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History of Humor: Modern and Contemporary China

  • By: Xiao Dong Yue
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The word humor was first translated into Chinese as Oumuya by Wang Guo-wei (1827–1927), a noted Chinese scholar in the late Qing dynasty. It was later translated as youmo by a well-known Harvard-educated scholar, Lin Yu-tang (1895–1976), in an article published in 1923 in the literature pages of Beijing's Morning Post. In this article, Lin showed a stance in favor of humor use in Chinese society and stated that to Westerners, it expressed wit, irony, and funniness. Later, Lin argued that youmo encompassed the meaning of huaji in Chinese and that the word youmo could be more efficient than the word huaji in denoting the meaning of humor. The Chinese conception of humor, or youmo, is verbal behavior that people appreciate naturally and that makes ...

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