“老外”的中外文化语义
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主题: “老外”的中外文化语义 [英语学和教]
木子光君


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发表于 2014/1/4 10:20:00
  

老外”的中外文化语义

 

中国人对外国人的称呼,即洋人洋鬼子外国人老外的变化过程,反应了我国人民对外国人态度的一个转变过程。最初的是华夏人对周边地区人的蔑视,直到两千多年后洋人对中国开炮,这时华夏的君主们才走下台阶改称洋夷洋人,在洋人发动战争侵略中国期间,烧杀抢掠,充分暴露其野蛮性,他们在中国人的眼里就理所当然地成为魔鬼,因此对外国人的称呼又变成了洋鬼子。新中国成立以后,中国人社会地位提高,便又心平气和地称外国人

本来外国人这称呼直白得很,实事求是,不卑不亢, 为什么又把外国人称为老外呢?

首先,中国人历来是爱和平的,对亲友四邻是友善的, 称呼中加显得亲热,比如老乡”“老表,称呼你老外,就像称呼老张老李那样,大大咧咧,随便亲切。

过去中国人对外国人的称呼都是用在第三人称上,只有老外可以用于第二人称。在称呼上,中国人和外国人之间第一次达到了这样的共识。

Some may say that “laowai” is a neutral term that doesn’t contain any inherent meaning other than “foreigner”; if there are any negative connotations in saying it, they stem from the way in which they are used for each specific negative context. But this is to ignore the literal meanings of this term by shrouding the actual meaning behind the banality of daily repetition that grind its significance into unfeeling, bureaucratic indifference.
    “Laowai” in Chinese is
老外 (lǎowài); the components of this term can be broken down into (lǎo) meaning “old”, and (wài), meaining “outside”. “Laowai” most definitely does not mean “foreigner” in Chinese; instead, “foreigner” in Chinese is “外国人” (wàiguórén) which comes from the neutral terms of “外国” for “foreign” and “
” for “person”. Instead, there is no English equivalent of “laowai” in English; this mostly stems from the fact that most English-speaking cultures don’t inherently view the world as being divided between themselves and everyone else.
    There may be some confusion to what “laowai” actually means due to its individual components.  “Old” is universally regarded in Chinese culture as a sign of respect. If someone is called “Old Wang”, then the Wangster is a person of dignified position, regardless of his age. With this same thinking, a “laowai” should be a position that is equally respected – something absolutely true if it wasn’t for the second half of the term, “outside”.
    Family is the most important component of Chinese society; as a way to endear themselves to others, many Chinese will address strangers with family roles – for example, to call a fellow man a “
哥们儿
” (gēmenr) is to afford him the respect of not just a fellow brother, but an elder one. After family, the respect commanded by any one person starts to thin out the further away they are located from the family nucleus: friends, business associates, co-workers, neighbors… until it becomes a question of geography.
    Being an outsider is pretty much the lowest scale to occupy on the Chinese social hierarchy. You are not trusted; your customs and habits are strange and unfamiliar; you are the unknown that stands in contrast to the family circle; your existence is a contradictory definition of that which is Chinese.
    So when taken together, “laowai” means “respectable outsider” and not the “Hey, old whitey!” that Lonely Planet tried to convince me otherwise at a more naive stage of my stay here. One could take it as a backhanded compliment if one enjoys masochism(
受虐狂) in their majesty, but the word “laowai” is basically a system of control to always alienate a foreigner. No matter how well you speak Chinese, no matter how much you pander, no matter how much you love China – you don’t belong.

根据中外对“老外”的不同理解,在感情色彩上有着明显的差异。中国人认为是对外国人的尊敬,但是外国人认为是边缘化外国人。因此,同一个词语,根据不同的文化视角,会呈现出截然相反的理解,如individualism/个人主义等。

 

 

 

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汉语:淡薄名利,无为而有为, 宁静中仰望想象的高空,独坐中驰骋知识的海洋。 English:Work with my heart, enjoy with my soul. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
发贴者的其它发贴: 上一篇: 外国人姓氏由来及其长幼关系 下一篇: We must sow before we can reap.一分耕耘,一分收获


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