The stock market warrior-desperado's last-ditch fight

« previous post | next post »

Chǎogǔ 炒股 (lit., "stir-fry stock") means playing with stocks and bonds (stock market speculation). This is probably THE hottest term in the PRC vocabulary today. The term itself is not in the following widely circulating cartoon, but the spirit of the term is very much present:

Complete translation:

rén zài zhèndì zài 人在阵地在 (lit., "people [rén 人] exist, i.e. I/we exist, the front line exists"); this is difficult to put into decent English, so I'll devote a special paragraph to its interpretation below, after this indented portion

chí gǔ xìnxīn 持股信心 ("hold on to your stocks with faith")

gǔmín 股民 ("investor")

dǔ guāng shū guāng wèi guó zhēngguāng 赌光输光为国争光 ("gamble everything lose everything, win glory for the country") — guāng 光 is used three times in this sentence, but with two very different meanings, the first two occurrences meaning "bare; naked; used up" and the third occurrence meaning "honor; glory"

gǔshì 股市 ("stock market")

What to do with rén zài zhèndì zài 人在阵地在 (lit., "people [rén 人] exist, i.e. I/we exist, the front line exists")?  It's next to impossible to translate that into good, idiomatic English.  Instead, we may paraphrase its implication as "We will hold the ground as long as we live"; or "We will not yield / retreat from the front line as long as we live"; or "fight till we die".  A zhèndì 阵地 is a position on a battlefield, and, in this case, the battlefield is the stock market.  The idea is that, so long as we, the people, have blood and breath (so long as we exist), we will not shirk our duties at the front line of the stock market battleground.

Now that the Chinese stock markets have been so erratic and dramatically down in recent weeks, there is a pervasive sense that investors, many of whom are relatively new at the game and got caught up in the stock frenzy of the last year, have lost half or more of their investments and consequently are embattled.  Still, as patriotic citizens, the government is encouraging them to hang in there and fight the good fight.  The nation is depending upon them to be steadfast soldiers in the stock market war, which has broad implications for the fate of the state.

[Thanks to Maiheng Dietrich, D. Pan, Fangyuan Yuan, Fangyi Cheng, and Xiuyuan Mi]



8 Comments

  1. K Chang said,

    July 6, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

    I was thinking "(defend) to the last man" for 人在阵地在, but with the connotation that "as long as one of us is still alive there is hope for our position".

    Sounds like way too much positivity for me. I think the Wall Street has a saying for this: Catch a falling knife.

  2. Daniel Barkalow said,

    July 6, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

    "rén zài zhèndì zài" makes me think of "We're here!" from the slogan: "We're Here! We're Queer! Get used to it!"

  3. K Chang said,

    July 6, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

    Just to be clear, the editorial cartoon is obviously a work of satire.

    Here's one that's a bit more explicit, that came out back in March:

    http://mmbiz.qpic.cn/mmbiz/YRdSz9epGViac7XkM9AvyJbjibMrwjAUKvMJxoiaNSWuLbbWpUJLtjPrpvx5prQQiaciaqpQVauOZpV06HQUUBMEgDw/0

    To translate the captions:

    Upper left: 活跌股市很有效! (For) free-falling stock market, very effective!

    On the man: 利好政策 favorable Policy, referring to easing restrictions on investing

    On the syringe: 融資融券 infuse capital, infuse bonds, referring to Chinese Central Bank's monetary policy on popping up the stock and bond market

    on the "bull" 股市大盤 stock market major indices

    Obviously this is also a bit of a dig on the food situation in China, implying that the bull is either getting some sort of hormones or stimulant or just plain old "water" to add a little weight to the beef.

  4. Adrian Morgan said,

    July 6, 2015 @ 10:34 pm

    If we're having an informal competition to produce the best translation of rén zài zhèndì zài, here is my entry:

    "We are the fact that none can circumvent; as we exist, we are resolute."

    I don't know the language so this really just a guess, but I imagine a problem with translations like "fight till we die" is that they explicitely raise the prospect of death and failure, which the original does not even acknowledge as a possibility.

    Points out of ten?

  5. Elessorn said,

    July 7, 2015 @ 3:49 am

    "We stand, the front stands!"

  6. K Chang said,

    July 7, 2015 @ 4:57 am

    Well, there's always the TV trope "As long as one person is left to oppose you, you'll never win"

    So, "as long as one person remains, the position is held", maybe?

  7. Hiroshi said,

    July 14, 2015 @ 9:23 pm

    "人在陣地在" is indeed very difficult to translate into English, especially considering the many layers of connotations the phrase carries, being a famous slogan in CCP narrative of war (and metaphorically, of ideological "wars"). Most stories about CCP victories typically feature the heroic CCP army defeating vastly advantaged enemies with faith and will power, but many people will read "人海戰術", dishonest propaganda and heavy infantry casualties (and highly dubious CCP stats). "人在陣地在" in the cartoon invokes many such feelings for me, and I think it's an excellent use of satire.

    I'm not sure about translating "股民" as "investors", though—I think it's too broad. I doubt "股民" includes those big guys (e.g. high-net-worth individuals, corporations, etc.) And the word "民" carrys some implication of "common folk", and in some sense, differentiates from the government or the official ("官").

    My attempt at translating "賭光輸光為國爭光": March to penury for our country's glory; gamble to last penny to win our nation's prosperity! —Much too wordy, but oh well.

    And for "持股信心"… I'm probably reading too much into this, but when I read it I immediately thought it is a pun. I read "股" as a classifier, so the phrase could mean "holding on to a thread of hope" as well as "hold on to your stocks with faith".

  8. Hiroshi said,

    July 15, 2015 @ 1:21 am

    (First time commenting on this blog… I tried to submit my post earlier today but apparently it did not show up/was deleted. Not sure what I have done wrong…)

    "人在陣地在" is indeed very difficult to translate considering the many layers of connotations the phrase carries, being a famous slogan in CCP narrative of war (and metaphorically, of ideological "wars"). Most stories about CCP victories typically feature the heroic CCP army defeating vastly advantaged enemies with faith and will power, but some may read "人海戰術", dishonest propaganda and heavy infantry casualties (and highly dubious CCP stats). "人在陣地在" in the cartoon invokes many such feelings for me, and for me it's an excellent use of satire.

    I'm not sure about translating "股民" as "investors", though—I think it's too broad. I doubt "股民" includes those big guys (e.g. high-net-worth individuals, corporations, etc.) And the word "民" carrys some implication of "common folk", and in some sense, differentiates from the government or the official ("官").

    My attempt at translating "賭光輸光為國爭光": March to penury for our country's glory; gamble to last penny to win our nation's prosperity! —Much too wordy, but oh well.

    And for "持股信心"… I'm probably reading too much into this, but when I read it I immediately thought it is a pun. I read "股" as a classifier, so the phrase could mean "holding on to a thread of hope" as well as "hold on to your stocks with faith".

RSS feed for comments on this post