"Give Me An Ax"
... but decided instead to stick with eggs and tofu.
Jingdi Meilongzhen, Shenzhen.
Guangzhou East Railway Station, Guangzhou.
Meters/bonwe. Chunxi Road, Chengdu.
加 (jia) is "to add." 长 (chang) means "long." 车 (che) is "car." So the word for 'limousine' in Mandarin literally means "add length car." Easy.
Grand Theater metro stop. Luohu, Shenzhen
You ask your friend if he or she wants to go get a bite to eat. After 15 minutes of listening to him or her debate with himself or herself about whether he or she has time to go eat, what he or she wants to eat, and if he or she is even hungry, you start getting fed up. You finally interrupt him or her and forcefully remark, "do you want to go eat or not!"
There is a simple method in mandarin for conveying this same 'fed up' sentiment whenever your question isn't being answered quickly or clearly. Just add the following to the beginning of your question:
到底 - Dao Di
到底 is generally translated as "when all is said and done" and "in the end." Adding it to the beginning of your question helps to emphasis frustration and anger. More natural ways to translate, in English, this change in emphasis when adding Dao Di, using our original example above, are as follows: "Look, do you want to go eat or not?" "Just tell me if you want to eat." "Dude, come on! Do you want to go with me to eat? I'm starting to go crazy here."
Here's how to say the question in a normal tone: 你想去吃饭吗? Do you (你) want (想) to go (去) eat (吃饭) ? (吗)
And with the addition of Dao Di: 你到底想吃饭吗? When all is said and done (到底) do you want to go eat?
Other examples include...
你到底爱谁? Who do you love?!?
你到底什么时候给我钱? When are you going to give me money?!?
你到底买不买? Do you want to buy it or not???
So if you're frustrated, and you want the other person to know you're not playing around, simply add 到底.
Shenzhen Bay border crossing. Nanshan, Shenzhen.
Today is January 4th, 2013. It is a day when you should find the one you love and confess your true feelings. Why is this? Written another way, today is 2013 - 1 - 4. In Mandarin, characters can sometimes be matched to the numbers they sound like. The Mandarin pronunciation of the number 2 sounds a lot like the Chinese character 爱 (ai - love) and 0 sounds like 你 (ni - you). 3 sounds like 生 (sheng - life) and 4 is similar to 世 (shi - world). Finally, The character for 1 is literally 一 (yi).
So when you say the numbers 201314 in order using the Mandarin pronunciation, it sounds a little like your saying "爱你一生一世," meaning "I love you this whole life on this one world."
爱你一生一世. I'll love you forever. Now go out and wish your love a happy January 4th, 2013. This is the only chance you'll get.
Today I learned that, perhaps influenced by the events in the movie 2012, some Chinese companies have been giving their employees red envelopes of money in celebration (if that's even the right word) of the upcoming end of the world (when the Mayan calendar ends). In Chinese this day is called 世界末日 (shijie mori), literally meaning the 'world's doomsday.' Chinese companies normally give employees monetary gifts (usually about 100-500 RMB) during national holidays. I guess some companies (certainly not all or a majority) decided to advance a little bit of money for employees to enjoy before this weekend's utter devastation.
I still haven't received any ; (
One of a series of ads around Shenzhen touting the city's livability. Window of the World metro station. Nanshan, Shenzhen.
One of the complaints I've always had with the iPhone is the lack of built-in Chinese dictionary. Any time I'm not sure I'm writing the correct Mandarin character, I end up having to copy the character, close the app I'm in, open my Chinese dictionary app, paste the character into the app, look up the definition, and then go back to the original app. This is tedious and frustrating, especially when I'm having to do this multiple times a day.
Thus color me surprised when this afternoon I had the same problem as above and was not sure if the Chinese character I was typing was the correct one. As I copied the character, I also hit the right arrow button to see if I had any other options and there appeared a button labeled 'define.' Previously, this option only existed if I selected an English word. I clicked 'define' and the iPhone's native dictionary opened. I was then asked to connect to Wifi and download the dictionary, which I did. I then tried highlighting the character again, pressed 'define,' and what appeared was a new built-in Mandarin language dictionary! After looking on the web, this seems to be a new feature of iOS6.
Understand that this dictionary is entirely in Chinese, but for me it is still useful as I can now quickly check if I've written the correct character without having to switch to a 3rd party app. Great. In addition, it looks like my iPhone can now read me my Chinese messages.
Interesting post from Gawker property io9 looking at the different ways literature and movies have imagined a future world with China as a global superpower. One of the shows discussed in this post is Firefly.
I watched the first (and only) season of Firefly after moving to China. I knew very little about this cult classic and was thus very surprised to see Firefly's fictional world consisting of written Chinese and characters with the ability to speak Mandarin. This is one of the shows discussed in io9's post:
One of the best-known examples of science fiction about the rise of China is Joss Whedon's TV series Firefly. Though all the characters speak Chinese, eat Chinese food, and appear to live in a universe dominated by Chinese culture, we never meet anybody who seems even remotely Chinese. This omission has been so widely remarked upon that it's become almost a trope unto itself. I would argue that Firefly is a perfect example of the fear and confusion that lurk at the heart of western representations of Chinese power. We can imagine that China will eventually dominate human culture, but somehow can't bear to work out the details of how that might work. Nor can we stop believing that western characters will dominate that future somehow, even when that future belongs to China.
I always found it strange that in a world so abundant with Mandarin, no Chinese people every appeared. Below are a few screenshots I was able to find online of written Chinese in the show's environment. Knowing even more Chinese now then when I originally watched the show, I should watch it again.
The Chinese word for 'promise' is one that I want to use often but seem to easily forget. So this time, let's try to remember it for good.
Simplified Characters: 发誓
Pinyin: fa shi (1st and 4th tone)
The easiest way to use it? Just say, "I promise." In Chinese this translates to "我发誓" (wo fashi). You can then add any action onto the end of this phase to make a longer promise. For example: "I promise to treat you to dinner tomorrow." "我发誓明天请你吃晚饭" (wo fashi mintian qing ni chi wanfan).