Ebook for learning Chinese

Chinese ebook 中文電子書   zhōngwén diànzǐ shū

I like to read print books as well as ebooks. I also enjoy listening to audio books. It is through written or spoken words that human beings are able to communicate with one another or pass down information and knowledge from generation to generation. Besides, a good book is like a good friend who informs, educates, advises, entertains, comforts and always remains faithful. Therefore, the value of good books cannot be overestimated.

The traditional Chinese character for books is (shū) . In the simplified Chinese character system, it is represented by (shū). Books can also be referred to as 书本 (shūběn) or 书籍 (shūjí). 教科书 (jiàokēshū) are textbooks, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books and 百科全书 (bǎikēquánshū) is an encyclopedia. 小说 (xiǎoshuō novels) and 闲书 (xiánshū) are for light reading. The general term for books and newspapers is 书报 (shūbào); 书刊 (shūkān) refers to books and periodicals. 书名 (shūmíng) is the title of a book.

这是一本有趣的故事书.
Zhè shì yī běn yǒuqù de gùshi shū.
This is an interesting storybook.

You might go to the library 图书馆 (túshūguǎn) to borrow books 借书 (jiè shū). You might place the books on a desk 书桌 (shūzhuō), a bookrack 书柜 (shūguì) or a bookshelf 书架 (shūjià) in your study 书房 (shūfáng), where you might also find a 订书机 (dìngshūjī stapler).

你有没有这个图书馆的借书证?
Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu zhègè túshūguǎn de jièshūzhèng?
Do you have the library card for this library?

书店 (shūdiàn) is a bookstore, and 书摊 (shūtān) is a bookstall or bookstand. On the other hand, 书局 (shūjú) or 出版社 (chūbǎnshè) is a publishing house.

A grade-school kid usually carries books in a 书包 (shūbāo satchel) or 背包 (bèibāo backpack) to go to school. 读书 (dúshū) means to study or to attend school. At school they might be asked to commit certain reading material to memory. 背书 (bèishū) is to recite a lesson from memory. In the business world, this word means to place one’s endorsement on a cheque.

看书 (kàn shū) is to read, not just to look at a book.

The word (shū) not only refers to books but its meaning also extends to letters and documents. It is also used as a verb (i.e. to write) in classical Chinese.

书信 (shūxìn) and 书简 (shūjiǎn) refers to letters, correspondence or written messages. 手书 (shǒushū) is a personal letter. As a verb, it means to write in one’s own hand.

文书 (wénshū) is a general term for documents. 说明书 (shuōmíngshū) are instruction flyers or pamphlets. 通知书 (tōngzhīshū) are written notices. 上书 (shàngshū) is to submit a written statement to a higher authority.

他常常写情书给安吉.
Tā chángcháng xiě qíngshū gěi Ānjí.
He often writes love letters to Angie.

If he keeps up the effort, he might eventually win her heart and secure a 结婚证书 (jiéhūnzhèngshū marriage certificate).

书写 (shūxiě) means the same as (xiě to write) but is used in a more formal way, sometimes implying the use of Chinese calligraphy. In fact, 书画 (shūhuà) refers to paintings and calligraphy, and the Chinese word for calligraphy is 书法 (shūfǎ). 草书 (cǎoshū) does not mean “grass book”. It is a cursive Chinese writing style that features free flowing strokes that often render the characters unintelligible to the untrained eyes.

书面 (shūmiàn) means “in writing”. So a written permission is called 书面许可 (shūmiànxǔkě).

I guess because a secretary shuffles lots of papers, including confidential documents, he or she is called a 秘书 (mìshū). A bookworm is called a 书呆子 (shūdāizi). 书生 (shūshēng) is a young scholar, while 白面书生 (báimiànshūshēng pale-faced scholar) can imply lack of experience and real-world knowledge.

To encourage people to read books, a well known Chinese saying goes like this:

书中自有黄金屋;
Shū zhòng zì yǒu huángjīn wū;
In books there are mansions of gold;

书中自有颜如玉.
shū zhòng zì yǒu yán rú yù.
in books there are beauties to be found.

(zì) as a noun means self. As an adverb, it means certainly or of course. As a preposition it means from or since. As fiction is the product of an author’s imagination, of course one could find in it fantastic gold mansions and/or out-of-this-world beauties.

(yán) means color. It also refers to one’s face or prestige. A beautiful woman’s complexion is often compared to the color of white jade. Therefore, 如玉 (rú yù) is an expression for complimenting on a woman’s beautiful face.

In the book titled “By the Great Horn Spoon”, the main character Praiseworthy, a gentlemanly butler managed to beat a burly hillbilly in a boxing match all because he had studied the strategy and tactics from a boxing instruction book. If you haven’t read this entertaining and educative book, here are the links to the audio files: Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxC3ywSnNSc, Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk-Xgqqxbmo

Although it helps to attend a Chinese language instruction class, you can study Chinese on your own if you can get hold of good books and audio material. Many of my readers have found “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” helpful. I am pleased to announce that this book is now available in ebook format. You can download it from amazon.com or Apple iBooks Store. If you’ve already purchased the printed book from amazon.com and wish to also get the ebook version, you can do so at amazon.com for a discounted MatchBook price. If you have any questions about learning Chinese, feel free to post a comment to any article on this blog site.

English-Chinese Homophones (3)

母牛 (mǔniú) Cow


Here are a few more English words that sound like Chinese words. These and the examples that I mentioned previously are not exhaustive by any means. You will discover many more on your own as you enlarge your Chinese vocabulary. As for the Chinese homophones, trust me, there are tons more. This is one of the reasons why the modern Chinese language is replete with polysyllable words. Combining a character with one or more other characters greatly reduces the ambiguity created by the homonyms of the individual characters.

Me (mì secret) (mì tight, dense, secret) (mì honey, sweet)

他是我的秘书.
Tā shì wǒ de mìshū
He is my secretary.

这是我的秘密.
Zhè shì wǒ de mìmì.
This is my secret.

不要听他的甜言蜜语.
Bùyào tīng tā de tián yán mì yǔ.
Don’t listen to his sweet talk.

May (mèi younger sister) (mèi charm, evil spirit)

他的妹妹很漂亮.
Tā de mèimei hěn piàoliàng.
His younger sister is very pretty.

他有政治魅力.
Tā yǒu zhèngzhì mèilì.
He has political charm.

One (wàn 10000, by all means) (wàn wrist)

万一下雨, 怎么办.
Wàn yī xiàyǔ,zěnme bàn?
In case it rains, what to do?
(This is a complex sentence.)

他的手腕高明.
Tā de shǒuwàn gāomíng.
His stratagem is brilliant.

Pie? (pái arrange, a row, discharge) (pái tag, sign, cards)

你这样安排, 很好.
Nǐ zhèyàng ānpái, hěn hǎo.
You’ve made a good plan.

你打扑克牌吗?
Nǐ dǎ pūkè pái ma?
Do you play poker?

Sue (sù tell, accuse) (sù velocity, quickly) (sù plain, non-meat, innate)

Well, in the sense of 诉讼 (sùsòng law suit, litigation), here we have a Mandarin English coincidence.

不要告诉她.
Bùyào gàosù tā.
Don’t tell her.

开车不要超速.
Kāichē bùyào chāosù.
While driving a car, do not break the speed limit.

她吃素.
Tā chīsù.
She is a vegetarian.

Tea (tì for, substitute for, on behalf of) (tì shave)

你代替我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dàitì wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Go in my place, okay?

他替我剃了胡子.
Tā tì wǒ tì le húzi.
He shaved my beard for me.

我想买一把剃刀.
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī bǎ tìdāo.
I’d like to buy a razor.

Way (wèi for) (wèi flavor) (wèi)

她为你流了不少眼泪.
Tā wèi nǐ liú le bùshǎo yǎnlèi.
She shed a lot of tears for your sake.

这汤味道不错.
Zhè tāng wèidào bùcuò..
This soup taste pretty good (not bad).

我的胃不大舒服
Wǒ de wèi bùdà shūfu.
My stomach does not feel very well.

Yeo (yòu again) (yòu righthand side) (yòu young)

他又生病了.
Tā yòu shēngbìng le.
He fell ill again.

请靠右边走.
Qǐng kào yòubiān zǒu.
Please walk on the righ side.

这间幼儿园不错.
Zhè jiān yòuéryuán bùcuò.
This nursery school is not bad.

For your information, it’s not that easy to find commonly used Chinese characters that are without any homophones. Following are a few such loners:

(nín) is the polite form of you.

(sú) means a custom or convention. It also indicates vulgarness, as in:

他的穿着很俗气.
Tā de chuānzhuó hěn súqi.
His apparael shows poor taste.

(lū) is a grumble, a chatter, or a gurgling sound.

不知道他们叽哩咕噜地在说些什么.
Bù zhīdào tāmen jīligūlū de zài shuō xiē shénme.
Don’t know what they are jabbering about.

(xú) is a Chinese last name. It also means slow. This word is used more in writing than in everyday speech.

(bí) is the nose, which is usually referred to as 鼻子 (bízi).

(běi) is the north direction.

(gěi) is to give.

(shéi) means who.

(pāi) is to pat or to beat. It can also be used as a noun that means a clap, a slap, a swat or a musical beat. 拍手 (pāishǒu) is to clap one’s hands.

(gǎi) means to change or to alter.

她改变了行程.
Tā gǎibiàn le xíngchéng.
He changed his travel plan.

As a verb, (tòu) means to penetrate. As an adverb it means “thoroughly”. 透明 (tòumíng) means transparent. (tòu) sounds just like “toe”.

That’s it for now, folks. But wait, I hear a cow go, “Moo!”. Does she mean (mǔ mother, female [animal]) or (mǔ a unit of area, about 0.0667 hectare)?

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