No time to learn Chinese?

For many students, school is almost over, and you are looking forward to a fun and relaxing summer. Not so fast. No regular schoolwork means you will have more time to spend on learning Chinese.

(xué) means to learn.
学校 (xuéxiào) is a school.
校长 (xiàozhǎng) is the principal. (zhǎng) means chief, senior, or to grow. The same character pronounced as (cháng) means long, steadily or length. This is just one of many such dual-purpose words in Chinese.
学期 (xuéqī) is a semester.
(jiāo) means to teach.
(shū) are books. It is also used formally as a verb that means “to write”.
教书 (jiāoshū) means to teach school.
读书 (dúshū) means to read a book, to study, or generally to attend school.
老师 (lǎoshī), or 教师 (jiàoshī) are the teachers, and 学生 (xuésheng) are the students.
讲师 (jiǎngshī) is a lecturer or a college instructor.
教授 (jiàoshòu) is a professor. 副教授 (fùjiàoshòu) is an associate professor.
(shì) is a room or chamber. So, 教室 (jiàoshì) is the classroom.
上課 (shàngkè) is to go to class. What does the following sentence mean?

Wǒ yào qù shàngkè le.

If a student says this, it means he is going to attend a class. On the other hand, if a teacher says this, it means he is going go to the class to give a lecture.

功课 (gōngkè) is schoolwork or homework.
中文 (Zhōngwén) is the Chinese language.
英文 (Yīngwén) is the English language.
成績 (chéngjī) means achievement or results. For the students, it means their grades. What’s your answer to the following questions?

Nĭ de chéngjī hǎo bùhǎo?
How are you doing at school? (Are you earning good grades?)

Nĭ zhè xuéqī chéngjī zěnmeyàng?
How are your grades this semester?

优等 (yōuděng) or 非常好 (fēicháng hǎo), means outstanding or excellent.
还可以 (hái kěyǐ), 差不多 (chàbuduō), and 中等 (zhōngděng) mean okay, so-so, passable, or average.
及格 (bùjígé) means to passed an exam.
不及格 (bùjígé) means to flunk an exam.

The people in the Anshun City of the Guizhou Province in China are known for their quick wit and clever tongue. Here is a slap-stick rhyme they made up in early 20th Century to mock those who studied English. A boarding school student writes to his parents:

“发惹, 妈惹”, 敬禀者:
Fā rě mā rě, jìng bǐng zhě:
Father, Mother, Respected Addressees,

Ér zài xuéxiào dú bùkě.
Me, your son, studies books at school.

Yàngyàng gōngkè dōu gù dé;
On each subject I’m doing good;

Zhǐyǒu yīngwén bùjígé.
Only the English class I goofed.

发惹, 妈惹 is a transliteration of the English words “father” and “mother”.
The student uses 不可 to simulate the sound of “book”, and 顾得 to simulate the sound of “good”. These are just for fun and are not standard translations of the corresponding English words. The word, (rě), means to provoke or to bother someone. The composer of this rhyme used this word in an attempt to approximate the sond of “the”, which has no Chinese equivalent.

敬禀者 is a very formal way of addressing the recipient of a letter or report.

可以 (kěyǐ) is an auxiliary verb that corresponds to “may” or “can”. As an adjective, it means passable or acceptable. The opposite term is 不可以 (bù kěyǐ), or 不可 (bùkě), which means “should not” or “not permitted to”.
顾得 happens to mean “being able to take care of”.

Click on School Report to access an audio recording of a variation of this amusing rhyme, which starts with:

父亲大人 (fùqin dàrén Honorable Father).

You already know that 大人 (dàrén) refers to a grown-up person. In the old times it was also used to address an important official as “Your Excellency” or “Your Honor”.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. aa
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 06:30:18

    Thanks for your Blog!
    I wanted to ask How to refer to an independent courses/classes in chinese


    • likeabridge
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 02:53:53

      Thanks for reading my blog posts.

      独立学习课程 (dúlì xuéxí kèchéng) are independent study courses, and 独立学习班 (dúlì xuéxí bān) are independent study classes. You could also refer to them as 自修课程 (zìxiū kèchéng) and 自修班 (zìxiū bān), respectively.


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