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chinese province? [Sep. 11th, 2009|05:19 pm]
Beijing China

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this, so feel free to get rid of it if it isn't relevant enough. I tried posting at asian_pride too but it doesn't seem very active. Anyway here is my China-related story/question. I have been investigating the possibility of spending my next vacation traveling around Southeast Asia (possibly including China), and considering that individuals with personal experience of the area would be the most trustworthy sources of information, I decided to ask some Asian friends of mine a few questions. The first guy I talked to was my friend Sam, who as you might guess from his name was not born in China. His parents and all the other family members I’ve heard him mention are quite definitely native Chinese though, and he visits them from time to time, so I figured he would be a good person to ask. Anyway, after giving me information about where to get the best food, see the most beautiful landscapes, and so on, he pointed me to his aunt Li who actually lives there.


            In the course of a discussion of Chinese cuisine, in which she mostly confirmed Sam’s views on the subject, she mentioned a province which, to my ears at least, sounded like “Long Dong.” She certainly had a thick Chinese accent, so I thought at first I might have misheard her. I didn’t want to press the point, because I figured it wouldn’t be polite in any culture to discuss dongs with strangers. I also felt like I would come off as an ignorant and/or culturally insensitive American bringing up the point, and my interpretation of the name, with Sam. So I called up my friend Rachel, who is half Thai, and has certainly been to southern China on vacations with her Thai family members. Although this one question was definitely dominant in my thoughts, I didn’t want to sound as if the point of the call was something along the lines of “haha you Asians and your crazy moon-language,” so I asked a bunch of other touristy questions, honestly not listening very closely to the answers. I felt like I couldn’t frame the question directly without sounding insensitive to what I was suspecting could be traditional Chinese breeding practices, so I reoriented the discussion towards, again, Chinese food, and asked where I could get the best beef balls, something I remembered being mentioned in connection with the province in question. I was afraid for a moment this was a stupid question, because they’re just balls of pulverized beef, right? How different could they be from place to place? But she immediately, and with no hint of humor, answered, “Long Dong province,” and went on to say that the food from that province might be familiar to me as it was often duplicated in Chinese restaurants in other countries, more so than many other Chinese provincial styles. I was tempted to ask for the spelling to confirm but really, any 12-year-old can spell “long dong,” and quite a lot of them do, from what I hear from my friends in the teaching profession. Anyway, I felt like I couldn’t press the point without coming off as what I believe they are calling “profoundly special” these days, so I made some more touristy chatter and ended the conversation.


            Were Rachel, Sam, and his aunt conspiring to make an ass of me? That was my suspicion but I immediately dismissed it as paranoid, and certainly likely to appear as such to them, especially considering that as far as I know Sam and Rachel don’t know each other. So I haven’t brought it up again, and so far (although this was only a couple of days ago) neither have they.


            I have heard about some pretty extreme social engineering efforts in China, but am a little offended that they would actually segregate people by penis size. Even if this is not exactly what is going on, it seemed absurd that such a name could persist in modern times; I imagine tourists would probably be either offended or disappointed, upon discovering the actual situation there. I am not sure I really want to google this, since on our home computer we don’t clear the search history that often (this is my wife’s idea of a clever way to check on what our kids are looking at) and the same is true of the computers at work, the “misuse” of which my boss is a bit anal about. Can anyone here enlighten me?


[User Picture]From: bridget_coila
2009-09-12 02:58 pm (UTC)
Seriously, google "provinces of china" and figure it out (unless "provinces of china" is some secret forbidden code I'm unaware of)

Here, did it for you, since it seems like such a serious source of conflict for you:

* Anhui - south
* Fujian - coastal south
* Gansu
* Guangdong - coastal far south
* Guizhou - mid southwest
* Hainan - island far south
* Hebei
* Heilongjiang - border northeast
* Henan
* Hubei
* Huguang - historical province
* Hunan
* Jiangsu
* Jiangxi - mid south
* Jilin
* Liaoning - coastal east
* Qinghai
* Shaanxi - near western
* Shandong - coastal near southeast
* Shanxi - near south western
* Sichuan
* Yunnan
* Zhejiang - coastal southeast

My guess is Guangdong. And yeah, you can ask a Chinese person, just like anyone else, "how do you spell that?" if you don't know. Chinese people are pretty much aware that their spellings are not necessarily pronunced the same as western languages.
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