On March 27th, the Chongqing Evening News published a remarkable story. Defying the direct orders of official government bureaus forbidding Chinese media to hype the Google fiasco, the Chongqing Evening News ran a story about a mythical bird whose name sounds just like the Chinese word for Google and whose story sounds, well, familiar. You may have seen this story in brief on EastSouthWestNorth, but we wanted to translate it in full because we found it so remarkable that something this brazen was published in a mainstream newspaper. We imagine some heads at the Chongqing Evening News will roll because of this.
We have translated this somewhat loosely in the hopes of conveying more clearly the parallels with the real Google story, but readers of Chinese should read the Chinese for the full, pun-tastic effect. We also moved one sentence from the middle of the text to the beginning because it read oddly in English otherwise.
The “Ancient Dove” [sounds like “Google”] is clearly very close to extinction within China, it is a bird hard to find when one “searches” […] It is held that this bird is the forbear of all modern birds, so it is called “Ancient Dove”.
This species originated in North America according to biologists, who believe the bird to have come from the area of present-day Santa Clara. By the turn of the century, the bird could be found everywhere. After March 23, 2010, the species began a large-scale costal migration in China, towards a southern port, and vanished from China.
Ecologists suspect the bird’s odd behavior is connected to the extreme climate changes happening in recent years, especially the ecological, environmental, climate and geological calamities in China. When met with adversity, the Ancient Dove cannot persevere as tenaciously as the Grass Mud Horse, so it raised the flag of retreat, attracting the disdain of some of the world’s animal lovers.
Its shoulders are draped with blue, yellow, red, and green feathers, and it is a bit bigger than the common dove. Its call sounds like the English word “googol”; Native Americans believe that this sound represents an “unbelievable number”. Mathematicians performed rigorous calculations and believe this number is probably ten to the hundredth power.
The Ancient Dove has an extremely strong capacity for adaptation, and can evolve quickly to become a new, indigenous subspecies. For example, at present there are large populations of American Ancient Doves, Japanese Ancient Doves, British Ancient Doves, and other subspecies. Because archaeology has proven the original Ancient Dove came from America, we often refer to the American Ancient Dove as “Ancient Dove”, and attach the name of the country they are located in to identify other subspecies.
Early research has shown that the Ancient Dove’s leaving may give rise [to the dominance] of another, long-clawed bird that looks just like the Ancient Dove but is actually a bird of prey: the “Paidu Bird” [sounds like “Baidu”, Google’s chief domestic competition]. The numbers of this ancient legendary domestic bird are presently expanding explosively. Now, Chinese people can only use this poisonous, ferocious bird, whose calls are in Chinese and who loves only money to fulfill the Ancient Dove’s function.
Living in groups, the subspecies in each country may excel at different things. The Ancient Dove eats anything with words on it, and can naturally estimate the relative worth of food. It performs advanced calculations to decide the proper sequence [in which to eat].
As you know, its mortal enemies are the “River Crabs” [sounds like “harmony”, a reference to government censorship], the “Wenzuo Crabs” [sounds like “the Chinese Writer’s Association“, which is also associated with censorship], and other types of Chinese crabs.
In the world, there are an estimated 120 billion Ancient Doves, but they have already mostly disappeared from the Chinese mainland. What were once Chinese Ancient Doves have migrated to Hong Kong, so there is a downward trend in the worldwide population.
Many animal lovers went to the Beijing Ancient Dove santuary before March 23, 2010, to express their grief.
It is fascinating that the talking-about-it-without-talking-about-it approach to discussing politics in China has spilled over from the internet and into the real world. This is, of course, not the first time, but it is the latest example of a kind of “news” that could never have been written or understood anywhere but China, where it seems sometimes a true story can be told only mythologizing and anthropomorphizing it. Could it also be the beginning of a trend, or will the censors head it off at the pass by making an example of the folks at the Chongqing Evening News? What will happen to them remains to be seen. But their having the guts to publish a story like this in the face of harsh warnings not to address the Google issue sympathetically shows a spirit that I think the now-exiled Ancient Doves would be proud of.