A handy fan

Is the weather getting too hot for you? Quick, take a piece of letter-size paperboard and write this word on it: 扇子 (shànzi a hand-held fan).

Now, wave it back and forth to enjoy your personal man-powered fan. You will feel 凉快 (liángkuai nice and cool) and 舒服 (shūfu comfortable). Why not add these words to your new fan as well? In between the fanning sessions, take a look at these words and exclaim:

好凉快呀! (Hǎo liángkuai ya!) How nice and cool!
好舒服呀! (Hǎo shūfu ya!) How good it feels!

The character (shàn) contains the character (yǔ), which means feather (and which resembles a pair of wings). Indeed, the ancient Chinese fans were made of feathers. After the paper fans were introduced, it became fashionable for artists and calligraphers to decorate the fans with brush paintings and literary scripts.

The word (shàn) can also be used as a verb. The well-known story,
黄香扇席 (Huáng Xiāng shàn xí Huang Xiang Fans the Mat), tells of
a little girl who lived in ancient China. In the hot summer days, before her parents retired to their bedroom, Huang Xiang would be seen with a fan in hand, diligently wafting over the mat on her parents’ bed. When asked what she was doing, she replied, “I want to cool down the mat so my parents will be able to sleep well in the hot weather.” This heart-warming story earned Huang Xiang a place among the top twenty-four most respected names in China that are associated with filial piety.

If you find that seeing an item labeled with its Chinese name helps you learn the Chinese term, then it may be a good idea to label a few other household items with their Chinese names. (Caution: Use stickers that you can easily remove from the items when you don’t need them anymore.) Following are some common compartments you may find in a house:

客厅 (kètīng living room)
饭厅 (fàntīng dining room)
书房 (shūfáng study)
厨房 (chúfáng kitched)
卧室 (wòshì bedroom)
客房 (kèfáng guest room)
洗衣间 (xǐyī jiàn laundry room)
浴室 (yùshì bathroom)
厕所 (cèsuǒ lavatory)
车房 (chē fáng garage)
楼上 (lóushàng upstairs)
楼下 (lóuxià downstairs)
阁楼 (gélóu attic)
地下室 (dìxiàshì basement)

What all do you have in your living room? Here are my guesses:
电视 (diànshì TV)
电灯 (diàndēng electric lamp)
沙发 (shāfā sofa)
茶几 (chájī teatable, side table)

Look up in your dictionary the names for the commonplace items in the other rooms of your dwelling and make a label for the ones that you still need to learn. Imagine how many sentences you could make by using all those words in the sentence pattern shown below:

我的客厅里有一个茶几.
Wǒde kètīng lǐ yǒu yī gè chájī.
In my living room there is a tea table.

Don’t just imagine. Say these sentences out loud and, better yet, write them down in your notebook.

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