Chinese fire drillって何だ?

前回に続いて、最近読んだ小説 "Gravity" で見つけた表現について書く。スペースシャトルの打ち上げに向けた次の場面に出てくるものだが、この「中国式火災訓練」とはいったい何のことだろうか。

The atmosphere in the FCR (= Flight Control Room) appeared icy calm, as were the voices on the comm loop. It was the image NASA strove to maintain, of professionals doing their job and doing it well. What the public seldom saw were the crises in the back controller rooms, the near-disasters, the Chinese fire drills when things went wrong and confusion reigned.


- (Informal: Sometimes offensive) a state of chaotic, often clamorous disorder [Origin: ‡ 1960-65]


- (offensive) a prank performed while stopped in a car at a red-light; each passenger (including the driver) shouts "Chinese fire drill", exits the vehicle, runs at least once around it, then re-enters, taking a different seat.

- a prank in which the passengers of a motor vehicle that is stopped at a stoplight, get out and run around the vehicle before returning to their seats


- (offensive) a silly, pointless exercise

- Usage notes
Although this term has seemed to have lost all traces of an insulting meaning, it is possible some might be offended.

Wikipedia には、どうしてこんな表現が生まれたのかについての説が載っている。興味のある方は参照していただければと思う。


The term is traditionally explained as coming from a British tendency around the time of World War I to use the adjective Chinese as a slur, implying "confused, disorganized, or inferior."

Other "Chinese" slurs of the day included "Chinese national anthem" (an explosion) and "Chinese puzzle" (one with no solution).

In this context it is related to the stereotype of the Chinese as being "inscrutable", hard to judge, and difficult to understand, all relating to the British experience of a sophisticated but distinctly alien culture. There are earlier isolated examples which were based on ideas of the inferiority of the Chinese.

また、The Word Detective というサイトにも、この表現についての説明があった。

Gravity (Tess Gerritsen)