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Nail it down
Originally posted by househusband at 2007-3-20 07:31 AM
"dingzi hu" refers to the residents who defy the local government's order of moving out of their homes for settlement. These households are usually dislocated by some commercial projects and are compensated by the developers (or government) but in many cases the compensation is hardly enough to start a new home. Therefore they refuse to move, even when construction is proceeding around (literally) their homes. Thus the creation of the most astonishing scene on earth.
I guess the English equivalent is very hard to find. Actually I wonder if there is one. Few countries would have implemented such highhanded policies on re-location issues resulting from new constructions (commercial or governmental) as China has. In many countries, the compensation for relocating residents is so high that their government would not even consider it. It opts to detour around the residential areas in the case of building a highway, for example.
I've considered "squatter" but after a second thought deemed it inappropriate, because "squatting" is unlawful, while ding zi hu are legal households that have been living in their homes probably since day one.
Since this is an entirely Chinese phenomenon, it is not surprising that there is no ready equivalent in the English language. To take it a step further, "dingzi hu" itself is a new term in Chinese, a term born in this particular stage of historical development -- the so-called initial stage of socialism, when laws to protect the average citizen against exploitation by the moneyed powerful are either inadequate or unenforced.
So, I would propose that we coin a new term in English, a term that can be easily understood in context by English speakers, so that English journalists don't have to each come up with their own translation when they report on this story, which has by now attracted world-wide attention.
My proposal is a simple and literal translation: the "nailed-down" household. For "hu", different words can be used depending on the context, e.g., house, resident, or house owner. If this fight drags on for much longer, the term may even creep into Wikipedia, and eventually become a legitimate English term.