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What is this soft-shell turtle doing here?


Lu
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Asking for help with my homework, for a course in Chinese to Dutch literary translation I'm taking (this is lesson one and it's already harder than I had expected).

 

Guy named 大甲 has his name embroidered into his clothes, but the embroidery is so artsy that the characters look like 公用. Fitting, since he is forever borrowing other people's things, and other people just borrow his 公用 things in return. He can't object when he is wearing someone else's shirt as well. But: 他只是讨厌别人叫他“ 公用哥”或 “公用佬”或“ 公用鳖”,似乎 “公用”只能与公共厕所一类相联系,充其量只能派给虾兵蟹将一类角色。

 

I don't understand what on earth 公用鳖 is. 'Common-use soft-shell turtle'?? But why?? I've never heard of people calling other people 鳖, as nickname, 骂 name or otherwise. Does anyone have any idea?

 

The homework has to be handed in tomorrow, if I don't find an answer I'll just translate it out.

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Many more years ago than I would ever admit, a bunch of workmates and I were sharing insults and swear words in the native languages of our parents and grandparents. Some of the words, especially those from Italian and Sicilian, had already passed into American English in a bastardized way. A couple of Chinese guys offered the phrase "滚, 滚..." or the equivalent of “Roll away, roll away...”.  The explanation they gave was that the actual insult was to call someone a turtle egg, because turtles laid their eggs in the sand, and then abandoned them. Calling someone a turtle egg, or the near equivalent, telling them to "roll away," implied that that person did not know his or her ancestors, and was therefore a bastard.

 

Also, I'd like to second the praise of @Tomsima and his courage. I wouldn't dare do that under any circumstances. My wife's hobby is kickboxing...

 

TBZ

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