What Can English Do Better Than Chinese, What Can Chinese Do Better Than English

Presentation by Eric Reinders, Religion, Emory

Time: Dec. 1, 12:00-1:00pm

Location: Modern Languages 201

Open and free to the Public

It seems absurd (and certainly impolite) to claim one language is simply “better” than another. Yet each language has its own unique nature, it’s idioms and games, particular things it can do better than another. Surely it may still be worth asking: what can English do better than Chinese? And what can Chinese do better than English? Is it just a matter of taste, or is there some empirical way to answer those questions?

We examine examples of idioms, incorrect grammar, chengyu, the use of capital letters, and meter in poetry, using three Chinese translations of The Lord of the Rings

About the speaker

Eric Reinders specializes in Chinese religion, particularly Medieval Buddhism, Buddhist monasticism, and Christian missionary cultures. The primary themes of his work are cultural constructions of the body, destruction studies, and comparative fantasy. His first book is Borrowed Gods and Foreign Bodies: Christian Missionaries Imagine Chinese Religion(University of California Press, 2004). His second book is Buddhism and Iconoclasm in East Asia: A History (co-written with Fabio Rambelli of UCSB; Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2012). His current book project is Ritual Topography: Bowing and Refusing to Bow in China, comparing Buddhist and Christian objections to obeisance. An ongoing project is A Guide to Chinese Buddhist Temples, co-written with Michael Walsh of Vassar College. He is also developing a book project on Chinese translations of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.