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Another article from Mary-Anne Toy

February 24th, 2008 No comments

Yesterday’s SMH carried an article by Mary-Anne Toy (can’t find link on the SMH website, but here is the Brisbane Times’ copy), riddled as usual with factual errors and barely disguised bias.

She quotes the subject of the article, talking about golden retrievers used as guide dogs, thus: “I noticed athletes from Germany, England and the US taking golden [coloured] dogs to get on and off buses. It has taken China more than 20 years to get its first guide dogs

 Sounds okay, right? Now consider this: the subject we are talking about is blind – a paralympian. How could she tell that they are golden-coloured? It seems likely that the athelete would have referred to the dogs as jinmao quan (金毛犬) or jinmao (金毛), which literally mean “golden haired dog” or simply “golden hair”, the common name for the Golden Retriever in Chinese. A China correspondent who doesn’t even understand such basic usage should, at least, get a proper interpreter instead of relying on her own shaky grasp of the language. A second likely error from the same sentence is the reference to “England”. In Chinese, there are two – and etymologically related – words used to refer to England and the United Kingdom respectively. Yinggelan (英格兰) is a phonetic transliteration of England, and refers to specifically that constituent country of the UK. Yingguo (英国) is an old contraction of Yinggelan, and might be literally interpreted as “the English country” – and is used as shorthand for the political state that descends from the kingdom of England – today, the United Kingdom. A Chinese person in ordinary conversation would almost never use “Yinggelan” unless they are seeking to differentiate between England and, say, Scotland. The reference to “England” seems like another error of interpretation, confusing between England and Britain.

The premise of the article is the inadequacy of the Chinese bureaucracy as illustrated by its inability to deal with China’s first seeing-eye dog. Of course, the guide dog training program in Taiwan dates from much earlier. But, as I’ve ranted about before, Mary-Anne Toy is for all practical purposes a paid lobbyist for the current Taiwanese executive, so of course she would never pass up any chance to enforce the views of her paymaster. I look forward to the expected election of Ma Ying-jeou next month. Who knows how she’ll change her tune then.

I also note, in passing, errors of grammar such as “When she graduating in the early 1970s

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