Zhou Mingwei: cultural differences cause misunderstanding

By Zhang Rui, Wu Qiongjing
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 14, 2015
Adjust font size:

Political advisor Zhou Mingwei, a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, speaks to China.org.cn reporters in Beijing on March 10, 2015. [China.org.cn] 

Political advisor Zhou Mingwei told China.org.cn on Tuesday that cultural differences between China and foreign countries may cause misunderstandings in the international community, but China has to find a way to better explain itself.

Zhou – the president of the China Foreign Languages Publication and Distribution Administration, president of China International Publishing Group and a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference – is attending the third annual session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which closes on Friday.

Zhou remembered several examples in the field of translation that caused cultural misunderstandings. "For example, there's a fable in the works of Confucius about a fool trying to move a mountain. Some foreigners would say this man is really a fool. If a mountain blocks your way, you can just move your house. Why would you move the mountain?"

The story is about a 90-year-old man named Yu Gong (which literally means "Foolish Elder") who had two huge mountains in front of his house, causing many inconveniences for a long time. So he finally gathered his family and decided to remove the mountains rock by rock. A wise man mocked him, but he said that future generations of his descendants could do it forever until the mountains were removed. In the end, the gods pitied him and send a giant to remove the mountains. The stupidly beautiful story, somewhat like the story of Forrest Gump, is often used by the Chinese to teach the virtues of persistence, determination to succeed and courage to surmount every difficulty.

Another similarly misunderstood story tells a tale about Sima Guang, a Chinese historian, scholar, and high chancellor in the Song Dynasty. When he was a child, he and his friends were playing hide-and-seek. One boy climbed up a tree and fell from it into a water pot. Sima Guang used a rock to smash a big hole in the pot to drain the water and saved the boy. The story is about wisdom, courage and the power of a good idea. However, Zhou said, some foreigners told him the pot would have been huge, so how many rocks did the kid have to use to crack it? They told him that little kids should be taught to call for help from adults or to call 911 in such circumstances rather than thinking out an idea on their own.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   3   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter