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"Martin D. Zehr" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 27 Jun 2011 13:06:30 -0700
text/plain (64 lines)
I don't think it represents "contempt/disinclination" as much as it does sheer, unadulterated laziness. Certainly, Twain's own attitudes toward the Chinese immigrants he had observed in California and Nevada could not, at the time (1872), be characterized by "contempt/disinclination," although, a few years prior, the evidence might support "indifference."  As someone who's had a particular interest in Twain and the Chinese, I long ago had a local Chinese-American faculty member look these over.  He assured me that they were, indeed, the equivalent of Chinese neologisms, although he also opined that they might be roughly translated as "Die, Yankee Dog!"  Take your pick.
martin zehr
kansas city, missouri 

--- On Mon, 6/27/11, Harold Bush <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Harold Bush <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Translation of Chinese characters in Roughing It illustration
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, June 27, 2011, 11:49 AM

I'm looking at p. 392, with 5 characters: mostly nonsense, evidently; it
would be interesting to figure out where the heck they came from.  Or why MT
would not take 5 minutes to find a Chinese person to put something real and
significant ... but I was just reading this morning about the horrible
treatment of the Chinese at that time, so I guess it amounts to a sort of
contempt/disinclination to take them seriously enough to use actual Chinese
characters, and to make up complete drivel.

As a group they make zero sense.  from top to bottom they are:

a phony -- made up??  this one is the most suspect and clearly just scrawled

row: as in a row of houses or of crops, or people, seats, or anything

3rd & 4th together = mister, Mr.

5th = more nonsense: illegible

ps: in case anyone has grand delusions about my Longfellow-like language
skills, these were analyzed by my dear wife; no I am not quite capable of
doing this alone, just got me curious so I called her over.

here's a link in google books, FYI:

On Sun, Jun 26, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Scott Holmes <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Just as a matter of curiosity, is there a translation of the
> illustration in chapter 54 of Roughing It?  I had assumed that it
> represented a laundry tag.  Mark notes that many Chinese, in Virginia
> City, were employed in the laundry business and always attached a tag or
> bill to cleaned clothing.
> I asked a friend, from mainland China, but she was unable to provide a
> clear translation.  She did think that it probably represented or was
> possibly found as part of a shrine.  Mark also spend some time in this
> chapter discussing how the Chinese deal with their dead.
Harold K. Bush, Ph.D
Professor of English
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO  63108
314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)