Two questions about the childhood name of the pivotal character in Mo Yan's Red Sorghum Clan:

Her childhood name was 九儿. Does this suggest she was one of (at least) nine children? I do not recall any point of the novel talking about any siblings but I may well have forgotten something. And of course the novel could imply they existed, and just not talk about them.

And should I suppose that Mo Yan intended to use the homophony with 酒 (wine)? Or does Mandarin just have so many homophones that I should not make anything of this one? In the story she has no special relation to 高粱酒 when she is young, but it becomes central to her adult life.

  • 1
    老n: the n'th child or brother (n>1), 老大:1st child
    – user6065
    Jan 30, 2016 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


Because she born on 9th Sep of Chinese traditional calendar, it's a Chinese traditional festival, which we call it "重九"(double nine).

  • Thanks. You are right, but I do not find it in the book. Is it only stated in the movie? Jan 30, 2016 at 9:53
  • You cannot say "September of Chinese calendar", that doesn't make sense. September is specifically "the 9th month of the Julian/Western/common calendar", not a generic name for "9th month of any calendar". You should say "9th month of the Chinese calendar"
    – vermillon
    Jan 31, 2016 at 12:12

xfx explained the 九, I'll add the 儿: 儿 is often added to a 小名 (childhood name). It does not mean "ninth child" in this case, and the meaning "child" isn't really important here. The alternative would be to double up the name (like 花花,果果, etc).

While homophones are extremely common and you wouldn't normally think of 酒 when you hear 九, in this case it may well be intentional.

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