You know what be able to teach you more about history than a history textbook? A textbook FROM history.
A Chinese collector in Chengdu has shared a piece of his collection with the world: a book from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) that was used to teach English, specifically useful English phrases. These phrases include “You want cheap go buy other man” (respectable) and “Tomorrow I give you answer” (relatable). It also contains some words of wisdom that feel like a personal attack on my lifestyle: “Don’t stop half way and fail” and “Don’t answer at random.”
The textbook was organized like so:
The Chinese meaning, then the English phrase, and then Chinese characters to help sound them out.
The textbook can be dated based on the note imprinted on it reading Emperor Xianfeng’s 10th year of reign,” which would be 1860.
Funnily enough, these type of books still exist today. For example, the city of Hangzhou just published an “English made easy” phrasebook for tourists! History does in fact repeat itself.