China: Printing, compass, gunpowder and Apples

Posted on by Mike Evans

I'm a great admirer of the Chinese people who are invariably hard working and intelligent. Now we are meeting more people from mainland China, many of them working in Western countries at a high level, we can begin to appreciate the contribution made to technology by the Chinese. Almost all our Apple products are "designed in California and made in China" and I now probably have more Chinese products in my tech arsenal than ever before.

Some months ago I read the excellent autobiography by Adeline Yen Mah, Falling Leaves. As a result of this I signed up for Adeline's email Chinese course, Chinese Character a Day. Today's episode touches on technical matters and I thought it would be a good excuse to reproduce part of it for any reader with an interest in China and in learning more about this fascinating country and people. So....

Francis Bacon, the English (英 国 yīng gúo) philosopher known as the `Father (父 亲 fù qīng) of the Scientific Revolution’, wrote in 1620 that there were `three (三 sān) world-changing inventions: printing (印 刷 yìn shūa), gun-powder (炸 药 zhà yào) and the compass (指 南 针 zhǐ nάn zhēn).  The first (第 一 dì yī) transformed literature (文 学 wέn xúe), the second (第 二 dì èr) warfare, and the third (第 三 dì sān) navigation.

He (他 tā) died(死 sǐ)without knowing that all three (三 sān) had come from China (中 国 zhōng gúo).

Presently, one-fifth (五 分 之 一 wǔ fēn zhī yī) of the world’s population (人 口 rέn kǒu) is Chinese (中国zhōng gúo), totaling over 1300 million people (人 rέn).  There are more Chinese (中国人zhōng gúo rέn) learning English (英 文 yīng wέn) than all the native English (英 国 yīng gúo) speakers on earth.  One day (一 日 yī rì) China (中国 zhōng gúo) could become the number one (第一 dì yī) English (英 语 yīng yǔ)-speaking nation (国 家 gúo jīa) as well as the world’s largest manufacturer and consumer.  Perhaps it is time to know something about China (中国 zhōng gúo).


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