October 5, 2016

Chabuduo

But such scenes are an unusual treat. (And, after losing the card for my master movers, the next time I shifted house, the moving team did a fine imitation of the Three Stooges.) Instead, the prevailing attitude is chabuduo, or ‘close enough’. It’s a phrase you’ll hear with grating regularity, one that speaks to a job 70 per cent done, a plan sketched out but never completed, a gauge unchecked or a socket put in the wrong size. Chabuduo is the corrosive opposite of the impulse towards craftmanship, the desire, as the sociologist Richard Sennett writes in The Craftsman (2008), ‘to reject muddling through, to reject the job just good enough’. Chabuduo implies that to put any more time or effort into a piece of work would be the act of a fool. China is the land of the cut corner, of ‘good enough for government work’.

Don't really know if this falls into the category of untranslatable words, but Beijing Palmer has used a phrase every time he's referenced it above. Whether it is or not, it's a useful addition to my vocabulary.