“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

The Shanghai Porch…

Posted: July 17th, 2020 | No Comments »

I was having a discussion somewhere else about the rise of piano shops, tuners, musical instrument dealers and so on in Shanghai (yes, I do have that sort of discussion with people sometimes!). Naturally thoughts turned to the pioneer of the piano in Shanghai, the English musical instruments dealer (and later gramophones and so on) Sydenham Moutrie. Moutrie headed east around the 1870s setting up stores in Shanghai, Peking (as i’ve blogged before here), and Yokohama. All well and good – but what interested me in this advert (c.1913/1914) for Victrola gramophones was the use of the word ‘porch’ in Shanghai….

Now usually when people discuss the phenomenon of semi-colonial architecture in Shanghai – ‘compradore architecture’ as it’s sometimes called – they talk of verandas (or verandahs). But here Mr Moutrie, a good Englishman uses the very English word ‘porch’. Now whether technically porch is English for the Portuguese word veranda or Veranda is Portuguese for the English word porch is debateable. However, it is interesting that the term porch (rarely heard now in any discussions of Shanghai architecture – and often nowadays meaning a small addition to the front door or entry hallway rather than a grander covered shelter at the front and sides of the property) was used indicating perhaps the more prevalent use of English English in early twentieth century Shanghai.

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