Happy National Day!
In an attempt to stay topical and current in my English classes leading up to China’s liùshí zhōunián guóqìng 六十周年国庆 (and I’m talking zhōusuì 周岁, by the way), I’ve let the students discuss various related subjects in our class such as what will happen this year to celebrate the founding of the country and what changes the country has gone through in the past 60 years.
(As a side note, I was stumped, again, when a student said that part of the celebration will be yuèbīng 阅兵 and didn’t know how to say it in English. Knowing full well that Zhōngqiūjié 中秋节 will be right in the middle of this year’s Guóqìngjié 国庆节 I proudly announced that the most common translation is “moon cakes.” Never before has the class been so active. “Not yuèbǐng 月饼, we’re talking about yuèbīng 阅兵!” they shouted as I suppressed every instinct I had to launch into a rant about the tones and listening comprehension. Breathe. Yes. It’s OK.)
One of the discussion questions was:
“What do the stars on the guóqí 国旗 stand for?”
I really wanted to know. It’s my fifth year enjoying the not-really-a-whole-week-of-vacation-because-we-have-to-make-up-classes-on-the-weekends, so it’s high time I learned that little factoid.
The big star is certainly the Communist Party (Gòngchǎndǎng 共产党). But surprisingly, the students (in every class) couldn’t agree on what the four small stars stand for. So out came the shǒujī-s 手机 with their mobile internet browsers and that’s when the debate finally got rolling.
One student was adamant that the four yellow stars stand for:
The other students approved farmers and workers but vehemently shot down teachers and students.
That lead the first student to go online and immediately prove herself wrong by reporting that she is now equally sure that they are:
She probably found this baidu page, which is a sort of Yahoo-Answers-style forum in which people vote for the answer that seems the best. The above currently has 134 thumbs up (and also seems to agree with the site I borrowed that flag picture from).
I’m not super clear on what those English terms mean, but that site claims they are four social classes. Um, well, I don’t know quite how to say this but, isn’t the idea of different classes um, well, different from the whole idea of the big star? I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying I don’t understand. [insert hands-up, palms-forward emoticon here]
Later, a student staring at his phone proudly announced that he’d found the answer:
My suspicions were immediately aroused when I saw a) there are actually five groups, and b) the “Vietnamese Communist party” made an appearance or two. Upon closer reading, I found that despite the the phrase “Chinese flag” in the header of the article, that little biadu post is actually about what each of the five points of the star on the Vietnamese (and maybe Chinese) flag stands for. Apparently my student didn’t realize that and just reported the first list he found that started with farmers and workers.
Everyone agrees on farmers and workers, but the other two stars are still up for grabs. So, I’m going to have a little contest.
The first person to explain what the 4 little stars stand for (and give an authoritative source) wins the prize.
The prize: I’ll cancel that box of moon cakes I’m planning to send you.
Friendly reminder: This is strictly a language-focused, non-political blog. Please avoid comments that will get me banned in China. Thanks!