‘Ching! Chang! Pok!’ update

Remember this from the Angry Asian Man?

I have concluded my informal research among Chinese and Japanese speakers, including people who grew up in China and Japan as well as people who grew up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and the United States.

No Chinese first-language speakers could think of anything even remotely similar to “Ching! Chang! Pok!”  The most common response was “Jiandao shitou bu!” as Andrew reported.  Approximately half of the respondents spoke more than one Chinese language.

No Japanese first-language speakers ever heard of anybody saying “Ishi hasami kami!”  The most common responses were “Janken po” (or “pon”) and “Gu choki pa!”  “Atchi muite hoi!” is an addendum to the “janken po” game in which the loser attempts to turn his or her head in a direction opposite to where the winner points.  There are also variations that involve slapping and punching.

Interestingly, many non-Asian people reported that they had not played this game as children.  I had assumed it was universal.

But back to one of my most common rants:  Why don’t these lazy asses do any kind of verification?  How long would it take?  One of my pet peeves when reading is when I come across a non-English phrase for a language I speak and it is spelled or used incorrectly.  Or an incorrect “pronunciation guide” is provided.  And then some other idiot will want to tell me about my culture using something he or she learned from an unresearched bit of garbage.  Or correct my pronunciation for a language I speak and they don’t.  (Not that this is any surprise.)

The moral of the story?  Don’t believe everything you read.  Kids are still being taught that Columbus discovered America.  Yes they are.

13 thoughts on “‘Ching! Chang! Pok!’ update

  1. I have almost zero knowledge of Chinese, so this could be all wrong. But from what I understand, modern Mandarin no longer contains single words with more than one consonant. So while words like ‘pok’ or ‘bok’ can occur in say, Cantonese, in Mandarin they would have to be broken up into two-word phrases, say, ‘po ka’ or ‘bo ku.’ If this is true, then you wouldn’t even hear a kid in Beijing saying ‘pok’, unless they were from a different part of China, which makes this even more ridiculous. Anyway, someone should have done their research. They never, ever do.

  2. I thought this game was pretty much universal, too. Although I guess I *did* learn it in Hawaii, now that I think about it.

    People don’t do research. It’s easier to just say something and sound like you know what you’re talking about than to *actually* know what you’re talking about.

  3. As a parent, I HATE having to remove garbage like this from my children’s brains. My Ethiopian son comes home from school, all excited about learning “African words.” Cuz…..Africa is a country, right? And they all speak the same language. Yeah.

  4. To correct the first poster, Chinese only has single syllable words. Each character has one syllable, but they can be strung together to make phrases.
    However, I’m not a native speaker. Just going off what I was taught.

  5. Wow! This is unbelievable! Then again, it is very believable that this kind of thin happens.

  6. You would think that at least one word in the story would actually translate, for example “jiandao”, in your informal research actually means scissors. What does Ching, Chang, Pok mean? Schools and education in general makes me want to continually cringe.
    Karmajesus, I don’t see Mandarin as a “single syllable” language, I am wondering how you learned that concept?

  7. Like each character only has one syllable.
    好 = hao (one character one syllable)
    睡觉 = shui jiao (two characters two syllables.
    我不会说中文 = wo bu hui shuo zhong wen. (six characters six syllables).
    That’s what I was trying to say. Like there are words with multiple characters, but what I meant to say is that each character only has one syllable.
    I guess I wasn’t really clear. :c

  8. @Kathy: np. :)
    And as to whether or not the game was universal, I grew up in Baltimore and everyone I know knows it. I think it has become more widespread because you see it in cartoons and shows meant for children.

  9. Yeaaaah “ishi hasami kami”? No. I’ve never heard of that before either, it’s always been “janken pon” :P This lady was way too frigging lazy with her research. I wonder if she really thought that there are no Chinese/Japanese speakers in Missouri.

  10. @Karmajesus Mandarin Chinese does have limited consonants in the final position (zhong1wen2), but other dialects have a lot more – Cantonese, for example. I don’t know a lot of Cantonese but a friend taught me a tongue twister that was full of final consonants.

    I was actually surprised to read that Chinese and Japanese kids don’t really play that – I’m an English teacher in South Korea and my kids decide EVERYTHING with Rock Paper Scissors (가위바위보 – sounds like “ka-ee-ba-ee-bo” though technically transliterated would be different). I have one student who comes in every day and greets me by playing rock-paper-scissors. Any argument in the classroom can be defused with RPS. And sometimes my friends and I RPS to decide who pays for the first round of drinks. I guess it’s probably from interaction wth American troops during the Korean War?

  11. I recently edited a Wikipedia article for the Four Treasures of Calligraphy to change the literal translation of 毛筆 to “hair brush” instead of “hand brush”, which was then again changed back to “hand brush” and I was informally reprimanded for making “unnecessary edits”. I re-edited, with a link to Wiktionary’s 毛 entry, so maybe they’ll believe me then? I get that 手 and 毛 look similar, but they definitely are not (unless you don’t speak Chinese, then it doesn’t matter, I guess?)

  12. It’s funny, but I notice how often non-native speakers will aggressively correct native speakers.

    When my brother was little, he came home and told my mother that his teacher said we were pronouncing our family name wrong.

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