And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 4 17:36:12 UTC 2010

All you say is true, but it also ignores the fact that Opium would not
have been well known either, at least, not in anything other than
medical sense (and that also would have been somewhat geared toward the
more educated).


On 11/4/2010 10:37 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Paul, only a minority of American adults a century ago could boast even a
> high-school diploma. (My grandfather, born in 1884, was the first member of
> his family to have one, and he was very proud of it.)  I imagine that a
> higher proportion of the population in, say, 1905, was consciously aware
> that there had been *something* called an Opium War than today, because the
> new prominence of  China in American consciousness resulting from the Boxer
> Rebellion meant that newspapers and magazines would be more likely to allude
> to it. I doubt they cared very much. As DAD said, that was an "English"
> problem, and before 1914 not many Americans cared much for the English
> anyway. (Except for Kipling amnd Shakespeare, they were snooty, snobbish,
> and superior, with no sense of humor.)  I doubt that baseball fans, as a
> group, had any notion of what the Opium Wars were all about.
> I might add to the list of stereotypes that a very high proportion of
> Chinese were thought to be near-sighted because of their "slanty" eyes.
> Except for Tong assassins ("hatchetmen") and 19th C. railway labor, the
> Chinese were also thought to be short and fairly puny (now there's a
> possible source of "Chinese home run"). Chinese crimelords were also
> believed to kidnap white women for the white-slave traffic.  Chinese women,
> on the other hand, were meek and completely passive.  Their vaginas were
> said to be horizontal.  Perhaps because Chinese men traditionally wore a
> queue (pigtail), the Chinese were also sometimes said to have had real
> tails.
> As I said before, Charlie Chan was a giant step forward.
> JL

The American Dialect Society -

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