Chinese word for learning

For some of you, school may have just started after the long summer vacation. It’s time to think less about visits and travels and more about your studies. As this video shows, it is a blessing that we have the capability to learn new things.

The Chinese word for learning or studying is (xué) or 学习 (xuéxí). One is never too old to learn. To put it in Chinese,

活到老, 学到老.
Huó dào lǎo xué dào lǎo.
We live and learn.

(huó) means to live or being alive.
(dào) means to arrive, to reach, or up until.
(lǎo) means old, aged or outdated.

Indeed there is no limit to knowledge and learning. The classical Chinese idiom for this observation is:
学无止境 (xuéwúzhǐjìng)

You should give yourself a pat on the back for taking on the challenge of studying the Chinese language.

学中文不是一件容易的事.
Xué zhōngwén bù shì yī jiàn róngyì de shì.
Leaning Chinese is not an easy task.

We’ve previously discussed a few words that refer to learning at school. (See the article posted on 6/1/11.) Following are several additional words and expressions containing (xué), and I encourage you to look up a few more on your own to study.

大学生 (dàxuésheng) does not mean a big student but rather a university student as 大学 (dàxué) is a university or a college. 学院 (xuéyuàn) is a college or an academy.

同学 (tóngxué) is a schoolmate. Specifically, 同班同学 (tóngbāntóngxué) is a classmate.

学问 (xuéwen) means learning or knowledge. 学科 (xuékē) is a study course, a subject or a branch of learning. For example, 文学 (wénxué) is literature, 科学 (kēxué) is science, and 地质学 (dìzhíxué) is geology.

张先生很有学问.
Zhāng xiānsheng hěn yǒu xuéwen.
Mr. Zhang is very learned.

学位 (xuéwèi) is an academic degree. 学士 (xuéshì) is a scholar or one holding a bachelor’s degree.

学费 (xuéfèi) means tuition, and 学分 (xuéfēn) is a credit one can earn by studying at an academic institution.

今年学费又涨了.
Jīnnián xuéfèi yòu zhàng le.
This year the tuition has soared again.

学徒 (xuétú) is an apprentice.

博学多才 (bóxuéduōcái) is a phrase for describing someone of great learning and abilities.

才疏学浅 (cáishūxuéqiǎn having little talent and learning) is what you might say of yourself to show humbleness.

不学无术 (bùxuéwúshù) means ignorant and incompetent. This phrase could be used when talking about someone of whom you don’t have a high opinion.

(xí) means to practice, to review or to get used to. 习题 (xítí) is an exercise in school work.

练习 (liànxí) is to practice. 见习 (jiànxí) is to learn on the job. Therefore, a student working as a trainee is called 见习生 (shēng).

Confucius said,
学而时习之, 不亦悦乎.
Xué er shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū.
To learn and to review the material from time to time, isn’t that delightful?

演习 (yǎnxí) is a drill or a maneuver.

习惯 (xíguàn) is a habit. As a verb it means to become accustomed to. 恶习 (èxí) is a pernicious habit.

我已经习惯她的冷漠.
Wǒ yǐjīng xíguàn tā de lěngmò.
I’ve already gotten used to her cold attitude.

Blackberry in Chinese

Blackberries

Blackberries


As the picture on this page shows, I’m not talking about a PDA device but rather the edible blackberry, 黑莓 (hēi méi), which is now in season here. The summer air is filled with the sweet aroma of the luscious berries that are waiting to be picked and popped into the mouth. If one is not careful, one will pay the price of being pricked or scratched by the thorny brier.

As we have discussed previously, (cì) means a thorn. As a verb, it means to pierce or poke into something.

我的拇指被刺到了.
Wǒ de hēi méi cì le.
My thumb got jabbed.

The sting of a bee or a wasp is called 蜂刺 (fēngcì). Fishbones are called 鱼刺 (yúcì). Not surprisingly, a hedgehog is called 刺猬 (cìwèi).

刺痛 (cìtòng) means a tingle. As a verb it means to hurt by stabbing with a small pointed object like a needle.

Other things can sting without making physical contact with you.

Ear-piercing sounds or harsh words may be described as 刺耳 (cìěr grating on the ear). And things that are offending to the eye are said to be 刺眼 (cìyǎn) or 不顺眼 (bù shùnyǎn).

他说的话句句刺耳.
Tā shuō de huà jù jù cìěr.
Every sentence he uttered grated on my ear.

As an exercise, try making a sentence in Chinese that translates to: “His words stabbed my heart.”

A biting wind is often described as 刺骨 (cìgǔ piercing to the bones).

刺激 (cìjī) means to stimulate, to provoke or to upset.

不要再刺激他了.
Bùyào zài cìjī tā le.
Stop irritating him.

You may wonder why in the above sentence there is not a Chinese word for stopping. In Chinese, instead of asking someone to stop doing something, you would normally just request that someone to not continue the action. Therefore, this is how you would ask someone to stop weeping:

不要再哭了.
Bùyào zài kū le.

刺杀 (cìshā) means to assassinate. The assassin is called 刺客 (cìkè).

刺绣 (cìxiù) is to embroider using a needle with a sharp point. As a noun, it refers to an embroidered article, which is also called 刺绣品 (cìxiùpǐn).

As (cì) means to pierce or to poke, it makes sense that making roundabout or secret inquiries is referred to as 刺探 (cìtàn). And it also makes sense that 讽刺 (fěngcì to mock or satirize) also contains the (cì) character.

Now, take a look at the character (là). If you look closely, you will see it is slightly different from (cì) – the little rectangle is closed off and does not have spikes poking down.

(là) means obstinate, pompous or disrespectful, as in 大剌剌 (dà là là with a swagger).

A word that sounds like (là) but is much more commonly used is
(là).

(là), or 辛辣 (xīnlà), means spicy hot, pungent, biting or ruthless.

辣椒 (làjiāo) are hot peppers, and 辣酱 (làjiàng) is a hot chili sauce or a hot chili paste.

A woman who is unreasonable, shrewish and attacks people with pungent words would be described as 潑辣 (pōlà).

他的妻子是個潑辣的女人
Tā de qīzi shì gè pōlà de nǚrén
His wife is a shrew.

Sing Aloha Oe in Chinese

One of the meanings of the word (bié) is to leave or to part. The “knife” radical on the right-hand side signifies the separation.

离别 (líbié) and 别离 (biélí) both mean to leave or to part for a long period of time.

告别 (gàobié) and 辞别 (cíbié) mean to take leave of, to say good-bye or to bid farewell.

拜别 (bàibié) is to respectively say good-bye or bid farewell.

送别 (sòngbié) is to see someone off. 送别晚会 (sòngbié wǎnhuì) is a send-off soiree.

告辞 (gàocí) is to take leave of one’s host. On the other hand, 不辞而别 (bùcíérbié) is to leave without bidding good-bye.

我不能理解他为什么不辞而别.
Wǒ bùnéng lǐjiě tā wèishénme bùcíérbié.
I cannot comprehend why he took off without saying good-bye.

“Farewell to Thee” is a world-renowned song composed by Queen Liliuokalano. It expresses the sentiments of parting with a loved one who lives in a bautiful place that is Hawaii.

Have you wondered why Hawaii is called 夏威夷 (Xiàwēiyí) in Chinese when (xià summer) sounds quite different from “Ha”? Well, in earlier days, many overseas Chinese were Cantonese, and in the Cantonese dialect the “x” pinyin sound is pronounced like “h”, and (xià) is pronounced “ha”.

We’ve been singing “Aloha Oe” in Chinese since grade school, but I have not been able to find out who the translator was. Although the wording is different from the original lyrics, the Chinese version also aptly portrays the reluctance, the acceptance and the hope at play while bidding farewell to a dear friend. At this link is the song sung by a group of middle school students. I think you will appreciate their clear enunciation of the Chinese lyrics.

绵绵 (miánmián) describes a soft continuous mass. (mì) means dense, thick, fine or secret. Here it refers to the thick clouds. Some versions of the lyrics start out with 浓密密 (nóng mì mì), which also means thick and dense.

乌云 (wūyún) are dark clouds.
(duī) is to pile up. (mǎn) means full of. 堆满 (duī mǎn) describes how the dense dark clouds are piled on on the mountaintop, or 山顶 (shāndǐng).

笼罩著 (lǒngzhào zhe) means enveloping or shrouding. The object of this action are the woods, or 树林 (shùlín).

山谷中 (shāngǔ zhōng) means in the valley.

吹来 (chuī lái) means blowing or wafting towards the observer.

凄凉的 (qīliáng de) means desolate, dreary, sad. 微风 (wēifēng) is a gentle breeze.

激动起 (jīdòng qǐ) means to rouse up or to incite.

(sī ) means thoughts. In formal Chinese it also acts as the verb “to think”. (qíng) are feelings and emotions. 别思 (bié sī) and 离情 (lí qíng) both refer to the thoughts and emotions at parting.

珍重 (zhēnzhòng) means to take good care of yourself and stay well, and 再见 (zàijiàn) is good-bye.

亲爱的朋友 (qīnài de péngyǒu) means dear friend or dear friends.

就在眼前 (jiù zài yǎnqián) means right before one’s eyes, or right at this moment.

从今以后 (cóngjīnyǐhòu) means starting from today.

Here, (dào) means until. 下次 (xiàcì) is next time. 相见 (xiàng jiàn) is to see each other. (qián) means before or in front of.

会感到 (huì gǎndào) means “we will feel”. 心酸 (xīnsuān) means heart ache. The use of (huì) as an auxiliary verb has been mentioned in several articles at this blog site and is discussed in Chapter 16 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

How to dance to this song? Click on this link to watch the lovely hula dance performed by Punihei Anthony.

Learn Chinese word radical – Knife

Watermelon 西瓜 (xīgua)

Watermelon 西瓜 (xīgua)

今天好热呀!
Jīntiān hǎo rè ya!
It’s so hot today!

我去买个西瓜.
Wǒ qù mǎi gè xīgua.
I’ll go buy a watermelon.

How best to cut up a watermelon? At this link is shown a clever way to dissect this large round mass with minimal messiness.

The Chinese word for cutting or slicing is (qiē). (gē) just means to cut. Put the two characters together, and you have a new word, 切割 (qiēgē), which means to make an incision or to cut and sever.

(dāo) is a knife. You can see that there are seven cuts in the character (qiē).

As a verb, (fēn) means to divide, to separate or to differentiate. There are eight cuts in this character. After the division, each portion or part is called 一份 (yī fèn).

(bàn) means to play a part in a drama.

忿 (fèn) means vehement. 忿怒 (fèn nù) means fury or furious (very angry).

(rèn) is the edge of a knife or a sword. The word for endure, forbear or tolerate, (rěn), features a heart being knifed. This is definitely more painful than biting one’s lip. 忍不住 (rěnbuzhù) means unable to bear.

她忍不住哭了出来.
Tā rěnbuzhù kū le chūlai.
She couldn’t help but start to weep.

In some words, the knife radical is place at the top. For example, (jiǎo) is a horn, an angle or a corner. On the other hand, 角色 (juésè) means a role in a drama.

危险 (wēixiǎn) means danger or dangerous.

(miǎn) means to eliminate, to remove from office or to excuse someone from something (i.e. to remove the responsibility from someone).

这样可以免掉不少麻烦.
Zhèyàng kěyǐ miǎn diào bùshǎo máfan.
This way we can avoid a lot of trouble.

(xíng) is a corporal punishment or prison sentence. It features a “knife” word radical in the vertical format on the right-hand-side.

(pàn) means to differentiate, as in 判别 (pànbié) , to make a judgement, as in 判断 (pànduàn), or to issue a sentence, as in 判刑 (pàn xíng). 免刑 (miǎnxíng) means to exempt from punishment.

我判断这消息不真实.
Wǒ pànduàn zhè xiāoxi bù zhēnshí.
I think this piece of information is not true.

(kè) is to carve or engrave. As a noun it means a moment of time. 立刻 (lìkè) means “at once”.

(shuā) is to brush or to eliminate.

(cì) is to pierce or to stab. As a noun it means a thorn or a fish bone.

(duò) is to cut by chopping. (xiāo) is to cut by whittling.

(tì) is to shave. Therefore, shaving a beard is called 剃胡子 (tì húzi).

(guā) is to scrape or fleece. 刮胡子 (guā húzi) also means to shave one’s beard or mustache. In Taiwan, this is a slang expression that means to criticize or refute someone in his or her face.

我被他刮了一个胡子.
Wǒ bèi tā guā le yī gè húzi.
I got a slap in the face from him.

More about the Chinese character – Square

 3 squared equals 9.

3 squared equals 9.

Now we will discuss some of the extended meanings of (fāng).

First, a little math. 平方 (píngfāng) represents “squared”. Therefore 平方公尺 (píngfāng gōngchǐ) means square meters. In three-dimensional space we have 立方 (lìfāng), standing for a cubed quantity.

三的平方是九.
Sān de píngfāng shì jiǔ.
3 squared is 9.

In the above sentence, you could substitute 是 (shì is) with 等于 (děngyú equals).

An equation is called 方程式 (fāngchéngshì). This could be a mathematical equation or a chemical equation.

In so far as (fāng) means a direction or a side, it also represents an aspect of a matter or a party in a transaction.

方面 (fāngmiàn) means an aspect or a side of an issue.

这方面我不很清楚.
Zhèi fāngmiàn wǒ bù hěn qīngchǔ.
I don’t know much about this aspect of the matter.

对方 (duìfāng) means the other party (the party opposite you).

对方同意了吗?
Duìfāng tóngyì le ma?
Did the other party agree?

双方都同意了.
Shuāngfāng dōu tóngyì le.
Both parties agreed.

In a sales transaction, the purchasing party is referred to as 买方 (mǎifāng), while the seller is referred to as 卖方 (màifāng).

官方 (guānfāng) means official or pertaining to the government. 警方 (jǐngfāng) refers to the police.

(fāng) is also the abbreviation of 方法 (fāngfǎ), which means method or means.

这个方法不错.
Zhègè fāngfǎ bùcuò.
This method is not bad.

处方 (chǔfāng) is a prescription. Specifically, a medical prescription is called
药方 (yàofāng).

A 方案 (fāngàn) is a plan or a scheme.

比方说 (bǐfangshuō) means “as an example” or “for instance”.

(fāng), being square and not crooked, implies honesty and uprightness. This may be why it is used as a Chinese surname.

大方 (dàfang) means generous or gracious.

他的女朋友美丽又大方.
Tā de nǚpéngyou měilì yòu dàfang.
His girl friend is beautiful and gracious.

(fāng) can also be used as an adverb. 方才 (fāngcái) means just now and is synonymous with 刚才 (gāngcái).

我方才看到他.
Wǒ fāngcái kàndào tā.
I saw him just a moment ago.

(fāng) and (cái), when standing alone as an adverb, take on the meaning of “not until”. (fāng) is the formal version. Use (cái) in everyday speech.

我现在才知道他真的爱我.
Wǒ xiànzài cái zhīdào tā zhēnde ài wǒ.
Now I realize that he truly loves me.
(Hope it’s not too late.)

As an adjective 方便 (fāngbiàn) means convenient. As a verb, it means going to the lavatory.

Following are a few more commonly used words that take on the (fāng) radical.

仿 (fǎng) means to imitate, as in 模仿 (mófǎng), or to be like, as in 仿佛 (fǎngfú), which is a formal way of saying 好像 (hǎoxiàng).

(shī) is to hand out or to apply or carry out. In the sense of handing out, it is synonymous with the word (gěi to give).

(fāng), with the “grass” radical on top, means fragrant. It is a favorite character for girls’ names.

Learn Chinese word radical – Square

Grid for writing Chinese characters

Grid for writing Chinese characters


The Chinese character (fāng) means “square”. Like the English word “square”, it can be used and interpreted in a number of different ways. Today we will look at this word as it pertains to square shapes, locations and directions.

So, a square shape is called 方形 (fāngxíng) or 正方形 (zhèngfāngxíng). 长方形 (chángfāngxíng) is a rectangle.

Any square piece is called 方块 (fāngkuài). Chinese characters are often referred to as 方块字 (fāngkuàizì).

方格 (fānggě) is a square grid. When we were in elementary school, we practiced writing Chinese characters by filling pages and pages of square grids. The narrower space on the right side of each square is for adding the zhuyin notation.

方糖 (fāngtáng) are sugar cubes.

(fāng) also means directions. The commonly used word for direction or orientation is 方向 (fāngxiàng). 方位 (fāngwèi) means position or bearing.

东方 (dōngfāng) is the east direction or the East. 西方 (xīfāng) is the west direction or the West.

前方 (qiánfāng) means ahead or the front. 后方 (hòufāng) is the rear of something such as a building or an army.

四方 (sìfāng) are the four directions. It also means a shape with four right angles, i.e. a square or a rectangle. 四方 (sìfāng) and 八方 (bāfāng eight directions) are often used to refer to all sides or all directions. The number eight refers to the eight points of the compass.

方针 (fāngzhèn) is the pointer on the compass. This word refers to a policy or a guiding principle.

地方 (dìfang) means a place, a spot or a space.

这篇文章还有许多可以改进的地方.
zhè piān wénzhāng hái yǒu xǔduō kěyǐ gǎijìn de dìfang.
There is still plenty of room for improvement in this composition.

As flags are usually of a square or rectangular shape, it is not surprising that the word for flags, (qí), takes on the “square” radical.

(fáng) is a house or a room. It features a space under a roof.

(fáng) is to defend one’s turf or guard against someone or something. This word features the “ear” radical as well.

(fàng) is to place, to put or to release.

(páng) means side or on the side.

他把那封信放在一旁.
Tā bǎ nà fēng xìn fàng zài yī páng.
He set that letter on the side.

(zú) means clan, race, nationality or a group with common features.

(xuán) is to spin or revolve around something.

地球绕着太阳旋转.
Dìqiú rào zhe tàiyáng xuánzhuǎn.
The earth revolves around the sun.

(fǎng) is to visit, to call on or to interview someone.

他拒绝接受访问.
Tā jùjué jiēshòu fǎngwèn.
He refused to be interviewed.

(lǚ) is to travel. 旅客 (lǚkè) could be a passenger, a traveler or a hotel guest.

旅游 (lǚyóu) means touring.

If you are traveling to a Chinese-speaking country, you might find the cheat sheet in Chapter 32 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” helpful.

Talking about soccer in Chinese

Soccer is the most watched sports game in the present world. Its rules are fairly easy to understand. Since this game is played using the feet, it is appropriately named in Chinese as 足球 (zúqiú).

(zú) is the formal word for the foot. It features as a radical in many words related to the feet. For example, 踢足球 (tī zúqiú) means to kick or play the soccer ball. To see a few other words featuring the foot radical, please review the lesson posted on 10/16/13.

足球隊 (zúqiú duì) is a soccer team. The soccer team members are called 足球队员 (zúqiú duìyuán). You can refer to the members of any team as 队员 (duìyuán), and you can refer to any ball players as 球员 (qiú yuán).

足球场 (zúqiú chǎng) is a soccer playing field. (qiú) is a ball, and (mén) is a door or a gate. Therefore 球門 (qiúmén) is the goal in a sports game like soccer or hockey.

比赛 (bǐsài) means a match or a competition. As a verb, it means to compete in a match. You can refer to a soccer game as 足球比赛 (zúqiú bǐsài) or 足球赛 (zúqiú sài).

世界 (shìjiè) means the world. (bēi) is a cup or a trophy. Therefore, the Chinese word for World Cup is 世界杯 (shìjiè bēi).

Last Sunday the German team won the World Cup for the fourth time in history. Their formidable opponent had won the World Cup twice before.

德国比阿根廷多得一分, 赢得了世界杯.
Déguó bǐ Ägēntín duō dé yī fèn, yíngdé le shìjiè bēi.
Germany got one point over Argentina, winning the World Cup.

A penalty shot or a penalty kick is called 罚球 (fáqiú). At this link is a video showing how a soccer ball sometimes has a mind of its own.

意大利球员踢出一个罚球.
Yìdàlì qiú yuán tī chū yī gè fáqiú.
The Italian soccer player made a penalty kick.

那足球碰到球门框, 反弹了回来.
Nà zúqiú pèng dào qiúmén kuàng, fǎn tán le huílái.
That ball hit the frame of the goal and bounced back.

对方守球门的队员喜出望外.
Duìfāng shǒu qiúmén de qiú yuán xǐchūwàngwài.
The goalie of the opposing team was overjoyed.

没想到那足球落地后竟然自动跳进了球门里.
Méi xiǎngdào nà zúqiú luòdì hòu jìngrán zìdòng tiào jìn qiúmén li.
Unexpectedly, after touching the ground, that soccer ball actually bounced back into the goal on its own.

Which ball game do you enjoy the most? Why not look up the Chinese terms associated with that activity?

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 154 other followers

%d bloggers like this: