General Tso

Last night at the open mic Mike Romano of the Forest Greens semi-rhetorically asked the audience about the history of General Tso. Langauge guru Matt Winn informed us that General Tso was not a real general and the word Tso meant something about the childlike qualities of a master. He said the name was symbolic of this ideal sort of master.

According to the Washington Post, Matt was blowing smoke up our asses.

General Tso Tsungtang, or as his name is spelled in modern Pinyin, Zuo Zongtang, was born on Nov. 10, 1812, and died on Sept. 5, 1885. He was a frighteningly gifted military leader during the waning of the Qing dynasty, a figure perhaps the Chinese equivalent of the American Civil War commander William Tecumseh Sherman. He served with brilliant distinction during China’s greatest civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, which claimed millions of lives.

Tso was utterly ruthless. He smashed the Taiping rebels in four provinces, put down an unrelated revolt called the Nian Rebellion, then marched west and reconquered Chinese Turkestan from Muslim rebels.


3 responses to “General Tso”

  1.  Avatar

    I wasn’t blowin smoke. tso, or Tse, or Tzu, are pronounced liek th elast syllable in “Matze” or “lotsa.” When a notable figure in chinese history has a ‘name,’ it isn’t that that person was called that, as in you are Ben and I am Matt. It’s kind of like significant figures in native american history. The name is sadi to reflect a particular quality about that person and becomes part of the name. Kind of like Lao Tse (laozi, lao tzu, or any other translation). Lao means old and tse means master/child. The explanation of why master and child are synonymous can be found in the tao te ching.

  2. just admit you’re wrong

  3.  Avatar

    well in the sense that i thought that it didnt refer to a specific person, yeah i was wrong. but the word tso doesnt refer to one person, that was my point.