Archive | October, 2013

Super Joke on Chinese Study – 姑妈和姑娘/gūmā hé gūniang: Auntie and Girl

23 Oct

John has always been confused by synonym in Chinese. For example, 冷 (lěng) and 凉 (liáng) both mean cold in Chinese. People can say 我很冷 (Wǒ hěn lěng) to describe that I feel very cold, but cannot use 我很凉 (Wǒ hěn liáng) even though 冷 and 凉 have the same meaning here.
One day, John is having a dialogue practice with SpeakMandarin coach Molly. John wants to tell Molly that he met a girl today.
John: 我今天遇到了一个姑妈。
Molly: …What?
Language point: In Chinese, 妈 (mā) and 娘 (niáng) are synonym, and they both mean mother when used individually. However, when used in words, this pair of synonym will lose its original meaning some time. Here, 姑妈 means auntie, but 姑娘 means girl. John still thought that these two can be replaced by each other therefore made a mistake.

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The Autumn in Chinese Culture: 秋 Qiū

9 Oct

The Autumn in Chinese Culture: 秋 Qiū.

The Autumn in Chinese Culture: 秋 Qiū

9 Oct

It’s autumn in Beijing now. This is the most beautiful season of Beijing. Do you know how to express autumn in Mandarin Chinese? 

Autumn (秋天 qiūtiān) has always been a season (季节 jìjié) that is full of meanings endowed by human.

In the western (西方的 xīfāng de) culture (文化 wénhuà), it is a season of harvest (丰收 fēngshōu), which has become autumn’s dominated image. It is also a season of melancholy (忧郁 yōuyù), with its grey (灰色 huīsè) sky and falling leaves (树叶 shùyè).
Same as in the western culture, autumn in Chinese culture has various associations too. There is no season that has been mentioned and portrayed (描述 miáoshù) so many times in literature (文学 wénxué) as autumn: autumn rain (秋雨 qiūyǔ), autumn leaves (秋叶 qiūyè), autumn moon (秋月 qiūyuè), autumn night (秋夜 qiūyè), autumn sound (秋声 qiūshēng), autumn color (秋色 qiūsè), autumn melancholy (秋愁 qiūchóu), autumn dream (秋梦 qiūmèng), autumn memorization (秋忆 qiūyì)…
There was once a great poet that used only 9 Chinese words, but fully described the autumn loneliness:

枯藤 (kūténg) 老树 (lǎoshù) 昏鸦 (hūnyā),
小桥 (xiǎoqiáo) 流水 (liúshuǐ) 人家 (rénjiā),
古道 (gǔdào) 西风 (xīfēng) 瘦马 (shòumǎ),
夕阳 (xīyáng) 西下 (xīxià),断肠人 (duànchángrén) 在天涯 (zài tiānyá)。
Withered vines, old trees, and crows in the dusk;
Small bridge, flowing water, some cottages;
Ancient road, west wind, scrawny horse;
The evening sun setting in the west;
A heartbroken man is far away from home.