THE LANGUAGE OF WOMEN
In which we ponder on the nature of modern male-female relationships in East Asia...
The worlds last speaker of Womenese died last night, Chinese linguists said.
The death of Yang Huanyi means the end of a language with which women communicated through a set of codes that were incomprehensible to men, Xinhua reported.
Excuse me? Dont all women speak in a set of codes incomprehensible to men? Or is it just me?
Nah, I reckon the sexes have always had separate vocabularies: only men have bellies while only women have abdomens, et cetera.
Most males quickly learn to avoid misunderstandings by opting for minimal communication: the one thing that all married men have thought, but possibly none has ever said out loud, is: If you think you look fat in that, you probably do, so why ask me?
A bit of research reveals that the late Mrs. Yang wrote and spoke a language called Nushu (in Chinese nu means woman and shu means writing) designed to describe women's misfortunes and inner feelings, the Chinese press reports. (Note that women in China dont have periods of good fortune alternating with misfortune. They only have misfortunes, as you know if youve read Wild Swans and all those other books.)
When Chinese government officials realized that Mrs. Yang was the last native Nushu speaker, they bestowed upon her the nickname Living Fossil.
What better evidence is there that men and women think differently? I mean, can you imagine a female choosing a name like that for herself? Guys, Ive decided to change my nickname from Partygirl to Living Fossil as I feel it is more me.
Nushu or not Nushu, men and women communicate poorly, and in Asia this often leads to tragedy. Consider the sad case in todays Mainichi Shimbun of a woman named Ueda who lived in Kameoke, Kyoto. She was in poor health, and felt she was a burden on her farmer husband. So she decided to alleviate the pressure on the unfortunate man by stabbing him to death. "I caused my husband a lot of trouble. I killed him so as not to give him any more trouble," she told investigators who found the body in the bedroom. Now that is interesting logic.
Her husband died quickly of his wounds and was thus unable to express gratitude to his wife for her generosity.
Poor communication also features in a tragic tale of a couple from central Malaysia featured in the New Straits Times. The wife climbed a tree to pick mangosteens. The husband grabbed a shotgun and blasted her to death, mistaking her for a monkey.
I wouldnt be surprised if awful cautionary tales such as these completely put you off marriage and leave you thinking you might as well just get a pet instead. Well, thats fine, as long as you dont get anything particularly vicious and deadly, such as a hamster. A man was bitten to death by his hamster in Saitama, Japan, this mornings Japanese press reported. The hamster nipped the finger of the man, who was in his 40s, breaking the skin. Chemicals in the animals saliva killed him.
But one fact is inescapable: pet rodents have caused fewer deaths than spouses this week. However, guys: if your hamster starts whispering in Nushu, I would hide the guns, pronto.
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