《为什么中文这么TM难?》(Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard)是汉学家 David Moser 的一篇著名的文章(至少汉学圈以及真正下过功夫学汉语的外国人中间有很多人读过这篇文章),最初发表于1991年。作者行文诙谐幽默,鞭辟入里地分析了,为什么对于绝大部分西方人来说,汉语是一门非常难学的语言(并且公道地指出,汉语之难,甚至显示在以之为母语的中国人也并不总能精湛地掌握它)。作者从西方人的视角出发,归纳出了九个原因。在作者写这篇文章的时候,我们今天所知的互联网还不存在,更不要说智能手机或其他设配上的电子词典等各种辅助外语学习的“应用”了。话说回来,学习手段的便利并未从根本上改变汉语难学的事实。作者文中提到了文化隔阂是造成语言学习困难的深层原因。在可以遇见的未来,也许恰恰只有文化隔阂才是相对容易化解或至少在一定程度上削弱的障碍。其他的困难一时还看不到什么解决的希望。


New Book: The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams

The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams. Harvard University Press 2018. ISBN 9780674976016

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The American West erupted in anti-Chinese violence in 1885. Following the massacre of Chinese miners in Wyoming Territory, communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest harassed, assaulted, and expelled thousands of Chinese immigrants. Beth Lew-Williams shows how American immigration policies incited this violence and how the violence, in turn, provoked new exclusionary policies. Ultimately, Lew-Williams argues, Chinese expulsion and exclusion produced the concept of the “alien” in modern America.

The Chinese Must Go begins in the 1850s, before federal border control established strict divisions between citizens and aliens. Across decades of felling trees and laying tracks in the American West, Chinese workers faced escalating racial conflict and unrest. In response, Congress passed the Chinese Restriction Act of 1882 and made its first attempt to bar immigrants based on race and class. When this unprecedented experiment in federal border control failed to slow Chinese migration, vigilantes attempted to take the matter into their own hands. Fearing the spread of mob violence, U.S. policymakers redoubled their efforts to keep the Chinese out, overhauling U.S. immigration law and transforming diplomatic relations with China.

By locating the origins of the modern American alien in this violent era, Lew-Williams recasts the significance of Chinese exclusion in U.S. history. As The Chinese Must Go makes clear, anti-Chinese law and violence continues to have consequences for today’s immigrants. The present resurgence of xenophobia builds mightily upon past fears of the “heathen Chinaman.”

Beth Lew-Williams is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University.

“With scrupulous research and conceptual boldness, Lew-Williams applies the nuances of a ‘scalar’ lens to contrast anti-Chinese campaigns at local, regional, and national levels, producing a social history that significantly remakes the well-established chronology of Chinese exclusion by highlighting the role of anti-Chinese violence and vigilantism in advancing immigration controls on the Chinese from goals of restriction to exclusion.”—Madeline Y. Hsu, author of Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction

“The Chinese Must Go presents a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely. It shows why nineteenth-century pogroms against the Chinese in the American West resonate today. White nationalists targeted Chinese immigrants as threats to their homes and jobs and blamed the American government for failing to seal the borders.”—Richard White, author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896

“Moving seamlessly from the local to the international, The Chinese Must Go offers a riveting, beautifully written new account of Chinese exclusion, one that foregrounds Chinese voices and experiences. A timely and important contribution to our understanding of immigration and the border.”—Karl Jacoby, Columbia University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Violence of Exclusion
Part 1: Restriction
1. The Chinese Question
2. Experiments in Restriction
Part 2: Violence
3. The Banished
4. The People
5. The Loyal
Part 3: Exclusion
6. The Exclusion Consensus
7. Afterlives under Exclusion
Epilogue: The Modern American Alien
Appendix A: Sites of Anti-Chinese Expulsions and Attempted Expulsions, 1885–1887
Appendix B: Chinese Immigration to the United States, 1850–1904