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Friday, June 26, 2009


When Kelly McGillis came out of the closet recently, the newspapers in Taiwan used the term 蕾絲邊 in lieu of 女同性戀. I must admit that was the first time I ever heard the term; my Chinese is no longer up to date. A quick search on the internet revealed the term 蕾絲邊 originated with the deceased Taiwanese author 邱妙津 and first appeared in her novel 鱷魚手記 in 1994. I can't help but wonder why there is a need to invent a Chinese term based on the sound of an English word, in this case "lesbian", when there is an existing Chinese term already. It also seems strange that 蕾絲 is the phonetic translation of the English word "lace" but is now being used to refer to the sound of another English word: "les" in "lesbian". Furthermore, what does lace border or periphery of lace really mean anyway?

1 comment:

  1. I think it is because to chinese people, 蕾絲邊 sounds better and more subtle than 女同性戀. Japanese people also love to use "foreign sounds". Instead of pronounce milk the original "gyunyuku", more people, especially the younger generation, prefer to say "miruku". In Japanese, there are many so-called "foreign terms" like these and they are much more popular than the original terms. I think Chinese is doing the same. Though I can't think of another example immediately in Chinese, I'm very certain 蕾絲邊 is not the only example.