[Ads-l] ching chong (1862?)

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 1 08:46:55 UTC 2019

This derogatory expression occurs a few times in the archives, such as by LH: 
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2011-March/108239.html <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2011-March/108239.html>

LH cites Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_chong <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_chong>), which cites a poem having “Ching Chong, Chinaman” with a remembered date of 1906.

“Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang” (https://tinyurl.com/y256rlzm <https://tinyurl.com/y256rlzm>) has late 19th century, saying “ching” derives from a common Chinese name.

There are several variations of the surnames Ching (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_(surname) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_(surname)>) and Chong (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chong_(surname) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chong_(surname)>), including Cheng and possibly Zheng.

Kat Chow wrote an article for NPR (https://tinyurl.com/y9wccguk <https://tinyurl.com/y9wccguk>) in 2014 citing an 1886 book: “...Ching, Chong, Chineeman,…” She explicitly points out the missing “s” in “Chinese man,” but I recall a Cantonese ABC (American-born Chinese) friend of mine who had siblings born in China who also said that in imitation of people born in China.

The OED, Lexico and Merriam-Webster do not have an entry.

Here are six earlier possible sources:

1. A Complete System of University History
E. W. Whitaker
https://tinyurl.com/y53otv8y <https://tinyurl.com/y53otv8y>

[p. 871] Three years after this, Ching-ching-kong otherwise called Coxinga, laid seige to the city of Nan-king; …
[p. 872] … while the power of the great sea commander, Ching-ching-chong, was much diminished….

Zheng Chenggong, or Koxinga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koxinga <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koxinga>), defeated the Dutch on Taiwan in 1661 and established a kingdom there, so his name would have certainly been in some circulation. I could not find Ching-china-chong.

2. The Leisure Hour: An Illustrated Magazine for Home Reading
W. Stevens, Printer
1862 (Google-dated; searching for the years in the 1860s, the last year in snippets is 1863)
https://tinyurl.com/yyxwgzgz <https://tinyurl.com/yyxwgzgz>

So the court is dissolved, and the Chinamen go on their way, in some measure consoled. Deluded Ching Chings! The moment their backs are turned,….”

3. Tin-ni-min-ni-win-kum-ka, or, The Chinaman's farewell
Ching Foo
https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/101769002 <https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/101769002>
See the entire publication at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015093763194&view=1up&seq=1 <https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015093763194&view=1up&seq=1>

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Ling_Foo <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Ling_Foo>), Ching Ling Foo (金陵福) was the stage name of Chee Ling Qua (朱連魁) who lived from 1854 to 1922, but the article says he brought his show to the US in 1898, so this must be a different Ching Foo.

4. Good Words
Norman Macleod, Donald Macleod
1871 (Google-dated, no hits in the snippets from 1872 to 1880)
https://tinyurl.com/y5ark3co <https://tinyurl.com/y5ark3co>

“Ah! no gone to work to-day, Ching-ching?”

5. Chamber's Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts
William Chambers, Robert Chambers
1872 (Google-dated, no necessarily contradictory year mentions through 1880)
https://books.google.com/books?id=_iIZAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22+ching%22+%22chinaman%22&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22+ching%22+ <https://books.google.com/books?id=_iIZAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22+ching%22+%22chinaman%22&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22+ching%22+>

… supply of coal on the spot, our China merchants could secure to themselves the whole trade of Eastern, Central, and Western China (exclusive of Yunnan). Of Ching-chung, he says: ‘It may be called the Liverpool of Western China.

Perhaps this city is Chongqing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chongqing <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chongqing>), also known as Chungking, which has abundant coal.

6. Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, a Popular Journal of General Literature
J. B. Lippincott and Company
1884 (Google-dated, see the snipped that says, “to be erected … on or before the 1st of July 1886”)
https://tinyurl.com/y3t3na2v <https://tinyurl.com/y3t3na2v>

“… On no account must it fall into the hands of those long-tailed Ching Chongs.”

The HDAS suggests that “Chink” might be derived from the Ch'ing (Qing) dynasty. The first derogatory citation is 1878, but regardless, the “ch” sound comes up a lot in names connected to China, including “China” itself. 

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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