chinese language

Mako and Bolin’s Father’s Letter to his Mom

已经结婚, 有了两個兒子名…

愽林. 他们带来不少歡楽也…

許多麻烦. 相信您们是体會…

希望有一天您们會和他们相…

上我们的照片.

… already married, (we) have two sons called (Mako and) Bolin. 

They bring us no small amount of joy and… 

much trouble. I believe you (formal and plural) can understand… 

(I/We) hope that one day you (formal and plural) and them can (meet) each other … 

On top (is) our photograph.

Notes: Chinese has two ‘you’ 你 (ni) and 您(nin). 您 is formal, similar to the German “Sie”. That their father uses it with his family can have two meanings, either it is a show of respect (in the past it was normal to address one’s parents that way) or it means they are distant, which, considering that he left after a big fight, is also a possibility. These days 、您is not used with one’s family anymore, but a show of respect to your boss, elders, your Professor or customers.

CHINESE GRAMMAR

10 basic Chinese grammar points for beginners

Chinese Grammar Guide

How to use the particles 吗 (ma) and 呢 (ne) in Chinese grammar

Key Chinese grammar structure: modifier + de + noun (的)

The sentence particles 吧 (ba) and 吗 (ma) in Chinese grammar

Chinese grammar 把 structure: a basic introduction

Source

Past events in Mandarin Chinese grammar (there’s no past tense!)

Theme Vocabulary: Pronouns

(wǒ) I, me

您,你 (nín, nǐ) You (formal), you (informal)

他, 她 (tā) he, she

我们 (wǒmen) we

你们 (nǐmen) you (plural)

他们, 她们 (tāmen) they (generally), they (if only females)

(zhè) this

(nà) that

这些 (zhèxiē) these

那些 (nàxiē) those

一些 (yīxiē) some (things)

有的 (yǒude) some (people)

所有 (suǒyǒu) all (people)

大家 (dàjiā) Everyone

15 Common and Useful Chinese Idioms (Chengyu) ✨

🌷 脚踏实地 (jiǎo tà shí dì)
脚踏实地 literally means “to step on solid ground.” It means that you work hard, focus on the fundamentals, and proceed in a steady and stable fashion. It’s an extremely positive chengyu. Here’s an example : “现在我们要继续脚踏实地”   “xiànzài wǒmen yào jìxù jiǎotàshídì”   “Right now we need to continue staying grounded and pushing ahead”   

🌷 九牛一毛 (jiǔ niú yì máo)
九牛一毛 literally means “9 cows and 1 strand of cow hair.” It indicates something that’s so small that it’s like one strand of cow hair among 9 cows. Here’s an example: “电子商务的盈利在中国整体商业环境中简直是九牛一毛.”   “diànzǐ shāngwù de yínglì zài zhōngguó zhěngtǐ shāngyè huánjìng zhōng jiǎnzhí shì jiǔniúyìmáo.”   “In the entire Chinese commercial environment, the profits from E-commerce are simply just a drop in the bucket.”  

🌷 一无所有 (yìwúsuǒyǒu)
一无所有 means to have absolutely nothing at all. It’s basically being penniless. Here’s an example: “他无家可归,一无所有”   “tā wújiākěguī, yìwúsuǒyǒu”   “He was homeless, and didn’t have a penny to his name.”  

🌷 一见钟情(yí jiàn zhōng qíng)
一见钟情 means “love at first sight.” It’s generally used for people, but you can also use it for other physical objects. Here’s an example: “她就是我的一见钟情 “   “tā jiùshì wǒ de yíjiànzhōngqíng“   “She is my love at first sight.”  

🌷 自由自在 (zì yóu zì zài)
自由自在 means that something is free and easy. It can be used to describe someone’s personality, how someone behaves, or how a place makes people feel. For example: “这是一个自由自在的地方。”   “zhè shì yī gè zì yóu zì zai de dì fāng”   “This is a free and easy place”  

🌷 莫名其妙 (mò míng qí miào) 
莫名其妙 literally means that it’s hard to articulate the profoundness or mystery or something. It basically means that something is baffling. For example: “他说了几句莫名其妙的话。”   “tā shuì le jī gōu mò míng qí miào de huà”   “He said some mysterious words. ”  

🌷 半途而废 (bàn tú ér fèi)
半途而废 means to start doing something, only to give up halfway. Literally, it means to walk half the road and give up. Here’s an example: “我不是半途而废的人”   “wǒ búshì bàntúérfèi de rén”   “I’m not someone who gives up halfway”

🌷 抛砖引玉 (pāo zhuān yǐn yù)
抛砖引玉 (pāo zhuān yǐn yù) basically means you’re “just tossing an idea out there.” It literally means “to cast a brick to attract jade.” You’re basically saying, “this idea I’m tossing out there is garbage, but perhaps it will lead one of you to make a better contribution.” It’s a humble way to contribute to a conversation. Here’s an example: “我的建议还不够成熟,算是抛砖引玉吧 “   “wǒ de jiàn yì hái bú gòu chéng shú, suàn shì pāo zhuān yǐn yù ba “   “My suggestion is still half-baked — you could see it as just me tossing an idea out there“  

🌷 豁然开朗 (huò rán kāi lǎng)
豁然开朗 (huò rán kāi lǎng) has two meanings which are linked. The first meaning is the refreshing and liberating feeling you get when you see a beautiful, open area. Typically, immediately before this moment, the beautiful area is not visible and you might be feeling a little stuffy. Second, it’s also used for the feeling you get when you achieve an “aha” or “eureka!” moment. Here’s an example: “大学时期,乔尼开始有机会用Mac做设计,那是一种豁然开朗的体验“   “dàxué shíqí, qiáoní kāishǐ yǒujīhuì yòng Mac zuò shèjì, nàshì yīzhǒng huòránkāilǎng de tǐyàn”   “During college, Jony began to have opportunities to use a Mac to design, and that was a refreshing, eye-opening experience”  

🌷  津津有味 (jīn jīn yǒu wèi)
津津有味 means to eat something deliciously. Also, it can be used for activities beyond just eating, as long as the person doing the activity finds it engaging. It’s not something that people typically use to describe themselves, but you can liberally use it on your friends as it has a positive tone. Here’s an expressive example: “津津有味地看报”   “jīnjīnyǒuwèi de kànbào”   “to devour the newspaper”  

🌷  理所当然 (lǐ suǒ dāng rán)
理所当然 sounds like “to go without saying” or “as a matter of course,” but literally means that “according to reason, it should be the case.” Here’s an example: “Some things which are obvious or natural in the course of a marriage…”   “。。。在婚姻中的一些~的事。。。”   “。。。zài hūnyīn zhōng de yīxiē ~de shì 。。。”  

🌷  全力以赴 (quán lì yǐ fù)
全力以赴 basically means to give it your all (literally “exert all your strength”) for a goal. It has a positive tone, and is somewhat formal but can still be used in everyday speech. It’s important to note that 全力以赴 is typically used for actions that haven’t finished yet, rather than actions that have already been completed. Here’s an example: “无论考生的笔试成绩如何,都要全力以赴准备面试”   “wúlùn kǎoshēng de bǐshì chéngjì rúhé ,dōuyào quánlìyǐfù zhǔnbèi miànshì”   “No matter how the student’s written test score is, he/she needs to give 100% to prepare for the interview”  

🌷  心血来潮 (xīn xuè lái cháo)
心血来潮 basically means “spur of the moment” or “on a whim.” Literally, it evokes the image of blood rushing to your heart (of course in English we’d say head). It’s a perfect chengyu for when you’re telling a story a friend. For example: “某日他们心血来潮,决定比拼一下各自的脚法“   “mǒu rì tāmen xīnxuèláicháo,juédìng bǐpīn yíxià gèzì de jiǎofǎ”   “One day, on a spur of the moment, they decided to compare and compete to see whose footwork was best”  

🌷  乱七八糟 (luàn qī bā zāo)
乱七八糟 means that something is a total mess. You can use it to describe tangible things like messy rooms, or more abstract things, like a messed up life. For example: 是谁弄得乱七八糟的?   “shì shéi nòng de luàn qī bā zāo de?”   “who made this mess?”  

🌷  不可思议 (bù kě sī yì)
不可思议 means that something is noteworthy or amazing in an unexpected way. It can be used for things which are really amazing (eg. magic or larger phenomena) but also for unexpected, everyday occurrences. For example: “真是不可思议,我的名字跟你一样!”   “zhēn shi bù kĕ sī yì wŏ de míng zi gēn nĭ yī yàng”   “It’s incredible, I have the same name as you!”  

“Dying” to Sound More Casually Chinese

Modern Chinese have developed the habit of using the character 死 sǐ (die) to spice up their colloquial expressions. Let’s take a closer look to see what we can learn from these colorful language extremes. Often these “dying” expressions are used to express negative feelings with lighthearted charm…

饿死了è sǐ le  – extremely hungry
渴死了 kě sǐ le – extremely thirsty
吓死我了 xià sǐ wǒ le – frightened me to death
疼死了 téng sǐ le – to really hurt
热死了 rè sǐ le – unbearably hot
冷死了 lěng sǐ le – unbearably cold
累死了 lèi sǐ le – dying from overwork
堵死了 dǔ sǐ le – blocked road; plugged hole
烦死了 fán sǐ le – annoyed to death
困死了 kùn sǐ le – incredibly sleepy
气死我了 qì sǐ wǒ le – infuriating me
无聊死了 wúliáo sǐle – bored to death

Continue Reading

8 CHINESE MANDARIN

Level 1 Vocabulary: Part 3

人 rén: person

人民币 rén mín bì: yuan, “money of the people”
认识 rènshi: to meet
日rì: sun
日本 rìběn: Japan
容易 róng yì: easy
肉 ròu: meat
三 sān: three
散步 sànbù: to take a walk
嫂子 săozi: sister-in-law, the wife of a friend
商 shāng: trade
商场 shāng chăng: shopping centre
商店 shāng diàn: store
商人 shāng rén: trader, merchant
上 shàng: up, to go up
上班 shàng bān: to go to work
上次 shàng cì: on the last time
上课 shàng kè: having classes
上网 shàng wăng: surf the web
上午 shàng wŭ: morning
上星期shàng xīng qī: last week
勺 sháo: spoon
生 shēng: to be born
生日 shēng rì: birthday
生意人shēng yì rén: business man
圣诞节 shèngdàn jié: Christmas
圣诞老人 shèngdàn lăorén: Santa Claus
声音shēng yīn: voice
什么shénme: what?, how?
什么时候 shénme shíhou: when?, what time?
身体 shēntĭ: health, body
设计师 shè ji shī: designer
师 shī: master
诗 shī: poem
失业人员shī yè rén yuán: unemployed
十 shí: ten
是 shì: to be
时候 shíhou: time, specific moment
事儿shìr: business, matter
手 shŏu: hand
手机shŏu jī: cell phone
瘦 shòu: thin
帅 shuài: handsome, good looking (used for males)
双胞胎 shuāngbāotāi: twins
谁 shuí, sheí : who?
水 shŭi: water
睡觉 shuì jiào: to sleep
说 shuō: to speak
书 shū: book
书店 shūdiàn: bookstore
四 sì: four
送 sòng: to accompany
岁suì: classifier for ages
所 suŏ: classifier for school, university
宿舍 sùshè: bedroom, dorm
素食者 sùshízhě: vegetarian
他 tā: he, him
她 tā: she, her
他们 tāmen: they, them
太 tài: very, a lot
太了tài le: to much
天 tiān: day, sky
天天tiān tiān: everyday
听tīng: to listen to, to hear
体重 tĭzhòng: weight
体育 tĭyù: sports
同学 tōngxué: class buddy, class colleague
同事 tōngshì: co-worker, work colleague
头发 tóufà: hair
头 tóu: head
兔 tù: rabbit
图书馆 tú shū guăn: library
西 xī: west                                                                                                 

下 xià: bellow, underneath, next
下班 xiā bān: to finish work, leave work
下次 xià cì: next time
下课 xià kè: to finish class
下星期xià xīngqī: next week
下午xià wŭ: afternoon
下雨 xià yŭ: to rain
下一个 xià yi ge: the next one, next
香港 xiāng găng: Hong Kong
想xiăng: to want                                                                                       

向东拐 xiàng dōng guăi: to turn east
现在 xiànzài: now, in this moment, currently
先生xiānsheng: sir, mister, husband (formal)
小姐xiăojie: miss, young lady
小区 xiăo qū: neighborhood, district, block                                               

小说 xiăo shuō: novel
小学xiăo xué: school, elementary school
西班牙 xī bān yá: Spain
谢谢xiè xie: thank you
喜欢 xĭhuan: to like
心 xīn: heart
新年 xīn nián: New Year
行 xíng: ok, alright
姓 xìng: last name
姓名xìng míng: full name
幸福 xìngfú: hapiness
星期 xīngqī: week
星期一xīngqī yī: monday
星期二xīngqī èr: tuesday
星期三xīngqī sān: wednesday
星期四xīngqī sì: thursday
星期五xīngqī wŭ: friday
星期六xīngqī liù: saturday
星期天 / 星期日xīngqī tiān/ rí: sunday
兄弟兄弟姐妹 xiōngdì jiěmèi: brothers and sisters
洗 xĭ: to wash
洗手间 xĭshŏujiān: bathroom
休息xīuxi: to rest
希望 xīwàng: to want, to wish
学xué: to study, to learn
学习xuéxi: to study, to learn
学生xuésheng: student
学校xuéxiào: school
学院xuéyuàn: college
雪鱼 xuě yú: codfish
训练 xùnliàn: to train
外wài: out of, foreign
外公 wàigōng: grandfather (mother’s side)
外婆 wàipó: grandmother (mother’s side)
外国 wàiguó: foreign country
外国人 wàiguórén: foreigner
晚会 wănhuì: a feast
晚 wăn: late
晚上 wăn shàng: night
晚饭 wăn fàn: dinner
玩游戏 wán yóu xì: to play  

喂  wèi: expression used when answering the phone     

 为什么wèi shénme: why?                      

文 wén: writing, culture                                                                             

问  wèn: to ask                                                                                          

我  wŏ: I, me                                                                                              

我们 women: We, us                       

五 wŭ: five                                                                                                  

 午饭 wŭ fàn: lunch                                                                      

宴会  yànhuì: feast                                                                                   

要  yào: to really want                                                                               

 也  yě: also, too, as well                                                                         

爷爷 yéye: grandfather (father’s side)                                          

一 yī: one                                         

一定 yídìng: to be sure                                                                            

一共 yígòng: altogether                                                                           

一会儿见yíhuìr jiàn: see you really soon                              

一起 yìqĭ: together     

一下儿 yīxiàr: a little                                                                         

衣服 yīfu: clothes                            

以后 yĭhòu: after                                                                       

以前 yĭqián: before     

医院  yīyuàn: hospital           

医生  yīsheng: doctor             

英国  yīngguó: Englang                                                                       

英语  yīngyŭ: english         

银行  yínháng: bank                                                                               

音乐  yīnyuè: music          

音乐家  yīnyuè jiā: musician                                                            

有yŏu: to have    

 有名 yŏu míng: famous                                                                             

有时候 yŏushíhou: sometimes    

有空yŏu kòng: to have free time  

有意思 yŏu yì sī: interesting     

邮局 yóu jú: post office            

邮箱yóu xiāng: e-mail        

鱼 yú: fish                                                                                   

雨yŭ: rain 

圆  yuán: round             

远  yuăn: far     

语言  yŭyán: language              

愿意 yuànyì: to agree                                                                            

月  yuè: moon    

一月 yi yuè: january          

二月èr yuè: february        

三月sān yuè: march   

 四月sì yuè: april                                                                                        

 五月wŭ yuè: may                                                                              

六月liù yuè: june   

七月qī yuè: july 

八月bā yuè: august            

九月jiŭ yuè: september

十月shí yuè: october

十一月shí yi yuè: november          

十二月shí èr yuè: december                                                                   

在  zài: to be, stay at 

再  zài: again, one more time                  

再见 zàijiàn: goodbye           

早上 zăo shàng: dawn                   

早饭zăo fàn: breakfast   

找zhăo: to look for           

 照片 zhàopiàn: photo         

这次zhè cì: this time    

这个zhè ge: this       

这人 zhèr: here                 

这么 zhème: so               

这样  zhèyàng: this way, this kind, similar      

 怎么样  zěnmeyàng: how?, in what way?     

怎么走 zěnmezŏu: how to get to?         

真zhēn: really, truly                  

政客zhēng kè: politician        

只 zhī: just, only           

只有 zhī yŏu: the only one     

 知道 zhīdào: to know            

职员zhíyuán: worker      

中国 Zhōngguó: China              

中国人 zhōngguórén: chinese            

中文  zhōng wèn: Chinese culture           

中间  zhōng jiān: in the middle of            

中学  zhōng xué: highschool        

中午  zhōng wŭ: noon          

重要  zhòng yào: important        

周 zhōu: cicle, week   

周末zhōu mò: weekend     

住zhù : to live in   

祝 zhù: to wish                                                                                             

 走 zŏu: to walk                                                                                          

最 zuì: the most (comparison)                                                                     

 最近 zuìjìn: recently, lately                                                                           

坐  zuò: to sit                                                                                              

做  zuò : to do, to make                                                                             

做饭zuò fàn: to cook                                                                                 

做生意 zuò shēng yì: to do business                                                     

作家 zuò jiā: writer

昨天 zuótiān: yesterday  

作业 zuò yè: homework            

左右 zuŏyòu: roughly, approximately

足  zú: feet, foot

足球 zú qiu: football

END OF PART 3
This vocabulary list is the result from my Level 1 Chinese Mandarin Classes at the University.
The books used are: New Practical Chinese Reader Volume 1 Textbook/ Workbook; Great Wall Chinese Essentials in Communication Volume 1 Textbook/ Workbook.

The audio for (most of) this vocabulary is available at the New Practical Chinese Reader Volume 1 Video Lessons.
[Lessons 1-14 Playlist:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB1B262B05A6992FD]
[Lesson 2 not available on the playlist:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2BEgmTa-BE]

5

Nüshu, the only gender-specific writing system in the world

Nüshu (女书; literally “women’s writing”), is a syllabic script, a simplification of Chinese characters created and used exclusively by women in the Jiangyong County in Hunan province. It remains the only gender-specific writing system in the world.

Unlike the standard written Chinese, which is logographic, Nüshu is phonetic, with each of its approximately 600-700 characters representing a syllable. This is about half the number required to represent all the syllables in the local variety of spoken Chinese as tonal distinctions are frequently ignored. In that sense, Nüshu is the most revolutionary and thorough simplification of Chinese characters ever attempted. Zhou Shuoyi, described as the only male to have mastered the script, compiled a dictionary listing 1,800 variant characters and allographs.

In the sex-segregated traditional China, girls and women did not have the same access to literacy as boys and men, though throughout China’s history, there were always women who could read and write. Most people - male or female - were illiterate. Reforms of the early 20th century, which popularized education and promulgated a writing style reflective of speech (baihuawen) to replace the arcane literary style (wenyanwen), increased literacy rates for both males and females. It is not known when or how Nüshu came into being, but, because it is clearly based in the standard Chinese script, hanzi, Nüshu could not have been created before standardization of hanzi (circa 900). Many of the simplifications found in Nüshu have been in informal use in standard Chinese since the Song and Yuan dynasty (13th - 14th century). The script seems to have reached its peak during the latter part of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).

The script was suppressed by the Japanese during their invasion of China in the 1930’s-40’s, because they feared that the Chinese could use it to send secret messages, and also during the Cultural Revolution.  It is no longer customary for women to learn Nüshu, and literacy in Nüshu is now limited to a few scholars who learned it from the last women who were literate in it. The original writers of the script died in the 1990’s (the last one in 2004). However, after a recent documentary about Nüshu, the government has started to popularize the effort to preserve the increasingly endangered script, and some younger women are beginning to learn it.

Three uses of 了 (le)

1. Something is about to happen or just started happening
These are usually very brief statements ending with

  • 下雨了 (Xiàyǔ le) It’s raining

    Meaning the rain just started or someone just noticed it’s raining. The change in the situation is that before it didn’t rain but now it does.
  • 上课了 (Shàngkè le) Class is beginning, let’s start the class
  • 快放假了 (Kuài fàngjià le) Vacation starts soon

2. Something has happened - 了after whole sentence

  • 你吃了吗? (Nǐ chī le ma?) Have you eaten?
  • 吃了 (Chī le) Yes I have.

    This is a very common and casual way for the Chinese to greet each other instead of 你好 (nǐhǎo).
  • 我回来了 (Wǒ huílai le) I’m back, I have returned
  • 我买新的裤子了 (Wǒ mǎi xīn de kùzi le) I have bought new pants


3. After something has happened - after verb

  • 下了课 (Xià le kè) After class is over
  • 回了来 (huí le lái) After returning
  • 买了新的裤子 (Mǎi le xīn de kùzi) After buying new pants
    This indicates you are telling something more about what happened. You could also replace with 以后 (yǐhòu) which means after
  • 下课以后 (Xiàke yǐhòu) After class is over
  • 回来以后 (Huílai yǐhòu) After returning
  • 买新的裤子以后 (Mǎi xīn de kùzi yǐhòu) After buying new pants

has more uses than this although generally it marks a change in a situation. Chinese doesn’t have tenses the same way english has (e.g. do - did - done), instead the tense is often understood from little words like or 以后 and of course context. I will tell more about this in the future.

youtube

The Complicated Chinese Family Tree by Off The Great Wall

This is for all you who are learning Chinese–I know it is difficult, but maybe this vid will make it a bit easier.

The Chinese people use different names to call their aunts and uncles from their father’s and mother’s side of the family, so it can be a bit of a headache. This video is a good way of learning about the names of each relatives–it even teaches you what to call your first cousin once removed!

But dang, these presenters go about it really quickly so you may want to watch it two or three times.

Theme Vocabulary: School

学生 (xuésheng) student

同学 (tóng​xué) classmate

老师 (lǎo​shī) teacher

学校 (xué​xiào) school

学院 (xué​yuàn) college

小学 (xiǎo​xué) elementary / primary school

中学 (zhōng​xué) middle school

大学 (dà​xué) university

学习 (xué​xí) to study

(xì) faculty

学科 (xué​kē) subject

(kè) class

功课 (gōng​kè) homework

学士 (xué​shì) bachelor’s degree

硕士 (shuò​shì) master’s degree

上学 (shàng ​xué) to go to school

上课 (shàng kè) start class

学年 (xué​nián) academic year

Introductions
  • 你好 (nǐ hǎo)-Hello
  • 你叫什么名字?(nǐ jiào shénme mingzi)- What is your name?
  • 我叫… (wǒ jiào…)- I’m called…
  • 我是…(wǒ shì…)- I’m…
  • 我来介绍一下 (wǒ lái jièshào yīxià)-Let me introduce you
  • 这是…(zhè shì…)-This is…
  • 欢迎(huān yíng)-Welcome
  • 认识你们很高兴(rènshi nǐmen hěn gāo xìng)-Very nice to meet you
  • 你早(nǐ zǎo)-Good morning
  • 介绍(jièshào)-Introduce
  • 认识(rènshi)-To get to know; to know