It’s all ‘shuang’ in China

By Roger Watson | 05/16/2017

Check out my chopstick skills.

Photo of bridge with Connecting continents text

LUZHOU, Sichuan Province, China—The Chinese word “shuang” means cool. I learned this word on my previous trip to China and was determined to include it in my repertoire of Chinese words on this trip. It’s a great word. It can be used in the affirmative with an enthusiastic expression that says, “Yes, I’ll have more of that,” or in the negative with a raised hand and head shake that says, “No, I’ve had enough.” Given the lavish hospitality one is shown in China, the latter is a necessity.

Roger WatsonMy Chinese vocabulary amounts to about 10 words, and five of them are the words for one to five. It’s a challenge. For example, in the names Zang and Zhang, “z” and “zh” are pronounced quite differently. If you’re talking to a friend who has one of these surnames and pronounce their name incorrectly, you’ll be met with a blank expression, as so often happens to me. On the other hand, although my linguistic skills may be poor, my chopstick skills are impeccable, as this YouTube clip shows.

This is my fourth visit to Luzhou. Chen Yanhua, PhD, RN, my first Chinese doctoral student, is now second in command of the nursing school at Southwestern Medical University, and I have now recruited a second student who joins us in Hull at the end of the year. We are also expecting an academic visitor soon, who will work with me for one year.

I have always maintained that any relationship in China takes three visits to establish, often over three years. The purpose of the first visit is to look at you, the second visit to listen to what you want, and the third visit to tell you what you will get. In the fourth year, things start to develop, and this is exactly the process that has occurred here. I think things have been greatly helped by a visit earlier this year from Julie Jomeen, PhD, RN, RM, dean, Faculty of Health and Social Care at Hull.

Roger Watson with friends

My visiting professorship here enables me to make one visit annually and to deliver one lecture at their annual conference. This year, I spoke about nursing care of older people with dementia. I have also been helping to edit and comment on manuscripts for publication. My colleagues here keep apologising for their poor English and the work it takes me to help them get manuscripts to the stage where they can be submitted. I marvel at the work they accomplish while using a second, very different language and the fact that they produce so many manuscripts. I emphasise that it’s a process, and, provided they get help with their English—especially with the final draft before submission—they should keep their production line working. I also tell them about publication ethics and the poor reputation some institutions in China have, as evidenced by high levels of retracted articles.

My next visit to the Far East is next month, to work for a week on the University Grants Committee of the Hong Kong University Grants Council. Currently, I am working through grant applications that have been given to me to administer to determine if they are worthy of funding. Each year, there are more applications, and it becomes harder to find reviewers, but I am very grateful to the many people across the world that are on my list and never fail to provide their reviews on time.

Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of Journal of Advanced Nursing and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.” 

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