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Thread: Learning Mandarin

  1. #91
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    This is great


    Friday, September 9, 2016 | BY: DUNCAN POUPARD

    It seems like everyone in China has read—or seen the televised adaptation of—at least one martial arts novel. The undisputed king of the wuxia (武侠), sometimes translated as “heroic chivalry,” but it really just means kung fu literary genre is Jin Yong, aka Louis Cha, whose tales of noble heroes, beautiful heroines and not a little derring-do read like a modern Chinese take on the Arthurian legends. Only with more flying headbutts.

    Characters in these books, and to some extent the films and TV shows that they inspired, all speak in their own distinctive patois. Parts of this lingo can, and do, crop up on occasion in modern-day situations as diverse as formal dinners, company meetings or even chatting on QQ , so it’s useful to have some knowledge of it if you want to really impress your friends and colleagues.

    Though wuxia novels were popularized in the twentieth century, they’re mostly all set in ancient China during a vaguely Medieval period. As a result, this kung fu language can often come across as stilted and old-fashioned (think of “thee” and “thou” in English).

    As such, opinion is divided among Chinese people about how appropriate this language is in everyday use. “Just like someone walking around shouting ‘who art thou’ would raise eyebrows in the West, in China you definitely need to use this language in an ironic, jokey way—and certainly not with a straight face,” says Queenie Li. But George Yang admits to using kung fu language frequently with male colleagues at work. “It’s good office banter,” he says. Perhaps it’s just a man thing, then?

    A major tenet of the martial arts code is that of being chivalrous; helping the needy with one’s kung fu skills. Hence the phrase, “upon seeing injustice on the road, draw one’s sword and come to the rescue” (路见不平,拔刀相助 Lù jiàn bùpíng, bádāo xiāngzhù). In keeping with this, most of the language is formal and should be spoken with the authority that comes with the knowledge that you are a human death machine. (It helps if you have a wispy Chinese beard to twirl whilst speaking, as well.)


    Yī shān bù róng èr hǔ.




    Jìzhù, xué wǔ zhī rén zuì jì zhaoyáo.




    Just like in real life, first impressions are important in the martial arts world. Just don’t do this at an all important business meeting: it’ll be laughed off, but your counterparts may think you’re not treating the situation with the gravity that it deserves.

    Which school (of martial arts) do you belong to?

    [Where are you from, and what do you do?]

    Géxià shì nǎ mén nǎ pài de?


    May I humbly ask your great name?

    [Could you tell me your name?]

    Qǐng wèn géxià zūn xìng dà míng?


    When introducing oneself, it is usual to use the first person singular, zaixia (在下), literally “below,” which is a way of showing one’s humility. Others should be referred to as gexia (阁下), literally “I address you from below your mansion,” something akin to “milord/ milady.” When first encountering one another, a pair of kung fu practitioners might greet each other with the following:

    A: I am A, may I be so bold as to learn your great name?

    Zàixià A, gǎn wèn géxià gāo xìng dà míng?

    A: 在下A,敢问阁下高姓大名?

    B: I am known as B.

    Zàixià B.

    B: 在下B。

    A: Aha! Brother B, good to make your acquaintance!

    O! Yuánlái B xiōng, jiǔyǎng jiǔyǎng!

    A: 哦! 原来B兄, 久仰久仰!


    Búcuò, nǐ díquè yóngyuǎn méiyǒu shèng de jīhuì le.




    In kung fu novels, characters are constantly judging each other based on their respective martial arts prowess, and they’re certainly not afraid to brag. Nowadays, kung fu (功夫 gōngfu) doesn’t necessarily refer to one’s martial arts ability; it can simply mean performing any particular skill, from using spreadsheet software, driving a motorcycle, barganing to cooking pasta, and so these phrases can be used to talk about any kind of performance. If someone drops a pen and catches it before it hits the floor, why not praise their kung fu?

    I’d never have thought that your kung fu would be so amazing.


    Méixiǎngdào nǐ de gōngfu rúcǐ liǎodé.


    Your kung fu isn’t bad; you probably count as one of the best martial artists around.

    [You’re very good at what you do.]

    Nǐ de gōngfu búchà, yīnggāi yě suànshì dāngjīn wǔlín zhōng de gāoshǒu le.


    Your kung fu hasn’t improved over the past few years; in fact it’s gotten worse.

    [You’ve gone rusty.]

    Kànlái zhèxiē nián nǐ de gōngfu bújìn fǎn tuì le.

    看来这些年你的功夫不进反退 了。

    You are a great master with astounding martial prowess of which I am very much in awe, and I may require your skills in the future.

    [I sure could use your abilities.]

    Dàshī wǔyì gāoqiáng, zàixià pèifú de jǐn, rìhòu hái yǒu jièzhòng zhī chù.

    大师武艺高强,在下佩服得紧, 日后还有借重之处。

    All this flattery can be rebuffed with a simple: I dare not accept such praise.

    [You flatter me.]




    Bié yǐwéi nǐ zhǎng de shuài wǒ jiù bù dǎ nǐ.




    Jīnrì bú shì nǐ sǐ, jiù shì wǒ huó.




    Most kung fu-speak can be most appropriately put to use when two or more people are competing against one another, be it in a high-stakes game of ping pong or just tiddlywinks on an empty office desk.

    Fighting with our fists, we are evenly matched; let’s see who’s better with the naked blade.

    [Let’s try a different game.]

    Zánmen quánjiǎo nánfēn gāoxià, bīngrèn shàng zài jué shēngsǐ.


    Your kung fu is exceptional, and I bow to your superiority.

    [I admit it, you’re better than me.]

    Géxià de gōngfu fēi tóng yī bān, zàixià gān bài xià fēng.



    Despite the braggadocio inherent in most kung fu-speak, one must always show humility in defeat. Being a sore loser is a big no-no.

    I believed myself to have no equal; who’d have thought that there would be someone even more heroic than I?

    [I thought I was good, but you’re even better.]

    Wǒ zìfù yīngxióng wúdí, qǐ zhī tiān wài yǒu tiān, rén shàng yǒu rén.


    I humbly admire your amazing skills. I will compete with you again after a decade has passed!

    [You’re too good for me. We’ll play again when I’ve had more practice.]

    Zhuāngshì wǔgōng jīng rén, zàixià jí shì pèifú, shí nián zhī hòu, zài lái lǐngjiào!

    壮士武功惊人,在下极是佩服,十 年之后,再来领教!


    Tired of the usual “zaijian” and “bye bye”? Why not bid adieu in consummate kung fu style:

    As the mountains do not move and the rivers keep on flowing, we will meet again!

    [See ya!]

    Qīngshān búgǎi, lǜshuǐ chángliú, zánmen hòu huì yǒu qī!


    While this kind of language doesn’t conform to the everyday usage that you find in textbooks, or even out and about in the streets, throwing a few kung fu-isms into your speech—if used properly—can really show a familiarity with local culture that many learners of Chinese can only dream about.


    Wǒ Qiáo Fēng yào zǒu, nǐmen shéi rén néng lán!


    I'm sure we all can use all of these, including the graphic image.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #92
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.


    I'm surprised it was only 53% so recently.

    More Chinese able to speak the national language
    Source: Agencies | September 14, 2016, Wednesday

    CHINA has managed to raise the proportion of the population able to speak the national language, Mandarin, but still faces difficulty in remote areas and places where ethnic minorities live, China News Service said yesterday.

    As of the end of last year, more than 70 percent of the population could speak Mandarin, compared with 53 percent at the end of the last century, the agency said, citing the education ministry.

    The ministry believes that with greater urbanization and more young people moving into cities, areas that are weak in Mandarin abilities, mostly remote places and areas with lots of ethnic minorities, the level will continue to rise, the news agency said.

    It hopes to have “basic” national coverage for the language by 2020, it added.

    Some officials have previously said that the country was too large and had too few resources to get all of its 1.3 billion people to speak Mandarin.

    China has been promoting Mandarin for decades to ensure national cohesion in a country where there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dialects, as well as ethnic minority languages like Tibetan and Uygur.

    But some dialects, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, enjoy strong regional support even if there is little official backing for their use.

    Lack of money also means that some schools in poorer, more remote areas have to use teachers whose own Mandarin skills may not be up to par.

    In the Chinese mainland Mandarin is referred to as Putonghua or “common speech,” while in Taiwan it is called Guoyu, or “national language.”
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  3. #93
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    The words that ruled the Chinese internet in 2016

    The words that ruled the Chinese internet in 2016
    27 December 2016

    Chinese netizens are known for coming up with quirky and creative terms for people and things making the news... and they spread like wildfire.
    From "skinny blue mushrooms" to "melon-eating masses", the BBC's Tessa Wong takes a look at what has captured their imaginations this year.

    'Sichuan Trump'

    One conspiracy theory in China is that Mr Trump was actually born in Sichuan

    Last year, US President-elect Donald Trump was known as "bed-breaker" - a Chinese ****nym for his name.
    This year, he's "chuanpu", one of two spellings of his name commonly used by mainstream media outlets.
    Some have joked about his connection to Sichuan, whose name shares the same Chinese character. But the weirdest riff of all happened when some speculated that he was actually from the southwest province best known for its pandas and spicy food.
    The conspiracy theory, spread on social networks Weibo and WeChat, is that Trump was born in 1946 in Sichuan when his father set up a business in China after World War Two.
    It's nonsense of course, but that hasn't stopped some locals from claiming him as "the pride of Sichuan" - despite his recent verbal attacks against China.

    'Prehistoric powers'

    Fu is known for her animated facial expressions

    National swimmer Fu Yuanhui not only won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games, but also scored a win with viewers in China in a now-iconic TV interview.
    When told she had qualified for the final, Fu pulled a comically exaggerated face and declared: "I have used all my prehistoric powers to swim!"
    'Prehistoric powers', or "honghuangzhili", was swiftly adopted as a term for an unstoppable force, while Fu became an internet darling.

    'Meteorological disaster'

    Beijing only lifted its red alert on smog on Friday, after five days

    As several Chinese cities choke in the annual winter smog, the Beijing authorities have come up with one novel way to address the problem - by calling it something else.
    Earlier this month, municipal lawmakers said they were considering classifying smog as a meteorological disaster or "tianzai", arguing that the smog was caused not only by pollution but also weather conditions.
    The move drew mockery online from fed-up citizens with even state media publishing rare criticism. People's Daily quoted one professor saying that the plan "not only goes against science, it will also create an excuse for polluters to escape their culpability."
    The smog has also spawned other terms - such as "Smog Solstice", cropped up in a reference to the winter solstice.

    'Skinny blue mushroom'

    One man's misfortune in love turned out to be a goldmine for netizens, when a man from Guangxi province uploaded a video of himself talking about his loneliness while his girlfriend was away.
    Unbearable, I want to cry," he moaned - but thanks to his heavy accent, it ended up sounding more like "skinny blue mushroom".
    "Lanshouxianggu" was swiftly shared more widely and took off as a meme, mostly as a way to mock the southern Guangxi accent.
    But it was the forlorn lover who got the last laugh - identified as scooter salesman Wei Yong, he has since become a celebrity in China's lucrative online live-streaming industry.

    'Melon-eating masses'

    A term whose closest equivalent is possibly "popcorn gallery", its fullest expression is "the melon-eating masses who don't know what's really going on".
    Its origin is unclear, but netizens often use this - sometimes derogatorily - to describe a passive group of bystanders at a major incident or event.


    The character "Zhao" is being used online to criticise the powerful

    Netizens are eternally playing cat-and-mouse with China's internet censors, and one of their latest tactics is the use of the word "zhao".
    It's most commonly used to criticise the rich and powerful - as one of China's most common surnames, it's difficult to censor all posts with that word.
    It's all part of a rich Chinese tradition of using oblique accusations to express opinions when it would otherwise be impossible - and dangerous - to directly criticise those in authority.

    'Setting a small target'

    Mr Wang is the chairman of conglomerate Wanda Group

    China's wealthiest man, Wang Jianlin, was met with the hollow laughter of cynical netizens earlier this year when he dished out advice on how to get rich.
    "First set yourself a small target, for example, I first targeted to earn 100 million yuan!" he said in a television interview in August.
    What followed was an avalanche of sarcasm online as people pointed out the impossibility of earning the equivalent of $14.3m in their entire lifetimes, let alone as a first step. The term has since been used sarcastically to refer to an impossible goal.
    "Let me lose weight first - my target will be 30kg," wrote one netizen using the hashtag, while others have suggested getting married to celebrity heartthrobs.

    Of course, major news themes also dominated the Chinese internet with words like Hong Kong's "localism", Taiwanese leader "Tsai Ing-wen", and "US election" trending this year.
    More sensitive terms included "Uncle Toad", a reference to former President Jiang Zemin, and "Kim The Fat" as a nickname for North Korea's Kim Jong-un - although Chinese authorities, predictably, clamped down.

    With contributions from the BBC's Kerry Allen and Jinsong Chen
    Wish this had more of the Chinese characters for these.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #94
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    RIP Zhou Youguang

    Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111

    Zhou Youguang in Beijing in 2011. Late in life, he became an outspoken critic of the Chinese government.
    JANUARY 14, 2017

    Zhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin for creating the system of Romanized Chinese writing that has become the international standard since its introduction some 60 years ago, died on Saturday in Beijing, Chinese state media reported. He was 111.

    In recent decades, with the comparative invincibility that he felt great age bestowed on him, Mr. Zhou was also an outspoken critic of the Chinese government.

    “What are they going to do,” he asked bluntly in an interview with the BBC in 2012. “Come and take me away?”

    In fact, they had already done that once before, long ago.

    Adopted by China in 1958, Pinyin was designed not to replace the tens of thousands of traditional characters with which Chinese is written, but as an orthographic pry bar to afford passage into the labyrinthine world of those characters.

    Since then, Pinyin (the name can be translated as “spelled sounds”) has vastly increased literacy throughout the country; eased the classroom agonies of foreigners studying Chinese; afforded the blind a way to read the language in Braille; and, in a development Mr. Zhou could scarcely have foreseen, facilitated the rapid entry of Chinese on computer keyboards and cellphones.

    It is to Pinyin that we owe now-ubiquitous spellings like Beijing, which supplanted the earlier Peking; Chongqing, which replaced Chungking; Mao Zedong instead of Mao Tse-tung; and thousands of others. The system was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization in 1982 and by the United Nations in 1986.

    Yet for all Mr. Zhou’s linguistic influence, his late-life political opposition — in 2015, the news agency Agence France-Presse called him “probably China’s oldest dissenter” — ensured that he remained relatively obscure in his own country.

    “Within China, he remains largely uncelebrated,” The New York Times wrote in 2012. “As the state-run China Daily newspaper remarked in 2009, he should be a household name but is virtually unknown.”

    It took Mr. Zhou and his colleagues three years to develop Pinyin, but the most striking thing about his involvement was that he was neither a linguist nor a lexicographer but an economist, recently returned to China from Wall Street.

    But because of a fortuitous meeting at midcentury, and a lifetime love of language, he was conscripted by the Chinese government to develop an accessible alphabetic writing system. It was a turn of fate, Mr. Zhou acknowledged afterward, that may well have saved his life.

    The son of a prominent family (his father was an official of China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing, which endured continuously from the 17th century until 1912), Mr. Zhou was born in Changzhou, in eastern China, on Jan. 13, 1906. His name at birth was Zhou Yaoping; he adopted the pen name Zhou Youguang as an adult.

    In 1927, after studying at St. John’s University in Shanghai, he graduated from Guanghua University there with a degree in economics.

    At the start of the second Sino-Japanese war, precipitated by Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, Mr. Zhou moved with his wife, Zhang Yunhe, and two young children to Chongqing, the wartime capital. Their daughter, Zhou Xiaohe, died there of appendicitis.

    In Chongqing, Mr. Zhou worked for the Sin Hua Trust and Savings Bank. He also made the acquaintance of Zhou Enlai, already a star in the Communist Party, who would serve as China’s premier from 1949 to 1976.

    Although Zhou Youguang never joined the party, that acquaintance would lead directly to his development of Pinyin.

    In 1946, Mr. Zhou went to New York to represent Sin Hua at the Wall Street headquarters of its United States agent, Irving Trust. He remained for three years, until the Communist takeover of China in 1949 moved him to return home.

    “We all thought that China had a very good opportunity to develop; we didn’t expect the later turmoil,” Mr. Zhou told The Guardian, the British newspaper, in 2008. “History misled us.”

    For the next few years he taught economics at Fudan University in Shanghai until, in the mid-1950s, Zhou Enlai intervened.

    By then the Communist government was seeking to make Mandarin Chinese the national language and to boost literacy throughout the country. In 1955, it convened a committee to create an alphabetic system, based on Mandarin, that would be easier to use than existing Romanization systems.

    Knowing that linguistics was a hobby of Mr. Zhou’s, Zhou Enlai drafted him to come to Beijing and lead the committee. Mr. Zhou’s protests that he was a mere amateur were to no avail.

    “Everyone is an amateur,” he was told.

    So he set about studying languages, and the myriad systems used to write them down. Before long, amid the late-1950s purges of rightists by Mao Zedong, the Communist Party chairman, he came to realize that his new calling was literally lifesaving.

    “Mao disliked greatly the economists — especially economic professors from America,” Mr. Zhou told The Guardian. “By that time I had shifted to the line of language and writing. I was not considered a rightist. Very lucky. If I had remained in Shanghai teaching economics I think I certainly could have been imprisoned for 20 years. A good friend of mine was imprisoned and committed suicide.”

    In attempting to devise an alphabetic system with which to transliterate Chinese, Mr. Zhou was continuing an orthographic tradition that went back at least to the 16th century.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #95
    Join Date
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    Continued from previous post

    Traditional Chinese writing, conceived more than two thousand years ago, is a logographic system, in which each word of the language is represented by a separate character. To the reader, each character conveys mainly semantic, rather than phonetic, information.

    This fact gives Chinese writing an inherent advantage: It can be used as a common system with which to write the country’s many mutually unintelligible dialects. Thus, speakers of dialects as divergent as Mandarin and Cantonese can communicate with one another in writing, with each character encoding the same meaning — “house,” “blue,” “think,” and so on — regardless of its pronunciation in any one dialect.

    But by the same token, such a system carries a great disadvantage: Because the characters disclose little phonetic information, it is not possible, without prior knowledge, to look at a Chinese word and know how to pronounce it.

    For readers, there is also the immense onus of needing to master thousands upon thousands of discrete characters to attain even basic literacy: Compare the mere two dozen or so characters that users of alphabets have to learn.

    “Pinyin is not to replace Chinese characters; it is a help to Chinese characters,” Mr. Zhou explained in the interview with The Guardian. “Without an alphabet you had to learn mouth to mouth, ear to ear.”

    As a result, illiteracy remained rampant throughout China well into the 20th century — affecting, by some estimates, as much as 85 percent of the population. It was also inordinately hard for foreigners to learn to read the language.

    Other Romanization systems had been tried before, beginning with one developed in the late 1500s by Jesuit missionaries from Europe. Until the advent of Pinyin, the most prevalent system was Wade-Giles, the work of two British diplomats in the late 19th century.

    But the Wade-Giles system, linguists have long agreed, is unwieldy and inaccurate. It employs a cumbersome set of numbered superscripts to indicate Chinese tones — the meaningful variations in pitch that distinguish many words in the language. Nor does it reflect Mandarin pronunciation especially faithfully.

    At the start, Mr. Zhou and his committee confronted a set of foundational questions: Should Pinyin employ the Roman alphabet, the Cyrillic or a purpose-built one? How should it indicate the tones of the language?

    Though China’s close alliance with the Soviet Union made Cyrillic seductive, the committee ultimately settled on Roman because of its worldwide prevalence. Simple diacritical marks, including acute and grave accents, were used to represent tones.

    Adopted by the Chinese government on Feb. 11, 1958, Pinyin met with rapid acclaim. But even that could not spare Mr. Zhou during the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s purge of intellectuals and others between 1966 and 1976, in which tens of millions died.

    In 1969, the government labeled Mr. Zhou a “reactionary academic authority” and exiled him to a labor camp in the Ningxia region of north-central China, where he worked the rice fields. He spent more than two years there.

    On returning home, he continued writing about language, culture and contemporary affairs. In the 1980s, he helped oversee the translation into Chinese of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Mr. Zhou was the author of more than 40 books, some of them banned in China and a good 10 of them published after he turned 100.

    In his occasional interviews with the Western news media from his modest apartment in Beijing, Mr. Zhou was openly critical both of revolutionary-era Chinese Communism (“In all honesty I haven’t got anything good to say about Mao Zedong,” he told Agence France-Presse in 2015) and of the economic reforms of Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping.

    “Chinese people becoming rich isn’t important,” he said in the same interview. “Human progress is ultimately progress towards democracy.”

    Mr. Zhou died at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing, according to Beijing News and other Chinese state-run news media outlets. Mr. Zhou’s wife died in 2002. Their son, Zhou Xiaoping, an astrophysicist, died in 2015.

    Today, Pinyin is used by hundreds of millions of people in China alone. Schoolchildren there first learn to read by means of the system before graduating to the study of characters.

    As a result, the country’s illiteracy rate today is about 5 percent, according to Unicef. Pinyin is also part of the standard pedagogy for foreign students of Chinese around the world.

    In the interview with Agence France-Presse in 2015, Mr. Zhou articulated the philosophy that he said sustained him through his years in the labor camp. It seems a fitting ethos for his long life as a whole.

    “When you encounter difficulties, you need to be optimistic,” he said. “The pessimists tend to die.”

    Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting.
    Fascinating story. I've been told that the Cyrillic influence led to some of the awkwardness of pinyin, such as the q-to-ch and the zh-to-j, but I've never delved into Cyrillic to validate this.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #96
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Fascinating story. I've been told that the Cyrillic influence led to some of the awkwardness of pinyin, such as the q-to-ch and the zh-to-j, but I've never delved into Cyrillic to validate this.
    I'd be surprised, but I'm no expert, my knowledge of cyrillic coming from studying Mongolian from a teacher from Outer Mongolia, and my Mongolian being crap that I'd struggle to remember at this point.

    Pretty much all the consonant+h combos have the tongue on the roof of the mouth, ch-, sh-, zh-, with q, x, and j being similar sounds with the tongue behind the teeth instead. I'm not aware of that effect being encapsulated in cyrillic.

    A quick search suggests that I'm wrong about the cyrillic, which would explain one reason my Mongolian sucks.

    Pinyin is great for pronunciation, but I could never see the characters not being the main way of writing for the goal of reading. Chinese has way too many ****phones that come up as highly common words, a page of text in pinyin is far less readable than a page of characters because in the pinyin, you have so many shi come up, that you feel like you're just staring at nonsense.

    And even with it for pronunciation, some provinces have a lot of local dialects that often do things like pronounce zh as z.

    Totally off topic, but my most common pronunciation problem lately has been whenever I say 'let's play chinese chess', I am actually closer to saying in the local dialect 'let's play miss my wife'. No idea what they may think I'm proposing.

  7. #97
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.


    Saw this over the weekend and it struck me as unusually funny...

    The Chinese Communist Party Wants to Say ‘Comrade’ Again But It’s Too Gay
    Posted on April 23, 2017
    R. S. Benedict
    Contributor @ Unicorn Booty

    The Chinese Communist Party wants to bring back the old-fashioned term “comrade,” but there’s one problem — it’s too gay.

    The Chinese word for “comrade,” tóngzhì (同志), used to be a common term of address in Communist China, used by everyone, whether male, female, young, old, rural, urban, party official or peasant. A literal translation of the term might be, “same intent.”

    The expression fell out of fashion, and people these days don’t really use it any more, preferring to use forms of address like “mister” or “miss,” job titles, familial terms like “big sister” or “auntie,” compliments like “beautiful woman” or “handsome man” and various regional expressions.

    But President Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials want to bring back tóngzhì, perhaps as a desire to return to more traditional mores. A CCP journal quoted in the New York Times railed against modern forms of address, saying that the terms “have not only destroyed the seriousness of democratic relations within the party, but they have also affected the relationship between the party and the masses.”

    Late last year, CCP’s Central Committee leaders issued a directive encouraging party members to go back to calling each other tóngzhì.

    But there’s one problem: it’s too gay.

    In recent decades, China’s LGBTQ community has taken to using the word tóngzhì to refer to a queer person. The practice started in Hong Kong in the late 1980s as a way to defy the sexually repressive CCP. Plus, the word shares the first syllable with the formal term for ****sexuality, tóngxìngliàn (同性恋), “same-sex love.”

    Since then, the LGBTQ community in Mainland China have adopted the expression, and ordinary people have started to avoid it. Beijing Gay rights activist and filmmaker Fan Popo told the Times, “Even the ticket-takers on the bus — the people who you would not really expect to know the modern lingo — don’t say ‘comrade’ anymore because they know what it means among young people.”
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #98
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    CA, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Saw this over the weekend and it struck me as unusually funny...
    Is that kinda like what happened to the name 'Bruce'?

  9. #99
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Slightly OT

    'Your smile is a naughty goblin'

    'Your eyes are like morning dew': Scientists reveal the most bizarre chat up lines guaranteed to get you a date (hopefully)

    Successful chat-up lines should be subtle and creative, paper found
    'Your garden is a sea of flowers' is one of the chat-up lines that worked
    Study was carried out on 124 Chinese women so may be specific to that culture
    Men have evolved flirting as a way to show hidden intelligence and creativity

    By Phoebe Weston For Mailonline
    PUBLISHED: 13:04 EDT, 2 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:59 EDT, 2 June 2017

    In an age where people can swipe through dozens of matches a day on dating apps, getting someone's attention is harder than ever.

    Researchers from China have revealed that subtlety and creativity is the secret to a successful chat-up line.

    'Your eyes are like morning dew' and 'your garden is a sea of flowers' are apparently the way to a woman's heart.

    More crass chat-up lines such as 'those clothes would look great in a crumpled heap on my bedroom floor' won't get you anywhere, research suggests.

    'Your eyes are like morning dew' and 'your garden is a sea of flowers' are the way to a woman's heart, found Chinese researchers (stock image)

    'Your eyes are like morning dew'

    'Your garden is a sea of flowers'

    'Your roof is a lover's shoulder'

    'Your smile is a naughty goblin'
    Scientists from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China have published a new study called 'Women prefer men who use metaphorical language when paying compliments in a romantic context'.

    The study showed 'your roof is a lover's shoulder' or 'your smile is a naughty goblin' are more effective than direct chat-ups such as 'your lips are so sexy'.

    'The findings confirm our hypotheses that in a courtship situation where compliments serve as a sexual display of mate quality, women show a preference for metaphors, particularly novel ones, in verbal structure,' researchers wrote in the paper which is published in Nature.

    The study was carried out on 124 Chinese women so may be specific to that culture.

    'Male faces paired with novel metaphorical compliments were rated as more attractive by women than those paired with literal ones', researchers said.

    The research suggests that language, music, humour and art are not simply side-effects of biological adaptations but evolved through sexual selection pressure (stock image)

    'Overall this study provides the first evidence that women find men who typically use novel metaphorical language to compliment appearance more attractive than those using prosaic language or complimenting possessions', they said.

    The research suggests that language, music, humour and art are not simply side-effects of biological adaptations but evolved through sexual selection pressure.

    This suggests men have evolved flirting as a way to show hidden intelligence and creativity.

    'Indeed, studies have consistently demonstrated that intelligence or creativity attributes are preferred by women', researchers said.

    'Several studies have reported that men who use the most complex and creative language either as poets, or prose writers, have the most female partners', they said.

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #100
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    sumgglers' blues

    If you're going to forge something, best to consult someone who speaks the language.

    Smugglers caught because they got their Chinese characters the wrong way round
    Language blunder gives sugar carriers a bitter lesson after it attracts coastguards’ suspicions
    PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 2:19pm
    UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 2:19pm
    Stephen Chen

    The two characters were supposed to spell out the name of China’s oil production capital Daqing, Modern Express Daily reported on Tuesday.
    But they raised the eyebrows of Chinese coastguards because they were painted the other way round. The paint was much fresher than that on the rest of the ship, which was docking at the Yancheng harbour on Thursday, according to the report.
    The crew were mostly foreigners, although the coastguard did not disclose their nationality.
    Officers found 1,300 tonnes of sugar in the cargo bay, held in plastic bags with wording that suggested the origin of production was in Thailand.
    The captain could not provide any customs documents for the cargo.
    Officials found 1,300 tonnes of sugar in the cargo bay without the proper customs documentation. Photo: Handout
    The Yancheng coast guard said the ship was registered in Panama. It picked up the sugar from another ship between China and South Korea in the Yellow Sea.
    The crew lowered the Panamanian flag and painted the Chinese characters on the bow, because Chinese authorities were less likely to inspect domestic ships.
    But the painters did not speak Chinese and held the template in the wrong direction, getting the characters back-to-front.
    The crew have been arrested and charged with smuggling.
    Hold the was sugar?
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #101
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    I already say 'doufu'....when in China.

    China would really like you to stop saying “tofu”

    A man eats noodle at a restaurant in Shanghai March 2, 2009. China said on Monday food security remains "grim", despite campaigns launched after several health scares, the most recent last year's tainted milk formula which killed at least six toddlers and made almost 300,000 sick.
    What should we call this? (Reuters/Aly Song)

    WRITTEN BY Nikhil Sonnad
    OBSESSION Language
    December 07, 2017

    This year, the Chinese government announced that it would up the ante in its long, hard battle against Chinglish. No longer would it accept the humiliation of tourists ridiculing poor English translations—especially for the foods of China’s storied cuisine.

    Mmmm. (Reddit)

    The government’s policy to clean up English took effect at the beginning of this month. It issued official translations for 3,500 phrases covering 13 topic areas, including this list (Chinese) of words and phrases for the topic “accommodation and catering.” That all-important section is also oddly political; several translations on it suggest that China is looking to wrest ownership of some Asian foodstuffs from competing nations and languages.

    Here is the list:

    (China Standardization Administration)

    “Overall, I think they have done a decent job in coming up with acceptable English equivalents for hundreds of terms that foreign visitors to China are likely to encounter,” writes Victor Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania.
    But consider “tofu.” That term, which has become natural to English speakers, comes from the Japanese “tōfu.” The Chinese government insists it be referred to as “doufu,” the Mandarin pronunciation, even though “tofu” would be clearer for travelers in China.
    For other terms in the list, the translations try to make it clear that the foods come from China. One example is “Sichuan pepper,” referring to the numbing spice often used in Sichuanese cuisine. The Chinese term for this is hua jiao, which just means “flower pepper,” and is not tied specifically to Sichuan. This might have been a good opportunity to provide a more generic translation, which would be useful because these “peppers” (they are technically a member of the citrus family) are not exclusively used in dishes from Sichuan. But putting a Chinese province in the name does emphasize their Chineseness.
    One last thing. In some cases, it looks like China wants to try to make people more familiar with the sound and pronunciation of Mandarin, by opting to use the actual term and not a translation. That is the case for “lamian noodles.”
    “Lamian” is a cognate with Japanese “ramen.” Using “ramen” could be confusing, as Mair points out, because the dish is prepared differently. Yet it’s strange that Beijing ignores the common English translation “hand-pulled noodles” for “lamian.” It also ignores the more familiar Cantonese term “lo mein.” Using the Mandarin term, “lamian,” instead of using “hand-pulled” or “lo mein” emphasizes that this is an official and China-specific dish.
    Exposing people to Mandarin is probably a good thing. Many English speakers have a sense of the sound and feel of the Japanese language, for example, through popular culture, food, and other sources, but Mandarin remains a bit of a mystery.
    That said, China will certainly have a hard time getting tourists to say “doufu” instead of “tofu.”
    Tofu in Mandarin
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  12. #102
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    ‘Shaolin’ is Chinese word most understood by foreigners

    ‘Shaolin’ is Chinese word most understood by foreigners, survey says
    by Catherine Jessup Feb 19, 2018 17:25 CHINA INTERNET MEDIA

    Hundreds of Shaolin monks hold prayer on a river bridge in Henan Province. China News Service

    A new study has revealed which Chinese words are most used and understood by people in English-speaking countries, with 'shaolin', 'yin yang' and 'yuan' topping the list.

    The report, created by government body China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration, surveyed people in 8 major English-speaking countries on which Chinese words they knew. They also examined the content of over 300 articles on English-language news platforms for Chinese words written in pinyin form.

    They found that overall, usage and understanding of Chinese-language words written in pinyin has been on the up over the last two years.

    The words on everyone’s lips

    Martial arts got the upper hand on the top 100 list of commonly used words. The number one spot went to 'shaolin', a word referring to one of the world’s oldest and largest kung fu disclipines and a Buddhist monastery widely known for its martial arts training. Two other martial art forms, wushu and qigong, followed suit at number 6 and 8 respectively.

    Many English speakers seem to have Chinese philosophy on their minds: ‘yin yang’ was the second most commonly known word according to the survey. They were also aware of ‘qi’, the concept of a vital force present in all living things, which underpins precepts of martial arts and Chinese medicine.

    On a less spiritual note, the survey made clear that money talks: ‘yuan’ took the number 3 spot, while ‘renminbi’ was the ninth most used and understood Chinese word in English.

    Understanding of Chinese social issues is also growing, if the inclusion of the word ‘hukou’ - the household registration system which determines where in China citizens are entitled to claim basic rights including healthcare and education - is anything to go by.

    The top 100 also featured several words that could be filed under the category of ‘Only in China’: ‘laowai’ (a nickname for foreigners), ‘guanxi’ (socially and professionally useful connections) and ‘hongbao’ (red envelopes filled with cash gifted during Chinese New Year).

    Thread: Learning Mandarin
    Thread: Need Linguistc Help
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  13. #103
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    more on Shaolin...

    'Shaolin' the most well-known Chinese word overseas
    China Plus, February 26, 2018

    "Shaolin" is the most popular Chinese words for people from eight English-speaking countries, according to a survey released by China International Publishing Group (CIPG).

    A monk performs Shaolin Kungfu on a street of Rome, Italy. [File photo: Xinhua]

    According to the report at, among the top 100 Chinese words, over 40 percent relate to traditional Chinese culture, such as Wushu, a type of martial arts, Qigong, and Yin-Yang.

    "Dumpling" is the most well-known Chinese food for people from the English speaking countries surveyed, with "jiaozi" even appearing in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

    Chunjie, the Chinese word for Spring Festival, was the number one Chinese word searched online by people outside China. Other words related to Spring Festival also caught the attention of foreign netizens. These words include Hongbao, the red envelopes stuffed with cash given as gifts during the holiday, Chunyun, the Spring Festival holiday travel rush, and Chunwan, the Spring Festival gala.
    Interesting that jiaozi made the OED. I suspect none of my non-Chinese non-Kung Fu friends know that word.

    And the most popular Chinese term overseas is ...
    Martial arts references take out four of the top 10 spots in publisher’s survey
    PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 6:25pm
    UPDATED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 6:56pm
    Yujing Liu

    “Shaolin”, the name of a branch of martial arts, is the most popular Chinese term abroad, according to a survey by a Chinese publishing group.

    Shaolin was followed by “yin yang”, “yuan”, “the Forbidden City” and “ni hao” (hello), the China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration said on February 17.

    Chinese supermodel Liu Wen slammed on Instagram for referring to ‘Lunar New Year’

    The administration said it analysed mainstream media reports and polled 1,260 people online in eight countries to assess the use and recognition of 150 Chinese terms.

    The eight countries were the United States, Britain, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Singapore and India.

    “Mahjong” was number 10 in the publisher’s survey. Photo: Xinhua

    Apart from shaolin, three other Chinese martial arts terms made the top 10: “wushu” (martial arts), “qi” (essential force), and “qigong” (tai chi-like exercises).

    “The wide distribution of martial arts-related terms is due to a specific form of communication – films,” the administration said.

    It said the internationalisation of China’s currency explained the popularity of “yuan” and “renminbi”, which was ninth.

    The tenth most popular Chinese term was “mahjong”.
    Thread: Learning Mandarin
    Thread: Need Linguistc Help
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #104
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    hot language at the moment?

    Mandarin the most popular language in the world. 1.1B speakers compared to 983M English speakers.

    Billionaires and royals are rushing to teach their kids Mandarin
    Abby Jackson Nov. 8, 2017, 2:21 PM

    From Jeff Bezos to Ivanka Trump. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    Learning a second language has been proven to offer a swath of cognitive, health, and educational benefits. It improves brain development, can protect against dementia, and help with attention span.

    And Mandarin seems to be the hot language at the moment, with some high-profile wealthy families starting to push the language to their kids at a young age.

    Chinese is the language with the most native speakers in the world with about 1.2 billion. There are two main dialects that make up the Chinese language — Mandarin and Cantonese — and 1 billion of the total speak Mandarin. The sheer size alone means the language will continue to be important for business in the future.

    Read on below to see some of the wealthy families who have spoken publicly about teaching their kids Mandarin.

    Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos

    Danny Moloshok/Reuters

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie have four kids and have experimented with many different subjects to educate their children.

    "We tried all sorts of things ... including off-season travel, kitchen-science experiments, chicken incubation, Mandarin lessons, the Singapore math program, and lots of clubs and sports with other neighborhood kids," MacKenzie told Vogue.

    Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

    AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg picked up Mandarin a few years ago, and improved so much, he was able to do a 30-minute question and answer session in the language. His wife, Priscilla Chan, is the daughter of Chinese refugees who fled Vietnam. She speaks fluent Cantonese.

    The couple have already introduced Mandarin into the house for their daughter Max. Zuckerberg uploaded a video on Facebook that showed his AI personal assistant teaching Max to speak Mandarin.

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner

    AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have three children and hired a Mandarin-speaking nanny to help bring the language to their home.

    Their oldest daughter Arabella, 5, displayed her language skills by singing the Chinese "Happy New Year" song in Mandarin earlier in 2017.

    Prince William and Kate Middleton

    Richard Pohle/WPA Pool/Getty Images

    The royal couple have two children and a third on the way. Their oldest son, Prince George, 4, began his first day of school at Thomas' Battersea in London. The school will teach Prince George Mandarin.

    But he's not the only one who has picked up some Mandarin phrases. Prince William wished China a happy new year in Mandarin a few years ago.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #105
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    CA, USA
    How times have changed. Back in 1982, I was 19 and looking for a Mandarin teacher in San Diego, because I was planning to move to Taiwan. Believe it or not, I could not find any language schools that offered Chinese, other than one school that offered a class in Cantonese. They thought my request for Mandarin was odd. But they gave me the phone number of a retired Chinese language teacher who had taught Mandarin back in the 1960s and '70s. I ended up contacting him and taking private lessons with him once a week at his home. He was originally from Hong Kong and was around 80, but AFAIK, he was the only Mandarin teacher in the whole city at that time! The lessons did help in giving me a basic grasp, especially when watching subtitled KF movies at the local Chinese theaters, but I didn't really become conversant until I actually moved to Taiwan, took months of classes at the Mandarin Daily News Language School, as well as immersing myself in living over there. I actually became good at it; able to speak it without any American accent (but with the Taiwanese-Mandarin accent); go weeks without speaking a word of English, and able to comprehend when reading some Chinese books.

    Now Mandarin is literally everywhere, and it seems like "everybody" wants to learn it, or can speak at least a few words and phrases.

    My Mandarin has gone downhill now, since I've barely had any opportunities to speak it since leaving Taiwan. I can still understand a lot of it, better than I can speak anymore. Been thinking of getting a Rosetta Stone course to brush up and get better at it again.

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