Two Women Under One Roof

4:58 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

A few days ago reader Glenn emailed me a clip of NBC's television series, Life. The episode's title is "Farthingale".


NBC_Life_s01e08_Farthingale.wmv

In this clip, Detective Crews (Damian Lewis) is telling his partner that "the Chinese symbol for 'war' is two women under one roof".

This absolutely incorrect & there is no such character in Chinese dictionaries.

Matter of fact, this somewhat sexist proverb originated from English in 1417. The original quote in Old English was:
Two wymen in one howse,
Two cattes and one mowce,
Two dogges and one bone,
Maye never accorde in one.

Western Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Apr., 1957), pp. 121-124, doi:10.2307/1497029

In the book titled "A Short History of the Chinese People" by L. Carrington Goodrich (ISBN 1406769762), it has stated that "there is no such character exist in Chinese dictionaries".



As Dr. Kelley L. Ross (interesting trivia: Dr. Ross is the nephew of R. L. Les Kelley, the founder of Kelley Blue Book) pointed out on his website:
It is sometimes said that the Chinese character for "trouble" shows two women under one roof. Such a character is possible, and would look like this , but there actually is no such Chinese character, though I understand that the myth lives on the internet.
The way I suspect how this hoax spread so rapidly is because the Chinese character for peace & tranquil is , which illustrates a woman 女 under the roof.

However, someone has decided to piece two cultural & linguistic references together to make a joke:
"You know the Chinese character for peaceful or tranquil is , one woman under a roof. Do you know what the character for war is?"

"Two women under one roof?"

"Bingo!"

*laughter*
All right people, let's put an end to this urban myth!

0 comments: