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Chinese Dimensions
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 Book Launch
 Book Cover
 Foreword
 Messages
 Introduction
 Content
CHAPTERS
 1. General
 2. Naming System
 3. Language
 4. Origin of Overseas Chinese
5. History
6. Literature
 7. Cultural aspects
 8. Ancient paradigms
 9. Pillars of destiny
 10. I-Ching
 Acknowledgement
  Publisher
TOPICS
  Chinese names
  Chinese Nostradamus
  Chinese profile
  Common Chinese surnames
  Congratulatory wordings
  Corrections
  Calendar segments
  Digital Era
  Family relationships
  Fengshui representation
  Fleet to the West
  Fonts
  Hakkas
  Hokkien
  Hong Kong
  Intonation
  Pictogram
  Poetry
  Proverbs
  Salutations
  Simplified Chinese
  Sunzi's Art of War
  Taboo
  Word Structure
  yin-yang
  Zodiac
ARTICLES
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Introduction 

I think if we are to feel at home in the world ... we shall have to admit Asia to equality in our thoughts, not only politically but culturally. What changes this will bring about I do not know, but I am convinced that they will be profound and of the greatest importance.

Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, 1946

 

Written more than half a century ago, the foresight and philosophy of Bertrand Russell were indeed remarkable. It was written at a time when European supremacy worldwide was unchallenged and Asians were colonised or poorly understood.

 

True to the common Chinese saying “Feng Shui rotates, fortunes go up and down” [fengshui lunliu zhuan] (refer to chapter five), the relative political, economic, social and cultural equilibrium have certainly shifted.

 

Sixty years later, the transformation of the East Asian nations is beyond recognition. Countries in South East Asia have gained independence and emerged to various degrees as successful nations. China has emerged from the shackles of Western and Japanese domination, demonstrating vividly how “communism” could coexist, or perhaps supplement “market liberalism”, to lead the world as an economic powerhouse of this millennium.

 

As we begin our new millennium the political and demographic landscapes have been transformed in a most interesting manner. Post war migration from Asian countries to the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and European nations have created a ethnic diversity. In this new political climate racial tolerance and understanding need to be taken into account. The collective intelligence, strength and resilience of people from all over the world could be galvanised towards Nation building, a source of pride for these nations. Indeed the vigour of successful nations in the new millennium depends to a large extent on their abilities to attract and retain “quality” people from various backgrounds.

 

With an impressive proportion of first or second generation migrants, the stage is set to tap into this pool of human and intellectual resources for trade, political or cultural opportunities. This is particularly so when countries such as China and India develop into massive markets, as their economies take off.

 

To tap these opportunities the need to understand cultural peculiarities becomes increasingly acute. In addition to trade, an appreciation of cultural sensitivities promotes harmonious community relations, meaningful dialogues, and facilitates conflict resolution. This forms the platform for equitable treatment for all and efficiency in the workplace.

 

In these countries the Asian community is increasing in numbers, complexity and influence. To various degrees they share their hopes and aspirations with the broader community, intertwined with other citizens or residents in the workplace, churches or community associations, and adapt themselves to their adopted homelands.

 

Amongst the Asians the Chinese are perhaps one of the largest communities. Their background and compositions are complex; they are possibly least understood amongst all ethnic groups.

 

This book is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese throughout the World, ethnic Chinese citizens or residence who would like to know more about their own heritage. The book serves as a source of information to those, through no fault of their own, were deprived of an environment to know or learn their own language or practice their own culture.

 

To those who seek to find out what their surname or name means, or where their dialects come from, we seek to deliver the basic background information.

 

Those who would like to know in simple English terms, common habits, customs, culture, historical perspectives, Chinese zodiac interpretations, philosophy and outlook will find this a valuable resource.

 

Last but not least the book seeks to serve as a guide for the wider community to understand the ethnic Chinese, either as neighbours, collea­gues, church members, team members, classmates, partners or simply as friends. It is also useful for anyone involved in retail business, import or export trade, diplomatic missions, government agencies or departments, as long as ethnic Chinese are involved.

 

The title of the book The Chinese dimensions: Their Roots, Mindset, Psyche is self explanatory. The book seeks to provide a basic understanding of the concepts, often poorly understood in the West. The book adopts a bilingual approach, where the relevant texts are printed in Chinese, with the standard pinyin pronunciation given wherever possible, followed by translation in English.

 

In Chapter One, “The ethnic Chinese identity”, we take a general look into the situation pertaining to the ethnic Chinese community, their countries of origin, as well as touch on issues such as ethnic identity, name, religion, cultural heritage, in an attempt to profile a typical ethnic Chinese.

 

Chapter Two, “Cultural roots – Chinese names” deals with the issue of Chinese naming system. It explains how Chinese names are structured, as well as a list of common surnames in various dialects and spellings. Some of the common names for men and women are also listed, together with their meanings.

 

Chapter Three “Cultural roots – the Chinese language” looks at the Chinese language, its origin, development, structure, as well as salient features that make it different from any other language in the world. It looks at connections to the “word radical”, and various calligraphic styles. The Chinese pronunciation system, in particular [pinyin] is then reviewed, together with the system of intonation. Issues such as association of words with sounds or meanings, as well as how the language copes with the digital era are also discussed. The pronunciation chart of all possible word sounds in Chinese is provided, with an example of each sound.

 

Chapter Four, “Cultural roots – Land of origin”, deals with commonly spoken Chinese dialects, their distribution and origins. It also looks at the provinces and regions of origin in China where most ethnic Chinese migrated from. Various dialects spoken in Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi are looked into. To help people locate their region of origin, complete lists of administrative municipalities, cities and counties of these provinces are made.

 

Chapter Five, “Source of culture and mindset - History at play”, gives a brief introduction to five thousand years of Chinese history. It goes through the various dynasties, and provides a list of key personalities (political, cultural, military, etc) over the centuries. The chapter also includes a listing of two hundred notable personalities in Chinese history, ranging from emperors to folk heroes. It ends with a brief outline of China’s decline, the advent of European domination in the East, important landmarks in recent history, as well as current development.

 

Chapter Six, “The Chinese mindset, collective wisdom from centuries of publications”, deals with thoughts and ideas behind the Chinese psyche, as reflected in Chinese literature. It begins with a list of 365 proverbs or sayings, one for each day of the week. These proverbs reflect cultural values and judgment criteria. It then looks into Chinese literature, in particular quotations or ancient texts pertaining to education, government, military, philosophy, Confucius studies, as well as some of the best known publications over the centuries. The chapter ends with a brief look at poetry, including [duilian], the “coupled poems”.

 

Chapter Seven, “Some cultural practice”, deals with some aspects of Chinese culture. The first part looks at Taoism and Confucianism, with quotations from “Dao De Jing” as well as various Confucius texts such as ‘the Analects”, “Great Studies” and “Doctrine of the Mean”. The second part looks into cultural norms such as family terminology, formal salutations and titles, basic social terminology and practices. The chapter also touches on taboos, family values and the position of women. It ends with words of congratulations commonly used by the Chinese.

 

Chapter Eight, “In search of Chinese psyche - revisiting ancient paradigms”, looks at the basic concepts behind Chinese culture, Yin-yang and five determinant elements. These entities are described in simple terms, together with examples in terms of human personalities. The concepts of Celestial stems and Terrestrial branches, unique to Chinese computations and critical to zodiac and other analysis, are dealt with in some detail.

 

Chapter Nine “The pillars of destiny: an application of the paradigms”, looks at the Chinese calendar, its zodiac systems. It explains the function of the four pillars of year, month, day and hour individually. A description of each of the Chinese zodiac signs is given, together with modifications from the five determinants. The chapter touches on compatibility, clashes, as well as interaction between Celestial stems and Terrestrial branches. It ends with a look at the “pillar of destiny”, its basic concepts and interpretations.

 

Chapter Ten “Living in a continuously changing world” looks at Yijing (I-Ching). It gives an introduction to the trilogy and formation of the trigrams. A short description of the eight basic trigrams, linking some of the variables is then given. The chapter looks at a few hexagrams in some detail; it then lists the sixty four hexagrams. The chapter ends with a quick look at “divination”, as examples of the applications of this fascinating topic.

 

We adopt the theme “Crossing the Oceans … taking roots upon landing” , . It is a translation of two Chinese sayings; it depicts crossing the vast ocean to settle in a new land. In the process however, there is always a need to redefine one’s identity, cultural heritage, as well as taking part in the overall Nation Building, based both on professional skills and cultural heritage.

For more information please contact the author