That Chinese “BreedReady” Database – Check The Translation


A basic truism is that languages don’t map exactly over each other and that’s the most likely explanation for this database from China detailing “BreedReady” women. That languages don’t map exactly should be obvious even to the most monolingual of English speakers. We all know that “Let’s have lunch sometime” when said by an American means “Hope to see you never and definitely not while eating”. Similarly, “That’s lovely” when said by a Brit does not necessarily mean it is lovely and “How quaint” isn’t praise for the cuteness of the thing. A Californian invocation to meet Tuesday is in fact a rumination on the possible non-existence of Tuesday.

Thus we shouldn’t be taking the naming of this database all that seriously:

A Chinese database listing the name, phone numbers and addresses of 1.8 million women including those with a “breedready“ status has been uncovered by a Dutch researcher. Victor Gevers, an internet expert from the non-profit group GDI.Foundation, found the insecure data cache while searching for open databases in China.

That they’re “ready to breed” isn’t quite what the database is recording:

“To be honest I hope it was just poor English of the developer,” Gevers said of the “BreedReady” terminology. “But we simply do not know this for sure.”

Yes, quite:

The database, whose server is in China, included fields labeled in English for sex, age, education, marital status, as well as a column titled “BreedReady”, which could be a poor translation of Chinese terms to describe whether a woman has children or is of child-bearing age, observers noted.

Presumed fertile might be a more reasonable English version of the term. And there’s no particular reason to think that it must be about breeding either, at least not directly. If you were marketing tampons you’d love to have a list of women you could usefully assume were menstruating after all.

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It is, of course, possible that the Chinese government really is trying to keep tabs on all the women who could have children. But this particular database, with this particular “BreedReady” naming protocol, could just be an attempt to build a list of presumed fertile women. Something that might be done by a dating site, as mentioned, or by any number of equally inconsequential commercial players.

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