A Taiwanese View of the World

Since we are talking about how stereotypes explain “more about the people making the statements than the people described in them” I thought it worthwhile to take some time in order to translate this map which has been floating around the Taiwanese internets.

I have no idea who the original author is, but I can promise you that my Taiwanese colleagues find this map to be both accurate and hilarious (“its funny because its so true”). It purports to show what anthropologists wish to study: how Taiwanese view the world.

Taiwanese Map of the World

I’ve been informed that some of my translations lack the local nuance which makes this map so funny. For instance, where I wrote “blonde babes” one friend implied that I should have written something more like “blonde hos” and the word I translated as Aborigine is far less polite, etc. In some cases I’ve included additional notes on the map which you will only be able to read at full resolution.

UPDATE: Here are some related maps.

UPDATE: Another translation.

15 thoughts on “A Taiwanese View of the World

  1. Second look, it strikes me as a foreigner’s view of what Taiwanese think. If it were really Taiwanese, it would show the US as a dangerous place because of all the black people, and the place that has no culture of its own but whose achievements and policies are a benchmark for Taiwan, and Alaska would not be heaven.

  2. Also, in the USA, it doesn’t have a McDonalds sign. According to Taiwanese, the only food American’s eat are hamburgers.

    But anyway…Funnny! Thanks for sharing!

  3. The Africa thing is spot on. I NEVER understood the logic on starving African children and an unclean plate.

    Also, the India thing is not a Bollywood reference at all, but to the infamous Daler Mendhi vid “Tunak Tunak Tun (Da Da Da)”.

    Why is “Persian cats” translated as blonde girls?

  4. Here’s some clarifications and answers from a very local Taiwanese.

    First of all is an answer to the question you posted about the Pineapple Bun Sea. It’s called that because we translate Baltic Sea into “bo-lo-te” sea, and since it makes no sense to us with just the pronunciation translated, we might as well call it the bo-lo bread sea then (jokingly), with bo-lo bread a type of bread (the pineapple bun).

    Second is a slight correction about translation of the Vietnam areas. The
    Chinese is actually something like: “These countries look the same to me” instead of “some OK countries”. For a lot of people, these countries seem to be places that are cheap enough for a graduation trip, but otherwise we have no idea what’s what.

    Third is answers to two comments.
    Persian cats are blond babes because we all “know” that Russia exports beautiful blond babes, and they also export persian cats. So that’s why people call these beauties Persian cats.
    And Korea is infamous for claiming that most Chinese traditions are invented by them, most traditional holidays were also invented by them, most famous historian people are actually Koreans, and so on and so forth.

    Last but not least is a reply to the famous Michael Turton, who’s blog I read on a daily basis ^__^. A lot of Taiwanese, including myself, do not really view the whole of America as just guns and blacks and place with no culture. We ironically say that the US is the “world police” and we all know that the war on Iraq is a war for oil, and that Bush is trying to pwn the world. The US is infamous for not signing the Tokyo contract, and for selling us weapons while stopping us from changing the “status quo” of the Taiwan Strait. As for Alaska, I quote what my grandma says all the time: “It’s a place I must visit before I die! All the northern lights and spectacular glaciers!!” and what my friends say: “If I’m going abroad for my honeymoon, I’m going to Alaska or Hawaii!” So that explains “heaven”, though I won’t name it that way, but as merely a must-go-or-regret place.

  5. Several friends have explained to me that the phrase “persian cats” is an alternative to the phrase “金絲貓” which means roughly “blonde pussy” and is used to refer to Eastern European prostitutes.

    Thanks to Lynn for the further clarifications and corrections!

  6. Well… I havn’t thought of ‘persian cats’ as ‘blonde babes’. My immediate response when seeing the map is that central Asia used to be the Persian Empire, hence ‘persian’ cats. And there’re few things that are related to Persia in Chinese but ‘persian cats’ (but also ‘persian carpets’), hence is the term. But ‘blonde babes’ does make sense. (Although I’m not sure if ‘persian cats’ do connote ‘blonded babes’. For me I take it quite literally.)

    My translation of the description for Africa is somewhat different: Mom says if I don’t finish the meal I’d be sent here (not the meal). It’s a common strategy to intimidate children to finish their meals (otherwise they’d be as unfortunate as those children who cannot afford to eat).

    As for Alaska, I don’t know why it’s called paradise. I’d put ‘penguins’ or ‘polar bears’ instead of ‘paradise’ there.

    Thanks for the youtube links. I finally understand why the India is labelled that way. If I were to label it I’d say 印度阿三, meaning ‘Indian dudes’.

  7. The only thing I could think when I saw the original (no idea of what the Chinese characters meant then) was: plagiarism. Since I can remember in a small classical tavern of the old district of my town, there is a map depicting the world as seen from here. Of course, my city occupies half the map and the rest of places are the periphery with some more or less funny tags, emphasizing their supposed subordinate status to my hometown “natural” one as center and most important place of the whole world. It is much more exaggeratedly distorted than the Taiwan map or any others you have posted – but it’s not online, sadly.

  8. Kerim’s last clip is fascinating! For those who haven’t looked, it’s an attempt to reassemble the music (or at least the rhythm and some of the sound of the lyrics) of Tunak Tunak Tun out of fragments of anime.

    My understanding is that anti-Japanese sentiment in Taiwan is not as strong as in other former Japanese possessions, because of its status as a “model colony”. For example, doing the same thing with a Korean music video would probably be very offensive.

    What’s lost of the anime in that pastiche? What’s lost of the music video?

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