You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe



What to call nerds in China

A FEW LINGUISTICALLY minded writers have recently engaged in an entertaining back and forth about the range of insults that can be expressed in Chinese.

The conversation began when New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote on Feb. 28 that “American high school students tease nerds, while there is no such concept in the Chinese vocabulary.” This prompted longtime Brooks critic (and occasional Ideas contributor) Tom Scocca to lash out on Gawker against the whole idea of claiming “that a concept is so foreign to this or that culture that people cannot even use their language to describe it.”

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week