A Conversation for Chopsticks


Post 1

Researcher 185912

This entry is very well-written aside from a few minor points:

1. In pinyin romanisation, a single word is written as a single word: 'kuai zi' would actually be 'kuaizi' with no space between the syllables. In this particular word, 'kuaizi' is read like one syllable with elision of the second 'i'. The syllable 'zi' is a suffix that helps form a nominative out of 'kuai', a 'xingsheng' [shape-sound] character composed of the character 'kuai' [quick, fast, hurry] as the phonetic element, and 'zhu' [bamboo] as the associative element.

2. Chopsticks in China are probably the most varied of the three Northeast Asian countries that use them. Another form (not commonly seen outside of China) looks like it is shaped into two sections: a narrow end with a slight taper at the tip, and a thicker, cubular end for handling. I reckon this is a classic shape as I have seen it amongst funerary votive objects or antique diningware in museums. The shape is still in production. The long and blunt variety are probably a low-end form easily mass produced.

3. Korean chopsticks tend to be flat like a pancake aside from being wrought of metal or bamboo.


Post 2

Researcher 185912

The word 'chopsticks' is a pidgin English word derived from the word 'kuaizi'. The phonetic element in 'kuai' is the character for 'fast', 'quick', and 'hurry', which in pidgin English were 'chop' -- hence, 'chopsticks'. The word probably appeared as recently as the 19th century to early 20th century in areas where this particular form of pidgin English was used with or amongst a population of Chinese by English-speaking imperialists.

There have been other names for 'kuaizi'. The character for the Japanese 'hashí' is 'zhu', an older Chinese 'xingsheng' [shape-sound] character-word for 'chopsticks' composed of the associative element 'zhu' [bamboo] and the phonetic element 'zhe' [doer, -er, -ist (i.e. 'yizhe' = 'yi' to heal 'zhe' doer/-er/-ist = healer)]. The Japanese honourific 'ohashi' is derived from and written exactly the same as 'yuzhu' [honourable chopsticks], used in polite speech, classical speech, in reference to a prized set of chopsticks, or a pair that were given as gifts from someone more respectable. 'Zhu' is still used in various regional dialects today as 'zhutiao' - 'zhu' [chopsticks] + 'tiao' [piece, piece of, strand, strand of | a classifier for long and slender objects: snakes, hair, fish, sticks, poles, &c.].


Post 3

Researcher 185912

It is somewhat questionable as to what is acceptable as dining etiquette at the Northeast Asian table.

1. Bringing the bowl close to the mouth and shovelling it in. (This is most commonly seen at the Chinese dining table, and sometimes at the Japanese or Korean dining table.)

2. Leaving the bowl on the table and bringing the rice to the mouth like a spoon or fork. (This is more commonly seen at the Japanese or Korean dining table, and sometimes from the Chinese.)

3. Leaving the bowl on the table and moving your head toward the bowl to shovel it in. (This is widely believed to be a Chinese custom through the eyes of the Koreans and Japanese.)

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