"old China hand"/fist

Paul M. Johnson paulzjoh at MTNHOME.COM
Sat May 11 15:27:10 UTC 2002

Used to be a radioman in the service ( back during the Punic wars it seems,
if I remember correctly never heard of a sender's hand, it was always a
"fist"  Am I wrong?

By the way, great insult among operators, was to break in while some one was
sending by sending repeated TL,TL Meaning that it sounds as if you're
sending with a Toilet Lid.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
Sent: Saturday, May 11, 2002 8:28 AM
Subject: Re: "old China hand"

> Certainly "hand" as the noun form of "handy" = "proficient" is very
> conventional English? Maybe it's a little old-fashioned? Several of my
> older relatives, Americans born ca. 1900, used to use expressions such as
> "quite a hand at auto repairs" = "quite an auto-repair expert" or so. I
> don't think I hear this much today.
> I guess that I've always assumed -- without giving it much thought -- that
> "old China hand" was some sort of calque from Chinese. I guess "haoshou"
> "good"+"hand"] = "expert" or so for example is a good parallel to the
> English usage?
> On [further] thought, though, maybe the use of "hand" as a metaphor for
> "capable/expert person" is so basic in the context of primate anatomy that
> it might be expected to arise independently in different languages?
> An analogous point: I guess I've tacitly assumed that "save face",
> "thick-faced", etc. were calques from Chinese ... but these expressions
> pretty old in English too ... maybe they arose independently?
> -- Doug Wilson

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