I recently gave a talk to some Chinese teachers about IB and AP Chinese programs in the US. In my research for the talk, I did quite a bit of reminiscing about my own 4 years in the Hillsborough High School IB Program. I had all but forgotten about “CAS hours,” and I seriously can’t remember at all what my “Extended Essay” was on. But one thing I totally haven’t forgotten about was “Theory of Knowledge.” That class …
Today is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in China, so here’s a little moon pun for you:
The first line is where the pun resides. It reads:
月圆月期待 [moon round moon looking forward (to it)]
This is pretty nonsensical because the character for moon, “月” has replaced the identical-sounding character 越. Most intmermediate learners will recognize this character as being part of the 越……越…… pattern.
So the meaning is:
越圆越期待 [The rounder it is, the more you look
We learners of Chinese typically learn that “ayi” (阿姨) means “aunt,” and then soon after also learn that it is also a polite way to address “a woman of one’s mother’s generation.” Then, pretty soon after arriving in China, we learn that it’s also what you call the lady you hire to clean your home. (The last one tends to become the most familiar for foreigners living in China.)
Today I’d like to bring up a …
The webcomic Itchy Feet has some great comics on learning to communicate in a foreign language. I especially like his visualization technique for representing a low level of competency in a foreign language. These are about German and French, but could be about any language, really:
This one will feel relevant to ABCs in China:
Itchy Feet is also the comic that did this amusing take on various Asian scripts which went semi-viral a while ago:
I recently saw a link to this article on Facebook: One Billion Drinkers Can Be Wrong (China’s most popular spirit is coming to the U.S. Here’s why you shouldn’t drink it). So it’s a post laegely about how baijiu (白酒) cannot success outside of China because it’s a terrible, terrible liquor. (Some of the comments I read on Facebook went much further, and I’ll address that sentiment below.)
Now I’m no fan of baijiu; I’ve made …
I saw this sign on the door of the AllSet Learning office building that leads out to the patio:
Here’s a closeup:
Please, everyone, when going out on the balcony
close the door behind you
to prevent smog from entering the building
A young Chinese guy (presumably the one who put up the sign) came by our office to call our attention to the sign and ask for our cooperation. It was a little …
After having lived in China for over 13 years, how has China changed me? Some changes are more subtle than others.
Here’s a short exchange I had with a friend recently:
Me: So are we doing lunch?
Him: I can’t come at 12pm. How about 1pm?
Me: OK, so after lunch?
Him: What time do you eat lunch then? You’ve been in China too long…
It’s true that the Chinese are pretty rigid about their eating schedules, …
This is my second “Year of the Horse” Chinese New Year in China, and there’s one thing I’ve noticed: a certain chengyu (Chinese idiom, typically 4 characters long) gets thrown around like crazy in Chinese New Year’s greetings.
That chengyu is 马到成功.
There are a few interesting things about this chengyu, and some points worth exploring.
Is it worth knowing?
Like many learners, you may not want to junk up your brain space with too many useless chengyu…
It’s almost the Year of the Horse (马年) in China, and you can see it in advertising all around China. Here are three examples from Shanghai:
Happy Year of the …
In a recent ChinesePod lesson on foot baths, I made this comment:
I think I find this form of Chinese “relaxation” painful about 90% of the time, but that other 10% is quite nice!
This prompted this reply from RJ:
My experience as well. Compared to “foot massage”, water-boarding is a sport. They scrape the sensitive bottoms of your feet with a very dull knife, so as not to draw blood. All the while they