Wednesday, September 10, 2014

CRACKing Characters: A Mystery Story

At a bookshop in Beijing, I made a spur-of-the-moment purchase: a set of two thin books called Cracking Characters: The Ultimate Guide to the Most Frequently Used 300 Chinese Characters. What a great title, eh! Rolls right off the tongue.

After spending some time reading the books, I reached a verdict:

Something is cracky here all right.

Cracking Characters is written by Fu Qiang, aka Leo Fu, who holds a Masters degree in legal linguistics. His book aims to help foreign students understand Chinese ideograms in depth, by learning about their roots from the time of the earliest oracle bone inscriptions. Pretty straightforward, right? Occasionally, yes. All the standard explanations are there: the character for tree (木) is indeed a picture of a tree, and the character for up (上) is a representation of one thing above another thing. So far, gotcha!

The book is divided up into categories based on the type of root, or smallest unit of meaning, a group of characters uses (derived from bodies, animals, nature, et al.). Here’s where it gets mysterious: Fu Qiang’s research has led him to believe that a prominent category is “roots related to sex.”

Wait, you say, what the what? Because you never heard about any of this when you were learning to write mountain and river in the ancient, beautiful script of the far east. Yes, friend. I feel the same.

Fu Qiang proceeds to reveal that a lot of seemingly innocuous Chinese characters are in fact the earliest form of penis drawings (oracle BONE, amirite? :PppPPpPP). For grueling detail, feel free to click the images below:

贵 (expensive) = an erect penis
京 (capital) = an ejaculating penis
再 (again) = an erect penis (again)

And fear not, vagina-bearers: we’re included in the learned smut of old, as well!
不 (no) = period vagina
文 (culture) = "a vivid image of an inflamed vagina viewed from behind"
它 (it) = a vagina, aka the third person present while you're having sex, aka the noise you make while you're having sex

(My personal favorite here is 它 (ta), mostly because to my knowledge nobody moans "TAAA" while in throes of carnal ecstasy. But I'm not here to judge, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Moving on.)

As you might or might not imagine, I was a bit weirded out by these descriptions, so I decided to compare Cracking Characters’ descriptions with a few other sources.

Here's what they had to say: 京 is a picture of a house on a hill, a good location for building capital cities. 不 is actually supposed to be a sprouting seed or a root, related to the similar character 才 (which Cracking Characters also claims is a menstruating vagina). Most sources agree 它 is an adapted image of a snake. The origin of 文 is unclear, with guesses ranging from a tattoo to a man wearing clothing, but no one else made the immediate connection to this alleged “vivid image” of an inflamed vagina viewed from behind.

Since most literature seems to disagree with him, I wonder from what spring of arcane knowledge Fu Qiang drew his bucket of ancient porn. Who were his sources? What is his purpose? Is he a pervert? A practical joker? Or is he, in fact, showing us a seldom-spoken-of, secret truth?

Maybe this is why there are NO relevant search results for Cracking Characters,, Chinese Educational Science Press Limited, Fu Qiang, or Leo Fu. Maybe he's been silenced. Maybe we are all in danger.

All I know is this: Information wants to be free. So thank you, Leo Fu, for sharing.

Ta ta for now, everyone.

Postscript: Cracking Characters contains many other, less sexually preoccupied, wonderfully weird explanations for why Chinese ideograms look the way they do. Thus, Leo Fu may or may not become a recurring presence on this blog. Cheers.


bountiful... penis

Mamma sa att du la upp coola bilder. Hon hade väl rätt? xD

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