Kanji: 年

Meaning: year

Reading: とし、ネン (toshi, nen)

Will rendaku apply sometimes? No, the readings stay the same

About the kanji: One way to remember this kanji is seeing as a graph of what the meaning of year is: the revolution of a planet around a star. The orange stroke ノ is just the the relation between the planet and the star. The second part in red 丁 could be seen as the axis/position of the sun. Lastly, the white lines and the mirroed version of “ユ” is the actual orbit of the planet. Next time you do this kanji, just remember each piece and try imagining you’re describing the actual meaning of the character!

Words using this kanji:

年代 (ねんだい): era

年月 ( としつき):   months and years

年鑑 ( ねんれい ): yearbook

年中 ( ねんじゅう ): throughout the year

Example sentence:


shinnen mo yoi toshi de arimasu you ni

May the new year bring you happiness!

Theme vocabulary: Question words

(ma) question particle at the end of yes & no questions:

  • 你是中国人吗? (Nǐ shì Zhōngguórén ma?) Are you Chinese?
  • 他不是美国人吗? (Tā bù shì Měiguórén ma?) He is not from the US?

(shéi/shuì) Who?

  • 他是谁? (tā shì shéi?) Who is he?
  • 这些书是谁的? (zhèxiē shū shì shéi de?) Whose books are these?

什么 (shénme) What?

  • 你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?) What is your name?
  • 这是什么? (Zhè shì shénme?) What is this?
  • 现在是什么时间 (Xiànzài shì shénme shijiān?) What’s the time?

为什么(wěishénme) & 干什么 (gànshénme) Why?

  • 他以前为什么不告诉 (Tā yǐqián wěishénme bù gàosu ?) Why didn’t he tell me earlier?
  • 为什么学习汉语 (Nǐ wěishénme xuéxí Hànyǔ ?) Why do you study Chinese?
  • 你看这些干什么 (Nǐ kàn zhèxiē gànshénme?) Why do you want to take a look at these?
    * Notice! wěishénme goes after subject, gànshénme at the end of the phrase.

什么时候 (shénme shíhou) When, at what time?

  • 什么时候上课 (shénme shíhou shàng kè?) When does the class start?
  • 什么时候回来 (shénme shíhou huílai?) When will you be back?

怎么 (zěnme) How to?

  • 怎么写 这些汉字? (zěnme xiě zhèxiē hànzì?) How to write these characters?
  • 这个怎么说? (zhè gè zénme shuō?) How to say this?
  • 怎么啦? (zěnmela) what happened? (worried)
  • 怎么样? (zěnmeyàng) what is something like
    • 大学怎么样? (dàxué zěnmeyàng?) What is the university like?

(nǎ) Which?

  • 哪本书是你的? ( běn shū shì nǐ de?*) Which book is yours?
  • 哪个你最喜欢? (nǎgè nǐ zuì xǐhuan?) Which one is your favourite?
    * Notice! 那一本书是你的 ( yī běn shū shì nǐ de ma?) Is that book yours?

哪儿 (nǎr) Where?

  • 学院在哪儿? (Xuéyuàn zài nǎr?*) Where’s the school located?
  • 你在哪儿? (Nǐ zài nǎr?) Where are you?
    * Notice! 学院在那儿 (Xuéyuàn zài nàr) School is there.

多少 (duōshao) more than ten & (jǐ) less than ten; How many?

  • 中国有多少人? (Zhōngguó yǒu duóshao rén?*) How many people are there in China?
  • 你学校有多少学生? (Nǐ xuéxiào yǒu duóshao xuésheng?) How many students are there in your school?
    * Notice! After 多少 there is no classifier for nouns.
  • 你家有几口人? (nǐ jiā yǒu jī kǒu rén?) How many people are in your family?
  • 今天几号? (jīntiān jǐ hào?) What date is it today?
啊! 喔! Yelling with Hanzi

So since Mandarin is written with characters (surprise!) so are even little interjections and things. I know, lotta strokes for a very intangible yelp. They seem minor, but as soon as you look online or at subtitles they’re all over–at least I know I use them a lot in English anyway. Also, since just like in English “Oh!” can be, “You surprised me!” or “Oh…” “how disappointing,” sometimes those use different characters. On the plus side, they almost always have that 口 kǒu radical as a sign that it’s just a “mouth sound” not a “word." 

- a (in various tones): for yelling, surprise, general exclamation
- ài: like "hey!” between friends
哎呀,哎呦 - āiyā, āiyōu: lots of things, disappointment, surprise…
- āi: usually a pain or like, “alas!" 
- é, ó, ò : affirmative questioning, like "oh, really?" 
- nǎ: when not "where” this is also sort of a filler sound, like “so…”
- ēn, ng: an acknowledging grunt. like, “got it.”
- hng, heng: a grunted OK, or also kind of “hmph”
- hè: to express anger. “hmph! 
- wā: "wow!”
- literally zé, but actually used to transcribe the approving “tsk tsk” sound
可 (可可可) - kě, kè: chuckling vs. 哈哈 haha: laughing

Note that these are just some things you might interject with, or start a sentence with. There are also many things like 吧 that can be used to flavor the end of a sentence. And there’s more (there’s always more) and they’re variable but you’ll figure them out with use. 

Today’s drawing is inspired by the Mid-Autumn Festival. This year, it is on October 4. Here are some notes:

- The Chinese celebration is called 中秋節 / 中秋节 (zhōngqiūjié). At the same time, the Japanese hold moon-viewing festivals (お月見, otsukimi)
- In both Chinese and Japanese legends, they each have their own version of a rabbit that lives on the moon. The Chinese Jade rabbit (玉兔, yùtù) lives with the moon goddess Cháng'é (嫦娥) and pounds the elixir of life. The Japanese rabbit (月の兎, tsuki no usagi) pounds mochi.
- Japanese mochi (餅) and Chinese moon cakes (月餅 / 月饼, yuèbǐng) use the same character. (Chinese usage of the character can refer to any cookies or various pastries).
- The Japanese (and classical Chinese) word for Monday (月曜日) literally means “Day of the moon”
- The word Monday comes from Old English Mōnandæg, meaning “Moon’s day”
- My kanji post about Cháng'é: http://kanjioftheday05.tumblr.com/post/96921274350

Kanji: 笑

Meaning: smile, laugh

Reading: わら、え、ショウ (wara, e, shou) 

Will rendaku apply sometimes? No, the readings stay the same

About the kanji: I always saw this kanji as a cat with the eyes like “^.^” and the mouth at the bottom. I hope you get this image stuck in your head and see smiling cats from now on 笑ww

Words using this kanji:

笑い ( わらい): laughter

笑顔 ( えがお ):   smiling face

笑い話 ( わらいばなし ): funny story

笑い出す ( わらいだす ): to burst into laughter

Example sentence:


hohoemi tsudzukenasai

Keep on smiling

Radical:  刂

Meaning: knife, cut

About this radical: radicals serve as a quick guide to the meaning of the kanji. In this case this radical came from the pictograph of a knife or a sword. Most of the time you see this radical used in a kanji, the meaning has to do something with the word “knife” like “to cut”

Examples of the grass radical 刂 being used in kanji:

刈: to clip

刊 : to carve

刑 : punishment

判 : seal

刪 : cut down

割 : to divide

号码 (hàomǎ) numbers

零 / 〇 (líng) zero, the round symbol is quite often used

(yī) one, when giving a long list of numbers (eg. phone number), pronounced as yao to avoid being mixed for (qī).

(èr) two, use (liǎng) if used after a measure word

(sān) three     (sì) four     (wǔ) five     (liù) six

(qī) seven     (bā) eight     (jiǔ) nine    

(shí) ten     十一 (shí-yī) eleven     十二 (shí-èr) twelve

二十 (èr-shí) twenty     二十一 (èr-shí-yī) twenty-one

三十 (sān-shí) thirty     四十 (sì-shí) fourty     五十 (wǔ-shí) fifty

(bái) hundred

二百六十八 (èrbái-liùshí-bā) 268

九百九十九 (jiǔbái-jiǔshí-jiǔ) 999

(qiān) thousand

一千九白十九 (yīqiān-jiǔbái-shíjiǔ) 1919

二千四十八 (èrqiān-sìshí-bā) 2048

(wàn) ten-thousand

一万二千三百四十五 (yīwàn-èrqiān-sānbái-sìshí-wǔ) 12 345

How to use numbers from one to ten using your fingers

Kanji: 病

Meaning: ill, sick

Reading: やまい、びょう(yamai, byou)

About the kanji: the way I’ve always remembered this kanji is that it looks like a person 人 on a bed  冂 under a lamp 一 inside the back of an ambulance 疒  going to the hospital. This way I relate it easily to the word “sick”

Words using this kanji:

病気 ( びょうき ): sickness

病院 (びょういん): hospital

病状 ( びょうじょう ): pathology

病名 ( びょうめい ): name of a disease

病室 ( びょうしつ ): hospital room

看病 ( かんびょう ): nursing

伝染病 ( でんせんびょう ): epidemic

Example sentence:


densenbyou ga hassei shita

An epidemic disease broke out.

Blue-Eyes White Dragon used Hyper Beam / 青眼の白龍の破壊光線

Reference Source: 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Kobayashi-san chi no Meidoragon)
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Episode 2 (第二話, dainiwa)

French students harass and bully me for asking them to speak English in an English-taught class, so I get them expelled.

This happened a few years back in China, at one of the universities there. Here, I was studying Chinese language and I shared my language class with some people from France and Belgium (the French speaking part). Our Chinese teacher was a really nice little lady that happened to also speak French. So often, whenever the French speakers had a question, they would ask it in French. Now, I didn’t really mind it all that much but at some point, it got to the point where about half of the questions in the class were asked in a language I did not understand. Obviously that is detrimental to my own learning experience since understanding the questions is important for me to learn the language. So I politely asked them if we could just do the class in English because about half of us didn’t understand what was being asked.

Laoshi (the teacher) was very nice about it and afterwards, asked the students if they could rephrase their question in English when they asked it in French. But apparently the French and Belgian girls and guys didn’t take it so well. They were constantly glaring at me, and whispering among themselves in French. Well, I just shrugged and moved on.

However, outside of class they were always sticking together in their own little group, doing things together. At first they would just walk past me when I was sitting down having a beer with my friends, and they would simply glare. But at some point it came down to them cursing, talking shit about me to other students and spitting on my lap when I was sitting in the park. Obviously I was seething so I might have called them a few words which were a bit too unsavoury. Anyhow, they didn’t take it well.

So the next day, I found out that they scribbled all sorts of things on my dorm room. It said ‘肏你妈’ (basically: fuck your mother) and 'nazi’ (I don’t actually know why they put this one. I think they thought I was German, which I’m not). Obviously I was pissed, but I didn’t really know what to do so I reported it to the International Student Office. ISO was really nice and understanding, but told me they can’t actually do much unless I provide proof that something is happening.

Thus, I went on Taobao and and bought a little recording camera (looked a bit like a dashcam, it had the time and date and everything). After the university had painted my room door over (they couldn’t get the markers off apparently) I hung the camera up in a corner of our dorm corridor and pointed it at my door. Then I left and made sure to loop around a little bit to walk past the group of French/Belgians so that they knew I was leaving campus towards the metro station.

I had some nice dumpling soup and a beer and when I came back, look and behold! Once again they were hardly creative with their insults (just more of the same) but this time I had proof! I checked the video and I was very pleased: 5 out of 7 of the group were actually there, and all wrote down something on the door with permanent marker. One of the guys even kicked the door which caused a crack at the bottom (these doors were not very sturdy). They seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.

Now, of course the school was properly pissed when I showed them the video. Normally the students would just get a stern warning but because ISO was aware that they were doing it before, and also about the fact that they were harassing me all the time (I reported everything to them when it happened) they were less than understanding this time and suggested the board that had to decide on this (no idea what their name was, I couldn’t recognize their name in Hanzi) to expell the students.

And so they were. All of this took place over the course of a couple of months, so we were nearing the end of the semester. The five students who scribbled at my door got expelled just before their exams, which meant that all the time they spent at the university was effectively worthless since they did not receive any credits for it. But it gets even better. After this whole ordeal, I sent a neat (anonymous) letter in Chinese (one of my Chinese friends helped me write it) to the Public Security Bureau that these students had engaged in vandalism at our university. A few weeks later, after I had already returned home, I was told by a friend of mine who was on good terms with their group that some of them had booked tickets and hostels to travel in China at the end of the semester. However, their visa extension was denied by the Public Security Bureau on the basis of their misdemeanour at the university.

I’m not sure if the second part was caused because of my letter, or simply because the university informed the police, but I like to pretend that it was the former. So I was just laughing my ass off as they slaved away half a year in courses for which they would receive no credit, and had to cancel thousands worth of travel plans. That truly was a sweet, sweet feeling.