Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chinese character for 'book'











Chinese characters for 'taxi'






出租车




Chinese characters for 'recorder'





录音机




Chinese characters for 'library'





图书馆




Chinese characters for 'race track'






赛车轨道




Chinese character for 'wheel'






轮子




Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chinese character for 'tent'









帐篷









chinese characters for 'race car' and 'train', etc.





赛车





火车

chinese character for 'milk'






chinese character for 'bread'



面包

Chinese character for "rice"




米饭 “rice”

learn Chinese characters



汉字

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turtle, turtle egg and green hat -- learning some Chinese slang

If you call someone a turtle or a turtle egg in Chinese it's a nasty, hurtful insult! Have no illusion about that :-) The Chinese characters for 'turtle' are 王八 (wang2ba1),and for 'turtle eggs', are 王八蛋 (wang2ba1dan4).

Almost the most humiliating word you can use to describe a man in Chinese culture is that he is turtle, 王八. That means he is a cuckold. Another way to say this is to say that he is "wearing a green hat (戴绿帽子)(dai4lv4mao4zi)." A woman who cuckolds her husband is said to dress him in a green hat. And the man is most pathetic in people's eyes.

The offspring produced by such a woman is thus a 'turtle egg'. Its variation form is 'turtle kid', 王八羔子 (wang2ba1gao1zi).

Yet, turtle is also a symbol of longevity. Even in contexts with such a connotation, it's still not a compliment.

However, people are in awe of turtles under some circumstances. Sometimes when people fish, if they catch turtles, they inscribe some words on them and set them free back to the sea. Whoever catches them the next time is supposed to put them back, because if they don't, it will bring bad luck, according to supersition.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

babies can sense ill omen?

Folklore from some part of China says that very young babies can sense ominous elements of people and places.

If a baby cries hysterically without any obvious reason at the sight a person, that forbodes ill omen on that person. So in some places, old people quite mind whether they are received well by babies.

Likewise, unreasonable, repeated crying of babies when passing the same location could have some indications too.

Actually I wonder if there is scientific evidence in that. Young babies may very well have better natural senses in some regards than fully developed adults. This applies too when it comes to omens for earthquake where animals have better senses than human beings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beware of 250

The number 250 in Chinese,when used to describe people, is an insult. The Chinese characters are 二百五. It means a blockhead, simpleton, idiot. A nincompoop. If you have worked hard to turn things against yourself, you are certainly a 250.

When the U.S. was celebrating its 220th birthday, several of us were talking about what 250 meant in Chinese. A guy joked: "when it's time for the U.S. to celebrate its 250th birthday, the Chinese will laugh and laugh, and we will all feel confused not knowing why ..."

So beware of "250" when people talk to you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chinese "sluts" in broken shoes -- learning some Chinese slang

破鞋 po4 xie2 (literal translation: broken shoes): loose woman

It used to be such a curse for a woman who was called a loose shoe. Somebody referred to as "broken shoes" was like wearing a scarlet letter A, and would be really looked down upon in her community and wherever people knew her well. When some quarrel occurs, this would be the first weapon others could use to attack her. And this label was really hard to take off all life long! And such a woman always felt like a pariah.

But I think people say things are changing ... Nowadays it seems as if some ladies with similar behavior raise their heads a lot higher and appear much more confident. The extreme version sounds like, if they are capable of being "broken shoe" and are also successful in robbing whatever man from his wife, then they are winners, whether sluts or not. They are no longer forced to carry huge moral debts throughout their lives as before.

Some people in China say this is history taking its upward turn. Some people say it's the opposite. Whatever is true, even the winners nowadays still wouldn't want to be called broken shoes (po4xie2) I'm sure.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

mastering Chinese accent?

Recently, there is a story about an English woman with Chinese accent after severe migraine. But how hard is it to acquire real Chinese accent and past the official test for Chinese certification?

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Foreigners complain about the difficulty of Chinese TOEFL exams.

The Chinese counterpart of English TOFEL, i.e. test of English as a foreign language, the one that every Chinese student has to excel on in order to get in an American University, is called HSK, commonly referred to as "Chinese TOFEL".

Some facts:

(1) 182 students took the test 17 April 2010
(2) 1/3 foreign students from Asia, Europe and North America
(3) 2/3 chinese minority speakers
(4) Even for native Chinese speakers it's hard to pass the test without advanced education.
(5) Excerpts from the writings of Confucius were included on the literature portion of the test.
(6) More and more students participate in HSK. So far about a million students from around 120 countries in the world have taken the test.

Some snippets:

Around 5pm, April 17, 2010, a Russian girl by the name of Lisie walked out the examination room and took a deep breath ... She said: "It's really tough. I was running out of time." This is the second time she attended such an exam. Last time she received a grade 6 certification.

Three Korean girls told the reporter that they had been so nervous about the test that they couldn't help thinking of it while eating, walking and even sleeping.

One student from Egypt went to the grocery store each day for three months in Wuhan and acquired fluent Wuhan dialect. Right before the HSK test, he asked his teacher how his Chinese accent (standard Chinese dialect) is, and his teacher, not being able to bring himself to discourage him, said: "you are now capable of selling vegetables in Wuhan".

(source: source from the official Chinanews about the Chinese test this post is a summary of that article)