Chinese spooks join in on Halloween

万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié) Halloween

What will you be this Halloween, or 万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié)? A witch, 巫婆 (wūpó), a sorcerer, 巫师 (wūshī), or Dracula, 吸血鬼 (xīxuěguǐ vampire)? You may have thought that your macabre makeup and outfit would scare the wits out of everyone, until you come face-to-face with a ghastly apparition that makes you cringe. This is what the Chinese describe as 小巫见大巫 (xiǎowūjiàndàwū), or little sorcerer meets the great sorcerer. Figuratively, it means that one is dwarfed by another person who is much more capable and powerful.

(guǐ) and 鬼怪 (guǐguài) are general terms for ghosts, spirits, apparitions and devils. 鬼魂 (guǐhún) are spirits in the form of ghosts or apparitions.

A pair of ghosts, named 无常鬼 (wúcháng guǐ), are often featured as tall figures on stilts in some Chinese religious processions or ghost festivals. In keeping with yin and yang, folklore provides for a 黑无常 (hēi wúcháng) and a 白无常 . 黑无常 (hēi wúcháng) always brings disaster, while 白无常 (bái wúcháng), although also scary and feared, is believed to bring wealth sometimes. In any case, 无常 (wúcháng) means changeable and unpredictable. Understandably, it would be terrible to have to deal with someone or something that’s devoid of constancy and reliability.

(guǐ) also means terrible, damnable or tricky. In this sense, this character has many light-hearted applications.

鬼鬼祟祟 (guǐguǐsuìsuì) means being sneaky, and 搞鬼 (gǎoguǐ) is playing tricks.

Tāmen guǐguǐsuìsuì de zài gǎo shénme?
What (mischief) are they up to?

Nǐmen zài gǎo shénme guǐ?
What the hell are you doing?

有鬼 (yǒuguǐ) means “There’s something fishy.”

鬼话 (guǐhuà) is literally the devil’s talk. It is used to accuse the speaker of telling a lie.

鬼主意 (guǐzhǔyì) is a clever or wicked idea or scheme.

做鬼脸 (zuò guǐliǎn) means to make a grimace or a funny face.

Tā xiàng wǒ zuò le yī gè guǐliǎn.
He made a face at me.

死鬼 (sǐguǐ) is literally a “dead devil”. However, it just means “That wretch!” You’d be surprised how many housewives refer to their husbands by this term, in jest or in anger.

小鬼 (xiǎoguǐ) is a goblin or little devil. This is actually an endearing term people use to refer to young kids.

胆小鬼 (dǎnxiǎoguǐ) is a scaredy-cat.

酒鬼 (jiǔguǐ) is a drunkard or a person addicted to drinking.

活见鬼 (huójiànguǐ) is a phrase used to discount someone’s words as being preposterous or totally incredulous.

(hún), or 灵魂 (línghún), is the soul or the spirit. When preceded by such a gloomy word as (yōu dim, secluded) or (yīn shaded, sinister), the spirit turns into a spectre, namely, 幽灵 (yōulíng) and 阴魂 (yīnhún). A requiem is called 安魂曲 (ānhúnqǔ).

Any word containing the character (mó) involves something demonic, mystical or magical. 魔鬼 (móguǐ), 恶魔 (èmó), 妖魔 (yāomó), 妖怪 (yāoguài) and 妖精 (yāojing) all refer to demons, evil spirits or monsters. Temptresses are often called 妖精 (yāojing). A tyrant or despot is sometimes referred to as a 魔王 (mówáng), or the top monster.

着魔 (zháomó) means to be possessed or bewitched.

Tā wèi zhēnnī zháomó.
He is enchanted by Jenny.

魔术 (móshù) is magic or a magician’s trick.

What to do with a host of demons and evil spirits surrounding us? Fear not. According to Chinese mythology, there is the King of all Demons, 钟馗 (Zhōngkuí), whom we may call on for help. Many traditional Chinese households and businesses have the image of this guardian spirit painted on their main gates. Others may put up a poster of his image during the New Year celebration.

In real life, there are fiends that we truly must fear, namely the hackers on the Internet. Kudos to whoever came up with the Chinese transliteration for hackers. (hài) means shocking or to be appalled. (kè) is a visitor, a guest, or a person engaged in some particular pursuit. And voila! 骇客 (hài kè hacker).

Learn Chinese words involving the face

笑脸 (xiàoliǎn) Smiling Face

Many drawing instructions tell you to start out with an oval shape when drawing a human face. Indeed, the Chinese often refer to the face of children and nice-looking women as 脸蛋 (liǎndàn face, cheeks). For the others, the word, (liǎn face), will do.

The skin on the face is called 脸皮 (liǎnpí face, cheeks). (hòu) means thick. Therefore, 脸皮厚 (liǎnpí hòu) means thick-skinned or brazen. An even worse accusation is 不要脸 (bùyàoliǎn shameless, “Shame on you!”), which is an offensive term that is sometimes heard between two people quarrelling with each other.

When you do something embarrassing, you may feel disgraced or shameful, i.e. 丢脸 (diūliǎn losing face). And you may blush, 脸红 (liǎnhóng).

Nà shì yī jiàn diūliǎn de shì.
That was a disgrace.

她想到他说的话, 不禁脸红了.
Tā xiǎngdào tā shuō de huà, bùjīn liǎnhóng le.
When she thought about what he said, she could not help but blush.

天色 (tiānsè) is the color of the sky, or the weather. 脸色 (liǎnsè) is one’s complexion or facial expression. (biàn) means to change. 变天 (biàntiān) means the weather has changed, usually for the worse. Similarly, 变脸 (biànlián) means to turn angry or hostile all of a sudden. (fān) means to flip or turn over. So, 翻脸 (fānliǎn) also means to stop being friendly to someone.

The Chinese equivalent of pulling a long face or looking displeased is 拉下脸 (lāxialiǎn). 愁眉苦脸 (chóuméikǔliǎn) is to frown and put on a sad or worried face.

Now, a happier facial expression – 笑脸 (xiàoliǎn smiling face).

Wǒ xiǎngniàn tā de xiàoliǎn.
I miss her smiling face.

The face is also called 面孔 (miànkǒng) or 面容 (miànróng). 脸面 (liǎnmiàn) refers to one’s face as well as one’s self-respect.

Whereas (liǎn face) only refers to the physiological face, (miàn) also means a surface, an aspect, or a side of an object or structure. In the Simplified Chinese Characters system, it also stands for noodles.

见面 (jiànmiàn) is to see or meet someone.

露面 (lùmiàn) is to make an appearance.

面熟 (miànshú) means to look familiar.

面子 (miànzi) could refer to the outside of a garment or comforter, or it could refer to one’s import or prestige. Important people are said to have large faces – 面子大 (miànzi dà).

给面子 (gěi miànzi) means to honor or give due respect to someone, or to do something to make someone look good in front of others.

他今天来这里, 是给你面子.
Tā jīntiān lái zhelǐ, shì gěi nǐ miànzi.
He is giving you special consideration by coming here today.

爱面子 (àimiànzǐ) is to care about one’s reputation, or be keen about saving one’s face.

丢面子 (diūmiànzi), like 丢脸 (diūliǎn), is to lose face. 不体面 (bùtǐmiàn) also means improper or shameful.

We can see the outward appearance and the facial expressions of a person, but can we really claim to know that person’s heart or true intentions? When you feel betrayed by a long-time acquaintance, you might say, with a sigh,

唉, 知人知面不知心.
Ái, zhīrénzhīmiànbùzhīxīn.
Oh well, I thought he (or she) was a true friend.
(One cannot judge a person’s heart by his face.)

We’ve talked about the face and a few facial features. To sing about them as well, look up the song “Lift your Veil” in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Fall Harvest

秋 (qiū) Autumn

The sun is shining bright as I pick the last of my cute little 小番茄 (xiǎo fānqié cherry tomatoes) off the vines, but it’s not scorching hot. The air is a bit on the cool side, but not so cold as to bite. The flies have all but disappeared, but the birds are still around chirping. What’s not to like about this time of the year?

秋天 (qiūtiān, autumn) is the time for harvesting and enjoying the fruit of your labor. Besides the 苹果 (píngguǒ apples), (lí pears), 葡萄 (pútáo grapes), 李子 (lǐzi plums) and various kinds of 坚果 (jiānguǒ nuts), you will want to also bring in the 青豆 (qīngdòu green beans), 高丽菜 (gāolì cài cabbage) and 南瓜 (nánguā pumpkins) before frost sets in.

Literally, 结果 (jiéguǒ) is the action of a plant forming fruits. This word, like “to bear fruit”, also means to get results. You can also use it as a noun that refers to the result or the outcome.

Nǐmen tǎolùn de jiéguǒ zěnmeyàng?
What’s the outcome of your discussion?

(shōu) is to receive, to accept, to gather or to put away. (huò) is the formal word for 得到 (dédào to have gotten, to have obtained, to have received). 收获 (shōuhuò) means to harvest or to bring in the crop. It also refers to the crop itself or the gain from the work one puts in. As the saying goes:

一分耕耘, 一分收获.
Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò.
No pain, no gain. (You will harvest as much as you have cultivated.)

The Traditional Chinese word for harvest is 收穫 (shōuhuò), which clearly involves (hé), or standing rice plants.

On the other hand, the character (huò) contains the “dog” radical, (quǎn), that we talked about before. It implies capturing something by force. In the Simplified Chinese character system, this character is used in words pertaining to gaining or getting something regardless of the means by which the object is obtained.

Besides 收获 (shōuhuò), terms containing (huò) are mostly used in formal Chinese and not colloquially. However, it’s still important to learn these words as you are bound to come across them in verbal news reports, newspapers and other written material.

获得 (huòdé) means to receive, to obtain, to acquire or to achieve.

打猎 (dǎliè) is to go hunting. Therefore, 猎获 (lièhuò)
means to have gotten something by hunting. In everyday speech, you would simply say 打到 (dǎ dào).

他们打到三只雁. (dǎ dào).
Tāmen dǎ dào sān zhī yàn.
They got three wild geese.

知道 (zhīdào) means to know or to be aware of. 获知 (huòzhī) means to have obtained information about something.

Wǒmén yǐjīng huòzhī táifēng jiāng zhuànxiàng.
We have already received news that the typhoon is changing course.

利益 (lìyì) are profits or benefits. 获益 (huòyì) means to have received benefit or profit.

胜利 (shènglì) means victory. 获胜 (huòshèng) is to triumph or to win a victory. So, when you hear or read “我方获胜. (Wǒ fāng huòshèng.)”, you’ll know that our side has won.

准许 (zhǔnxǔ) means to give approval, and 获准 (huòzhǔn) means to have obtained approval or permission.

Following are three popular idioms involving (huò):

如获至宝 (rúhuòzhìbǎo) describes a person being so happy and excited as if he or she had unexpectedly been given the most precious treasure.

我收到他的信, 如获至宝.
Wǒ shōudào tā de xìn, rúhuòzhìbǎo.
When I got his letter, it felt like receiving the most valuable treasure in the world.

一无所获 (yīwúsuǒhuò) means to have gotten nothing for one’s efforts.

他们找了一整天, 但是一无所获.
Tāmen zhǎo le yīzhěngtiān, dànshì yīwúsuǒhuò.
They searched for an entire day, but came back empty-handed.

不劳而获 (bùláoérhuò) means to have a windfall, to get something for nothing, or to profit without toiling. This phrase usually carries a negative connotation.

Learn Chinese word for going smoothly

The (shùn) character consists of a (chuān river) and a (yè a leaf or a page). Think of a leaf floating down a river, moving along with the flow. This will help you remember that (shùn) means to move smoothly along in the same direction.

(shùn) implies not going against the grain. Therefore, it also means being smooth or agreeable.

顺风 (shùnfēng) is to have a tail wind.

(fān) is the sail of a boat. To wish someone smooth sailing, you could say: 一帆风顺. (Yīfānfēngshùn.) To wish someone a safe trip, you could say: 一路顺风. (Yīlùshùnfēng. Bon voyage)

顺路 (shùnlù) means on the way.

Wǒ shùnlù mǎi le yī tiáo miànbāo.
On the way I bought a loaf of bread.

顺便 (shùnbiàn) means by the way, in passing or at one’s convenience.

他进城时, 顺便来看我.
Tā jìnchéng shí, shùnbiàn lái kàn wǒ.
When he comes to town, he drops by to see me.
(This is an example of a complex sentence.)

顺利 (shùnlì) means doing something smoothly or successfully, or something is going smoothly.

Tā shùnlì de tōngguò le kǎoshì.
He passed the exam without any problem.

Wànshì shùnlì!
May everything go well for you! All the best!

顺序 (shùnxù) is a noun that means order or sequence. 照顺序做 (zhào shùnxù zuò) means to do things in the proper order. In the game of poker, (shùn) refers to a straight.

To be agreeable to a person, you often must follow their wishes or obey their commands. 顺从 (shùncóng) means to be obedient to or to yield to someone. 孝顺 (xiàoshùn) is said of a person showing filial piety and obedience. This is a virtue that is highly valued by the Chinese.

温顺 (wēnshùn) is an adjective that you could use to describe a person who is gentle and docile. 百依百顺 (bǎiyībǎishùn) means to be totally docile and obedient. 逆来顺受 (nìláishùnshòu) is a phrase describing a resigned person meekly submitting to maltreatment or misfortune without complaint.

顺其自然 (shùnqízìrán) is to follow nature’s course.

Zhè jiàn shì shùnqízìrán jiù hǎo le.
Just let nature take its course with respect to this matter.

Now, from your own perspective, things that look agreeable or pleasing are said to be 顺眼 (shùnyǎn), and words that you like to hear are said to be 顺耳 (shùněr).

顺口 (shùnkǒu) means saying things offhandedly. It also an adjective used to describe words or text that can be spoken or read smoothly and easily.

顺手 (shùnshǒu) means easy to do without a hitch. This word is also used to describe something that is convenient and easy to use.

顺心 (shùnxīn), or 顺意 (shùnyì), means having things go satisfactorily according to one’s wish.

Have you ever wondered why some people seem happier and more optimistic than you are? Barring actual calamities or serious health or financial problems, it’s often a matter of the frame of mind in which you decide to find yourself. In other words, don’t fret over a sock that’s missing from the wash. It will most likely turn up the next time you do your laundry. Looking at things from the brighter side may take some practicing. For starters, why not sing Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” first thing in the morning? You should be able to sing the following lines to the music for the refrain that begins with “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”.

啊! 多么美丽的早晨!
Ā duōme měilì dì zǎochén!

啊! 多么美的一天!
Ā duōme měi dì yītiān!!

Wǒ xīn zhòng chōngmǎn liǎo huān xīn,

Shìshì dōu shùnyì rúyuàn.

When singing a song, it’s customary to pronounce as “dì” and “liǎo” because they are easier to enunciate this way and therefore sound better in a song. In fact, many Chinese people use this alternative pronunciation in their daily speech.

Chinese word radical – Mouth

(kǒu) is the formal word for the mouth. It also means an opening or a gateway. For the sake of safety, when you are inside a large building, always make sure you know the location of the nearest exit, or 出口 (chūkǒu).

Qǐngwèn chūkǒu zài nǎli?
Please, where is the exit?

请问 means “May I ask …” This is a very important word to know by heart. Asking questions is an effective way to obtain the needed information.

开口 (kāikǒu) means to open one’s mouth and start talking. When asked why you failed to borrow some money from a friend, you might say:

Wǒ bùhǎoyìsi kāikǒu.
I’m too bashful (or embarrassed) to bring it up.

闭口 (bì kǒu) means to close one’s mouth.

开口闭口 (kāikǒubìkǒu) means whenever one opens one’s mouth to speak.

Tā kāikǒubìkǒu shuō tā yǒu duōme hǎo.
He never fails to mention how nice she is.

There’s a Chinese adage that emphasizes the importance of watching what comes out or goes into one’s mouth: “Trouble comes from what you say; illness comes from what you eat.” If you don’t remember this Chinese saying, please review the article I posted on 2/22/12 .

In everyday speech, we refer to the mouth as (zuǐ) or 嘴巴 (zuǐba).

嘴脸 (zuǐliǎn) is one’s countenance. This word is usually employed in a negative sense.

Tā děi kàn tā lǎobǎn de zuǐliǎn chīfàn.
He has to cater to his boss to earn a living.

嘴甜 (zuǐtián) is to be sweet-talking, such as in 她嘴甜. (Tā zuǐtián. She is honey-tongued.)

多嘴 (duōzuǐ) is to say things that should probably not have been said.

回嘴 (huízuǐ) or 还嘴 (huánzuǐ) is to talk back or to retort. When you do that to your boss, he or she may yell, “闭嘴! (Bì zuǐ! Shut up!)” or “住口! (zhùkǒu! Stop talking!)”

亲嘴 (qīnzuǐ), like 接吻 (jiēwěn), means to kiss.

If you need to buy a nipple for your baby’s feeding bottle, ask for a 奶嘴 (nǎizuǐ).

It is interesting to note that 嘴角 (zuǐjiǎo) are the corners of the mouth, while 口角 (kǒujué a quarrel or to quarrel) has a totally different meaning.

We have already come across a number of word particles that make use the mouth radical, such as (ma) and (ba). Following are a few additional examples of words that involve the mouth.

(xī) is to inhale, to suck up, or to draw in. 吸管 (xīguǎn) is a drinking straw.

(tūn) means to swallow, while (tù) means to vomit, as in 嘔吐 (ǒutù).

also means to spit out. In this case, it may be pronounced in the third tone or in the fourth tone. Generally, use the third tone when by spitting out you mean “to utter”, as in 吐露 (tǔlù to reveal or to disclose). Use the fourth tone for a more forceful expectorating action, as in 吐血 (tùxiě spitting blood).

吞吞吐吐 (tūntūntǔtǔ) describes how one hems and haws around, unable to be forthright with what’s on one’s mind.

(chuī) is to blow, to play a wind instrument or to brag. Colloquially, it also means to have broken up or fallen through. 吹牛 (chuīniú) is to blow one’s own horn. 吹风机 (chuīfēngjī) is an electric blower, like a hair dryer.

Tāmen liǎng gè chuī le.
The two broke up.

打嗝 (dǎ gé) is to belch.

叹气 (tànqì) is to sigh. How do you sigh in Chinese? Following is an example.

唉! 真可惜.
Ái! Zhēn kěxī.
(Sigh) What a pity! (Too bad!)

(mà) is to scold or to curse.

(yǎ) means dumb or mute.

Tā zhuānglóngzuòyǎ.
He pretends to be deaf and dumb.
(He feigns ignorance.)

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