Posted by Jim Nelson on February 7, 2017
Our standard English writing base comes from Shakespeare and the King James Bible. Chinese written language started to standardize due to Journey to the West, Dream of Red Chamber, Romance of Three Kingdoms and Water Margins. These works in China and America helped to standardize our common written languages as they were so fabulously popular. Journey to the West has the Monkey King, Sun WuKong, pictured above.
Those works in Chinese and English speaking countries’ base books are startlingly different.
Famous Shakespeare’s Plays like Macbeth pictured above are simple stories with a clear moral message. Macbeth lusted for power and murdered to get it and pays with his life and loss of all. The Bible focuses on teaching love, justice and mercy and a host of other virtues coming from the all knowing God. The four great Chinese books are interesting adventures like Harry Potter. The themes of these books are not to teach morals. They are entertaining, and the hero is often brave and glorified as such. Some themes are winning at all costs or using tricky ways to get what you want. The Chinese culture did not have overwhelming interest in moral virtues based on these popular bases. The Chinese and English different base is so notable.
So we English Speaking Westerners are often puzzled in China. We come from a more simple culture that chose to buy these books and everyone knew them. We come from a culture where the base documents in our common language are moral stories and values. (Other examples are: Italian standardized due to the popularity of Dante’s Divine Comedy. German was Luther’s translation of the Bible into German, and Dutch via the Statenvertaling Dutch Bible)
Chinese values are being diligent, vengeful, tricky, and knowing how to get what you want based on the values shown in their books. See also Should We Accept All Chinese Cultural Differences?
You can find good workers in China, but it is much harder to find managers who are on the same page with you. The values are often not shared. Many can talk well, but are actually not on the same page with you. The books their culture loved enough to standardize their language are dramatically different than yours and that is worth noting when you hire here.