Dear Patrick,


It is great that our communication has started.


I have noticed that different pinyin systems are adopted on the two sides of the strait. But mostly I have no trouble recognising yours. Of course I will use your official spelling in the following mail. There is also an issue related to the different writing systems on the mainland and on the island. Actually the traditional Chinese characters on your side look much better. My personal opinion is that the mainland simplified characters are much easier to write and learn. I cannot imagine using so many strokes to form one single character. A lot of mainland Chinese linguists hold the view that the use of simplified Chinese words has contributed in part to the lack of knowledge of Chinese history and culture among the younger generation. They are quite reasonable. I myself have difficulty understanding some great ancient Chinese works like Shiji.

fu leng and chin blog 

I got to know the name Leng Yuchun as a college student. I attended Yun Yang Teachers’ College (YYTC) in Danjiangkou 1989—1991. I occasionally read some old-style poems carried in the school newspaper. The writer’s name Leng Yuchun impressed me. But in my two years there I never got a chance to meet the person. He was already retired by then, and I was studying the English language in the English Language Faculty.


Upon graduation I was lucky enough to land a teaching position at the best high school in Yunyang. Reading the school history I learned that Mr Leng was its alumnus and that he actually taught here for years. But still I never met the person in the flesh. Over the years the name of Mr Leng has attracted my attention in the local media, especially the press. I learned that he has done a lot research on the local history, language and culture.


Then in October 2014, Mr Fu encountered my English blog. Neither of us had expected such a meeting. Very likely he had never heard of me, for Shengliver is really nobody. But prior to this chance meeting, I had got to know the name Fu. YYHS was relocated from its Yunxian campus to the present site in town in 1998. Sometime in 2003 I read a translation article printed in a journal titled The World of English. At the bottom of the page there was a short biography of the author in small print. To my surprise, the writer should have been from Yunxian and at the time was located in Taiwan. Because YYHS has been the most influential school in the area, I reckoned that Mr Fu was a former pupil of YYHS. I asked some senior colleagues about the matter and none of them knew better.


Then two years ago, YYHS organised its anniversary celebrations. There were some showcases exhibiting some relics concerning its history. I found Mr Fu’s high school diploma on display in one of the showcases. It might have been a photocopy. Each staff member got a school history on the special occasion. It was a very fat book. In the book there was a feature article about Mr Fu. Your father’s short biography was also there in the history. But at the time for lack of familiarity, your father’s name did not register in my mind.


All those had happened before Mr Fu and I met online. What a coincidence!


As far as your father is concerned, I did not hear of the name until I was interviewing Mr Leng at his home. Before I bid him farewell, he asked me to ask Professor Fu about your father. He wrote the name down in ink on a slip of paper. Actually he was very excited when he mentioned your father’s name. He said that your father was a professor at National Taiwan Normal University.


Mr Leng gave me four books, in one of which I read some correspondence exchanged between your father and him over the years. It seemed that your father helped him a lot. Professor Chin went out of his way to go and look up the archives kept in the various libraries. He also had some relevant copies made and mailed to Mr Leng. Those materials played a very important role in his research into the history of Yunyang, because on the mainland such stuff was hard to come by.


Behind your father must lie an extraordinary history of the Chin family. Your father’s experiences should give me more detailed pictures of those times. Luckily I have just started the learning process.


Let’s not hasten, Patrick. The technology has enabled us to communicate so easily at our fingertips. And your English is so good, Patrick. I bet you have your job too. In the following days and weeks let’s write and learn step by step until the jigsaw puzzle in my mind is completed.


In your next mail, could you answer the following questions?


1 Is your father a Yunxian native? Was he born in Yunxian? Or did his father or grandfather migrate to Yun from elsewhere?


2 You referred to the revolution. What was it? Was it the Civil War between the Communists and the KMT fought in the 1940s? Or was it the Xinhai Revolution (Wuchang Uprising), which toppled the Manchu dynasty at the beginning of the twentieth century?


3 What did your family do for the revolution you mentioned?


Thanks, Patrick. I am looking forward to your reply.





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