papers presented, and I was able to add a first-hand report on Harbin, the city that is inevitably linked with the CER. Ron’s remarks can be found here.
The newsletter can be found here.
Da Zheng will be speaking this Saturday on “Chiang Yee’s Transnational Experiences.” He will describe Chiang Yee’s personal encounters with racial exclusion and immigration laws, displacement, exile, and the pain he experienced while maintaining a popular public image. The talk is sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of New England (CHSNE), of which Dr. Zhang is a board member.
The talk will be on Saturday 4 August 2012 from 2pm to 4pm at the BCNC (Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center), 38 Ash Street in Boston. It will be moderated by Dr. Peter Kiang from the Asian American Studies Program at UMass Boston. The talk is free and open to the public. You can RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This talk is funded in part by Mass Humanities and the Wang Foundation, and is co-sponsored by BCNC. Both CHSNE and BCNC are community outreach partners of the Rosenberg Institute.
BCNC link here.
Professor Da Zheng was in London to give a talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The talk is titled “The Silent Traveler in Britain,” concerning the artist and writer Chiang Yee, about whom Professor Zheng is the world’s foremost expert.
On 3rd April, Chris Dakin (Humanities) gave a CTE workshop titled “Is it He or Ho? A simple introduction on how to pronounce difficult names” to a group of interested faculty and administrative staff.
(Hint: He and Ho are both spellings of the Chinese last name 何)
Some of the highlights that I got from the workshop are:
1. There is a limited number of Chinese last names, and most people will have these 30 names.
2. How a Chinese character is spelt depends on where one comes from. For example, a name like Wong shows that one comes from Southern China, and it can be either the character 王 or 黃. However, if that person comes from another part of China, the name will be Wang for 王and Huang for 黃.
3. The last name comes first, and then the first name. The Chinese name “Chan Kong-sang” shows that the last name is Chan, and the first name is Kong-sang. However, most students observe the American convention and write their first name before the last one, such as “Kong-sang Chan”.
4. Sometimes students collapse the two characters into one: so Chan Kong-sang can also be written as Kongsang. Sometimes they will write KongSang to denote there are two characters.
5. Some Chinese last names have two characters: Sima (司马, 司馬), Zhuge (诸葛, 諸葛), Ouyang/Auyeung (欧阳, 歐陽). However, those last names are rare.
6. It is usual for a Chinese to have a two-character first name. For example, in my case, my Chinese name is Pui Yin (沛然). So Pui is not the first name, and Yin is not the middle name. There is no middle name for Chinese.
7. It is also rather odd to call Chinese students by their Chinese first names because the first names are reserved for people who are close, such as parents, spouses, and very close friends.
8. It is not too formal to address a Chinese by his/her full name. In terms of formality, Micky Lee is the most formal, then Lee Pui Yin (李沛然) then Micky, and I’d rather not want colleagues to call me Pui Yin (沛然).
9. For students from Hong Kong, it is very usual for them to have an English name. It is not a name that we adopt when we come to the US, we have had this name since we were born or since we were in kindergarten.
10. A good thing to remember though is that we can always ask students how they like to be called. (An example given in the workshop is that a student wants to be called Piggy).
11. Chinese women do not change their names after married. So a married woman with the maiden name Lee is called Ms. Lee. If her husband is a Chen, then she can also be called Mrs. Chen. Very rarely, they will add their husband’s last name in front of theirs, such as Chen Lee Pui Yin.
Useful links to online resources for the minds that want to be challenged:
Online resource for pronouncing Mandarin Chinese:
- this is a good basic starting point for a quick listen to the initials and finals.
- put this in your favorites tab for quick reference.
Resources on Chinese names:
- this is a good overview of the background and history of names in Chinese culture. It also has a decent explanation of pseudonyms and other interesting facts that might help in figuring out names.
- This is a very concise and usable resource. Keep this handy.
- Monash University in Australia has some good resources for many topics related to Asian studies. The following link is specifically related to names.
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