Hey guys! It's been a while since I last did a Hanzi-of-the-day, so today I present you with the... Fear of Ghosts.
Since the dawn of time people have feared ghosts (or evil spirits). Ghosts, or as they call them in China 鬼 guǐ, seem to be present in pretty much any culture since ancient times. The character is a pictogram that depicts a person 人 with an ugly mask 田 for face. (The "mask" is just a pictogram of a rice field, but those are details...)
So ghosts, are pretty scary, right? What would make them even more scary? You guessed it, if they are chasing after you with a stick!
The Chinese, rightfully so, thought that this was pretty fuckin scary. So this why the character for fear 畏 wèi is literally a ghost holding a stick...
In modern Chinese one of the more common uses of the word ghost is as part of a series of pejorative terms for Westeners, because we are as pale as ghosts.
- 鬼佬 gwáilóu meaning ghost person used primary by Cantonese speakers
- 西洋鬼子 xiyáng guǐzi, literally a devil from the west seas.
- 紅毛鬼 ang mo kui, hokkien for red-haired devil, popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
- 紅毛猴 ang mo kow, a variation of the above, where devil is replaced with monkey. I quite like this one. Not sure why monkey though.. Maybe because we Westeners are hairy.
That's it from me guys! Remember, if someone chases after you with a stick, it means they are probably a ghost.