Learn Chinese words and idioms involving blood

面具 (miànjù) Mask

面具 (miànjù) Mask

Halloween offers an opportunity for us to mention such scary things as vampires. In Chinese, they are called 吸血鬼 (xīxuěguǐ), namely blood-sucking ghosts. Actually, there are quite a few other words and expressions we can learn that are related to blood.

The Chinese character for blood is (xuè). It is also informally pronounced as (xiě) or (xuě). At the base is the character (mǐn), which means a utensil, a dish or a container. And, as you can see, there is a drop of blood that is dripping into this container.

The plasma, or 血浆 (xuèjiāng), contains 红血球 (hóngxuèqiú red blood cells) and 白血球 (báixiěqiú white blood cells). These circulate in our body via the blood vessels, or 血管 (xuèguǎn) and provide us with the vital energy the Chinese call (qì). You see, we refer to vigor and courage as 血气 (xuèqì).

Blood that is rich in oxygen has a red color. Therefore, 血红色 (xuèhóng sè) is a blood-red color. Paleness inside the lower eyelids may be an indication of anemia, 贫血 (pínxuè).

输血 (shūxuè) is to transfuse blood. 捐血 (juān xuè) is to donate blood. Before conducting a blood transfusion, the health care professional will need to know the patient’s blood type, or 血型 (xuèxíng) to make sure the donated blood is compatible. Doing a blood test is called 验血 (yànxiě). Here is a link to information about blood type compatibility.

Tīngshuō B xíng de rén wàixiàng.
I heard that people with the B blood type are outgoing.

出血 (chūxuè) and 流血 (liúxuè) both mean to bleed, while
止血 (zhǐxuè) is to stop the bleeding.

血糖 (xuètáng) is blood sugar. 糖尿病 (tángniàobìng) is diabetes.

高血压 (gāoxuèyà) is hypertension.

Tā de fùqin yǒu gāoxuèyà.
His father has high blood pressure.

血口喷人 (xuèkǒupēnrén) means to launch a malicious and unfounded verbal attack or slander on someone.

Nǐ bùyào xuèkǒupēnrén.
Don’t make such crazy false accusations.

血肉相联 (xuèròuxiānglián) describes a deep and strong connection, as close as flesh and blood.

杀人不见血 (shārénbùjiànxiě) is to kill without spilling blood, or to hurt people in a subtle way.

一针见血 (yīzhēnjiànxiě) means to point out the truth with a single pertinent remark.

心血来潮 (xīnxuèláicháo) means by a sudden impulse or whim.

Nǐ jīntiān zěnme xīnxuèláicháo pǎo lái kàn wǒ?
What wind brought you here to see me today?

血浓于水 (xuè nóng yú shuǐ) is the Chinese translation for “Blood is thicker than water.”

热血 (rèxuè) means hot blood or righteous ardor. 沸腾 (fèiténg) means boiling over. Together these form the phrase 热血沸腾 (rèxuè fèiténg), which can be used to describe a person fervently advocating for a cause. 冷血动物 (lěngxuèdòngwù) are cold-blooded animals such as insects, reptiles and fish. This term is often used to refer to an unfeeling, cold-hearted person.

Learn Chinese word radical – Literature

(wén) means literature, language, writing, culture or civil and refined. Literature is called 文学 (wénxué). 文明 (wénmíng) is civilization, and 文化 (wénhuà) covers civilization, culture, education and literacy in general.

文字 (wénzì) refers to writing, scripts or languages. 文法 (wénfǎ) is grammar.

外文 (wàiwén) means foreign languages, such as 法文 (fǎwén French), 德文 (déwén German) and 日文 (rìwén Japanese).

文件 (wénjiàn) are documents. Official documents are called 公文 (gōngwén).

文具 (wénjù) means stationery.

The character (wén) occurs in its original form as the “literature” radical in a number of words.

(wén) are fine lines, such as 指纹 (zhǐwén fingerprints)
and 皱纹 (zhòuwén wrinkles).

(bān) are specks or stripes. A zebra is called a striped horse in Chinese – 斑马 (bānmǎ), and a crosswalk is called 斑马线 (bānmǎ xiàn zebra crossing).

蚊子 (wénzi) is a mosquito.

吝啬 (lìnsè) means stingy or tightfisted. Stingy people are also said to be 小气 (xiǎoqì stingy or petty).

The traditional Chinese character for (biàn change) is (biàn), the lower portion of which is the modified “literature” word radical. This radical is found on the right side in many Chinse words. Last week we came across the words 改变 (gǎibiàn) and 政治 (zhèngzhì), both of which feature this “literature” radial. Following are a few additional examples.

(shōu) is to receive, to collect, to gather, to put away, to restrain or to put an end to, whereas (fàng) is to let go, release, give out or leave alone.

Tā shōuyǎng le liǎng gè háizǐ.
He adopted two children.

Tā bǎ xínglǐ fàngxià.
He put down his luggage.

(gù) is a reason, a cause or an incident. It is the formal word for hence, consequently, former, or to die.

对不起, 我不是故意的.
Duìbùqǐ, wǒ bùshi gùyì de.
Sorry, I didn’t do it on purpose.

Wǒ de qìchē gùzhàng le.
My car broke down.

(zuò) is to do, to make or to be used as.

效果 (xiàoguǒ) is an effect or a result.

Zhèyàng zuò xiàoguǒ bùcuò.
Doing it this way gives pretty good results.

(wēi) means tiny or to a slight degree, as in 微风 (wēifēng gentle breeze).

(ào) means proud or haughty.

Zhègè rén tài jiāoào le.
This person is too arrogant.

Chinese word for change

Qiūtiān li xǔduō shùyè biànchéng huángsè huòzhě hóngsè.
In autumn many leaves turn yellow or red.

Leaves in Autumn  秋天里的树叶 (qiūtiān li de shùyè)

Leaves in Autumn
秋天里的树叶 (qiūtiān li de shùyè)

(biàn) or 变成 (biànchéng) means to change, to become or to transform. This word also serves as a noun. You can use it to refer to a change in the weather, in an object, in a person or in a state of affairs. However, don’t use this word when talking about small change, or changing into different currency or clothing. Those situations call for some other words.

Tā zuìjìn biàn de bǐjiào chénmò.
Lately he has become more reticent.

The word for “easy”, (yì), also means a change or an exchange. In the sense of “change”, this word appears mostly in classical Chinese.

Yes, 变色 (biànsè) means to change in color or to have become discolored. You probably have not guessed that it also means to become angry when it is used in reference to a person. Here we are talking about 脸色 (liǎnsè), a person’s facial expression. Similarly, 变脸 (biànlián) means to suddenly turn hostile.

When the Chinese mention a change in the sky, or 变天 (biàntiān), they are usually talking about a change in the weather for the worse. When there is a change of heart , it is also for the worse – 变心 (biànxīn) means to stop being faithful and to love someone else.

Tā de nǚpéngyou biàn le xīn.
His girl friend does not love him anymore.

As magicians appear to be able to transform things from one form to another, they are said to be able to 变魔術 (biàn móshù perform magic tricks).

变通 (biàntōng) is to be flexible or accommodating.

变形 (biànxíng) means being deformed or having changed shape, while 变质 (biànzhì) means to have changed or deteriorated in quality.

变化 (biànhuà) is a change, while 转变 (zhuǎnbiàn) refers to a transformation or a change in a fundamental way. As a verb 转变 (zhuǎnbiàn) means to transform or to convert.

Wǒ kàn bù chū yǒu shénme biànhuà.
I don’t see any difference (changes).

改变 (gǎibiàn) and 变更 (biàngēng) both mean to change, to modify or to alter. 变更 (biàngēng) can also be used as a noun. In that sense, it is synonymous with 变动 (biàndòng a change or alteration).

Wǒ bùhuì gǎibiàn wǒde yìjiàn.
I will not change my opinion.

变故 (biàngù) is an unforeseen event or misfortune.

占卦 (zhānguà) is to divine by using the Chinese system of Eight Diagrams. 变卦 (biànguà) is a change in the divinatory diagram. In everyday speech it refers to someone’s changing his/her mind or going back on his/her word.

变态 (biàntài) is a change in state, or a metamorphosis. It is often used as an adjective to describe something that is abnormal, as in 变态心理 (biàntài xīnlǐ aberrant personality).

不变 (bùbiàn) means constant or unchanging. It sounds the same as 不便 (bùbiàn), which means inconvenient or inappropriate. 不变的真理 (bùbiàn de zhēnlǐ) is an unchanging truth.

善变 (shàn biàn) refers to a person’s likes and dislikes being prone to change.

Nǚrén de xīn shàn biàn.
Women’s hearts are capricious.

Given that 政治 (zhèngzhì) means politics, take a guess at what 政变 (zhèngbiàn) means.

Sing Chinese song – Autumn Cicada

While enjoying a perfect autumn day, one that the Chinese describe as 秋高气爽 (qiūgāoqìshuǎng), with the sky clear and high, and the air cool and refreshing, I think of a song called 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.).

As mentioned in a lesson posted last fall, the word (chán Zen) sounds exactly the same as (chán cicadas). The cicadas are also called 知了 (zhīliǎo). I still remember hearing them sing in unison in the countryside, their loud chorus reverberating with the waves of the summer heat.

The song, 秋蝉 (Qiū Chán Autumn Cicada.), was composed by 李子恒 (Lǐ Zǐhéng) while attending an apparently boring military education lecture in Taiwan. Later he made a few demo tapes for his girlfriend. Without telling him, his girl friend submitted one of the demo tapes to a major music contest in Taiwan. The song won the 1980 award for that competition and paved the way for Mr. Lee’s long and successful song-writing career.

At this link is a nice video of the song with the subtitles in traditional Chinese characters.

Click on this link to hear the song sung by a female performer. At that site the lyrics are provided in simplified Chinese characters.

The song is written in the first person, which is the cicada. The wording tends to be literary rather than conversational. The beautiful imagery of the autumn scenes float along with the soft, lilting melody.

听我 (tīng wǒ) means to listen to me saying or singing something. 看我 (kàn wǒ) means to watch me doing something.

Tīng wǒ jiǎng gè yǒuqù de gùshi.
Hear me recount an interesting story.

Kàn wǒ lái zhěng tā.
Wait and see me give him a hard time.

春水 (chūn shuǐ) is water in the spring. (jiào) is to call. (hán) means cold.

春天暖和, 冬天寒冷.
Chūntiān nuǎnhuo, dōngtián hánlěng.
It’s warm in the spring and cold in the winter.

绿叶 (lǜyè) are green leaves. (cuī) is to urge. (huáng) is yellow.

In the first two lines, the cicada tells you that its calls has cooled the water that was temperate in spring and urged the green leaves to turn yellow.

谁道 (shéi dào) is a literary way of saying 谁说 (shéi shuō), which means “Who is saying?”. (chóu) means to worry or to feel depressed.

烟波 (yānbō) are mist-covered waters and 林野 (lín yě) are woods in open country. (yì) refers to meanings, ideas, intentions or feelings. 幽幽 (yōuyōu) refers to distant, faint light or sound.

(huā) are flowers. (luò) is to fall down and (hóng) means red. (fēng) are maple trees. 花落红 (huā luò hóng) and 红了枫 (hóng liǎo fēng) are words put together to paint a picture and to sound good, but are not regularly used phrases. In the second phrase, (hóng) is used as a verb in the sense of coloring the maple leaves red.

Qiūtiān bǎ fēng yè rǎn hóng le.
Autumn has dyed the maple leaves red.

展翅 (zhǎnchì) means to spread the wings. (rèn), in this case, means to give free rein to. (xiáng) or 飞翔 (fēixiáng) means to fly. (shuāng) is a pair. (yǔ) are wings. They belong to the wild geese, or (yàn).

Then the cicada refers to his own flimsy wings as 薄衣 (báo yī), or thin clothing. When pronounced as (bó), this word means ungenerous or meager. Many people in Taiwan only use the latter pronunciation regardless of the intended meaning. This is reflected in both of the videos mentioned above.

(guò) here means to pass or to go through. In 残冬 (cán dōng the last days of winter), the (cán) is interpreted as 残留 (cánliú remaining).

总归是 (zǒngguī shì) means “after all it is”. (xià) means summer. (zǒu) and (qù) both refer to the seasons’ passing or leaving. (nóng) means dense, concentrated or intense.

美景 (měijǐng) is beautiful scenery. When autumn passes, the beautiful scenery will be no more, i.e. 不再 (bùzài be no longer). There is a typographic error in the simplified Chinese lyrics. It should read 秋去冬来 (qiū qù dōng lái Autumn leaves and winter arrives.) instead of 春去冬来 (chūn qù dōng lái Spring leaves and winter arrives.). What the singer sang is correct.

means to be busy, while 急忙 (jímáng) or 匆忙 (cōngmáng), or 匆匆 (cōngmáng) means hastily, or hurriedly.

莫教 (mò jiào) means “don’t let”. (shì) is to pass away or to die. It’s wishful thinking not to let the nice spring days slip away.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the cicada himself in the spot light.

Is it difficult to learn Chinese?

With respect to reading and writing Chinese, the answer is yes. Written Chinese is not based on an alphabet. Even though the Chinese characters could be broken down to around 220 radicals, there is not a simple rule to “spell” them in terms of the word radicals.

On the other hand, if you would just like to pick up a few words to make small talks, that should be as easy as learning to speak any other foreign language. You could even try to write down the words by using the Romanized pinyin system.

(kùnnan) and 困难 (kùnnan) mean difficult or difficulties, whereas (yì) and 容易 (róngyì) mean easy, easily or apt to.

Traditionally, the Chinese have adopted the view of 知易行难 (zhī yì xíng nán), viz. it is easy to know about something but often difficult to follow up with action.

On the night of his betrayal, 耶穌 (Yēsū Jesus) said to his disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This is akin to the Chinese idiom:

The heart is more than willing, but there is not enough strength or ability to do it.

We know how detrimental tobacco and alcohol can be to our heath, but many try and fail to quit. We may know all the words and material that need to go into a book, but it is not so easy to put everything together to make a finished book.

One could just as well argue for the other case – 知难行易 (zhī nán xíng yì). After you have learned a difficult skill or branch of knowledge, then it is easy to put it to use and complete a task. For example, once you know the commonly used chord progressions and understand the logic behind the harmonization of the scale tones and the chords, you are apt to be able to play a song by ear and improvise the harmony.

Similarly, you are more likely to be able to make meaningful statements in a language when you know the underlying grammar and the conventional syntax. The article at this link provides an interesting example.

As a noun, 今天 (jīntiān today), 昨天 (zuótiān yesterday), 明天 (míngtiān tomorrow) and 后天 (hòutiān the day after tomorrow) can be placed at the end of a sentence. For example,

Nà yào děngdào míngtiān.
That will need to wait until tomorrow.

However, when using these words as adverbs, do not place them at the end of a sentence. You could say,

Míngtiān wǒmén yào qù kàn diànyǐng.
Tomorrow we are going to the movies.

Or you could say,

Wǒmén míngtiān yào qù kàn diànyǐng.
Tomorrow we are going to the movies.

In English, you rarely hear: “We, tomorrow, are going to the movies.” Therefore, when translating Chinese into English, or English into Chinese, you will want to employ the conventional word order rather than doing it verbatim. Please consult Chapter 17 of “Learn Chinese through Songs Rhymes” for the correct placement of adverbs and adverbial phrases in a sentence.

难度 (nándù) means the degree of difficulty. 难倒 (nándiǎo) is to baffle or deter someone.

Zhègè wèntí bǎ wǒ nándiǎo le.
This problem (or issue) has me baffled.

难关 (nánguān) a crisis or a difficult critical juncture. 度过难关 (dùguò nánguān) means to have passed through a difficult juncture.

难过 (nánguò) means to have a hard time or feel bad.

Tā xīnli hěn nánguò.
She felt very bad.

When pronounced in the fourth tone, (nàn) means calamity or disaster. 灾难 (zāinàn) means calamity, catastophe or suffering due to a disaster. Therefore, refugees are referred to as 难民 (nànmín), and a refuge is called 避难所 (bìnánsuǒ).

轻易 (qīngyì) means easily or rashly.

易燃物 (yìránwù) are combustible or inflammable materials.

好不容易 (hǎo bù róngyì) means with great difficulty or effort. Often the (bù) is omitted, and you will just hear 好容易 (hǎoróngyì). One may get confused if one simply takes this phrase at face value.

我好容易来到这儿, 她却不肯见我.
Wǒ hǎoróngyì láidào zhèr, tā què bù kěn jiàn wǒ.
I took all the trouble to come here, but she refused to see me.

(yì) also means exchange or change.

贸易 (màoyì) means trade. Therefore, 自由贸易 (zìyóumàoyì) is free trade, and 国际贸易 (guójìmàoyì) is international trade.

If you have not heard of 易经 (Yìjīng The Book of Changes) before, you can read about it at this link.

What are the things you find most difficult while learning to speak, read and/or write Chinese?

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