Background and context: The interviewer and the informant are both residents of Qingdao, a Northeastern coastal city in China. The city is known for its beaches, ports, and seafood. A big portion of the city’s economy relies on tourism.
The informant talks in Mandarin, but with the Qingdao dialect. The interviewer and the informant talk about unique slurs and insults that only Qingdao people use.
pinyin: cháo ba
Transliteration: moist [“ba” doesn’t have meaning]
pinyin: ni nao zi jin shui le
Transliteration: You’ve got water in your head.
Translation: You’re so stupid.
Analysis: Because Qingdao is a coastal city and the sea has a very important role in Qingdao people’s life, language used by Qingdao people is heavily influenced by imageries and characters associated with the sea. In both insults, water or “moist” is directly linked with the geographical character of the city. “Moist” or having water in one’s head both signify a loss of control, a form of imbalance between humans and the ocean. This shows that Qingdao’s connection with the ocean is more complicated than people’s dependence on the sea. There might be an implicit fear as well in not being able to control the ocean and maintain a balance between human life and natural forces.
“You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.”
My informant first heard this saying as an eighth grader in middle school that is located in Downey, CA. She had gone on a three-week trip to New York. It was her second trip there. The first time she had visited New York, she remembers being mesmerized by the city, and when she returned home, all she could think about was going back. However, on this second trip to New York, she missed home, Los Angeles (Downey is a suburb of L.A.) very much. No matter how exciting New York was, she became homesick. A friend she had met on the trip there noticed her homesickness and told her, “You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.” Physically, Cindy was in New York, but her heart was at home, Los Angeles.
I personally love this quote and apply it to myself as well. Distance from the place you grew up in and the place where you are surrounded by familiar faces and streets cannot make you forget the attachment to that place. I have lived in L.A all my life, and if I were to live anywhere else for the time being, I will still have “L.A.” qualities about me. I would probably not blend in with my new location immediately. Similarly if a girl from a rural farm ventured into the city, she would still have traits that show she most likely grew up in a farm. She may seem to be overwhelmed with the loud cars and crowded streets. If I lived in the countryside for a year, people would obviously know I am from the urban area because I would probably appear very restless and uneasy with the calmness. Where an individual was raised makes a large impact on that individual’s personality. Hence, the girl can physically change her location, but her heart remains in the place she has called home for the years past.