Monday, September 14, 2009

What does Cong 丛 mean?

There are many confusion about Dan Cong - 单丛.

It's 单丛, not 单枞. The correct Chinese character has always been 单丛 used in Chao Zhou. Out side of Chao Zhou, it's aslo commonly seen as 单枞. Yes, even the Chinese in China-alot of them too misuses the character.

丛 (Cong2): bush, shrub, a cluster of branches grow from the same root as one single plant.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E4%B8%9B

枞 (Cong1): Fir - Abies Firma
http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E6%9E%9E/6423

The 2 characters have extremely different meanings with different sound/tone, mismatching doesn't even make sense. It's quite disturbing to see the Chinese misuse the character in China, hence misleading foreigners. You can even hear Chinese national TV hosts say 枞 (Cong1), emphasizing the incorrect pronunciation as correct. This problem perhaps can be corrected when over all education improves in a couple of generations if not longer. Tea farmers are mostly illiterate in China, great tea making skills but lack of eloquence. When China is open to private business again in the last 20 some years, a flood of misused characters can be seen everywhere, logos, signs, fliers, ads, menus, etc. English translations are even more hilarious during the Olympic games.

Dan Cong, literal translation is Single Bush, as a bush is a cluster of growth from ground up feeding off from the same root as one plant. In Chinese, a bush has no limit of height and size, unlike the English term, it's limited to a small short shrub. Hence, a tall tree with many large separate branches attached to the same roots is also call a bush (1 丛) as a unit of tree.

Cong is also loosely translated as trunk, grove, and some other meanings. While not entirely wrong, but not quite precise either.

Translation and interpretation from one language to another is never 1 = 1. As long as 1 = .9 is rather understandable. If someone claims 1 = -1, that wouldn't be so acceptable, eh?

2 comments:

Jason Witt said...

Dan Cong = Single Bush. Sounds right to me. After all, you're the Dan Cong expert, Imen. I saw another blogger look up Cong in a Chinese dictionary and he did get the "grove" definition. But I wouldn't be surprised if most people don't know much about the language and its origins. I know in English often dictionaries don't do justice to certain words and concepts. --Teaternity

daoli said...

I think that an even more important issue with dancong - along with many other teas - is uniformity in quality. I keep hearing amazing stories about how great this particular kind of tea is and that some of its better varieties can be steeped up to 20 times. However, to this day, I can't say that I've tried a dancong that would completely blow my mind or even endure more than 6-7 steepings... So, my question is: why do ppl call it dancong?!