to gain strength to contribute to socialist modernization ☭
not quite, but close
努力学习 is indeed “study hard”
- 努力 - nǔlì, literally “exert force”, can have both negative and positive connotations depending on context
- 学习 - xuéxí, “study”
准备为社会主义现代化贡献力量 means more “Prepare to put forth strength for socialist society”
- 准备 - zhǔnbèi, both the noun “preparation” and the verb “prepare”
- 为 - wèi, in this case, literally “for” (sometimes combined with aspect/tense markers 了 or 着).
In this case, it serves as preposition to introduce the prepositional object, i.e. that which is being prepared for.
- 社会主义 - shèhuìzhǔyì, “socialism” or “socialist”;
a compound term made up of 社会 shèhuì "society/social" and 主义 zhǔyì, literally “doctrine” or “ideology”, but also a common prefix for the English “-ism”
- 现代化 - xiàndàihuà, “modernization” (or “modernize”);
another compound term. made up of 现代 xiàndài "modern", and 化 huà, literally “change”, but also a common prefix for the English “-ation” or “-ization”
- 贡献 - gòngxiàn, literally “offer”, but often used in a modern sense of “contribute” or “devote” (very common in political language, especially, as we see here, in the context of personal sacrifice)
- 力量 - lìliang, literally “amount of strength/force”, but meaning “power” (also “force” or “strength”, often implies physical strength)
so, from this we have
- 准备 - prepare
- 为 - "for"
- 社会主义 - socialist
- 现代化 - modernization
- 贡献 - contribute
- 力量 - strength
Essentially, prepare to contribute strength for socialist modernization
This is a bit unnatural in English. A more colloquially accurate conveyance of the meaning would be “be prepared to contribute to socialist modernization”, dropping 力量 in English, because it is implied in the English sense of “contribute”.
what’s more interesting, to me, is the text underneath:
The first two are common admonitions to study well
- 专心听 - zhuānxīn tīng, literally “listen concentratedly”.
专心 zhuānxīn literally means to “focus [one’s] mind”. An interesting cultural note, 心 xīn means “heart”, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is the producer of thoughts, i.e. the mind. 听 tīng means “listen” or “hear”, but in academic contexts it refers also to hearing- that is, being attentive in, or absorbing - one’s lesson.
- 勤思考 - qín sīkǎo, literally “think/reflect diligently”.
勤 (diligent) is seen in other words like 辛勤 xīnqín and 勤劳 qínláo, both meaning “diligent/industrious/hardworking”. 思考 sīkǎo means to “think”, but in a much deeper, academic sense. It carries notions of careful consideration, deep thought, reflection.
The last part is most interesting. 认真完成作业
- 认真 - rènzhēn, “earnest[ly]” or “diligent[ly]”
- 完成 - wánchéng, “complete” or “finalize”
- 作业 - zuòyè, literally a “task”, but for students, it means “homework”
Earnestly finish your homework. An exhortation to finish one’s homework.
No doubt that this is a poster of the blue-green era. I find it useful to categorize different periods of PRC history with colors. Coming out of the muddy-grey of the Civil War, the early years have earthy tones: yellow, brown, red-brown, even tints of foresty green. The period leading up to the Cultural Revolution maintain the earth tones, but add pastel blue, yellow and red, reflecting a post-Stalin era sense of perceived economic and political stability. The Cultural Revolution is of course bright, eye-scorching red, with dots of yellow and drab olive green. As the 1970’s go on, the red fades and cools to blue by 1976, at which point there is descent into black. Black recolors into blue during the Hua Guofeng years, and dark greens, smatterings of yellow and purple are added. Then “reform and opening” is categorized as decidedly blue and green, with a new set of pastels, no longer confined to the red/blue/yellow of the earlier period. This poster, again, is decidedly blue/green of the reform era.
What makes for an interesting contrast of eras and guiding ideologies, is that this promotes earnest scholastic choices for children; a reification of traditional modes of study practiced worldwide, but especially so in China, but something which would have been theoretically unacceptable jut a decade prior, during the Cultural Revolution. As can be seen here in English and here in Chinese, Chairman Mao was sympathetic to the plight and complaints/concerns of the average young students, especially regarding homework and tests.
At present, there is too much studying going on, and this is exceedingly harmful.
There are too many subjects at present, and the burden is too heavy, it puts middle school and university students in a constant state of tension.
Cases of short sight are constantly multiplying among primacy and middle-school students.
This can’t be allowed to go on unchanged.
Chairman Mao continues on with some great, both progressive and “progressive” education theories, such an qualitative assessment, rather than rote learning (which was and continues to be prevalent in China), and advocating a leniency with regards to outright cheating.
This poster, as all posters, is hosted through chineseposters.net, a website owned and maintained by the Chinese Posters Foundation. Dr. Stefan R. Landsberger (Leiden University, University of Amsterdam) is the editor and responsible for contents; Marien van der Heijden (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam) is co-editor and website designer.