Refuge and Modification

June 24, 2015

in Asia, China, Heather Brevard, Summer 2015

上海 Blog #28

二零一五年六月十七号星期三

Wednesday June 17th, 2015

Local Time: 19:30 Shanghai Time

I’ll be honest, at first glance, the Jewish Refugees Museum in the middle of Shanghai seemed like a sort of random pilgrimage to make while in China. But it turns out 25,000 Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai during WW2 to be welcomed by the Chinese people. Before entering the actual museum, we were able to tour the old buildings the refugees had actually lived in. It was a very different atmosphere from the fancy high rises that surrounded it. The roofs were dotted with holes and the walls were water logged. The place was filthy. Quite the contrast. The museum proper contained artifacts and info boards regarding the families who came to Shanghai.

For dinner, a little Chinese boy literally stared at me the entire time I sat there eating my wonton soup with chopsticks in the right hand and spoon in the left. I tried talking to him, but he was quite shy and wouldn’t respond. Either that, or I was butchering what I was trying to say so bad that he couldn’t understand me and thus chose to ignore me. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which and I suppose in this circumstance, I’ll never know.

Even though it’s easy to feel like I’m slacking when I talk to Chinese people in English, it can be surprising how lingual-ally enlightening their English mistakes can be. For example, this evening with a Chinese friend, I was asked if I could help “modify” an “article.” I of course translated this to standard American English as “Can you help me proofread/edit and essay.” Later that evening while WeChatting in Chinese, I wrote “张老师给了我我的文章。我现在要编辑。” (Professor Zhang gave me my essay back. I now need to edit it.) Not previously knowing the Mandarin words for essay and edit I popped them in google translate and plopped them into my sentences. My error was quickly corrected. It seems the word I should have used for edit was, in fact, 修改, which as you’ve probably already guessed, literally translates in google translate as “modify.” While my word for essay was not also corrected, I imagine the Chinese word that the translator dubs as article can probably be used in similar fashion. Fascinating!

Museum quote

Museum quote

Old Jewish housing

Old Jewish housing

Somebody's dog

Somebody’s dog

Jewish housing under construction with bamboo

Jewish housing under construction with bamboo

Jewish Refugees Museum main hall

Jewish Refugees Museum main hall

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