My university friends (faculty and grad students alike) all use, in English, the term “big China” to refer to the PRC. Yet, I rarely see the term on flob. In Mandarin, there are specific names for the countries, and thus no ambiguity.
Are there any negative connotations to using in Taiwan the term “big China”?
I’ve never heard anyone say “big China”. Perhaps it’s coming from the Chinese “dalu”, but that means mainland or continent. But that would also connote a small China, meaning there are indeed two Chinas.
“Mainland” is the most common reference I’ve heard in English to the PRC.
Your “fluent” friends are mistranslating. Either they mean 中國大陸 Zhōngguó Dàlù which should be “Mainland China” or they mean 大中國(地區) Dà Zhōngguó (Dìqū), which is “Greater China” (i.e. the PRC + ROC, sometimes including Singapore and more rarely including the Chinese areas in Malaysia). My guess is the second.
Fluency is high, one user’s CV is NTU, then NCTU, then an MBA in the States. IOW, he knows what the words mean. Several users of the phrase are successful international business consultants, 300K miles a year guys. I’m beginning to think it’s business consultant lingo to quickly distinguish PRC, Taiwan, and Greater China.
But not a native speaker, I see. Having a university education in Taiwan, plus an MBA in the US, does not automatically mean someone is proficient in English, as I can personally attest from some of the horrendous crap I have to edit. It all depends on the person.
This non-standard usage may be unwitting or deliberate. Perhaps it’s an “inside joke” or a non-standard speech pattern used by a close circle of associates.
But I’ve never heard anyone say “big China” in serious discourse.
Apparently there was a Chinese-language song called “大中國” (“大中国”) that came out in 1994. It seems to be associated with a deceased pop singer (and songwriter?) named Gao Feng (高楓; 高枫). Google translated “大中國” as “Greater China,” but I found some news reports (of Gao Feng’s death) that called the song “Big China”:
Of course, I’m not saying or implying that people who use the phrase “Big China” are referring to the song. Nor am I taking a side on the issue of whether that phrase is correct or widely used. I merely found the above information interesting.
The song begins, “We all have a home. . . .” (“我們都有一個家”; “我们都有一个家”), on the off chance that anyone wants to Google the lyrics.
I’m pretty sure that the standard translation of that is “Greater China” as in “the greater New York area”, which might include Newark and Long Island, but not as in “New York the Great.” I have heard “Great China” but I think this is all about translating Da4 into English, which is more grammatically nuanced than Mandarin.
I don’t think this is normally considered negative in Taiwan if one stipulates that one means the greater (wider) Chinese cultural area - which clearly includes Taiwan and HK - as opposed to the PRC.
That being said, PRC nationalists might put their own spin on it.
That’s why I started the topic. I have only heard the term “big China” in Central Taiwan (Hsinchu and Taichung) among these business consultants, and wondered how widespread it is. I am now satisfied that it’s limited to their group.
@ 'dac: in their lingo, PRC = “big China”; Taiwan = “Taiwan”; China, Taiwan, and all other Chinese anywhere, collectively = “Greater China”
Pro-Taiwan people often accuse pro-China people of having ‘Big China Consciousness’ (dazhongguo yishi). It’s definitely negative.
The concept of Greater China is closely linked to the idea of the Chinese People (or race) zhonghua minzu that both Ma Ying-jeou and Hu Jintao have invoked in recent months as the foundation Taiwan-China relations in place of the fictitious 1992 consensus. These are not simply descriptive terms. They carry a political valence that Taiwan is to be subsumed into a greater Chinese nation in which the PRC is very much the senior partner. Most Taiwanese will pick up on this right away.