Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, September 03, 2010

Rocket Fuel 

Went to the English corner this evening. Been a while since I showed up there. It isn't quite as close now that I live out at the Hills.

Somehow, we got into a discussion about baijiu. In China, baijiu is a generic term for distilled spirits. The most well known is Moutai, but there are a number of varieties.

The problem is with the nomenclature. Bai means "white," and jiu means "alcohol." Hongjiu is the Chinese word for red wine (hong means "red"). So it is understandable that if hongjiu translates to "red wine," baijiu should translate to "white wine." But the Chinese word for white wine is actually bai putao jiu. I was explaining this to them. I said, "If you want to offer a foreigner distilled spirits, don't say, 'Would you like some white wine?' They will misunderstand you. Baijiu is definitely NOT white wine."

What should we say?

I said, "Repeat after me. ROCKET FUEL."

"How do you spell it?"

"R-O-C-K-E-T F-U-E-L."

"What kind of rocket fuel do you like?"

I said, "Well, I really don't like rocket fuel. A little wine is OK, but I stay away from baijiu."

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