I’ve come up with a theory about why Chinese people honk so much while driving . . . it’s like bat sonar.
That’s right. Bat sonar.
Bats use their sonar to ‘see’ and paint a picture of where they are in the air, what is around them, and where other flying creatures (bats or otherwise, like insects for example) are in relation to them as they move through the air.
Think about how bats can fly inside their caves with thousands of other bats all flying in close proximity to them, and it begins to make sense as an analogy to driving and honking in China.
There are so many cars, scooters, trucks, and people all around a driver in China that using one’s horn as a navigational aid, and warning to others, makes perfect sense.
The back and forth chatter of horns between drivers helps them to ‘echo locate‘ so to speak where the other drivers are, and honking continually also gives a sense of distance and proximity as the horn gets louder or softer. Also, the driver can tell what kind of vehicle is nearby by distinguishing different kinds of horns (a scooter versus a dump truck or bus, for example).
Hence the frequent and heavy usage of horns while driving in China.
That’s my theory.
p.s. I’ve also got a theory about ‘horn discourse’ and how different ways of honking your horn have different meanings, and that they actually make up a kind of ‘navigation discourse’ between drivers. After I’ve been here longer I’ll write a follow up post about that.