January 28, 2011

"Rosie O'Donnell Show On Rush's Hu Mocking: Why Can't Chinese Accents Be Imitated?"

Rosie basically defends Rush. If what Rush did was so bad, how can we tolerate the Swedish Chef?

Here's Rush defending himself, bringing up Sid Caesar and Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Back in the old days, Sid Caesar, for those of you old enough to remember, was called a comic genius for impersonating foreign languages that he couldn't speak. But today the left says that was racism; it was bigotry; it was insulting. And it wasn't....

Have you ever seen the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's?... Then somebody needs to call Mickey Rooney and say, "Pal, that movie is very popular. You don't know how much of Chinese, Japanese culture you destroyed." They had Mickey Rooney playing, I forget whether it was a Japanese or Chinese character, complete with the buckteeth and the fake phony accent. I mean it's one of the greatest movies reputed of all time, Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, any number of people in that movie.
But do you really want to use Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" as part of your self-defense?

ADDED: I must say, I never found the Swedish Chef funny. It's just about laughing at the sound of a foreign language. Pretty low humor. I think the criticisms of the humor are overdone and obviously politically motivated.

AND: In case you didn't listen to the Rosie clip, Rosie's defense of Rush is interesting because she herself was savaged for imitating Chinese speech. That was back in 2006. Here's Michelle Malkin attacking her — mainly for hypocrisy. Malkin's point is: Don't ever go PC on conservatives, now, because you yourself were not PC.


traditionalguy said...

But in the days of Charley Callas, the Chinese empire did not have total power over us like it does today 50 years later. Insulting an oriental is never a wise action unless you have no need of them now or forever after.

Bob_R said...

I remember Belushi talk about the difference between faux Chinese and Japanese. Belushi did both better than Rooney.

DADvocate said...

That Swedish Chef stuff is so bigoted. Whenever it came on TV and my young'uns was watching, I'd holler at 'em, "Ya'll don't pay that no mind. Dem Swedish folks ain't no differnt than us'ns."

MadisonMan said...

Mickey Rooney is by far the worst part of Breakfast at Tiffany's. You'd be better off bringing up the Chinese Accents in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

garage mahal said...

My band teacher in jr high was David Aho. His wife's name was Ima Aho. Not kidding.

woof said...

Any one remember the José Jiméne character?

"My name...José Jiménez".

In 1970, Bill Dana stopped doing the character when he realized it was in questionable taste.

Christy said...

Now I'm feeling guilty, for I howled with laughter over Kevin Kline's foreign accents in A Fish Called Wanda.

Unknown said...

Dialect, as it was once called, was how a good many character actors made a very good living.

Of course, it's always the WASPs that are the ones who get offended, with one token ethnic as front man.

PS Somebody was dumb enough to give Rosie O'Donnell a show?

MadisonMan said...

I will now burn my DVD with the Python sketch Erizabeth I.

Shanna said...

Mickey Rooney is by far the worst part of Breakfast at Tiffany's.


Although I'm not sure why making fun of one accent is any worse than making fun of another (if you can make fun of a southern or brooklyn or boston or whatever accent why can't you make fun of a chinese one?), or why simply doing a bad accent is considered mocking. It's all in the context.

MadisonMan said...


rhhardin said...

Don't for get Get Smart, The Craw.

The Crack Emcee said...

This is just Leland Yee's nonsense.

rhhardin said...

Jerry Lewis had the buck teeth bit down better, I think.

I don't know if it's on YouTube.

woof said...

Jerry Lewis Chinese Chef


rhhardin said...

Rob Bartlett on Imus does Japanese as one of his characters, though not recently.

He goes by the sound, but is missing some of the regular sounds that end Japanese sentences, so the sound is missing something to somebody who hears actual Japanese a lot.

Likewise Rush was off on the sound of Chinese. He's awfully good for a deaf guy though.

rhhardin said...

If I were going to parody Japanese today, it wouldn't be on accents but on moonbat left-wing politics.

roesch-voltaire said...

While I think all things are up for satire, I agree with AA ---it is low humor and suits Rush. Even in the past,many folks were uncomfortable with humor based on ignorance of the language and the culture.

mesquito said...

At any rate, we need to spend much more time and energy imitating the whispy/faggy sounds of NPR.

Clare said...

She defends it because she did it a few years back on the View, before she quit/got fired.

She was mocking how the Chinese News would handle the Danny Devito incident.


bgates said...

Kevin Williamson at National Review made the excellent point that the apt comparison is not what Sid Caesar or Mickey Rooney did in mocking generic Asians half a century ago, but Saturday Night Live's mocking of Hu Jintao two months ago.

David said...

Moooooooon Riverrrrrrrr.

Wider than da nile ...........


David said...

jose him-in-ez!

Thought he was an actual Hisponic.

woof said...


Alex said...

Notice now that Althouse will throw Rush under the bus!

Ritmo must be jizzing himself!

Automatic_Wing said...

Was it OK for those Team America guys to make fun of Kim Jong Il's accent?

So ronery, so ronery....

ken in tx said...

If you wanted to do fake Korean, it would be easy. All statements end with em ne dah. All questions end with em ne cah. If you said wah hoo wah hoo em ne dah, or wah hoo, wah hoo em ne cah, it would sound Korean. BTW, My favorite professor in college was a Korean professor and I lived in Korea for two years. I like Koreans. This in not a slam against them.

Toad Trend said...



Its a parody...nobody gets bent when someone offers an irish imitation. Or french - Peter Sellers does some of the best in the Pink Panther series. I thought Werner Klemperer as Klink was hilarious.

Do we want to take 'funny' out of everything? I don't get the killjoy vibe of the left. They sure do like their 'whispy/faggy NPR' don't they...unless of course hatchet master Alec Baldwin goes after Bush this, Palin that, then, its funny. It really is about playing favorites, picking winners and losers.

wv -farkin

Alec Baldwin is a farkin icehole.

William said...

I was always offended by Victor Borge's crude impression of a Swedish concert pianist. Given the ridicule to which he subjected those poor artistes, it's no wonder that we see so few of them......If you do imitations too far beyond the bounds of your own DNA, there's a pretty good chance you'll look more like a bigot than a comic. The Mickey Rooney thing was definitely prejudiced and in poor taste. Sid Caesar not so much-- but he did not go so far afield and he did not seem to be mocking his character's ethnicity so much as their pomposity. I don't think it's a hanging offense, but I can see how Chinese listeners could take offense at Rush's imitation. The most absurd thing about the Chinese Communists is not their accents.

Toad Trend said...


The Erizabeth L is hilarious.

Back at ya, good examples here:


wv -redne

I fell and got a redne.

rhhardin said...

Figuratively, a Chinese fire drill is an act—especially, any large, ineffective, and chaotic exercise—by a group of individuals that accomplishes nothing.

Good definition at Wiki.

Anonymous said...

Did somebody say On tolerating the making fun of Swedish language?

Anonymous said...

Garage -- My wife just can't get over Albert Pujols.

Caroline said...

Excerpt from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman:
I didn't know what to do either, but by the time I got up there, I told them that I was going to recite a little poem, and I'm sorry that it's not in English, but I'm sure they will appreciate it anyway:

--Poici di Pare
TANto SAca TULna TI, na PUta TUchi PUti TI la.
RUNto CAta CHANto CHANta MANto CHI la TI da.
YALta CAra SULda MI la CHAta PIcha PIno TIto BRALda
pe te CHIna nana CHUNda lala CHINda lala CHUNda!
RONto piti CA le, a TANto CHINto quinta LALda
O la TINta dalla LALta, YENta PUcha lalla TALta!

I do this for three or four stanzas, going through all the emotions that I heard on Italian radio, and the kids are unraveled, rolling in the aisles, laughing with happiness.

After the banquet was over, the scoutmaster and a schoolteacher came over and told me they had been discussing my poem. One of them thought it was Italian, and the other thought it was Latin. The schoolteacher asks, "Which one of us is right?"

I said, "You'll have to go ask the girls -- they understood what language it was right away."

ken in tx said...

I just thought of this. My Dad spent part of his naval career helping transport Korean slaves from Japan back to Korea.
Forty years later, an old Korean man came up to me on the street and put his hands on mine and said, “ Arrigato” , in Japanese, not Korean. I don't know why he did that, but he may have been one of those slaves. Maybe he recognized my face in my father's face.

PaulV said...

what about the moonbats who imitate Palin's Wassila accent which comes from the Minnestoans who went to Wassila. Lots of people mock W's Texas accent even though he grew up there.
Why no hate on them. Oh the accent police leave those alone.

Craig Howard said...

Y'know, them foreigners make fun of us, too.

I'll just bet the Italians didn't have an anguished national debate over this parody.

anti-de Sitter space said...


"Insulting an oriental is never a wise action unless you have no need of them now or forever after."

If you mean this sincerely, you could start by calling Asian folks Asian rather than oriental.

People are Asian. But, china, rugs, furniture, and so on are oriental.

Unknown said...

"It's just about laughing at the sound of a foreign language. Pretty low humor."

You might want to avoid Fist Full of Yen, all of the accents of which were done by Orientals.

1jpb --

Webster's Unabridged

o·ri·en·tal (),

5. (usually cap.) a native or inhabitant of the Orient.

Stoutcat said...

Yeah, and what about animal-speak? What English sounds like to, say, dogs and cats?

Anonymous said...

Saying Oriental is exactly like my Grandma saying the coloreds. Nothing wrong with it. NAACP and all that. And it's really very innocent and quaint. But it just isn't done by sophisticated people these days.

My hope is that Caucasian will go the way of those words soon.

Gimli 4 the West said...

Japanese soldiers in WWII were told that Americans spoke with the sound of a "barking dog." As a vet, I've never quite gotten over the insult.


ricpic said...

It's good that the sensitivos use the term racist promiscuously. Slowly but surely the normals, who outnumber the sensitivos by a huge margin, are becoming immune to the poison the sensitivos spew. The cure will be complete when the sensitivos' spew is utterly ignored. What poetic justice when they become unpersons.

rcocean said...

First, the "Swedish Chief" is funny. He looks funny, talks funny, sings funny and does funny stuff. He's one funny Muppet.

Second, the video on BAT, is right out of SWPL. And BTW, Capote was not a "Nobel Prize Winner" and "Moonriver" isn't boring.

Its funny how white Americans love to run around finding race stuff in old movies, TV, and books - and then pretend to be offended by it. I guess it proves their superior in some way.

Steven said...

@Maguro, Team America was offensive, just as it was meant to be.

I don't remember Breakfast at Tiffany's very well, but I remember thinking of Rooney's character as less offensive than he was simply out of place.

My understanding is that the Chinese love making fun of each others' accents, but that understanding is entirely second- and third-hand.

I enjoy the Swedish chef, more for the slapstick than for the "words". Though sometimes the more identifiable words are funny, too.

WV: recine, which is a vowel away from where my sister lives

Anonymous said...

"My band teacher in jr high was David Aho. His wife's name was Ima Aho. Not kidding."

My brother had a teacher in high school named Jack Hoff.

Actually, his given name was John, but he went by Jack. No, I don't know why.

anti-de Sitter space said...


I don't care if folks use that term. I started to write a post script to my comment to say so, because I didn't want to be mistaken for the PC police. But, then laziness (Amy Chua isn't my mom) took over.

Some of my Asian friends have told me that they don't like the term. They were the ones who mentioned the line about furniture and rugs.

As soon as I realized there was a preferred term I started using it. Maybe Tradguy looks at this the way I do. But, I'm not trying to stop others who want to keep using 'oriental' even though they know that some Asians don't like it. Do what you want.

Gimli 4 the West said...

I'd love to see a Youtube video of peoples from around the world doing a mock imitation of English. It would be a hoot to see Swedes and Ugandans, Turks and Salvadorians in a mock voice of John Wayne or Ronald Reagan.

For sensitivity confusion they could mock President Obama.

Jeff Gee said...

It's always amazes-- well, okay, bemuses-- me that people talk about Mickey Rooney in "Tiffany's" as though he somehow IMPOSED himself on the movie, like a frat boy crashing a party. You think there's the slightest chance director Blake "Pink Panther" Edwards didn't insist he play it exactly this way?

anti-de Sitter space said...

"like my Grandma saying the coloreds."

My (99 yo) Grandmother is much more progressive, she says 'negros.'

She also doesn't believe that we have a black president. She thinks that would be bad. Maybe she's not so progressive.

Did I just throw her under the proverbial bus? I think anonymity makes it ok.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised that Limbaugh is catching flak over this; I remember listening to him on my car radio the day he said the word "gooks" a number of times. If I recall correctly, he was following Sen. John McCain's example of limiting use of that word to North Vietnamese communists, which of course made it OK. (There are also people out there who think it's acceptable to use the N-word when it's limited to "bad" black people, and not used to refer to blacks in general.)

Word verification: inerso.

J Lee said...

Rush probably would have been better off using Marlon Brando in "Teahouse of the August Moon" as an analogy, since Brando is more of a hero to liberals in the entertainment industry than Rooney is.

Bob Ellison said...

Professor, do you really find Rush's Chinese-accent routine similar to the Swedish Chef skits? The former had one apparent point: mocking the speaker of Chinese. The latter was a silly routine with various elements in which the accent was merely one point of humor.

It's an absurd comparison, especially given their contexts. Rush came across as a boor; Jim Henson came across as a funny guy, though maybe not to you. But I'm surprised that you apparently don't see the difference.

@Craig-- that video "prisencolinensinainciusol" is a favorite of mine.

jimspice said...

By all means. Bring back black face while you're at it.

Since this is supposedly a "blawg," surely the concept of intent enters the equation.

Automatic_Wing said...

I do think it's interesting that it's pretty much OK to make fun of European accents but not to make fun Asian accents. If Limbaugh had done a little Sarkozy imitation in a French accent no one would have minded. I guess because Asians used to be oppressed or something?

Robin said...

Comedy is Not Pretty.

Wince said...

"Breakfast at Tiffany's," one thing Rush and Rosie have in common?

You'll say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart
You'll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
Still I know you just don't care

And I said, "What about 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'?"
She said, "I think I remember the film,yes
and as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

I see you - the only one who knew me
And now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It's plain to see we're over,
And I hate when things are over -
When so much is left undone

Known Unknown said...


Make fun of everything, so nothing can be offenisve.

Clyde said...

Because it's lacist, that's why! Losie and Lush should know that!

Righten up, Flancis!

Gimli 4 the West said...

@ Bob E

"The former had one apparent point: mocking the speaker of Chinese. The latter was a silly routine with various elements in which the accent was merely one point of humor."

Limbaugh's "various elements" is mocking an oppressive communist thug. It's really not that hard.

jr565 said...

How about Eddie Murphy playing a stereotypical asian in Norbert. Just beause noone saw the movie doesn't mean he didn't play in yellow face. Or how about all the various ethnicities Murphy mocked in Coming to America.
Or how about Eddie Murphy (or any number of black comedians) mocking the uptight whites iwith their white man overbites when they dance. Or how about Eddie Murphy and his riff on Italians and their love of Rocky.
Not to pick on Eddie Murphy, only why does he get leeway to mock all these ethnicities yet, white people can't mock blacks or asians?

Anonymous said...

Not to pick on Eddie Murphy

Are you sure?

John Lynch said...

Rosie O'Donnell had the exact same thing happen to her. She had to apologize. I guess she didn't like it.

jr565 said...

1jpb wrote:
But, I'm not trying to stop others who want to keep using 'oriental' even though they know that some Asians don't like it. Do what you want.

The problem with Asian versus Oriental, is that Asian is a very broad term. THere are a lot of asians, not all of whom look Asian. SO its replacing a term that is very specific with one less so.

Anonymous said...

Deck the hars with bowees or hawree
Fa ra ra ra ra
Ra ra ra ra
Tis the season to be jawree

Stoutcat said...

Ah, I love Chinese turkey!

wv: ingest-what we do to Chinese turkey

bgates said...

The former had one apparent point: mocking the speaker of Chinese.

Well, here's what he said:
I have to admit I'm amused by this. Probably very few other people are, but I am. During our obscene profit time-out, I'm watching the news conference between President Obama and the Chinese ChiCom leader Hu Jintao, and I've not seen this before. Hu Jintao is speaking, and speaking, and speaking with no translator. They wait 'til he finishes, and then they read what he says in toto....I'm fascinated. I listen to this and (laughing) I found myself trying to write down what Hu Jintao was saying in Chinese. Phonetically so I could repeat it to you....I said, "I wonder what... I wonder, to the people that can't speak English, what does it sounds like to them?" Because when I hear Chinese or Japanese, it sounds like all the same word, and I can't comprehend of anybody understanding it. Of course that's silly. But he's sitting there, (speaking phonetic Chinese). I couldn't write down anymore. I was losing track of it, 'cause I'm looking up as he's saying all this, and they cut to Obama looking intently as though he understands every word of it (which, what would you expect from the Ruling Class?)

He's making fun of how ridiculous it is to listen to an utterly foreign language for a long stretch without any translation, and how ridiculous it is for Obama to put on his "deep understanding" face while listening to a guy speaking Chinese, like Obama's George Costanza in The Abstinence and he's mastered the language instantaneously.

If Yee is from San Francisco, that means this horrible mocker of Chinese-American speech patterns is one of his constituents.

jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
Deck the hars with bowees or hawree
Fa ra ra ra ra
Ra ra ra ra
Tis the season to be jawree

One of the funniest scenes in the Christmas Story, and that's in a wholesome Christmas movie. When they can't do that first song they do Christmas song 2:
Jingre Berrs
Jingre Berrs

If A Christmas Story can get away with it,why not Rosie O'Donnell? and why not SNL and why not Team America and why not Rush? Only when it's Rush do the libs get annoyed.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Asian versus Oriental, is that Asian is a very broad term. THere are a lot of asians, not all of whom look Asian. SO its replacing a term that is very specific with one less so.

No. Not at all. Not even remotely close. Well over 100 percent wrong.

The problem with Oriental is that is was originally used to be the opposite of Occidental. It thus encompassed everything east of what we would now call Western Europe that was outside of the realm of Christendom.

The terminology used to be Near East and Far East. You are probably familiar with Far East. Near East not so much, as it has been replaced with Middle East.

And so, jr565, Oriental actually covers many more people than Asian does, and Asian has the advantage of being merely geographic whereas Oriental is loaded with all kinds of religious, cultural, and historical baggage.

Edward Said is generally a piece of shit, but he does do a nice job in his otherwise unreadable piffle of explaining this critical point.

jr565 said...

These are the countries in Asia:

Sorry, but people from Afghanistan, people from Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Armenia, Israel and Kazhackstan don't look "Asian" as defined by "Asians".

ampersand said...

I'm amused by those offended by Rooney's performance but can't tell if it's Japanese or Chinese.(All the visual clues,paper lamps,
baths and his name, Mr. Yunioshi, indicate Japanese). 15 years removed from the war I would give the movie and it's audience a

Billy Wilder's One,Two,Three was released around the same time, I don't think the SWPL crowd will shed any tears over the way the
Germans or Americans,Southerners particularly, are portrayed, though they may object to the Soviet portrayals. Racist you know,
that poor Soviet race.

I was surprised a few years ago when the term Orient and Oriental came under fire. I always thought the words themselves had a
nice musical sound and were evocative of Northern East Asia. Anyone remember Northwest Orient Airlines? I'm surprised it would be
more offensive than the generic term Asian. I would think Most Japanese, Chinese, Indians,etc, do not consider thenselves a melting
pot and would prefer to use their national identities.

BTW does anyone else poke around IMDB's review and comments and notice almost every few comments yammering about remakes or racism?
People complain about racism even when there's only one race portrayed. Does modern education consist largely of playing pin the
tail on the racist?

Anonymous said...

So you would choose a word that means exactly not Christian and foreign to the world of our Christian God.

How about kafir instead?

Anonymous said...

Oh my God. None of you people understand what Orient means.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I think the Swedish Chef is hilarious, and so does my six-year-old grandson, who doesn't even know what Swedish is. It's not just the language, it's the antics.

Besides, as Jean Stapleton revealed to Sam the Eagle, the Swedish Chef doesn't speak Swedish--he speaks Mock Swedish. The chef then demonstrated his native language--mock Japanese.

Muppet Show

bgates said...

What do you mean, "you people"?

Anonymous said...

And here is Sam the Eagle and the Swedish Chef, you people.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Whimsy -- I see now you had a link. I was so excited I ran off to find it myself.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

That's OK, Mr. 7Machos. I'm glad you liked it!


ampersand said...

Orient means East, nothing more nothing less.
If we are going to be persnickety there is no European continent ,there is no Asian Continent.
There is on big blob of a landmass from Lisbon to Vladivostok. I discovered it and named it
Blobia. It consists of Occidental Blobians,Oriental Blobians, some Austral Blobians and
some Boreal Blobians and of course,the Jews.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Okay, Ampersand, let's stipulate your wrong statement to be true. Is there any reason why people might not want to be called Easterners?

Here's a hint: east of what? Here's another hint: any directional description implies a center. Where is that center?

jr565 said...

There is a subset of Asians who look different than the subset found in the middle east; who have yellowish skin, slanty eyes and own a lot of Asian restuarants (not to mention Tex Mex restaurants, strangely enough). How do we differentiate those Asians from other Asians not of that persuasion.I don't mind not using the word oriental, I just don't see the whole controvery. But then again, I'm not oriental...I mean, Asian.

ampersand said...

In the US, Lebanon, Kansas, In Blobia, either Byzas where the mythical Europe and Asia meets or Mount Ararat.

Is there any reason why people might not want to be called Easterners

Yes, extreme paranoia or dementia.

Writ Small said...

Offense is in the ear of the beholder.

Progressive me says: Rosie's imitation of a Chinese acccent was clearly done in comical way. The joke fell flat, but she had no intention to mock or denigrate, and she apologized quickly once she realized offense had been taken by some.

Rush, on the other hand, had a tone of malice and mockery in his voice. His words reflected his dislike of the Chinese - government or people, who can really be sure. And don't expect his majesty to apologize. His words were meant to sting.

Conservative me say: Rosie, a queen of Political Correctness when it comes to sensitivity to gays and lesbiens, has no such respect for people of Asian descent. I can't pretend to be genuinely offended, but at least she's revealed both her blatant hypocrisy and the double standard that exists on the left.

Rush, on the other hand, was thumbing his nose at the very political correctness the humorless left uses to ruin the lives of anyone commiting the crime of making a bad joke. A man extremely in tune with the American leftist mindset, Rush deliberately overdid the Chinese accent in a self-consciously, ironic manner to mock the liberal mindset. He knew he was pushing the buttons of the lefties, and his fans got the joke.

See how easy?

jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
s there any reason why people might not want to be called Easterners?

IS there a reason Southerners in this country wouldn't want to be called Southerners?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Seven Machos,

Well, why are we calling ourselves "the West," if being geographically some direction from "center" is so insulting?

Chip S. said...

I think your mask is on too tight, Macho.

A quick trip to Webster's offers this:

"Definition of Orient: (capitalized) East
Origin of Orient:
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin orient-, oriens, from present participle of oriri to rise; akin to Sanskrit ṛṇoti he moves, arises, Greek ornynai to rouse, oros mountain
First Known Use: 14th century"

You ask, "East of what?" Well, given the word's origins, it presumably means "East of us here in the general Normandy region." Even, perhaps, "That general area where the Mongols came from when they
all that carbon by converting humans into tree food."

Yes, the word Orient acquired a certain "otherness" through references to the alleged "inscrutability" of people from parts of Asia. But it also retains a certain pleasant air of intrigue when used to name a fast train headed toward Constantinople--er, Istanbul--from Paris.

In dealing with people who find it offensive, I'd stay away from it, just because there's no reason to give offense. But I don't think it's cause for high dudgeon.

Anonymous said...

Ampersand -- East of what? The world is round. Why should Beijing be defined in its relationship with Rome, not the other way around? Why isn't Micronesia the center and China the Near West?

Think, dude.

jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
Near East not so much, as it has been replaced with Middle East.

And isn't that just as provincial as calling someone oriental? Middle East as compared to the center again, right?
And we're to the west of that right? You know, if we just threw away our compasses and maps we woudn't have any disagreement.

Anonymous said...

Are you calling yourself the West, Michelle? I encourage you to call yourself whatever you like.

But West of what? Where is the center? Why do you get to decide what the center is? What is the center to a very old woman in Tokyo?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Seven Machos,

Well, if you're going to go the "well, the world is round" route, obviously everywhere is both east and west of everywhere else, except literally at the poles.

Anonymous said...

jr -- As long as you realize that all of these terms come from a period when people understood the world to be flat. And as long as you understand that you are calling people things they themselves do not wish to be called if you use term Oriental.

Don't even get me started on Middle East, by the way. People out Iran -- the great Persian empire! -- there. And Turkey. It's really very dumb.

The opposite one is the Balkans. No country in the Balkans will admit to being in the Balkans. To the people in the region, saying Balkans is the equivalent of saying something like redneck white trash AIDS slut.

Anonymous said...

Michelle -- As long as realize that directions connote a center, and that your meaning of East and West stems from the break up of the Roman Empire into two realms some 2000 years ago, and doesn't take into account 90 percent of the world...

Anonymous said...

jr -- Southerners in this country proudly call themselves Southerners and, in fact, they have an agreed-upon point of reference that is still in existence -- the well-defined shape of the country.

I'm not sure what your point is there.

Chip S. said...

I hope no one ever asks 7 Machos for directions.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Seven Machos,

I'm not calling myself anything. I'm saying that something comprising Europe, the US, and a number of other countries that aren't even particularly close by (Australia, for one) has come to be called "the West." And that no one ever thought of calling it "the Center."

What's it west of? I always assumed it was, well, west of the East. Not west of Rome, or even Jerusalem; there just isn't a center here.

wv: dysiol. Kills even the H1N1 virus!

jr565 said...

Hey Seven Machos do you have a problem with us using the word Asians to define Asians, or the word Asia to define the land mass we define as Asia?
Well lets go to the etymology of the word Asia -
The term "Asia" is originally a concept exclusively of Western civilization.[6] The peoples of ancient Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Persians, Arabs etc.) never conceived the idea of Asia, simply because they did not see themselves collectively. In their perspective, they were vastly varied civilizations, contrary to ancient European belief.[6]
The word Asia originated from the Greek word Ἀσία,[7] first attributed to Herodotus (about 440 BC) in reference to Anatolia or—in describing the Persian Wars—to the Persian Empire, in contrast to Greece and Egypt. Herodotus comments that he is puzzled as to why three women's names are used to describe one enormous and substantial land mass (Europa, Asia, and Libya, referring to Africa), stating that most Greeks assumed that Asia was named after the wife of Prometheus (i.e. Hesione), but that the Lydians say it was named after Asias, son of Cotys, who passed the name on to a tribe in Sardis. Even before Herodotus, Homer knew of two figures in the Trojan War named Asios; and elsewhere he describes a marsh as ασιος (Iliad 2, 461). In Greek mythology, "Asia" (Ἀσία) or "Asie" (Ἀσίη) was the name of a Nymph or Titan goddess of Lydia.[8]
Usage of the term soon became common in ancient Greece, and subsequently by the ancient Romans.[6] Ancient and medieval European maps depict the Asian continent as a "huge amorphous blob" extending eastward.[6] It was presumed in antiquity to end with India—the Greek king Alexander the Great believing he would reach the "end of the world" upon his arrival in the East.[6]

So, Asia is only called Asia because of the Greeks. WHy do they get to define a country as it pertains to their world?
Alternative etymologies for the world Asia - it may be may be from the Akkadian word (w)aṣû(m), which means 'to go outside' or 'to ascend', referring to the direction of the sun at sunrise in the Middle East and also likely connected with the Phoenician word asa meaning east. East of what, Seven?
"T.R. Reid supports this alternative etymology, noting that the ancient Greek name must have derived from asu, meaning 'east' in Assyrian (ereb for Europe meaning 'west').[6] The ideas of Occidental (form Latin Occidens 'setting') and Oriental (from Latin Oriens for 'rising') are also European invention, synonymous with Western and Eastern."
So, if you have a problem with the word Oriental, and you are not a complete hypocrite, you should also have a problem with the word Asian, since it still means "East".

jr565 said...

So Seven, since Asia either means "east" or was defined by the Greeks in terms that were prevalent to their world, and is similarly of a European origin, shouldn't we similarly not call Asia Asia?
Maybe we should call it something like "Big land mass"

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with Asian or Oriental. I rather like the way Oriental sounds. I really like the way Occidental sounds. Truly a gorgeous word.

What I'm trying to get you to understand is that people you want to call Oriental don't want to be called Oriental -- and I'm trying to get you to understand why.

Michelle -- Calling the Anglo-European world and its progeny Western is fine is you want to do that. I don't care. But don't expect the people you aren't including to go along with your schematic. Again: why do you get to choose what others should call themselves?

Anonymous said...

Asia the area of land has expressed no preference concerning what it wishes to be called. So, jr, try again.

jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
Asia the area of land has expressed no preference concerning what it wishes to be called. So, jr, try again.

The point being, since you wish to avoid it, is that the word Asian is just as chauvanistic as the concept of the Orient, similarly comes from Europe, and even similarly means "East" again, a concept from Europe. Why are Asians allowing Europeans to define them based on European concepts and directions?

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
What I'm trying to get you to understand is that people you want to call Oriental don't want to be called Oriental -- and I'm trying to get you to understand why.

I just don't get why they WOULD want to be called Asian, since Asian is similarly, etymologyically derived from Europe and which means "East".

And while Asia doesn't have a preference for what it's called, those Asians from the Orient want to be called Asian instead of Oriental, because Oriental is offensive. Fine, so they can be defined as from the East by the Greeks, Akkadians and Phoenicians (Europeans). What a distinction!

ampersand said...

I dont think the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans,Indian,etc., want to be clumped together as Orientals,Blobians or Asians. They have their distinct cultures and are proud of them.

I think Americans of Japanese Chinese, Korean, Indians,etc. heritage are being bamboozled by the pc crowd who want to convince them that they are being oppressed by American culture but at the same time to eradicate their individual cultures.

Just me said...


If, as you say, you think they are politically motivated then I would ask you to think about what you would say if Olbermann did a 'deaf' voice as Rush (the inflection in a persons voice when they are deaf). Would that be comedy or would it be offensive. Also, I would ask that you think of what you would say if Sullivan did a Trig voice.

I personally think Rush has a right to do whatever he wants and mock whomever he wants. However, in my humble opinion, it's just dumb. Not only because it's been done before (thus showing no creativity in his own right), but for it's childishness. And by childishness I mean he could have used a various numbers of ways to get his point across that would still have seen him get a lot of media attention. However, he chose the easiest, most lackadaisical response.

jimspice said...

Nueva York.

Palladian said...

Seven Machos is just being a twat.

jimspice said...

@7M, you are basing your arguments on historical standards set by academics, who we all know are untrustworthy because of their reliance on grants.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly true that Asia and Europe do not qualify as two separate continents. The problem is that geography terms stem from a flat-earth era. Cultural, ethnic, and particularly national issues have shifted much since then, as has our collective understanding of the planet.

But I say we should call people what they want to be called. And if that changes next Tuesday, fine.

jimspice said...

The earth IS flat. It just makes sense, and no matter what your so-called "scientists" tell me will make me think otherwise.

MayBee said...

Calling the Anglo-European world and its progeny Western is fine is you want to do that. I don't care. But don't expect the people you aren't including to go along with your schematic. Again: why do you get to choose what others should call themselves?

When I lived in Asia, Asians usually referred to we non-Asians as "Westerners". It's where I first learned the term.
So your offense on their behalf about this schematic thing makes no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

MayBee -- I am not offended. Use whichever terms you wish as your terms relate to me.

The issue started when someone said that people who generally prefer to be called Asians generally preferred to be called Asians, not Orientals. The issue was why. The directions came up because part of Oriental is the aspect of East, more specifically east of and outside of the realm of European Christianity that was once centered in Rome.

MayBee said...

MayBee -- I am not offended. Use whichever terms you wish as your terms relate to me.
I'm not asking if you are offended or saying which terms I prefer. I'm saying the offense over directionyou attribute to Asians rings false to me, because it was from Asians I heard the directional descriptor "Westerner". Used constantly and without malice. I dont think they would use it if the very idea offended them

Anonymous said...

I don't pretend to speak for a billion people.

Moreover, the issue is not what other people are calling you. The issue is what you are calling other people. Please note the difference. The Golden Rule is treat other people the way you want to be treated. It's not treat other people the way they treat other people.

MayBee said...

Treating people the way they want to be treated is one issue. I'm talking about another issue - your assertion that the idea of east or west is offensive to Asians. I am telling you that doesn't seem to make sense because it is a common descriptor there (nobody asked me if I wanted to be called a westerner, btw)

Calling people what they want to be called is indeed nice. Making up reasons for offense is unnecessary.

Revenant said...

And while Asia doesn't have a preference for what it's called, those Asians from the Orient want to be called Asian instead of Oriental, because Oriental is offensive.

From my personal experience:

Chinese/Vietnamese people who get offended if you say "Oriental" instead of "Asian": Very rare.

Chinese/Vietnamese people who get annoyed if you say "Asian" instead of "Chinese" or "Vietnamese": Fairly common.

AST said...

This goes back to the days of Borscht Belt comedians and the way Japanese were portrayed in WWII. Heavily influenced by the experience of New Yorkers and how they thought other nationalities sound. It's pretty much from the past.

The modern equivalents are Cheech and Chong and Reverend Jim from Taxi, but most ethnic humor comes from blacks talking about blacks and Latinos making jokes about themselves. That's why I didn't see anything wrong with the televised Amos N Andy. It was a hit on radio before I was alive, and that kind of humor went back to Minstrel Shows. Jews make jokes about themselves and the Jewish stand up is its own stereotype.

The Muppets imitated variety shows in general which were dying when it came on. How come you're not offended by Miss Piggy and the stereotype of porcine women?

Lighten up!

BTW, I've never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Gwen said...

I live in Korea. They do a pretty funny impression of Americans / English speakers in general. I always have a good laugh.

Ralph L said...

Seven Machos said...
I don't pretend to speak for a billion people.
you are calling people things they themselves do not wish to be called if you use term Oriental.

I was going to abuse you for bringing it up, but it was pb&j

I suspect most people think of the western Pacific rim countries when someone says "Oriental," even if that isn't technically correct.

Tank said...


ADDED: I must say, I never found the Swedish Chef funny.

This may have been related to the amount of weed you were/were not smoking. [My friends told me this.]

My brother does a great Chef, I was more Beeker.

My Dad and I watched the Muppets every night at 7:30 PM after dinner. He was never stoned. It did wonders for our relationship. I can't explain that. But, it's true.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Yep. Comparing the mocking of a foreign accent by a puppet to when it's done by the leader of the conservative political movement. I guess that says a lot about what you expect of Rush Limbaugh.

Or maybe you just think he's a puppet.

Can your posts get any stupider?

Paco Wové said...

"...we should call people what they want to be called."

And your proof that all those people east of the Urals want to be called 'Asians' rather than 'Orientals' (or something else entirely) is what, exactly?

Did they hold a big vote I didn't hear about?

That said, there is so much ethnic and cultural diversity encompassed by the term "Asian" (or "Oriental") as to be pretty much meaningless. The idea that you could lump an Indian, a Korean, an Indonesian, and a Thai into one big category and have that category be meaningful is, well, not useful.

Paco Wové said...

Dang, Ralph already made my point. Oh well.

"I didn't want to be mistaken for the PC police"

Res ipsa loquitur, dude.

dbp said...

7M has a point. I think ultimately he is wrong though.

The Orient used to mean anything East of Europe; hence The Orient Express which went to Istanbul. Back then there were three Easts: The near-east (Turkey), The Middle East and the Far East. Near East seems to have gone out of use and the Turks I have known seem to consider their country to be part of Europe--indeed, some of Turkey is on the European side of the Bosporus.

Current English treats Asian as more encompassing than The Orient. Asia includes (at the very least) India and everything East of there to the Pacific. Orient usually now means the part of Asia containing the Mongoloid race.

In general, we should call people what they want to be called and I have heard of East Asians not liking to be called "oriental". This being said, they are doing some violence to language by limiting its precision. If I know a guy is from Korea, I wouldn't call him Asian or Oriental but Korean. If I didn't know what country he was from then Oriental would have more precision (in common English as it is now spoken) than Asian.

MayBee said...

If I know a guy is from Korea, I wouldn't call him Asian or Oriental but Korean.

That gets to the problem.
I, too, would call someone by their nationality if I knew it. The same is true for people from almost anywhere. How many French people refer to themselves as "European" rather than "French"? Heck, most of my English friends won't even refer to themselves as "British".
Then there are the "African Americans" who aren't American at all. That little problem seems to have brought the term "black" back from the realm of racism to perfectly acceptable.

And what are people like me? I'm white/caucasian/European. But I've never lived in Europe! Call me American, but Canadians don't want to be called that.

Really, the best answer is for people to not be so darn offended when someone means no offense.

Skyler said...

After decades of hearing about breakfast at tiffanies, I finally saw it about a month ago.

What a stupid movie.

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