English translation (as translated by Amber Godsland)
Hello, hi everyone, I’m Kaycee.
Today we’ll talk about marriage. First of all, I would like to state that today’s episode focuses on heterosexual marriage. Okay, let’s get into the topic right away.
In English when proposing we say, “Will you marry me?”, which translated into Chinese is: “你愿意和我结婚吗？（nǐ yuàn yì jià gěi wǒ má?）”. This is strange in a Chinese context. Now, a more natural way to say this is: “你愿意嫁给我吗？（nǐ yuàn yì jià gěi wǒ má?）” or 你愿意娶我吗？（“nǐ yuàn yì jià gěi wǒ má?）”. In the last episode,we saw in the short story that in fact everyone expresses it this way. But this way of expressing it, in my opinion, is sexist at worst, outdated at best. Why? We can actually take a look at the character form to find out.
Let’s start with 嫁(jià). It has the female radical. The character 女(nǔ) is on the left, and the character 家(jiā) from “home” / 家园(jiāyuán) is on the right. This gives a passive feeling that a woman is taken home. It seems to mean that the man is her home which she depends on. This also symbolises some traditional past ideas that when the woman gets married, her original family more or less gives up the ownership and control of her. This was similar everywhere in the world historically. In China, 娘家 (niángjia) is also spoken of. 娘家(Niángjia) is the home of the woman’s parents, or describes the woman’s close relatives or even friends. So, instead of “going home”, she is going back to her “parents’ home” which means after she gets married, her real home is the one where she lives with the man. The traditional custom is that after a woman marries a man, she will live with the man’s family. But in modern society, many people are now accustomed to choosing to live independently after they get married, not with their parents. So now a more neutral statement can be said that after a woman gets married, she forms a new home with a man. But in any case, 嫁 (jià) sounds more passive, and to some extent innately has the notion of objectifying women. If expanding on this, it’s a concept from family clans, because the custom is to get married to have children. When married, which family name do they give to the child? Of course, it follows the father’s family name. Speaking of this, I must say there is an advantage in Chinese tradition which is the woman does not need to change her family name after getting married.
So, the man is different, his family name is his family name, his home is his home, his wife’s home is his home, his parents’ home is also his home. There is no such thing as his 娘家 (niángjia).
Now we’ll take another look at character 娶(qǔ). We will look at the character’s structure; the top is 取(qǔ) from the word “remove” /取走 （qǔ zǒu）and the bottom is the character for female. The meaning is to take away or remove the female. It’s very active, even quite tyrannical. Of course, this is in keeping with the traditions we just talked about; a way of living in the old days. This is a reflection of the past, so it is not surprising, but what makes me surprised is that now we still use this way of speaking.
Language is very powerful. It can steer our ideology and our way of thinking, so I encourage everyone to use this subconsciously discriminatory language as little as possible, and also encourage everyone to encourage others to do the same. 娶(Qǔ) and 嫁(jià) themselves really don’t have special definitions or feelings, but isn’t it okay to just use 结婚(jié hūn) instead of 娶(qǔ) and 嫁(jià)?
It’s not only Chinese that is like this, English is too, I’ll give an example. When I used to work as a lawyer, we would prepare documents for the board of directors for various companies. The board of directors would have a chairman and a director. In the templates for these documents “chairman” was written. This is because for hundreds of years, the company’s top executives were basically men. This is slowly changing, but by continuing to use words that are more inclined to a certain gender we almost agree tacitly that the position should be reserved for men. Chairperson – isn’t it okay? In fact, if you think about it, words like this are very common and exist in various languages, so pay attention.
Okay, let’s return to marriage. In this episode, there is probably not enough time to talk about traditions, but I will make it up to everyone in the future. Chinese marriage customs are pretty fun. We can connect some ancient traditions with current ones. There are many similarities and differences, so it’s really interesting. We can discuss it another time. We are at the end of this episode, so let’s talk about 赘婿(zhuìxù). I guess many people may not know the concept of having a 赘婿(zhuìxù). The 赘婿(zhuìxù) means that after a man and woman get married, the man settles down in the woman’s house, and the child born is given the mother’s family name. In the past, a 赘婿(zhuìxù) was regarded as a humble person —undistinguished and lowly. In modern society, there is something somewhat similar to this concept that thinks, hey, this man has no skills, only a pretty face, nothing useful, so he’s just like a woman at home. I really don’t want to link everything with gender, but I can’t help but say it here. Why use “lowly” to describe a 赘婿(zhuìxù)? When a woman marries a man, doesn’t she live in a man’s house? Doesn’t she give birth to a child using the father’s name? How can we describe such a man as humble and lowly? What does this mean for women’s social status? I believe that even if I don’t say it, everyone still understands it.
“赘婿(Zhuìxù) ” is also a TV series that has been broadcast recently. If you are interested, you can go and watch it. This show is very relaxed and funny. If you want to get a general idea of what people think about 赘婿(zhuìxù), this drama shows it. But before recommending this show to everyone, I want to make two points. Although this show is set in ancient times, the Wu Dynasty, it it not valuable for learning about history, and most of it is fictitious. Moreover, there is some controversy as far as gender discrimination is concerned, so I won’t say more here. Just as a warning.
I have one more thing before I go. A few months ago, I created a new website. The website includes some of my thoughts on how to further help you practice Chinese. This website is called “chineseconversed.com”. What is its purpose? In fact, first I thought: could I lend my voice to help people practice Chinese? And second: could I lend people a machine to help them practice pronunciation? You can go to this website to take a look, and if you find this helpful, I can continue to develop it. If you think this idea is very good, but you don’t actually use it in practice, or it feels quite boring; you can also tell me. There is currently very little content, because I want to test it first after all. So everyone is welcome to take a look and tell me your thoughts. Okay, see you in the next episode.
【这盘：You often hear the formal use in sentences like 这盘棋怎样怎样，or informally like 这盘操作怎样怎样。Ultimately, it’s related to some kind of game. English would be “this round” or “this game” I think. 这盘搞不定了，我找不到你想去的地方。Would be something like I can’t cope with this round, I can’t find the place you want to go to. 】