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CHINOISERIE

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CHINOISERIE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:33 pm

• chinoiserie •


Pronunciation: shin-wahz-reeHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Anything reflecting Chinese culture: Chinese artifacts, designs, artistic styles, behavior.

Notes: If you choose today's Good Word keep in mind that its French spelling and pronunciation give it away as rather artificial and affected. However, it is true that English offers no unaffected alternative. Just be careful of the pronunciation.

In Play: Chinoiserie may refer to things from China or things done in a Chinese style: "After her cruise up the Yangtze River, Gilda Lilly redecorated her apartment from top to bottom in chinoiserie." Today's word may be pluralized since it can refer to individual objects: "Haifa Luten likes to serve her Chinese dinners on a hodgepodge of porcelain chinoiseries she collected on her trips to the Far East."

Word History: This Good Word, as mentioned above, is French, the noun from the adjective chinois "Chinese" from Chine "China". Chine, China, and similar words found in European languages were borrowed by those languages from the Persian and Sanskrit word cinah "Chinese people". These languages picked up the word from Chinese Ch'in (originally Qin), the name of the Chinese dynasty (221-206 BCE) that established the first centralized imperial government in China. Much of the Great Wall of China was built during the rule of this dynasty. (Today we thank Suzanne Williams for a word that has traveled halfway around the Earth and whose ancestry goes back more than 2200 years.)
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby MTC » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:42 am

Pronunciation: shin-wahz-ree • Hear it!

No need to hear it. I am immersed in chinoiserie. My wife of twenty-five years is Chinese. Our son, of course, speaks fluent Mandarin. Our home in Los Angeles (sold) blended chinoiserie, Mideastern, and Southwestern elements. I have lived in China, ate in China, drank in China. Sometimes the very air I breathe seems Chinese.

Every now and then I watch a John Wayne movie for balance.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:47 pm

Where, then, does the word Sino originate, as in
Sino-Japanese War?
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby Slava » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:24 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:Where, then, does the word Sino originate, as in
Sino-Japanese War?

Neo-Latin.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:39 pm

Neo? As. In new? Did Vatican III upgrade the lingo, and I missed it?
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby Slava » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:59 pm

Not exactly. Especially as III hasn't happened as of yet.

Neo-Latin, or New Latin was what became widely used, especially in the sciences, after the beginning of the Renaissance.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:16 pm

Thanks, my Latin is rusty.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:08 am

MTC: I find your immersion in chinoiserie delightful. For almost fifteen years I have taught English as a Second Language. Since I live in a densely populated Chinese community in Dallas, County, Texas, most of my students are Chinese. My wife and I have close bonds with many Chinese friends. They come from several countries, Taiwan, Mainland China (including Hong Kong and Canton), Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore. Today we visited a dear Chinese American friend of many years who recently had a stroke. Although I have always heard about the inscrutable Asians, they don’t seem that way to me.

As a technical term, chinoiserie does not attract me. After all, it’s a French word! The culture and history of China is personally important to me.

Another word of interest along with China and Sino-, is Cathay. Europeans long thought that China and Cathay were separate countries.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby call_copse » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:49 am

To be fair Cathay confusion did end over 400 years ago AFAIK. I would only have heard the term in conjunction with the airline.

I understand Chinese culture was historically only held back due to the non-development of glass. As knowledge could not be maintained without eyesight being maintained (helped in the West by glasses) for as long a lifespan, Western culture advanced more rapidly in many ways. Assuming there is some truth in this, I have always found it strange to think that as seemingly random a development as this would have such a deep effect.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:58 pm

I have read in more than one linguistics books that the Chinese culture was slowed by the burden of their writing system. This might seem reasonable from western eyes looking at Chinese writing. Every Chinese person with which I have discussed this says it is not so, and they have the experience to prove it. I suspect there are many subtle reasons why China began to decline after giving the world paper, silk, gunpowder, and so many other artifacts in its early years. Now however, the Chinese are on the cutting edge. Ask an American teacher which culture their best students come from.
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Re: CHINOISERIE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:01 pm

As a teacher, I found that true in many cases, though
not all.
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