稱「大陸」，或者「中國大陸」，不僅明確，也與英文 Mainland China 彼此呼應一致；否則以「內地」對應 Mainland China 難免牛頭不對馬嘴。把北美稱美洲大陸，把不包括英倫諸島、愛爾蘭、冰島的歐陸稱歐洲大陸，把非洲稱非洲大陸，把澳洲稱澳洲大陸，都有正名的意義。
" 顛狂柳絮隨風舞，輕薄桃花逐水流。" * 為什麼好好的神州「大陸」不用，而硬要隨風起舞、隨波逐流，狹隘的把他給不清不楚的叫做「內地」？
Which word to use for "mainland China"?
When traveling in mainland China, I often notice the use of the word neidi (literally translated as "inland") to refer to mainland China in the press, media or in daily conversations. If indeed neidi is used to mean the whole area of the People's Republic of China except the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region, does it include Zhoushan Archipelago, Hainan Island, Changxing Island, Chongming Island, Pingtan Island and so forth?
I don't think it's appropriate to use neidi to refer to mainland China as a distinction between itself and Hong Kong and Macau. Literally speaking, neidi means the "inland" or the remote "border districts" of mainland China. As a matter of fact, neidi or "inland" is part of mainland China. In the old days, people living in coastal areas usually spoke of the landlocked provinces and cities as "inland". Formerly, if the residents of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and other cities on the east coast were transferred to work in Shaanxi, Gansu and Sichuan, they were referred to as people sent "in support of the inland". Here, "inland" simply means "hinterland".
The residents of Xiamen, Fujian province, usually call people living in non-coastal areas as "inlanders". The word "inlander" thus used is a derogatory term meaning a "country bumpkin". Similarly, people living in the northwest part of China refer to areas east to Xinjiang and Gansu as "inland", too. People living in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces refer to the areas east or north of their provinces as "inland" as well. The residents of Hainan Island also refer to the whole mainland area as "inland". Therefore, it's not a very accurate term to refer to mainland China as neidi.
Naichi, which literally means "inland", is used to refer to Japan's four main islands, i.e., Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, so as to distinguish itself from the so-called "outer lands", such as its former colonies: Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and northeast China. When the Nationalist government moved to Taiwan in 1949 after World War II, it abandoned the popular use among the residents of Taiwan of the Japanese-style term "inland" to refer to the whole "native land", whether it was referring to Japan's four main islands or mainland China. However, due to the colonial influence of Japan, some southerners in Fujian province occasionally would still stick to using the term "inland" for the sake of convenience. Nowadays, with the frequent contacts between Taiwan and mainland China, the confusing term neidi has again surfaced in Taiwan.
Undoubtedly, it is incongruous to use neidi or "inland" to refer to mainland China. Instead, it would be just as proper to use the term "mainland" or "mainland China" in Chinese which not only corresponds to its English term "mainland China", but is also in line with the use of "continental America" to refer to "North America", "continental Europe" to refer to the continental parts of Europe excluding the British Isles, Ireland and Iceland, "continental Africa" to refer to the African continent and "continental Australia" to refer to the Australian continent.
Frivolous willow catkins are flying with the wind;
Flirtatious peach petals are drifting with the stream.
I wonder why some people prefer to "fly with the wind" and "drift with the stream" by sticking to the use of the misleading word neidi instead of the clear-cut term "mainland China".
This article was originally published in Chinese in the Hong Kong Economic Journal (13 December, 2013).
December 16, 2013