Anxiety and Worries in Chinese

You’re late for a meeting, yet the traffic happens to be congested. You feel anxious, or 着急 (zháojí) and impatient, 不耐烦 (bùnàifán), but there’s not much you can do about it. Next time, start out earlier.

(jí), featuring a heart radical at the bottom, means fast, rapid or urgent. When describing a person, it means impatient, hot-headed, anxious, eager, or worried.

别着急, 我们一会儿就到了.
Bié zháojí. Wǒmén yīhuìr jiù dào le.
Don’t worry. We will get there in a moment.

(jiāo), with a fire radical at the bottom, means burnt or scorched. Therefore, when one is extremely anxious, the descriptive word to use is 焦急 (jiāojí). 焦躁 (jiāozào) describes someone who is restless and impatient with anxiety.

An urgent matter is called 急事 (jí shì). 急件 (jíjiàn) is an urgent dispatch or a document that requires immediate attention.

急救 (jíjiù) means first aid. 急诊 (jízhěn) means immediate care or emergency treatment. 挂号 (guàhào) is to register at an office (such as a hospital or a motor vehicle division). It also means to send something by registered mail.

我要挂急诊.
Wǒ yào guà jízhěn.
I need to register for immediate care.

她收到一封挂号信.
Tā shōudào yī fēng guàhào xìn.
She received a registered letter.

(lǜ), as a verb, means to consider, to ponder or to think over. As an adjective, it means feeling anxious or worried, as in 忧虑 (yōulǜ concerned). 焦虑 (jiāolǜ) is to feel utterly anxious and worried.

烦恼 (fánnǎo) means worries or troubles. It can also be used as an adjective that means being vexed or worried. 苦恼 (kǔnǎo) has pretty much the same meaning.

这件事令我非常烦恼.
Zhè jiàn shì ling wǒ fēicháng fánnǎo.
This matter troubles me very much.

(dān) is to carry on a pole over the shoulder. (dàn), in the fourth tone, refers to the load carried. 担担面 (dàndànmiàn) is a spicy noodle snack dish that originated in the Sichuan Province of China. It used to be sold by peddlers who walked the streets carrying baskets suspended from a pole they balanced on their shoulders.

(dān) also means to take on a burden. Therefore, 担心 (dānxīn) is to worry about something that weighs on your heart. 担忧 (dānyōu) also means to feel worried.

昨夜我担心得睡不着.
Zuóyè wǒ dānxīn de shuì bù zháo.
Last night I was so worried that I could not sleep.

睡着 (shuì zháo) means to fall asleep.

怎样能够无忧无虑?
Zěnyàng nénggòu wúyōuwúlǜ?
How to achieve equanimity and be carefree?

Sing “Worried Man Blues” featured in Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

The fire radical

The Chinese call the planets “moving stars”, or 行星 (xíngxīng). Five of the planets were given the names of the five elements: 木星 (mùxīng Jupiter), 火星 (huǒxīng Mars), 土星 (tǔxīng Saturn), 金星 (jīxīng Venus), and 水星 (shuǐxīng Mercury). Therefore, a Martian is called 火星人 (huǒxīng rén).

你相信有火星人吗?
Nǐ xiāngxìn yǒu huǒxīng rén ma?
Do you believe there are Martians?

(huǒ fire) is a pictograph of a person on fire, with a tongue of flame flickering on each side of the person. This character represents burning energy, such as that exhibited in a rage, or火气 (huǒqì). On the other hand, in Chinese medicine, 火气 (huǒqì) refers to the internal heat generated when yin and yang, 阴阳 (yīnyáng), are out of balance. The excess “fire” in the internal organs can manifest itself as an inflammation, which is often accompanied by bad breath. In fact, in ancient China, it was common practice to put the blame on火气 (huǒqì) for any ailment of unknown cause.

老爷今天火气很大.
Lǎoye jīntiān huǒqì hěn dà.
The master is in a very bad temper today.

A wagon spitting steam fueled by fire is called 火车 (huǒchē train). On the other hand, the fire engine is called 救火车 (jiùhuǒ chē), where (jiù) means to rescue.

If you remember, in one of the scenes in the film “Red Cliff’, Zhuge Liang was summoning the southeast wind that favored his “fire arrows” war scheme. The fire arrows are called 火箭 (huǒjiàn), which in modern days refer to rockets.

I’m not sure why the turkey is called the “fire bird”, or 火鸡 (huǒjī). My guess is that it has something to do with the turkey’s fiery red wattle.

火锅 (huǒguō hot pot) is a chafing dish that is a favorite at family gatherings during the cold winter days. A traditional hot pot is heated by coal, and an occasional spark, or 火花) (huǒhuā), may escape when the coal is fanned.

Whenever you see the fire radical in a word, you can expect the involvement of heat or fire. For example, (dēng) is a lamp (in earlier times, an oil lamp), 火炉 (huǒlú) is a stove, and the flames are called 火焰 (huǒyàn).

炒的, 炸的, 烤的, 烘的, 样样都有.
Chǎo de, zhá de, kǎo de, hōng de, yàng yàng dōu yǒu.
Stir-fried, deep-fried, roasted or toasted, they’re all available.

火熄了, 但是还在冒烟.
Huǒ xī le, dànshì háizài màoyān.
The fire has been extinguished, but there is still smoke coming out.

汤还太烫.
Tāng hái tài tàng.
The soup is still too hot.

You know that (huī) is the gray color. This is because it is the word for ash. In the case of (qiū autumn), there is not an actual fire, but the leaves do seem ablaze.

When you see the 灬 symbol at the bottom of a Chinese character, think of the flames dancing on your gas stove. Indeed this symbol is another form of the fire radical, such as featured in (rè hot, passionate), (zhǔ cook), (jiān pan-fry), (zhēng steam), (jiāo burnt, charred) and 燃烧 (ránshāo to burn).

(shú) refers to the state of something that has been cooked and is not raw anymore. This word also means ripe, mature, being familiar with someone, or being, skilled or experienced with something. The following adage is worth remembering:

熟能生巧.
Shú néng shēng qiǎo.
Practice makes perfect.

I’d like to conclude this post by expressing my appreciation for my family, my friends, my readers, as well as the Internet, which helps to keep us all in touch and provides so much knowledge for us to acquire and enjoy.

感恩节快乐!
Gǎnēn jié kuàilè!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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