Chinese Language Blog

Some More Review Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in Vocabulary

The new semester (学期 – xué qí) has started for schools here in Beijing, and that means this teacher is very busy (很忙 – hěn máng).  I’ll be running all over this city, as I’m working at a Korean high school and two Chinese middle schools, in addition to private lessons.  This back to school fever has even motivated me to get back into Chinese classes myself.  Seeing as how the first week of school is all about review, I’m going to use this post to review my August videos before I get on a roll and post the three for September.

Video Post #3 – It’s So Stupendous, Riding the Beijing Tube

For this video, I braved the intensity of rush hour on the subway to give you a close up look at the madness of subway line one at 5 p.m.  As I will often do in video posts, I started out by saying, “Hello everyone!” (大家好
 – dà jiā hǎo).  This is one of those phrases that you just can’t break down character by character to translate – 大 means “big”, 家  means “home” or “family,” and 好 means “good.”  This goes to show you that you can’t try to translate every Chinese character into English to get the overall meaning.

Before heading down to the subway, I warned that “The subway is full of people during rush hour” (地铁在高峰时段很拥挤 – 
dì tiě zài gāo fēng shí duàn hěn yōng jǐ).  In order to better understand this, let’s break it down:

地铁 – dì tiě – subway

在 – zài – at/in

高峰时段 – gāo fēng shí duàn – rush hour/peak time

很 – hěn – very

拥挤 – yōng jǐ – crowded (my dictionary actually says “be packed like sardines”)

In this example, I could have said many things in English that still would have translated correctly, such as “During rush hour, the subway is very crowded,” or “At peak times, people are packed like sardines on the subway.”  No matter where you are in Beijing, 高峰时段 is a crazy time.

Before getting on the subway, I had to go downstairs (下楼
 – xià lóu).  The character 下 is incredibly useful when studying Chinese, as it can mean “next,” “down,” “under,” and many other words.  You will encounter this character, along with its counterpart 上 very, very often, so get used to both of them!  The character 楼 means “floor” or “storied building.”  It is useful for finding places and giving addresses.  When combined, you should be able to see why the translation is “go downstairs.”

Actually, you can find two other examples of the character 下 in action in this very video!  I mentioned the next stop (下一站
 – xià yí zhàn), and I also had to get off the train (下车
 – xià chē).  Since 下 has so many meanings, you have to view it in the context in which it is being used.  In the case of 下一站, 下 is used to mean “next,” as it is followed by 一站, meaning “one station.”  All together, the phrase is used to announce what the next subway station is.  In the case of 下车, 下 means “get off” and 车, which means “vehicle” is used to represent the subway.  On the bus, you can also say 下车 if you need to squeeze through a crowd to hop off at your stop.

In this post, I also mentioned the smart card (一卡通
 – yì kǎ tōng) and how it is very convenient (非常方便
 – fēi cháng fāng biàn).  If you are planning on staying in Beijing for a while, I highly recommend you pick one of these cards up.  They can be used on the subway, on the bus, in certain taxis, and even in grocery stores all over the city.  If this card was just convenient, I would have simply said 方便, but it is incredibly convenient, so I said 非常方便.  If you want to show how something is “extremely” or “greatly” or “immensely” (inster adjective here), use 非常.

Before we move on to the next post, let’s look at three more phrases that you should get used to hearing (and saying) in China – trouble (麻烦
 – má fan), swipe (the/your/my) card (刷卡 
shuā kǎ), and traffic jam (堵车
 – dǔ chē).  Traveling here always entails a bit of 麻烦, and this word is also useful for when you want to bother someone to give you directions or take a picture for you.  When riding the bus, you will always hear the attendant yelling at passengers to 刷卡.  On some busses, you only swipe the card upon boarding, but on others you also have to swipe when getting off.  Finally, you will see 堵车 in action just about everywhere you go in China, and you can use this word as an excuse for showing up late!

Video Post #4 – Temple Hopping in Beijing (雍和宮, 孔庙)

For this video, I paid a visit to two of Beijing’s most legendary temples – the Lama Temple (雍和宮 – yōng hé gōng) and the Confucius Temple (北京孔庙 – běi jīng kǒng miào).  Most of this video contained vocabulary pretty specific to these two places, but there are still a few things worth reviewing:

The Lama Temple is a center of Tibetan Buddhism (藏传佛教 – zàng chuán fú jiào).  The Chinese word for Tibet is 西藏 (xī zàng), so putting the character 藏 in front of something can describe it as being Tibetan.  The character 传 can mean “spread,” “pass on,” or “hand down” amongst other things, and 佛教 is the Chinese word for Buddhism.  All together, this phrase describes the traditions of Buddhism in Tibet that have been passed along through generations.

At many temples, you will notice that many people have made offerings to Buddha.  These donations could be fruit, 白酒 (I have a hard time picturing Buddha drinking this stuff), or money.  Don’t be surprised to see a bunch of 100 RMB notes in there, as it is believed that if you give Buddha money, your money will grow (如果你给佛钱,你的钱将增长 – rú guǒ nǐ gěi fú qián, nǐ de qián jiāng zēng zhǎng).  Let’s chop up this example:

如果 – rú guǒ – if/in case

你给佛钱 – nǐ gěi fú qián – you give Buddha money

你的钱 – nǐ de qián – your money

将 – jiāng – will/shall

增长 – zēng zhǎng – increase/grow

As you can see, there is an incentive to offer up the bigger bills as a donation when visiting a temple.

At our second stop, we learned quite a bit about Confucius, whose given name was 孔丘 (kǒng qiū) but who is known as 孔子 (kǒng zǐ), or Master Kong.  As the most renowned and respected scholar in Chinese history, it’s no wonder Master Kong has many temples and schools around the world in his honor.  His influence can be seen all over the world, and his words of wisdom never lose their relevance.  It should be no surprise that Confucius came in near the top of the list of history’s 100 most influential people (历史上最有影响的一百人 – lì shǐ shàng zuì yǒu yǐng xiǎng de yī bǎi rén).

In this phrase, 历史 means “history.”  When combined with 上, which can mean many things  (on/above/up/higher/etc.)  历史上 translates to “historical.”  It seems like a funny translation, but it makes sense – if something is “on history”, then it is probably historical, right?

最 – zuì – most

有 – yǒu – have

影响 – yǐng xiǎng – influence/affect

的 – de – possessive particle

一百人 – yī bǎi rén – 100 people

Wow, that’s a mouthful.  I hope you can see that by breaking this sentence down, it all makes perfect sense!  Of course, the Chinese and English don’t translate directly, but sometimes you have to move the pieces of the puzzle around to see the whole.

Video Post #6 – Summer in Beijing is Too Much Fun (北京的夏天是太有意思了)

Since the summer time here is just so bad-ass, I had to go ahead and make a second video post about it.  To kick off the video, I said, “Summer in Beijing is too much fun” (北京的夏天是太有意思了 – běi jīng de xià tiān shì tài yǒu yì si le).  Most of this sentence should make sense to you, as I used vocabulary that has already been introduced on here and is pretty easy to understand.  For example, 北京的 indicates something belonging to Beijing (in this case, 夏天, or summer).  Together, 北京的夏天 means “Beijing’s summer,” or “Summer in Beijing.”  A very useful grammatical structure is used here – 太…了 in Chinese is how you say “too (adjective)”.  In this example, I used 有意思, meaning “interesting” or “enjoyable.”

As you probably noticed in this video, I used the word 打 (dǎ) quite a bit. A versatile character, 打 can be used in many instances.  In this post, you may have noticed that it preceeded the name of many sports.  That’s because 打 can mean “strike,” “hit,” or “play,” along with about 100 other meanings.  When talking about sports, 打 is used for sports that involve the hands.  For this video, it was used to describe playing basketball (打篮球 – dǎ lán qiú), playing badminton (打羽毛球 – dǎ yǔ máo qiú), and playing beach volleyball (打沙滩排球 – dǎ shā tān pái qiú).  You also may have noticed that 打 was not used when I talked about soccer.  Well, that’s because you don’t use your hands to play soccer.  After all, the rest of the world does call it “football.”  So, in Chinese, you say 踢足球 (tī zú qiú).  Obviouisly, 踢 is the word you use for sports that involve your feet.

Another repeated phrase in this video was 水上 (shuǐ shàng), which means “on the water.”  If you see a sign for a 水上公园 (shuǐ shàng gōng yuán), you should be able to put your Chinese knowledge to good use and figure out that “water on park” means you are at a water park.  Also, when I went to the beach, I saw lots of people participating in a variety of 水上运动 (shuǐ shàng yùn dòng).  Of course, this translation of “on the water sport” can be parasailing, jet-skiing, or just about any fun activity in the water you can think of!

Finally, let’s review one last useful structure that was used in this video: 该..了 (gāi.. le) means “time to …”.  In this case, when I said 该跳舞了(gāi tiào wǔ le), it means “time to dance.”  As is evident by the excited restaurant workers dancing outside, and the random drum/dance party we stumbled upon while riding bikes one night, the use of this phrase was pretty appropriate.

Well, now we’re all caught up through two months of video posts.  I hope you find these reviews helpful.  Keep an eye on the blog for three more entertaining videos in the second half of the month!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Chinese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

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.

Leave a comment: