What is “pagezi”?

Namibia, May 2009

A short while ago, after I had learned the words for story (故事), novel (小说) and, of course, panda (熊猫),my Chinese teacher taught me the word for writer. Sure, an author is “作者” and a journalist is “记者” (a funny story to come on that), but what about a person aspiring to make a living as a writer, a practicing writer, a writer in progress. What exactly is WIP  in Chinese?

And then, finally, after a homework assignment about the perils of learning a language, the word came: 爬格子, pronounced “pagezi” (not page-zi, but pah-ge-zi), which loosely translates to “climbing the check”.

Once upon a time, Chinese was written in vertical columns, top to bottom, instead along neat little rows left to right. Each character fit neatly into a box forming a kind of literary plaid, a checked pattern, if you will. And so aspiring writers were trying to climb the check (well technically it’s stepping down the check, but I’m told it’s to ascend it).

Here’s a blog about ascending the check. I’ll let you know if I reach the summit.

Ciao, Melanie

One response to “What is “pagezi”?

  1. Hi Melanie,

    Ni hao! And nice to read your quick bio. Hope to see you around more often.

    Best, Sam

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