Learn Chinese word radical – Knife

Watermelon 西瓜 (xīgua)

Watermelon 西瓜 (xīgua)

今天好热呀!
Jīntiān hǎo rè ya!
It’s so hot today!

我去买个西瓜.
Wǒ qù mǎi gè xīgua.
I’ll go buy a watermelon.

How best to cut up a watermelon? At this link is shown a clever way to dissect this large round mass with minimal messiness.

The Chinese word for cutting or slicing is (qiē). (gē) just means to cut. Put the two characters together, and you have a new word, 切割 (qiēgē), which means to make an incision or to cut and sever.

(dāo) is a knife. You can see that there are seven cuts in the character (qiē).

As a verb, (fēn) means to divide, to separate or to differentiate. There are eight cuts in this character. After the division, each portion or part is called 一份 (yī fèn).

(bàn) means to play a part in a drama.

忿 (fèn) means vehement. 忿怒 (fèn nù) means fury or furious (very angry).

(rèn) is the edge of a knife or a sword. The word for endure, forbear or tolerate, (rěn), features a heart being knifed. This is definitely more painful than biting one’s lip. 忍不住 (rěnbuzhù) means unable to bear.

她忍不住哭了出来.
Tā rěnbuzhù kū le chūlai.
She couldn’t help but start to weep.

In some words, the knife radical is place at the top. For example, (jiǎo) is a horn, an angle or a corner. On the other hand, 角色 (juésè) means a role in a drama.

危险 (wēixiǎn) means danger or dangerous.

(miǎn) means to eliminate, to remove from office or to excuse someone from something (i.e. to remove the responsibility from someone).

这样可以免掉不少麻烦.
Zhèyàng kěyǐ miǎn diào bùshǎo máfan.
This way we can avoid a lot of trouble.

(xíng) is a corporal punishment or prison sentence. It features a “knife” word radical in the vertical format on the right-hand-side.

(pàn) means to differentiate, as in 判别 (pànbié) , to make a judgement, as in 判断 (pànduàn), or to issue a sentence, as in 判刑 (pàn xíng). 免刑 (miǎnxíng) means to exempt from punishment.

我判断这消息不真实.
Wǒ pànduàn zhè xiāoxi bù zhēnshí.
I think this piece of information is not true.

(kè) is to carve or engrave. As a noun it means a moment of time. 立刻 (lìkè) means “at once”.

(shuā) is to brush or to eliminate.

(cì) is to pierce or to stab. As a noun it means a thorn or a fish bone.

(duò) is to cut by chopping. (xiāo) is to cut by whittling.

(tì) is to shave. Therefore, shaving a beard is called 剃胡子 (tì húzi).

(guā) is to scrape or fleece. 刮胡子 (guā húzi) also means to shave one’s beard or mustache. In Taiwan, this is a slang expression that means to criticize or refute someone in his or her face.

我被他刮了一个胡子.
Wǒ bèi tā guā le yī gè húzi.
I got a slap in the face from him.

Suddenly in Chinese

The other day, one of my readers mentioned 忽远忽近 (hū yuǎn hū jìn) in a comment. There are actually loads of four-character phrases you could make by using the same construct. In fact, you can replace (jìn) and (yuǎn) with any two opposite single-character descriptors and form valid phrases, although some maybe more meaningful than others. Following are a few examples to get you started:

忽快忽慢 (hū kuài hū màn) – one moment fast, the next slow
忽前忽后 (hū qián hū hòu) – one moment in front, the next behind
忽高忽低 (hū gāo hū dī) – one moment high, the next low
忽冷忽热 (hū lěng hū rè) – one moment cold, the next warm
忽明忽暗 (hū míng hū àn) – one moment bright, the next dark

他的情绪忽高忽低, 很不稳定.
Tā de qíngxù hū gāo hū dī, hěn bù wěndìng.
His mood swings between high and low – quite unstable.

他对我忽冷忽热.
Tā duì wǒ hū lěng hū rè.
He is cold to me one moment and affectionate the next moment.

There are a few ways of saying “suddenly” or “all of a sudden” in Chinese.

The adverbs 忽然 (hūrán), 突然 (tūrán), 遽然 (jùrán), 猛然 (měngrán) and 陡然 (dǒurán) all mean suddenly, abruptly or unexpectedly. 忽然 (hūrán) and 突然 (tūrán) are more commonly used in everyday speech. (rán) is a classical word that means “in this manner”.

(hū) means to ignore or to neglect, as in 忽视 (hūshì). You could think of 忽然 as describing something happening suddenly while you have your back turned for a moment.

我们出发的时候忽然变天了.
Wǒmén chūfā de shíhòu hūrán biàntiān le.
When we started out, the weather suddenly changed for the worse.

他忽然改变了主意.
Tā hūrán gǎibiàn le zhǔyì.
He suddenly changed his mind.

(tū) means sticking out or dashing forward, hence unexpectedly or suddenly. 突发事件 (tū fā shìjiàn) is an unexpected incident.

他突然改变了计划.
Tā tūrán gǎibiàn le jìhuà.
He suddenly changed his plan.

我不知道她为什么突然不理我了.
Wǒ bù zhīdào tā wèishénme tūrán bùlǐ wǒ le.
I don’t know why she suddenly distanced herself from me.

(měng) means violently or vigorously, connoting a sudden change.

他猛然推了我一下.
Tā měngrán tuī le wǒ yīxià.
He suddenly gave me a push.

(dǒu) means steep or precipitous, again connoting a sudden change.

车子陡然停下.
Chēzi dǒurán tíng xià.
The car suddenly stopped.

(jù) means hastily or being alarmed as when something happens abruptly.

他遽然离开了. (jùrán)
Tā jùrán líkāi le.
He went away hastily.

Colloquially, people also like to use 一下 (yīxià) or 一下子 (yīxiàzi), which means all of a sudden or within a moment.

没有想到他一下子就发脾气了.
Méiyǒu xiǎngdào tā yīxiàzi jiù fāpíqi le.
To my surprise, he got angry all of a sudden.

她一下子哭, 一下子笑.
Tā yīxiàzi kū, yīxiàzi xiào.
She alternates between crying and laughing.

那些饺子一下子就被吃光了.
Nàxiē jiǎozi yīxiàzi jiù bèi chī guāng le.
Those dumplings were gobbled up in no time at all.

Easy Colloquial Chinese Words

Blueberry Blossoms

Blueberry Blossoms

Classical Chinese, or 文言文 (wényán wén), is a written language. Its dry wording and terse format bear little resemblance to ordinary daily speech. It wasn’t until after scholars like Hu Shi actively promoted the written vernacular Chinese, or 白话文 (báihuà wén), in the early 20th Century that modern standard Chinese took root and became widely adopted by the Chinese people. Colloquial speech incorporates the essential padding that smooths out the flow of verbal communication. With computer keyboards, touch screens, speech to text conversion functions and Gigabytes of storage memory at hand, we can choose to be just as verbose in our written communication.

If you simply string together a bunch of Chinese words in a grammatically correct sentence, you should be able to get your idea across all right. However, your speech may still sound foreign or stiff, i.e. 生硬 (shēngyìng rigid, harsh). Today we will look at one way to help you speak a little more like a native Chinese. It involves saying certain words twice.

How would you describe the little bell-shaped flowers of the blueberry plant shown in the above picture? You could say:

蓝莓花小, 可爱.
Lán méi huā xiǎo, kěài.
The blueberry flowers are small; they are cute.

But this sounds more agreeable:
蓝莓花小小的, 很可爱.
Lán méi huā xiǎo xiǎo de, hěn kěài.
The blueberry flowers are rather small; they are cute.

Similarly, you could say:
他的个儿高.
Tā de gèr gāo.
He is tall.

But this sounds more conversational:
他的个儿高高的.
Tā de gèr gāo gāo de.
He is rather tall.

Following are a few more examples of how the repetition of certain words helps to relax one’s tone or to bring about an added effect.

红豆汤甜甜的, 很好吃
Hóngdòu tāng tián tián de, hěn hǎochí.
Red bean soup is kind of sweet and rather tasty.

她望着弯弯的月亮.
Tā wàng zhe wān wān de yuèliang.
She looked at the crescent (curved) moon.

田里的小麦绿油油.
Tián li de xiǎomài lǜ yóu yóu.
The wheat plants in the field are glossy green.

她静静地坐在那儿.
Tā jìng jìng de zuò zài nàr.
She sits there quietly.

她愤愤地走了.
Tā fèn fèn de zǒu le.
She left in anger.

他狠狠地瞪了我一眼.
Tā hěn hěn de dèng le wǒ yī yǎn.
He scowled at me with vehemence.

你急急忙忙要上哪儿?
Nǐ jí jí máng máng yào shàng nǎr?
Where are you going in such a hurry?

我去问问他.
Wǒ qù wèn wèn tā.
I’ll go ask him.

我来考考你.
Wǒ lái kǎo kǎo nǐ.
Let me give you a quiz.

Notice the use of (lái) in the above sentence. Think of Mighty Mouse’s singing, “Here I come to save a man!”

我去查查看.
Wǒ qù chá chá kàn.
Let me go check on that.

我到外面散散步.
Wǒ dào wàimian sàn sàn bù.
I’m going out for a short walk.

While talking to other people in Chinese, you may pick up other words that are used in this manner. The above sentences feature repeated adjectives, adverbs and verbs. To review the correct placement of the various parts of speech in a sentence, please see Chapters 8 through 19 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Don’t be mad in Chinese

It’s human nature to get angry sometimes for various reasons. The Chinese word for getting mad or angry is 生气 (shēngqì) or 发脾气 (fāpíqi). (pí) is the spleen. It seems the ancient Chinese viewed anger as being a sort of qi coming out of the spleen when one gets fumed. Therefor losing one’s temper is apt to be bad for one’s health.

When a friend is mad about something, you are apt to advise him:

不要生气.
Bùyào shēngqì.
Don’t be mad.

At some small local Chinese eateries, you may see plastered on the wall a paper poster with the following lines on it. The colloquial verses are meant to help reduce quarrels between married couples, but the unknown author speaks truth that applies to everyone else as well.

莫生气 (Mò Shēngqì Don’t Be Mad)

人生就像一场戏;
Rénshēng jiù xiàng yī chǎng xì,
Life is like a theatrical play;

因为有缘才相聚.
yīnwei yǒu yuán cái xiāng jù.
we’ve met because of fate.

相扶到老不容易,
Xiāng fú dào lǎo bù róngyì.
It’s not easy to have come thus far through thick and thin,

是否更该去珍惜?
shìfǒu gèng gāi qù zhēnxī?
shouldn’t we cherish our relationship the more?

为了小事发脾气,
Wèile xiǎoshì fāpíqi,
Getting mad over trivial things,

回头想想又何必?
huítóu xiǎng xiǎng yòu hébì?
when you think about it, what for?

别人生气我不气;
Biérén shēngqì wǒ bù qì.
Others may get mad, but I won’t;

气出病来无人替.
Qì chū bìng lái wú rén tì.
’cause if I get sick, who’s to replace me?

我若气死谁如意?
Wǒ ruò qì sǐ shéirúyì?
Should I die from fury, who will benefit?

况且伤身又费力.
Kuàng qiě shāng shēn yòu fèilì.
Besides, it’s too exhausting and strenuous to get mad.

邻居亲朋不要比.
Línjū qīn péng bùyào bǐ.
Don’t try to measure up to neighbors, relatives and friends.

儿孙琐事由他去.
érsūn suǒshì yóu tā qù.
As for the petty bothers of the children, let them be.

吃苦享乐在一起,
Chīkǔ xiǎnglè zàiyīqǐ.
Together we’ll share our joys and hardships,

神仙羡慕好伴侣.
shénxian xiànmù hǎo bànlǚ.
and let the gods envy our good companionship.

What is Qi? (2)

The word (qì) is also used to represent the emotions, the spirit, the quality or the momentum within a person or the mannerism and airs about a person.

Emotional Qi

We’ve talked about 火气 (huǒqì) before, which is used to describe an inflammation or a rage. 气愤 (qìfèn) is an adjective that means to be angry. 生气 (shēngqì) also means to get angry or to take offense. However, as a noun, this word means vitality or a sign of life.

她听了这话, 非常生气.
Tā tīng le zhèhuà, fēicháng shēngqì.
After hearing these words, she got very angry.

气人 (qìrén) means annoying.

(chōng) means to clash or to flush away with water. 气冲冲 (qìchōngchōng) is to be beside oneself with rage. (hū) is to breathe out or to shout. 气呼呼 (qìhūhū) means panting with rage.

怄气 (òuqì) is to sulk at someone or something. 赌气 (dǔqì) is to feel wronged or offended and act rashly.

他怄气, 不来了.
Tā òuqì bù lái le.
He is upset and does not want to come.

出气 (chūqì) is to vent one’s anger, usually upon another person.

有时大人拿小孩出气.
Yǒushí dàren ná xiǎohá chūqì.
Sometimes grown-ups vent their angers on the children.

脾气 (píqì) is one’s temperament. 脾气大 (píqì) means to have a bad temper. 脾气好 (píqìhǎo) means to have a good disposition. This is akin with 和气 (héqì), which means being friendly and amiabile.

牛脾气 (niúpíqi) means ox-like stubbornness, or pigheadedness.

沉住气 (chénzhuqì) is to keep one’s cool, stay calm and not jump to action.

语气 (yǔqì) is the tone of voice. 低声下气 (dīshēngxiàqì) means talking in a subdued voice and in meek manners. This phrase is commonly used for describing submissiveness.

不服气 (bù fúqì) means to remain resentful and unconvinced, and refuse to accept a settlement or judgement as being reasonable or final.

Qi as Mannerism and Airs

气度 (qìdù) is a person’s comportment or capacity for tolerance, and 气派 (qìpài) are a persons airs, mannerism and style.

傲气 (àoqì) is arrogance, while 流气 (liúqì) is a roguish demeanor.

客气 (kèqi) is being polite and courteous.

小气 (xiǎoqì) means stingy or petty.

幼稚 (yòuzhì) means naïve or childish. 稚气 (zhìqì) and 孩子气 (háizǐqì) are two other terms for childishness.

怪里怪气 (guàiliguàiqì) describes someone who is queer or eccentric.

珠光宝气 (zhū guāng bǎo qì) is a term often used to describe a richly bejewled lady.

Spiritual Qi

正气 (zhèngqì) is uprightness or morality. 勇气 (yǒngqì) is the word for courage. 志气 (zhìqi) means aspiration.

才气 (cáiqì) refers to literary talent. A gifted scholar, like Xu Zhimo, would be called a 才子 (cáiqì).

运气 (yùnqi) is one’s luck, which can be good or bad. 福气 (fúqi) is good fortune. 喜气洋洋 (xǐqìyángyáng) means to be full of joy, as on one’s wedding day.

一口气 (yīkǒuqì) literally means one breath. It can be used as an adverb to describe doing something at one go. For example,

他一口气把那本书念完了.
Tā yīkǒuqì bǎ nà běn shū niàn wán le.
He finished reading that book in one sitting.

On the other hand, 争一口气 (zhēng yīkǒuqì) means to try to win some honor or credit for your family or country. So, 不争气 (bùzhēngqì) is a term often used by parents to criticize their son or daughter for failing to live up to their expections.

Since (qì) is pronounced the same as the initial sound of “cheese”, why not say (qì) next time you pose for a photo?

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