Zhang or Chang?

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Besides 校长 (xiàozhǎng principal) and 教师 (jiàoshī teacher), there are many other professions that one could take up. The following examples follow the first two sentence patterns that we discussed before.

Sentence Pattern I – Noun + Adjective

Nà wèi hùshi hěn héqì.
That nurse is very amiable.

Nà wèi shàngwè hěn yǒnggǎn.
That captain is very courageous.

Sentence Pattern II – Noun + (shì) + Noun

Wŏ gēgē shì gōngchéngshī.
My brother is an engineer.

Tā shì yīshēng.
He is a physician.

Tā tàitai yĕ shì yīshēng.
His wife is also a physician.

Mǎkètǔwēn shì yǒumíng de zuòjiā.
Mark Twain is a famous writer.

Here, the optional adjective 有名的 (yǒumíng de famous) precedes the noun that it describes. (Anyone named Mark here? Now you know which Chinese characters you could use to represent your name.)

Wŏmen xuéxiào de yuándīng jiào lǎo Zhāng.
The gardener at our school is called Old Zhang.

(jiào) means to call or to shout. It can be used in a number of different ways. 大叫 (dà jiào) is to shout at the top of one’s lungs,叫菜 (jiào cài) means to order food at or from a restaurant. In the above sentence, functions as a linking verb like (shì to be), and translates to “is called” or “is named”.

(Zhāng) is a popular Chinese surname. You may have met people by this last name but their name cards show Chang instead of Zhang. This is because there were a couple other Romanization systems of Mandarin in popular use before the Hanyu Pinyin was officially adopted by the Chinese government in 1958. Chang is the transliteration of (Zhāng) that follows the Wade–Giles Romanization system of Mandarin. The Wade-Giles system was widely used in English-speaking countires for most of the 20th century.

(Zhāng) is made up of (gōng a bow, as in “bow and arrow”) and (cháng long). When you imagine a bow’s string being drawn, it’s not surprising that, as a verb, (Zhāng) means to open or to spread. 张开 (zhāngkāi) means to open wide. It can take as an object such words as 眼睛 (yǎnjīng eyes), 嘴巴 (zuǐba mouth), (shǒu hand) and 手臂 (shǒubì arms). Switch the two characters, and you’ll get 开张 (kāizhāng), which refers to the first opening of a business.

(zhāng) is also used as a counting unit for paper bills, sheets, letters, newspapers, documents, tickets, and even faces, mouths, beds and chairs.

When we mention a profession like physicians or engineers, we often conjure up an image of a man, whereas a nurse is usually associated with a woman. Nowadays women also engage in traditionally male occupations, and many modern fathers do childcare and household tasks that were once monopolyzed by mothers. In return, these fathers get to know their children better and are able to enjoy a more well-rounded life instead of just being a hard-working breadwinner. Father’s Day is coming up, and we wish all the fathers in the world an enjoyable Sunday!

Fùqin jié kuàilè!
Happy Father’s Day!

You know that Mother’s Day is 母亲节 (mǔqin jié). The Dragon Boat Festival that we celebrated last week is called 端午节 (duānwǔjié the 5th day of the 5th lunar month) In fact, the names of all the Chinese holidays either end in (jie festival, holiday, knot, node) or (rì day).

This year 父亲节 (fùqin jié Father’s Day) falls on June 19th, 2011. In Chinese, it is: 二零一一年六月十九日 (èr líng yīyī nián liùyuè shí jiǔ rì), which could also be written as: 二○一一年六月十九日 (èr líng yīyī nián liùyuè shí jiǔ rì).

Please note that the date format used is yyyy/mm/dd.


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