Tcuzu Joao
January 24, 2018 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Of the more than 200 Jesuits buried in the church of St Paul in Macao, there is one in particular who stands out: João Rodrigues. His profound knowledge of Japan – a country where he spent 33 years of his life – of its people, language, and culture earned the Portuguese man the nickname Tçuzu (Japanese tsūji), or the Interpreter.
posted by infini (6 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, having just finished reading Shogun again, I feel like I know this dude already.
posted by janey47 at 6:45 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


CAME HERE TO SAY THAT EXACT THING JANEY47

Fascinating history, thanks!
posted by Melismata at 7:25 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Ditto!
posted by Autumnheart at 7:55 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Fascinating. From that second link I learned there was something called the Chinese Rites Controversy (Wikipedia), with a conflict over whether the Christian God should be called Tiānzhǔ 天主 or Shàngdì 上帝. Today, Catholics use Tiānzhǔ (and in fact Catholicism is called"Tiānzhǔ-ism") whereas Protestants ("Christ-ism") use Shàngdì or sometimes shén . The Rites debate in essence revolved around whether to overlay new, Christian meanings onto Chinese terminology in order to make Christianity more palatable --in which case Shàngdì--or to emphasize the vast difference between Christianity and traditional Chinese beliefs, in which case Tiānzhǔ. Rodrigues went even further, I gather, feeling that no Chinese terms were acceptable and that only Latin loan-words would do.

That idea never took hold. The Chinese language does use loan words (bus = 巴士 "bah-see" in Cantonese), but it's awkward, especially because characters chosen for their sound to transliterate a Western word are pronounced differently in different Chinese dialects. ("Cigar" is "see-gah" in Cantonese but "xue-jia" in Mandarin). I wonder if Rodrigues insisted on transliteration of words like Deus into Chinese (maybe 迪乌斯 Díwūsī?) due to his expertise in Japanese, which easily incorporates loan words.

Thanks, infini, for opening up this whole subject for me!
posted by mono blanco at 7:56 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


wow, what fantastic comments! Thank you all for appreciating this.
posted by infini at 8:47 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Rodrigues insisted on transliteration of words like Deus into Chinese (maybe 迪乌斯 Díwūsī?) due to his expertise in Japanese, which easily incorporates loan words.

*Looks up wiki* The Chinese for deva which is cognate with deus and so on is disappointingly 天人/ tiān rén "heavenly person". 天主/Tiānzhǔ "heavenly lord" would be closer.
posted by sukeban at 11:03 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


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