Chinese Cinderella

Chinese Cinderella Glossary


Position in which hands are on hips and elbows are bowed outward.


Life under difficult economic conditions, poorness.

Buildings on the Bund

The waterfront buildings of Central Shanghai, usually referring to the buildings and wharves along the Zhongshan Road.

C rations

Canned, pre-cooked wet rations issued to the US Marines and passed on to the Chinese after the end of World War II.

Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Lana Turner and Errol Flynn

Famous film stars of the 1940's and 50's. Their popularity soared in China with the end of World War II.

Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett

English playwright and author, best known for The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and The Little Princess (Adeline's favorite book).

Fuyu persimmons

Squat, non-astringent persimmons that can usually be eaten before ripening, or when they are still firm. Though the persimmons Wu Chun-mei offers the girls are not actually Fuyu persimmons; if they had been, the persimmons would actually have been edible.

General Zhang Fei 張飛

A military general who served under Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He aggressively fought for Liu Bei in many different campaigns, but was eventually assassinated by his subordinates.

Huangpu River

River flowing through the middle of Shanghai, also the largest river of Shanghai. It was man made during the Warring States Period.

King Lear

Shakespearean tragedy following the title character's descent into madness after he divides up his estate between his daughters. Left with nothing in the end, his plight reminds Adeline of the misfortunes of Ye Ye.

Let it be (Suan Le, 算了)

An expression meaning let it be, let it pass, forget about it. One of Third Brother's favorite expressions and an expression Adeline must learn to live by.

Mandarin Dialect

This is the group of dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China and makes up the largest spoken language in China. Standard Chinese, called "Putonghua" or "Guoyu" in Chinese, which is often also translated as "Mandarin" or simply "Chinese", belongs to this group. It is the official spoken language of the People's Republic of China and one of the official languages of Singapore, but not Taiwan.


A topical anesthetic used for cuts and scrapes.


Used to describe Miss Chien, the younger children's tutor, this means obedient or attentive to an excessive degree.

Opium War

From 1856-1860, foreign powers (United Kingdom, France, and the United States) fought against the Qing dynasty due to issues of trade. Trade was fairly one-sided and benefited the foreign nations, an imbalance that Chinese citizens wanted to change. The War was won by the foreign invaders, effectively dividing up China among themselves.

People's Liberation Army

The Communist Army, led by Mao Zedong, was the force that took over China from the Nationalist Party during the Chinese Civil War that ended in 1950. The war was a back and forth affair that culminated in the expulsion of the Nationalist to Taiwan. They maintain power to the day.


Also known as the cheongsam (旗袍), the qipao is a one-piece, traditional Chinese dress that has been popular since the 17th century.


This method of transportation consists of a wheeled cart pulled by one person. The Yen's have a rickshaw in Tianjin, but primarily use a car in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Shanghai dialect

Also known as the Hu dialect, the Shanghai dialect, or Shanghainese, is derived from the Wu dialect. Shanghainese only has two tones, whereas Mandarin is a contour tonal language.

Three Kingdom's War

Following the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty, this was a war between three states that claimed succession to the throne; Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), and Wu (吳).