Now for another linguistic interlude. I’ve already cited several stories from our fieldworkers’ joke manual (note the Chinese jokes tag; and for a roundup, see here). This old one further illustrates the riches of Chinese punning, and has a hint of the underdog vanquishing pompous male privilege…
It thrives on the homophonous pronunciation of the acronyms for Journalists’ Association (jixie 记协) and Sex-Workers’ Association (jixie 妓协), suggesting parallels with our own airline acronyms.
The verbal creativity may work better in Chinese than in English, but here I loosely adapt a version that I found online (see—the riches of the Chinese web aren’t limited to The Thoughts of Uncle Xi):
The Journalists’ Association and the Sex-Workers’ Association are both staying in the same hotel for their respective meetings. Both groups need to use the conference room at the same time. The hotel manager initially suggests they combine their meetings into one, but they argue their cases before him.
The Secretary-General of the Journalists’ Association observes proudly, “We journalists are uncrowned kings—how can a gang of women dependent on men compare with us?”
But the Secretary-General of the Sex-Workers’ Association retorts, “What’s the big deal about you journalists? A gang of guys sneaking in to see us—you’re all talk! How can you compete with us? Huh!”
The journalist goes on, “So we’re adversaries with different weapons, eh? We use the pen (bi), and we’re looking for manuscripts (gao).”
The sex worker points out, “Well, we use pussy (bi), and we’re looking for a shag (gao)!”
“We welcome both long and short manuscripts.”
“We’re fine turning both long and short tricks too.”
“We offer preferential rates for our manuscripts.”
“And so do we for tricks.”
In the end the hotel manager can only allow the Sex-Workers’ Association to use the conference room.
I note en passant that the present incumbent of the White House seems to have more time for sex workers than for journalists.