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Guess the Chinese Word Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Vocabulary

When learning a language, you’re always told to do your best not to try to translate everything into your mother tongue. I tell this to my Chinese students who are studying English, as directly translating everything often results in them speaking horrible Chinglish. For example, “Yesterday I with my mother together go shopping” or “I very like your shoes! It’s very fashion!” Of course, it’s better to train your brain to think in the language you are learning. However, sometimes it can be fun directly translating words, especially for native English speakers learning Chinese. In this post, I’ll introduce some of my favorite Chinese words and give you the direct translation. Do your best to guess the actual meaning, and then scroll to the bottom to see how you did once you’ve guessed them all. Ready? Here we go…

Countries

Tiananmen Square – the heart of China.

In Chinese, China is known as the Middle Country (中国 – zhōng guó). See if you can guess what these other countries are, based on the direct translations:

德国 – dé guó

moral/virtuous country

美国 – měi guó

beautiful country

法国 – fà guó

lawful country

英国 – yīng guó

brave country

 

Electronics

Electronics stores tend to be huge in China.

In Chinese, you’ll find lots of word that use the character 电 (diàn), which means “electric” or “electricity.” See if you can guess the meanings of these electric words:

电脑 – diàn nǎo

electric brain

电话 – diàn huà

electric speech

电视 – diàn shì

electric viewing

 

Machines

You’ll also find a lot of words that use the character 机 (jī), meaning “machine.” Let’s see if you can figure these out:

手机 – shǒu jī

hand machine

打火机 – dǎ huǒ jī

strike fire machine

耳机 – Ěr jī

ear machine

 

Transportation

Chinese Transportation Vocabulary

Getting around China is fun!

Of course, when studying any language, it’s crucial that you learn words related to transportation. In Chinese, you’ll often see the character 车 (chē), meaning “vehicle.” Here are some examples for you to guess:

火车 – huǒ chē

fire vehicle

自行车 – zì xíng chē

self-moving vehicle

直升机 – zhí shēng jī

straightly rising vehicle

 

Animals

Which one do you think this is?

Chinese is full of funny words for animals, at least when you directly translate them to English. See if you can figure them out:

火鸡 – huǒ jī

fire chicken

袋鼠 – dài shǔ

bag mouse/rodent

熊猫 – xióng māo

bear cat

龙虾 – lóng xiā

dragon shrimp

河马 – hé mǎ

river horse

 

Animal Related

Every language has some funny words and expressions related to animals, such as: “pig out,” “have a cow,” or “monkey business” in English. Try to guess these silly Chinese words:

黄牛 – huáng niú

yellow cow

马上 – mǎ shàng

on the horse

狐狸精 – húi lí jīng

fox spirit

 

Sports

A lot of Chinese words for sports are very literal and direct, so these should be pretty easy for you to figure out:

网球 – wǎng qiú

net ball

台球 – tái qiú

table ball

跳水 – tiào shuǐ

jump water

 

Clothing

Inside one of many clothing markets in China.

English is full of funny words for clothing, such as: flip-flops, thongs, tank-tops, and more. What do you think these Chinese words actually mean?

西装 – xī zhuāng

Western costume

牛仔裤 – niú zǎi kù

cowboy pants

凉鞋 – liáng xié

cool shoes

 

How do you think you did? Let’s find out!

 

Answers

德国 – dé guó

Germany

美国 – měi guó

USA

法国 – fà guó

France

英国 – yīng guó

United Kingdom

电脑 – diàn nǎo

computer

电话 – diàn huà

telephone

电视 – diàn shì

TV

手机 – shǒu jī

cell phone

打火机 – dǎ huǒ jī

lighter

耳机 – Ěr jī

headphones

火车 – huǒ chē

train

自行车 – zì xíng chē

bicycle

直升机 – zhí shēng jī

helicopter

火鸡 – huǒ jī

turkey

袋鼠 – dài shǔ

kangaroo

熊猫 – xióng māo

panda

龙虾 – lóng xiā

lobster

河马 – hé mǎ

hippo

黄牛 – huáng niú

ticket scalper

马上 – mǎ shàng

immediately

狐狸精 – húi lí jīng

seductive woman

网球 – wǎng qiú

tennis

台球 – tái qiú

billiards/pool

跳水 – tiào shuǐ

diving

西装 – xī zhuāng

suit

牛仔裤 – niú zǎi kù

jeans

凉鞋 – liáng xié

sandals

 

Now that you’ve learned a lot of funny new words, do your best to use them! Don’t forget, we’e also got plenty of resources here at Transparent Language to help you learn Chinese.

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


Comments:

  1. bokhari:

    could not relate
    huang niu
    with ticket scalper
    thanks

    • ilearnchinese:

      @bokhari in Chinese, 黄票 (direct translation: yellow ticket) means a ticket obtained through 2nd party sellers, more well known as ticket scalpers. 黄牛 is just calling them cows.


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