3.18.2006

... and I'm your grandmother!

A couple days ago, the premier of China, Mr. Wen Jia-Bao said in an occasion that A-bian is a trouble maker and his behavior is 數典忘祖. Let me explain what this proverb means verbatim:

數: recount
典: history
忘: forget
祖: ancestry


Stringing these words together it goes like this: while recounting the history, customs and literatures (blah blah), one forgot who their ancestors are. This expression is now used to describe a person who is ignorant of his own country's history.

OK. First of all, Taiwan has never been a part of the PRC. Second of all, if we're to recount the Taiwanese ancestry, we probably have more plains aborigines'(平埔族) blood in us. (There are ongoing DNA and blood analysis researches on the origin of Taiwanese people, and the similarities of Indigenous Taiwanese people and Polynesians.)

從組織抗原推論閩南人及客家人,所謂「台灣人」的來源
台灣史與基因比對呈現的「台灣人圖像」
Gene study links Polynesians to Taiwan
Genetic relationship of populations in China

Or google thse key words: Taiwanese, polynesian, plains aboriginals

And let's not forget that CHINESE ROOTS LIE IN AFRICA. Hmm... so who's ignorant of their ancestry I wonder.

Back to my title of this blog entry. I downloaded a Taiwan political talk show the other day and listened to it while working. The hosts are Ms. 簡余晏 and Mr. 陳立宏. At the beginning of part 3 of the show, they showed a clip of Wen making those comments then back to the hosts. Right after the clip, Ms. 簡余晏 quickly said, 數典忘祖,哇林祖媽咧∼ which, literally means, "ignorant of our history... and I'm your grandmother!" I laughed so hard at that remark and nearly fell off my chair.

Well put, Ms. 簡.

To watch the show, go to Taiwan Yes and find 2006/03/14 五點現場。

ps. 哇林祖媽咧∼(... I'm your grandmother) is a Taiwanese cursing expression.

[Taiwan], [China],

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

『數典忘祖.. This expression is now used to describe a person who is ignorant of his own country's history.』

IMO, "unloyal to his ancestor or country" would be a more precise way of translating it.

數典忘祖 usually means someone says or does something that is considered "betraying his ancestor or country".

A person who is "ignorant of own country's history" could still be loyal to his country.

So if we say someong is 數典忘祖, even literally it says "ignorant," it actually implies "betraying".

The concept is way way out of date. Actually, it's this concept "loyal to your ancestor" that results in the isolation of chinese immigrants from the local society to where they moved to. The isolation causes miscommunication, causes uneven flow of benefit, causes a lot of social disturbances. A strong and "not 數典忘祖" community of chinese immigrants usnally suck blood out of the society quickly without having intention to sharing or giving something in return. In many Asian countries it resulted in extreme unbalance of society wealth, and when the locals were pushed to the limit of "hunger to death", it ended up with riot and loss of lives.

The concept of 數典忘祖 is the source of social instability.