Are the fortunes in fortune cookies very Chinese?



They’re a combination of American and Chinese ideologies:

The present study analyzes 595 fortune cookie sayings as cultural texts and explores the predominant values and ideologies embedded in those texts. The study indicates that fortune cookie sayings fulfill four primary functions: prophecy, compliment, advice, and wisdom. This textual analysis further uncovers that fortune cookie sayings (a) delimit “fortune” in terms of money, prosperity, and romance; (b) make compliments about sociability and talents; (c) provide advice on life and relationships with others; and (d) offer wisdom regarding integrity, spirituality, and the past. Despite their apparent triviality and ordinariness, fortune cookie sayings represent a form of hybridized cultural discourse. Such hybridized cultural discourse, according to many critical scholars, is claimed to be a form of progressive and emancipatory resistance. However, the analysis reveals that fortune cookie sayings subscribe to dominant ideologies in both U.S. American and Chinese cultures. As detailed in the present study, they are a fusion of the American Dream and the Chinese upward mobility.

Source: “A Textual Analysis of Fortune Cookie Sayings: How Chinese Are They?” from Howard Journal of Communications, Volume 19, Issue 1 January 2008 , pages 18 – 43

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