Learn Chinese word radical – Feather


Eagle Painting

The word 羽 (yǔ) consists of a pair of feathers showing the shafts and a couple of the barbs on the vanes. In everyday speech, feathers are called 羽毛 (yǔ máo).

Badminton is called 羽毛球 (yǔmáoqiú) because traditionally the shuttlecocks were made with real goose feathers. Badminton bats are called 羽毛球拍 (yǔmáoqiú pāi).

Nǐ dǎ yǔmáoqiú ma?
Do you play badminton?

To keep themselves healthy, birds will preen their feathers several times a day. To keep one’s reputation intact, a person would mind his conduct and dealings. This is referred to as 爱惜羽毛 (àixī yǔmáo).

他太爱惜羽毛, 因此做事过于谨慎.
Tā tài àixī yǔmáo, yīncǐ zuòshì guòyú jǐnshèn.
He cares too much about his reputation, so that he is too cautious in doing things.

Whereas the 羽 (yǔ) radical is shown completely in the Traditional Chinese word 習 (xí), the Simplified Chinese version of the word is reduced to just one feather, 习 (xí).

习 (xí) originally describes how birds fly back and forth repeatedly. The meaning has been extended to refer to repeating certain actions, as in practicing something or having a habit.

学习 (xuéxí) means to learn, and 见习 jiànxí means to train on the job. To study on your own is 自习 (zìxí), and 练习(liànxí) is to practice.

不管你学什么, 多多练习是很重要的.
Bùguǎn nǐ xué shénme, duōduō liànxí shì hěn zhòngyào de.
Regardless of what you study, it is important to practice a lot.

As a noun, 习惯 (xíguàn) is a habit. As a verb, it means to be accustomed to something. 坏习惯 (huài xíguàn) is a bad habit, and 恶习 (èxí) is a vice.

这里经常下雨, 我们已经习惯了.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen yǐjīng xíguàn le.
It rains often here, and we are accustomed to it.

Here is another way to put it, using a four-character Chinese idiom:

这里经常下雨, 我们早就习以为常.
Zhèlǐ jīngcháng xià yǔ, wǒmen zǎo jiù xíyǐwéicháng.
It rains often here, and we’ve been accustomed to it since long ago.

The formal word for wings is 翼 (yì). In every day speech we call wings 翅膀 (chìbǎng). The 羽 (yǔ) radical features prominently in both words.

小心翼翼 (xiǎoxīnyìyì) means with great care, or cautiously.

不翼而飞 (bù yì ér fēi) is a commonly used Chinese idiom that means to disappear all of a sudden (taking off without wings).

如虎添翼 (rúhǔtiānyì) refers to redoubled power, like a tiger that has grown wings.

有了一百辆坦克车加入他强大的阵容, 这将是如虎添翼.
Yǒule yībǎi liàng tǎnkè chē jiārù tā qiángdà de zhènróng, zhè jiāng shì rúhǔtiānyì.
With a hundred tanks joining his powerful battle array, this will be like a tiger with wings.

Following are a few more commonly used words that include the 羽 (yǔ) radical.

翔 (xiáng) is to circle in the air. This word is made up of the character for goats and a pair of feathers. 飞翔 (fēixiáng) is to fly and 滑翔 (huáxiáng) is to glide in the air. The glider aircraft is called a 滑翔机 (huáxiángjī).

Hǎojiǔ méi kàn dào huáxiángjīle.
I haven’t seen a glider for a long time.

扇子 (shànzi) are handheld fans, while 电风扇 (diàn fēngshàn) or 电扇 (diànshàn) are electric fans. Fans made with real feathers are called 羽毛扇 (yǔmáo shàn).

煽动 (shāndòng) is to incite. Notice how the word 煽 (shān) also takes on the fire radical.

翁 (wēng) and 老翁 (lǎowēng) refer to men or old men. A millionair is called a 百万富翁 (bǎi wàn fùwēng).

When speaking of someone with an ulterior motive, you could say,

Zuì wēng zhī yì bùzài jiǔ.
The old tippler’s heart is not in the cup.

蹋 (tà) is to stamp one’s foot or to step on something. 糟蹋 (zāotà) is to spoil, waste, wreck something, or to abuse someone.

把碗里的食物吃完, 不要糟蹋东西.
Bǎ wǎn lǐ de shíwù chī wán; bùyào zāotà dōngxi.
Finish eating the food in the bowl; don’t waste things.

With the “soil” radical on the left side, 塌 (tà) means to collapse. Therefore, 倒塌 (dǎotā) means to collapse or to topple down. 一塌糊涂 (yītāhútú) means a whole mess, and 死心塌地 (sǐxīntādì) means to have one’s heart set on or to be hell-bent on doing something.

分开了50年, 她依然死心塌地的爱着他.
Fēnkāi le wǔshí nián, tā yīrán sǐxīntādì de àizhe tā.
After 50 years of separation, she still loves him with all her heart.

摺 (zhé) is to fold. 摺紙 (zhézhǐ) means folding paper, or origami.

寥 (liáo) means few. 寥寥无几 (liáoliáo wújǐ) is an idiom that means very few.

翡翠 (fěicuì) is jade. 翠绿 (cuìlǜ) is emerald green.

翻 (fān) means to turn over. 翻滚 (fāngǔn) is to tumble. 翻车 (fānchē) refers to the rollover of a vehicle.
天翻地覆 (tiānfāndìfù) is an idiom describing total confusion and chaos, or being topsy-turvy.

翻脸 (fānliǎn) or 闹翻 (nào fān) means to have a fall out with someone and no longer be friendly with that person.

Tāmen wèile zhēngduó nǚyǒu ér nào fān le.
They fell out fighting over the same girlfriend.

翻译 (fānyì) means to translate from one language to another.

推翻 (tuīfān) means to overthrow or to overturn.

翻山越岭 (fān shānyuè lǐng) is a Chinese idiom describing an arduous journey climbing over many mountains.

廖 (liào) is a Chinese surname. This word is the answer to an interesting riddle you can find in Chapter 24 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

Happy Moon Festival!

Sing “It’s A Small World After All” in Chinese

The Globe

The Globe

It’s a ball! It’s a globe! It’s our world! As the surface of the earth approximates a sphere, it is logical to use the latitude-longitude coordinate system as a location reference.

We already know that the earth is called 地球 (dìqiú). 纬度 (wěidù) is the latitude , while 经度 (jīngdù) is the longitude. Therefore, a north latitude would be given as 北纬 (běiwěi), while a south latitude would be given as
南纬 (nánwěi). Similarly, the east longitude is 东经 (dōngjīng), and the west longitude is 西经 (xījīng).

迪斯尼乐园位于北纬33度48分, 西经117度55分.
Dísīní Lèyuán wèiyú běiwěi 33 dù 48 fēn, xījīng 117 dù 55 fēn.
Disneyland is located at 33-48 N and 117-55 W.

Each one of us is at an intersection of a latitude line (parallel), or 纬线 (wěixiàn), and a longitude line (meridian), 经线 (jīngxiàn). A miniscule speck indeed. We are so 渺小 (miǎoxiǎo tiny, insignificant) compared to the entire world, or 世界 (shìjiè).

The good news is that technology has shortened the distance between countries and groups of people. Whereas just a century ago, a Chinese peasant might have to travel on foot for three days to attend a relative’s wedding celebration, nowadays you could fly to any city in the world in less than 24 hours. The world has shrunk, so to speak. The Walt Disney song, “It’s a Small World After All”, captures this sentiment in a happy tune. The Chinese version at this link relays many positive messages.

不管 (bùguǎn) means “regardless of” or “no matter”.
分种族 (fēn zhǒngzú) is to differentiate by race.
阶级 (jiējí) means social class.
充满 (chōngmǎn) means to be filled with.
友情 (yǒuqíng) is friendship.
甜蜜 (tiánmì) means sweet or a sweet and happy feeling.
昨日 (zuó rì) means the same as 昨天 (zuótiān yesterday).
相隔 (xiānggé) is to be apart (by a distance).
千万里 (qiānwàn li) means ten million miles (i.e. a very long distance).
今天 (jīntiān) means today.
在一起 (zài yīqǐ) means to be together in the same place.
奇妙 (qímiào) means marvelous or amazing.
欢笑 (huānxiào) is to laugh heartily, and 欢呼 (huānhū) is to cheer and hail.
自由 (zìyóu) is freedom.
幸福 (xìngfú) is happiness or wellbeing.
歌唱 (gēchàng) means the same as 唱歌 (chànggē to sing).
相亲相爱 (xiāng qīn xiāng ài) is a phrase commonly used to describe how people get along amicably or lovingly with each other.
互相勉励 (hùxiāng miǎnlì) is also a popular phrase describing how people give each other encouragement and moral support.

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