Beauty is in [the] Bones?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/06/30 15:06 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/06/30/3629368.aspx


I was watching a Bones rerun the other night (The Truth in the Lye) and one of those funny language moments came up:

Angela Montenegro: What you thought were teeth marks, Dr. Saroyan, turned out to be Chinese characters engraved along the side.
Jack Hodgins: What do they say?
Angela Montenegro: They say "what make foolish man think I speak Chinese?"
Jack Hodgins: I thought you were half Chinese!
Angela Montenegro: And I thnk you're half Swedish. Let's hear some Swedish!
Camille Saroyan: What is it Angela, please.
Angela Montenegro: Its a chopstick, only its not the kind you eat with.
Jack Hodgins: Like there is another kind?
Angela Montenegro: Well you wouldn't comb your hair with a fork, would you?
Jack Hodgins: My hair?
Angela Montenegro: Alright look the one character I was able to translate, off the internet, is the word beauty, then I realize that its meant for hair
Camille Saroyan: Where you twist it in a bun and stick it in to hold it in place.

The things we take for granted without realizing it -- I can't even count the number if times that I have asked people at work if they knew what some text said. I guess I've been lucky so far (though I supoose being the daughter of Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top (as Angela is the series) might have been an interesting conversation point, too.... :-)

Here is the chopstick in question:

 

I even knew which character Angela found, though I have no idea how or where I learned that particular ideograph for beauty....

 

This post brought to you by (U+7f8e, a CJK Ideograph)


# Gwok on 30 Jun 2007 5:40 PM:

Ok, it might look like a chopstick, but it's more like some kind of pin. It's called "簪" or "钗" or "笄". I can't really tell the difference, because you can hardly see these things today and I'm a dude.

# Mihai on 1 Jul 2007 5:01 AM:

The first character is U+4EBA (man; people; mankind; someone else)

Babelfish gives me "human beauty" for Japanese-to-English, and "Person America" for Chinese-to-English (both Simplified and Traditional).

No entry in EDICT.

Using Google I find lots of entries on Chinese Simplified sites, very few Japanese.

Based on some machine-translated sites and some guessing I will go with "inner beauty" :-)

# A. Skrobov on 1 Jul 2007 6:02 AM:

What does the other ideograph mean? "man"?

# jonlfh on 1 Jul 2007 11:34 AM:

Mihai, you're reading it backwards. If you take it as vertically written Chinese (rotate it 90 counterclockwise), it reads 美人 (měirén or bijin) or "beautiful person". I'm Singaporean Chinese, by the way.

# Mihai on 1 Jul 2007 2:49 PM:

"Mihai, you're reading it backwards"

Oups, right :-)

# Igor on 3 Jul 2007 7:43 PM:

Why is that Angela character's last name "Montenegro" when Montenegro is the name of one of the former Yugoslav republic and she is supposedly what, Chinese?!?

Gosh... my sense for humor got confused.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Jul 2007 10:22 PM:

That is a good point -- maybe I should not have put the last names in! :-)

# Erzengel on 6 Jul 2007 5:11 PM:

I'm curious as to how she could find the first character on the internet, but not the second? The second character, 人 (じん, jin) is very common, and 美 (び, bi) is also common, but not quite as common (it's still one of the ~2000 漢字 (kanji) that a highschooler must know to graduate). How could one have found one but not the other?

I'm speaking from Japanese, rather than Chinese, but it does mean Beautiful Person.

# Igor on 7 Jul 2007 11:13 PM:

Nah, it is just the proof that wide audience will tolerate any illogical crap thrown at them from the TV screen in the name of fun and profit.


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