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CHINA: Barbarians and foreign devils

Speaking of "barbarians", Steve Torok said: "It is the same concept as "wai lo" or "foreign devils", among the Chinese, to designate all those outside Chinese civilization". I asked " Does Paul Simon run into this, or is the idea dead?" Paul replies: "Not quite. Its Gweilo (Cantonese, translated to Mandarin as laoguei, or old devil), an old South Chinese term for 'foreign devils', although 'foreign devil' would actually be waiguei, a term I have never heard. The term used in most of China is LaoWai, old foreigner. Not necessarily bad as 'old' is an honorific here and Caucasians are thought to look older because of light hair color and 'faded' skin. The pejorative term used is DaBi, 'big nose'. "

My comment: In the US, terms such as Jap, Chink, Geaser, Wop are now more or less taboo, and I believe that in other countries similar terms are falling into disuse. If so, the world has made progress.

Ronald Hilton - 8/27/02