the Chinese in the Joy Luck Club
November 5, 2022 7:57 PM   Subscribe, the Chinese language words / expressions in the Joy Luck Club (the novel). Can someone help me figure out what some of these might be if written in characters? Simplified or traditional, it's all good.

I feel certain that at least 3 of these are from a dialect, in which case there might not be any good characters for them. If anyone knows, I would love to know which dialect these might be from. Any help is appreciated...I've combed through my dictionaries and asked my native speaker dad for help and we can't figure these out!

shou - respect for ancestors and family

chang - necklace with tablet of red jade (or maybe just the jade itself, sans necklace? does it have to be red?)

tounau - tonic soup made with 8 specific ingredients to give vitality to mothers (what would the ingredients be?)

yidafadwo - everything all over the place (pretty sure this is from a dialect)

hulihudu - confused (perhaps the last 2 characters are hutu 糊涂 ?)

chuming - inside knowing of things, vs only seeing surface / face value of things

ywansau - sticky sweet dumplings (I'm pretty sure these would be tangyuan 汤圆 , and again I'm pretty sure this is from a dialect)
posted by ditto75 to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
孝: shou - respect for ancestors and family

糊里糊涂: hulihudu - confused

元宵: ywansau - sticky sweet dumplings
posted by cheesecake at 9:16 PM on November 5, 2022


The The Asian Pacific American Heritage: A Companion to Literature and Arts (via Google Books) suggests that this is yitahutu (一塌糊涂, I think) and is in the Shanghainese pronunciation.
posted by scorbet at 6:34 AM on November 6, 2022

The soup must be 头脑 - Google "tou nao chinese soup" for recipes.

Maybe it is not specific enough, but could chuming be 聰明?
posted by methroach at 10:53 AM on November 6, 2022

Response by poster: I just plugged 头脑 into google and found a baidu page that tells me it's a Taiyuan thing with 8 ingredients and the character that mentions it is from Taiyuan, so that must be it!

Maybe it is not specific enough, but could chuming be 聰明?
I personally don't think least in my family, we use 聰明 to mean bright, sharp or clever...not "wise enough see the difference between the outside and inside of things".
posted by ditto75 at 11:13 AM on November 6, 2022

You might try asking Amy Tan herself on her Facebook page. It’s really her on the page, not a publicist, and she does reply to people in the comments sometimes.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:52 AM on November 8, 2022

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