We are Moving ▏搬家 bān jiā

Yes, we are moving, again! It feels it was still yesterday when we just moved into this apartment at the northern outskirt of Beijing. Now we are moving further to the north while the winter is coming. What? It sounds familiar? Yes, it reminds me of the Game of Thrones too. My husband joked the other day saying ‘give it another five years, we are moving up to the Great Wall’. I laughed aloud with tear out of my eyes. The wall, the coming winter, sounds pretty cool, if only the Beijing life is exciting and dramatic as the TV series!

We have been living a yearly nomadic style not out of fun but of the reality. The apartment we have rented for the past year costs us ¥4350 (equivalent to around $640) per month and our landlord wants more for the next year. It’s a 44 square-meter flat that we have been feeling the rental price is ridiculously high as it is. When we were informed with the new rental figure, we decided to move on again.

See, the housing price in China and in Beijing particularly has been skyrocketing over the past decade, and we have our own tactic to go against the situation about. Our strategy is to move further north to leverage the value of our money spent on accommodation. Yes, we have figured it out long ago that the further location is, the cheaper the place is. With the overall rising price on the real estate market, we could manage our budget at the same level. So here we are, on our way marching to the Great Wall……

搜狗截图20171017172700
‘When are we moving?’

So here it goes, if you happen to wonder what the term for moving in Chinese. 搬家 bān jiā literally is for ‘move home’. There are a lot of things to do when it comes to 搬家 bān jiā. One of my nightmares is packing, its Chinese term for our situation here being打包 dǎ bāo. 打dǎ is to hit or beat, and 包bāo means package/parcel. I’m not sure how the combination of these two became packing in the Chinese literal history. I guess there is something to do with that some of our Chinese ancestors who were driven nuts by moving started beating their packages repeatedly, and I would love to think it this way since I really do can relate to it myself….haha…

My apologies if this post sounds like complaining. It’s not my intention. Our moving day hasn’t arrived yet so I thought I just let it out here a little bit for mental preparation. When was last time you were moving? I would love to hear about it.

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Driving License ▏驾照 jià zhào

It’s wonderful to finally find the time to get back to WP! Before I write further today, a big ‘thanks’ goes to Dan Antion, who reminded me of my absence on WP. Dan Antion has a wonderful blog with a lot of fun and interesting stuff going on there. If you happen to read this, please feel free to check it out. If you have also noticed my silence here, I sincerely appreciate it equally. Yes, I have been away for a while because I was a bit stressed to deal with my summer holiday plan. Yeah…I know the summer has gone, but holding back my joy, I’m extremely excited to announce that finally I got my first driving license in China!

It was a roller coaster experience for me! Yes, I’m talking about my learning and test journey in China for a driving license. Before I stepped my foot into Haidian Driving School, the place I enrolled to learn driving with the ambition to cross driving off from my to-do list as one of my summer challenges, I had zero experience or knowledge of how it’s like behind the wheel. I didn’t even have any clue on what all those are in front of the driver’s seat except for the steering wheel. It was quite a ride, indeed, with all that fear, frustration and that ecstasy accompanied by speed.

So today let’s talk about 驾照jià zhào, driving license in Mandarin. The word 驾照jià zhào is a short and well-accepted term for 驾驶执照jià shǐ zhí zhào in Simplified Chinese. It’s a term that you probably could have figured it out by yourself if you have known the words 驾驶jià shǐ (drive/driving) and 执照zhí zhào (license).

As you may have also noticed, the picture you see below reads 机动车驾驶证. It literally says motor vehicle driving certificate, a name equivalent to the driving license prevalent in the English-speaking world.

搜狗截图20171014154449

I think I’m going to keep this post short as it is now and make some time to indulge myself into the overjoy of finally having owned my first license this week. How’s your driving license look like?

On the Road ▏Shuttle Bus 班车bān chē

For the entire past week, I have been attending a driving training course at a school that is in a great distance to my home. To best balance my schedule, I picked the morning sessions for the training period, so the earliest shuttle bus for commute is my only economic option. I was never an early bird, but now I am one. You know what? It’s not that much of a struggle as expected. You get more things done when you start the day early.

Now I can say, I have never felt more of a commuter myself than ever. Nearly 80 kilo-meters back and forth daily is kind of commuting a lot, at least for me if not for many others. So, I hold my deepest gratitude toward the shuttle buses that take us to and from in a timely manner every day.

Today in my post I will introduce the Chinese term for shuttle bus: 班车bān chē. The Chinese character班bān has the meaning of shift, so when it’s coupled with 车chē, vehicle in Chinese, they become a word to describe the vehicles that departure in shifts or according to a scheduled timetable.

班车bān chē in sentence.

我每天坐班车。

我      每天       坐      班车

I    everyday   sit   shuttle bus

Due to grammatical differences between English and Chinese language, the word-to-word translation reads very odd indeed. So, in common English, the example sentence above should be translated as below.

I take shuttle bus every day.

Feel free to click the audio play below to hear how it’s pronounced by a native.

Yes, it feels like we are on the road in a bus a lot these days, which is why I picked it as the title of this post. In case you are a Chinese learner who wonders on the term on the road in Chinese, you may click here to find it out.

Okay, that’s all for today’s post! I hope you find today’s word useful. Who knows? You may take a shuttle bus in China someday, or you may just try to learn the word for fun. Either way, I hope you enjoyed the read and please leave a comment anytime as always if you have any questions about Mandarin Chinese.

Numbers in Chinese Language

cube-1655118__480I was drinking a bottle of juice the other day and my glimpse was caught on the bottle label. It was an advert of the local brand’s website. I have no intention to promote the brand so will just roughly say the bottle message includes the tagline 51drink. It brought me to think—how interesting it is on what numbers brought into play in the Chinese language!

If you live in China or have been in the country long enough, you may have been able to recognize some local business agents like 51job, 51talk, or 51Tongcheng. Nowadays, business people in China love to utilize assonance of numbers and incorporate it into the message they want to deliver in branding. Maybe it’s not just a Chinese thing, but a universal strategy in marketing. Either way, let’s look at these number-combinations in Chinese. When thinking of it, it’s kind of fun!

There are multiple ways to say aloud numbers. In the case of 51, here they are:

51  fifty-one   wǔ shí yī   五十一

five one     wǔ yī        五一

wǔ yāo    五幺(一)

The word one, whose syllable is normally yī in Chinese, sometimes is pronounced as yāo, which assonates with yào. Based on the sound similarity, wǔ yāo becomes a term associated with wǒ yào, 我要, which is equivalent to I want in English.

By the same token, 521 becomes a digital combination meaning I love you in Chinese. You may find its Pinyin and Chinese characters below.

521   wǔ èr yī  —–   我爱你  wǒ ài nǐ

There are also other examples that I can think of right now. Well, read them as follows for fun if you like.

518    wǔ yāo bā    ——  我要发   wǒ yào fā          (I want to become rich.)

5257  wǔ èr wǔ qī —–  我爱我妻    wǒ ài wǒ qī      (I love my wife.)

All language is in an ongoing evolving process, and Chinese language is no exception. I think the incorporated numbers in message delivering is a typical example of that. Well, I hope you enjoy my train of thought today. Any other assonance examples you would like to share? Please leave a comment anytime.

My Cross Path with Traffic Control Authority ▏效率 xiào lǜ Efficiency

Yesterday for the first time I went to Haidian Driving School, a place to train drivers. I was there to attend an exam after a brief period of self-study and very gladly that I passed it with a good score. Of three major exams toward the ownership of a driver’s license in China, this one is the first, all about theories and Chinese traffic regulations. Now with hundreds of my other student peers, if not thousands——surely a magnificent crowd is evident, I’m on the way for the next phase of training. What stroke me yesterday was the efficiency beyond my expectations. The entire training and examining process in that school as well as its affiliated cooperation with the traffic police authority, at least so far, seems very well-organized.

Now yes, let’s talk about efficiency, 效率 xiào lǜ in Chinese. For those whom are the Chinese learners just starting to learn the language, you might find the phonic ǜ very foreign. ǜ is a final sound in Pinyin, and it is pronounced the same as yù. You may also refer to my Pinyin lesson where focuses on tones for more ideas about the general rules of Pinyin. Or, click the audio play below to hear how it sounds by a native Chinese.

So, in my case, I would like to say:

海淀驾校                            很      有      效率

Haidian Driving School   very  has   efficiency

Yes, above is a word-by-word translated expression that doesn’t fit the English grammatical rules. It also proves how much distant Mandarin Chinese is away from English. To have it make sense in English, it should be Haidian Driving School has a great deal of efficiency. Again, please click the audio play below to hear how it sounds if interested.

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The main building of Haidian Driving School

Now back to my yesterday’s experience, it was overall pleasant except for a little nervousness that I felt before taking the exam. That I think it’s normal. After all, entering an exam room can never be relaxing as going on a vacation, at least for majority of us, right?

The exam was done on computers, and supervised by police officers, and I went through that experience with hundreds of other test takers. It all finished in less than one hour. The computer management system they adopted in their training and examining process has made it an enjoyable experience for us. Through their service bulletin message, I learned that they also cater foreign applicants. So, if you are a non-Chinese native who wants to learn driving in China, Haidian Driving School is a choice that I highly recommend.

Alright, that’s all today’s post is about! Any thoughts? Leave me comments anytime!

 

 

 

Summer Encounter ▏Western-style Fast Food 洋快餐 yáng kuài cān

burger-155023__480A few days ago, I ordered a burger and some salad for a quick lunch bite from McDonald’s. Boy! How I wished I didn’t make that food choice hours later! At 1 pm, my burger and salad made its way to my belly. Starting from 4 o’clock that afternoon, my stomach began grumbling with a sharp pain and followed were too many toilet visits that I have lost in counting. It was a messy scene. Of course, the combination of continuous vomiting and diarrhea can never be pretty!

The stomachache went on even after it felt like my body had worked its way to empty itself up into a walking skeleton. Normally when I find myself in this situation, I would immediately seek for medical attention by visiting a hospital, but not this time, this time I decided to tough it out since I know the doctor’s prescription will no doubt involve in an intravenous antibiotic coupled with some glucose for dehydration prevention—-yes, I know the drill of Chinese doctor’s treatment! So, there I was, curling up in bed in a fetus position for the remaining hours of the day and the night. Finally, after my fever past, the pain went away and I was on the way back to recover.

In this battle between the bad food and my body, I WON on my own! Hooray!

Now I have had my typing strength back, let’s meet the word of the day in this post: 洋快餐 yáng kuài cān, the Western-style fast food in English. After all, it is the culprit for my sickness that hit me unprepared days ago! Funny thing is years ago I came across the news about McDonald’s food safety scandal, but never looked at it seriously. It’s a fast food chain with the western standards, how bad could it be? At least their serving tables are clean! These are the thoughts went through my head. Now I have learned the lesson: NO MORE McDonald’s! In fact, I have just made up my mind to shine all fast food chains possible. The last thing I would wish for is to relive the scene the other day! Anyways, a lesson is learned that eating healthy is just too important to miss out for us all.

In case you are interested in learning Chinese or already a Chinese learner, this is a word that you may find useful: 洋快餐 yáng kuài cān. If you haven’t encountered this word, you may try word-by-word translation to memorize it. 洋yáng is foreign/western in Chinese and 快餐kuài cān is the Chinese translation for fast food.

Here is a decision of mine on today’s subject:

我决定不吃洋快餐了!

I have decided not to eat Western-style fast food!

As usual, you may click the audio play below to listen to the Chinese word and sentence of the day! Hope you enjoy it! And stay healthy!

Thoughts on 宅 zhái

homestead-149897__480Yes, my thought bubbles are boiling! Especially after days of memorizing the information to pass two exams I set as the goal for myself in this summer, my brain is on fire like a volcano ready to erupt! Of these two challenges that I picked to go along with my committed working schedule, one is for my driving license and one is for the mastery of the AXIS system for data management. So, as you may see, I have a lot of memorization, understanding and thinking to do for the next two months.

This is alright for me when the Beijing weather is all hot, gloomy and smoggy. It’s not that great outside anyway, so why bother to explore for a little bit outdoor fun? But these days it’s a different story! The air is so good, breeze cool and refresh, that it all becomes a complete distraction for me.

I looked at my calendar, realizing for weeks I have been juggling among books, computer and my phone. That translates to too much indoor time of mine that is brain demanding. Then I thought of this word 宅 zhái, formally understood in English as residence/house as a noun and in the informal context equivalent to the English word nerdy as an adjective.

The word 宅 zhái has extended meanings if you dig a little deeper to its origin. I’m not going to do that here, instead mainly to introduce its informal use in today’s Chinese. Its informal meaning has become more of a trendy word that is widely adopted to describing people who tend to dwell at home. Now I think宅女 zháinǚ (女is woman in Chinese) is a word to name me much appropriate if not the most. I guess our lifestyle of today’s society where more individuals spend time on working from home, playing internet games or on social media etc. has a lot to do with it. After all, the development of any language is a constant-evolving process, isn’t it? It’s noteworthy of mentioning that unlike the English nerdy, 宅 zhái can be viewed as a neutral word of choice in emotion. As much as 宅 zhái has its origin of a word with negative meaning, I’m happy to call myself 宅女 zháinǚ—-or 宅男 zháinán if I was a guy (as you would have guessed, 男 nán is man in Chinese) —-since these words has been well-accepted by the Chinese speakers especially among the mainlanders in China and that its connotation is heavily depends on the context.

If you are learning Chinese or have had the experience of learning a new language, chances are you will also think that the best way to master an unfamiliar word is through using it in sentence. So, here it comes in case it helps.

我是一个宅女。

I’m a woman who dwells at home a lot.

Or I’m a nerdy woman (but without any negative meaning).

我很宅。

I stay indoors a lot.

Writing up to this point, I start to think perhaps I should let off steam to have some outdoor fun! You know what, I think I’m going to do just that after this post!

Alright, as usual, you can always click the audio play below to hear the Chinese term’s pronunciation. Any thoughts? Welcome to leave your comments!

Summer Fun ▏Self-guided Tour 自由行zìyóuxíng

sign-429419_1280There are two months over the course of a year that I really enjoy browsing the moments of my friend circle on Wechat, something equivalent to the updates on Facebook or Twitter in case you wonder. These two months, January and July, are my favorite when it comes to social media activity in that people travel and share a lot of beautiful pictures taken from their trips around this time of year.

For a week, whenever I open my Wechat moment page, there they are, these pictures in which my friends with big smile and in all kinds of greeting posture are surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenes. This July my family doesn’t have any vacation planned and I’m busy working on my summer goal (in case you are wondering, welcome to revisit my post talking about 暑假 to read more about it), so seeing these stunning images reflecting my friends’ travel experience is a wonderful way to feed on my fancies.

Given that, I have chosen the word for today’s post all about travel. Self-guided tour, 自由行zìyóuxíng in Chinese, has always been the choice of me and my husband. With my parents, it’s a different story since they enjoy joining in a tour group, which I also see why. Being part of a tour group (旅行团lǚxíngtuán in Mandarin) has its merits. Members don’t need to worry about accommodations and transports, or entrance tickets of scenic spots for that matter. But it lacks something fun that a self-guided tour offers.

In comparison, it’s no brainer that being on a self-guided tour requires a lot of preparation beyond just about what to pack for the trip. You need to start from scratch deciding on the means of transportation, where-to to cover the vacation days, and what the most realistic budget is etc. It can be mind boggling in this process especially when it comes to travel to another country. But that’s also where the fun is! You get to choose where to visit and if mood strikes, you can be impulsive to stay somewhere for a little longer while visiting a place that really draws you, or call that experience off if it doesn’t feel right to you. Our trip to the Phi Phi Island during the winter holiday in the beginning of this year is the testimony. It’s a sweet memory where a lot of problem-solving was behind, because of which the memory will stay with us forever.

Now let’s look at this phrase self-guided tour, 自由行zìyóuxíng, in case you are a Chinese learner who wants to dig a bit deeper on learning this Chinese word. 自由zìyóu means freedom and 行xíng refers to travel. The term is function as a noun, so we may use this term in such example as below.

如今,许多人选择自由行去旅游。Nowadays, many people choose self-guided tour to travel.

Alright, that’s today’s word! As usual, click below to hear how it sounds by a native Chinese. Also, feel free to leave your comment on this topic. I would love to hear about all your thoughts!

Is it Better? ▏Distant Learning 远程学习 yuǎnchéng xuéxí

phone-2056507_1280Two weeks ago, I enrolled in a driving school. It was not until a week after my enrollment that I started learning my course. Of three major tests required to pass for receiving a driver’s license, one is for students to self-study online with Wechat group tutoring offered to prepare. So far, I’m really enjoying it!

For someone like me who has working hours to commit, this learning process couldn’t be better. I can self-pace my learning, and while watching and listening to the trainer on a video screen, I can rewind it anytime to review. What’s more, the school provides its students with an app via which we get to practice and check how we go at the end of each module.

It brought me to think of this word distant learning, 远程学习 yuǎnchéng xuéxí in Chinese.

Between distant learning and classroom learning, is the former better?

Absolutely! At the moment, I’m coaching two Chinese learners online, both of whom have expressed that the Internet has made their Mandarin learning much easier. We use zoom meeting room to go through ppts, have conversation in Chinese and work on their Chinese character’s strokes at the cost leveraged by currency exchanges favoring the students. Distant learning has made it more efficient for language learners to learn and practice a new language without having to buy a plane ticket to visit that country.

As our world grows, learning has become so essential in all aspects of our lives. It’s no longer something we only concern in our school years. Learning for a diploma from school, learning for a new skill to stay ahead at the workplace, or learning for a better communication to keep a relationship content never stops, and distant learning has broken the geographical barriers and opened the doors for all that possible.

It is also certainly better in that nearly all successful distant learning is student-centered. The traditional style of learning, where a classroom full of students listening to the teacher speaking, has proven less efficient for the learners. In this experience contrary to distant learning, only a proportionally small time-span is spent on successfully absorbing information while a chunk of time block is wasted on either commute or mind wondering. Here we are looking at an inefficient learning and we need to put a stop to looking at it as the only way to learn.

Distant learning has its variety, and it’s also a great start point to develop learning from online to offline. When we are equipped with this learning accessible via video, apps and receiving coaching/tutoring through human interaction online or offline, it’s almost a sheer excuse to just say I can’t learn it.

Alright so much with my thoughts on this topic! Here is the word of the day 远程学习 yuǎnchéng xuéxí. 远yuǎn is far in English, 程chéng relates to the idea of distance/journey, and 学习xuéxí means learning. To use it in a sentence, here comes one example.

我喜欢远程学习。(I like distant learning.)

As usual, you may click the audio play below to hear its pronunciation by a native Chinese.

Heatwave Episode ▏Heat Stroke 中暑zhòngshǔ

0970050177Ever since Beijing entered this summer season, heatwaves have on-and-off haunted the city. The thermometer at our Beijing home constantly spikes to 37 ℃. Even for someone like me whose hometown is in Wuhan, a place known as one of three-furnace-cities in China for its humidity and heat in summer, days like this in Beijing has hit my heat tolerance limit.

While sitting in front of my computer to write this week’s blog, heat seeped its way to kindle my inspiration for this post. Our keyword today is heatstroke, 中暑zhòngshǔ in Chinese. When outdoor temperature climbs above 37 ℃ for a-long-period of time, we hear this word quite often.

Lately a video clip circulated among my Wechat friends shows a brokenhearted woman sitting and crying next to her pet, a Golden Retriever who appears not responsive. According to its caption, the woman walked her dog in the sun highest after giving the dog a bath but not drying his fur properly. The dog had a heatstroke and was sent to a vet hospital but failed to respond to the emergency treatment and unfortunately died. This is no doubt a tragedy resulted from ignorance toward dog care, and it really broke my heart to learn about this news. But it’s also an alert for all of us to be aware of heatstroke! It happens to both humans and animals.

Now let’s put aside the story of heatstroke and look at this word 中暑zhòngshǔ. 中 is a Chinese character with two tones—–you may also visit my previous post introducing different Chinese tones, where you can read and hear about the sound of tones in Chinese. When at the first tone, 中 zhōng means in the middle, and an example of using this character is in the word中国 zhōngguó meaning China. It has the idea of the center state—–yes it also reflects the arrogance of the ancient Chinese rulers, who considered China is the center of the world. When at the forth tone, 中 zhòng means to hit or be hit by and you may also notice that it functions as a verb. As introduced in my other post, 暑shǔ means hot temperature or heat. 中暑zhòngshǔ literally refers to be hit by heat, and is equivalent to heatstroke.

Let’s use this term in a sentence.

我中暑了。(I got a heatstroke.)

You may click the following audio play to hear how 中暑zhòngshǔ is pronounced by a native Chinese.

To hear about the authentic pronunciation of  中国 zhōngguó, please click below.

Often in the Chinese conversations where include the topic of heatstroke, we mention 防暑降温fángshǔ jiàngwēn, literally meaning ‘to prevent heat, reduce temperature’ if for word-to-word translation. We may understand it as to prevent heatstroke by reducing temperature.

To hear about the authentic pronunciation of this common phrase, please click it below here.

Hope you have found these words and phrases useful. As usual, please let me know how you think on this subject by leaving me a comment. Keep cool in this summer!