Tohu-Bohu

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Cultural Politics / French

A few weeks ago I ran across a term in one of my favorite books, a French-English-Chinese dictionary published by one of my new favorite publishers (Youfeng in the 13th arrondissement of Paris).

The term is “tohu-bohu,” meaning confusion or hubbub…and after some searching, I have found it to be quite controversial! This wonderful posting by a young and insouciant linguist elevates the term to one ripe for denunciation; it is, he argues, “a word which must be forgotten.” Apparently too much contact with Zola’s Germinal has rendered it a relic of the 19th century. But it is easily remembered thereby!

Much more on Youfeng’s new offerings and Chinese theater forthwith!

The Author

Lecturer of Chinese history at University of Leeds, and Editor-in-Chief of SinoNK.com.

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