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From the Crap Archives: Say It In Chinese (Plus Bonus Crap!)


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from area basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Say It In Chinese

Author: Some anonymous, delicate artist, daring to flourish in a world of bureaucrats

Publisher: Foreign Language Press, Beijing

Date: 1981

Discovered at: Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store

The Cover Promises: How to say it in Chinese.

Representative Quotes: page 12: “I wish you success in your modernization programme. Zhu nimen shixian xiandaihua.” Page 39: “Do the kindergarten staff members earn workpoints, or are they paid a salary?
Youern de gongzuo renyuan shi zheng gongfenr, haishi zheng gongzi?” Page 58: “How many metres do I need for a dress for a large six-year-old? Yi-ge gaoger liusui haiz zuo yi-jian lianyiqun xuyao ji-mi liaoz?”

Written for the official traveler in the early days of cultural exchange, the translation guide Say It In Chinese most often offers English speakers the chance to express in Chinese exactly what their government hosts would want to hear. Page 12 offers “I propose a toast to the friendship between the people of our two countries.” Sections on factories and colleges provide good questions to ask on official tours: “What workers’ benefits does this factory provide?” Or “What’s the ratio between students enrolled and those who apply?”

Much space is given to thanking tour guides, sometimes in remarkable detail: “The trip was very informative, though I’d still like to know how the secret entrance to the Ming Tombs was discovered.” And the pages on circuses should prove invaluable for any traveler, especially common expressions like “I think the martial art performed by the children was really super” and “The show was fantastic! Especially the lion dance and the trapeze were really great!”

Besides its astonishing specificity, Say It In Chinese at times invests real creative energy in the common situations it imagines. Below, a discussion of newspapers and elevators becomes a short dramatic scene that demonstrates the author’s understanding of how little, in any language, people truly listen to each other.

Later, in a rich exchange about the Great Wall and springtime, the author achieves a conversational poetry.

Highlight: Each year, thousands of cross-cultural seductions fail due to the failure of most guidebooks to walk English speakers through each step of the dance. Say It In Chinese is here to help.


The Bicentennial Beef Cookbook: The 100 Greatest Beef Dishes of America’s First 200 Years
Publisher: Beef Industry Council, National Live Stock and Meat Board
Date: 1976
Discovered at: Same store, same visit.
The Cover Promises: Flesh so pink and moist that the book should come in a brown paper bag.

Like the pro-life movement, the Beef Industry has often appealed to the emotions of Americans through the public display of graphic, bloody photographs. In 1976, the Industry mass distributed pamphlets of shocking images in an effort to link patriotism to the consumption an animal not native to America.

Before we get to the snuff pix, some SFW highlights. First, the Beef Industry Council dug up inspirational quotes from luminaries such as Queen Elizabeth, Lord Byron and Moliere to set the all-American mood.

But enough words! From now on, we say it in beef! Here’s an something called a “peachy beef pinwheel”:

Here, a great hunk of roast. That distinctive shape is the only clue that this dish was actually made from Slimer.

Finally, “Red Flannel Hash.” A kitchen tip: It’s ready to eat once it starts scabbing over.

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