Monday, August 12, 2013

Pattberg Urges “China Experts” To Use Chinese Terminologies in Their English Reports

THORSTEN PATTBERG, Peking University
Pattberg Urges “China Experts” To Use Chinese Terminologies in Their English Reports

In this op-ed piece to China Daily, cultural critic and activist Thorsten Pattberg warns China against importing history and terminologies from the West; instead, he says, China must contribute its own originality to world history, and Chinese terms to global language. In the long run, both East and West would benefit: China can keep its inventiveness, while the West learns something new. As an example, we are reminded of Japan which has contributed far more loanwords into the English language than China.

Pattberg also criticizes the “China experts” from a CCTV “Special” program about the “Chinese Dream”. The program – telecast nationwide - invited five foreigners or Western-educated Chinese to explain the Chinese Dream and the future of China; they did so in English and without ever using a single Chinese terminology. [The ‘Chinese Dream’ originally reads ‘Zhongguo Meng’]

[In fact, there were six guests on the program: The “foreign” experts were: Daniel A. Bell (Canadian), Zhang Xudong (New York University), M. D. Nalapat (India), Einar Rangen (American), Tu Weiming (American), and Wang Jianfei (PhD Berkeley).]

Pattberg thinks that such an awkward situation could only happen in China: Not only is China importing its own history from the West, that history also comes totally Chinese-free!

“[…] whenever Western readers come across the term "Chinese Dream", they will try to understand it through their concept of the American Dream.

Ironically, they talked about how China must provide global knowledge and universalism. How is it going to do that, if China can’t even keep its own terminologies?

Dr. Thorsten Pattberg (Peking University) publishes widely on the East-Westdichotomy, Shengren, Language imperialism, Comparative cultural studies, Globallanguage, World history, the Competition for terminologies, the End oftranslation, and the Rise of non-European terminologies.

Read article by star journalist Frank Ching about ‘Who is aChinese?’ in which he explains why the Chinese government seems to think that all ethnic Chinese belong to China even though they are often nationals of a foreign power.