Homophonery gone too far

We’ve been studying Zhang Yimou a lot this year in Chinese class. He’s apparently one of those 5th generation directors who’s garnered unparalleled international attention, etc.

One of his films is Ju Dou, which, if I’m not mistaken, means like, “chrysanthemum bud.” It’s a wrenching-sounding story about dye vats, horrid amounts of unhappiness, and the main character burning up amidst rolls of silk, that conjures up Dido.

[[ And you know where Dido’s from? Carthage! And what was Carthage’s parent city? Tyre. And what came from Tyre? Tyrian purple, one of those insanely important commodities of the Mediterranean. This is definitely what the director had in mind. In fact, Zhang Yimou was reading teh Horace and Ovid as a child also.* ]]

But “Ju Dou” kind of sounds like Jeau d’eaux, Ravel’s piece for piano based on something by Liszt. I think it’s about fountains.

They’re both about water, right? Yeah?

* I’m kidding; I don’t think /any/ bit of English literacy in China stems from classics of this type. In fact Zhang Yimou says that he doesn’t speak any foreign languages, so this is even more unlikely.

Golly I really want to be good enough at Chinese so I can start translating INTO it.


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