Posts by Anthill

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Two years of Anthill

A round up of this year's antics, and two new editors join

 

It's been two years since the Anthill crashed the China blog party like a colony of narrative story-telling fire ants at a picnic. Last year we threw a party. This year we're going to get together a group dinner for ants and friends of the hill in a couple of weeks (email me if you want in).

It's been a great year. We've now run 236 posts, and are up to over 11,000 monthly unique readers – which is small but respectable for a blog. We've also had over sixty writers join the colony, and been linked to in Sinica, Sinocism, The Browser, and my mum's emails to her friends.

 

The top five most popular narrative posts this year have been:

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Chinese Tuesdays: National Day Bargains

 

Happy National Day (国庆日 guóqìngrì) all, which is tomorrow, starting the "golden week" (黄金周 huángjīn zhōu) holidays. For our friends in Hong Kong, here's a translation of a topical joke I stumbled across online:

 

How to Get Great Value for 7 Days of National Day Festival!

1. Use a rock to smash up one police car, and win seven days free lodging in a guarded dormitory, everything included, amazing value

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Chengyu Tuesdays: Marking the Boat

刻舟求剑 kèzhōuqiújiàn – Not adapting to circumstance

 

刻舟求剑 (kèzhōuqiújiàn) literally means "marking the boat to find the sword", and is used to chide someone who is being foolish, stubborn and generally not considering changing circumstances in their pursuit of something. It's not the most often used chengyu – what is? – but it's one of the ones with a classical Chinese story behind it, albeit of a remarkably stupid person. You can find the original here, and here's a translation from Chinese-Chengyu.com:

In the State of Chu, there was a man who loved his sword very much. One day, he accidentally dropped it into the water while crossing a river by boat. He quickly took out his knife and carved a mark in his boat take note of the spot and come back later.

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Chengyu Tuesdays: Frog in the Well

井底之蛙 jǐng dǐ zhī wā – Narrow-minded and ignorant

 

You've surely heard of this chengyu, so apologies for those who know it all already, Chinese Tuesdays is more for the 菜鸟 (cài niǎo, look it up if you're so smart). 井底之蛙 (jǐng dǐ zhī wā) literally means "frog at the bottom of a well" (之 is the same as 的), and is used for someone with a limited perspective, for example who thinks they know something but is actually ignorant, or who is talking about something they haven't seen. The idiom comes from a fable by Zhuangzi:

The frog lived down in a well where there was all he had to live. One day, a softshelled turtle came by and told him about the sea. 'The sea? Hah! It's paradise in here. Nothing can be better than this well. Why don't you come down and share my joy?'

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Chinese Tuesdays: Mid Autumn Festival

 

We're a little late with this one, and mid-autumn festival (中秋节 zhōngqiūjié) was yesterday – the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, always a full moon. We hope you all gazed longingly at the moon, and managed not to eat any mooncakes (月饼 yuèbǐng). Quickly, here's one of the stories behind why the moon plays such a big part in this harvest festival, for those who don't know it, from the Handbook of Chinese Mythology:

In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi (后羿 Hòu Yì) who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang'e (嫦娥 Cháng'é). One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light.

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