How to Be Racist in Chinese

08_Orange_Cherry-1-400x300In the late 19th-century, an English-to-Chinese phrasebook was published in San Francisco that included the following phrases:

“Can you get me a good boy?”

“He wants $8 per month? He ought to be satisfied with $6.”

“When I find him useful, I will give him more.”

“I think he is very stupid.”

“If you want to go out, you must ask me.”

“Brush my clothes. Light the fire. Wash the floor.”

“I want to cut his wages.”

(The hapless Chinese, meanwhile, learned how to say, “You must not strike me” in English.)

This is just one of many things I’m learning from the soon-to-be-published Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World.

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