IT'S a good time to be a Manchu on television. Costume dramas such as “Palace” and “Bu Bu Jing Xin”, which feature modern-day protagonists flung back in time to the days of the Qing emperors, rank among the most-watched programmes on China's video-sharing sites. And while these series would seem to mine every possible fish-out-of-water plot element for effect, nobody seems to question that a young woman speaking modern Mandarin would have any trouble communicating with her new Manchu boyfriend.
On yet another popular programme, the breathy 76-episode epic “Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan”, the warring wives and battling concubines of the Yongzheng emperor have sparked their own internet meme. Fans of the show have taken to converting short messages, microblog posts, and even government pronouncements into the elegant and stylised speech of the show's characters. Yet even with that attention to detail, all of the fighting, wailing, and backstabbing is done in a language that is perfectly understandable to the modern-day urbanites who tune in nightly on their laptops.