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.

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).

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.

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:

Shū zhòng zì yǒu huángjīn wū;
In books there are mansions of gold;

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.


Learn Chinese word radical – Jade

Adorn the king with a large tear-drop-shaped precious stone, and one gets the character for jade, or (yù). The jade symbolizes purity, preciousness, nobility and beauty. This is why it is used in polite written language to represent the word “your”. For example, when writing to one’s grandfather or grandmother, one would often end the letter with:

Jìng zhù yù tǐ ānkāng
Respectfully wishing the best for your health

In fact, to show respect to the reader, the words “I” and “you” are seldom used in a formal or polite Chinese letter; and one has to find ways to rephrase the sentences to get the ideas across without ambiguity.

(zhuān) are bricks, which are common and humble, and quite the opposite of the jade. The Chinese idiom 抛砖引玉 (pāozhuānyǐnyù Cast a brick to attract jade.) was based on a story in which a mediocre poet succeeded in eliciting superb verses from a famous poet by starting a piece of work and letting the latter complete it. Click here for an animated version of this story. So, go ahead and offer your ideas in a brain-storming session. Even if they are not the greatest, they might inspire the group to come up with a valuable solution.

When (yù jade) is incorporated into a Chinese character as a word radical, the last little stroke is dropped, so that it looks like a “king”, except that the bottom stroke is slightly tilted up. But now you know that it is actually a “jade”. Following are a few examples.

(zhēn) is a treasure. It also means precious, highly valued, or rare. Both this character and the (yù) character are favorite choices for naming babies, particularly girls.

珍惜 (zhēnxī) is to cherish or treasure something.

Wǒ zhēnxī zhè fèn yǒuqíng.
I cherish this friendship.

珍贵 (zhēnguì) means precious.

Wǒ zhēnxī zhè fèn zhēnguì de yǒuqíng.
I cherish this precious friendship.

袖珍 (xiùzhēn) means pocket-sized, such as in 袖珍字典 (xiùzhēn zìdiǎn pocket dictionary).

(zhū) are beads. It is also the abbreviation for 珍珠 (zhēnzhū pearls). 掌上明珠 (zhǎngshàngmíngzhū) is literally a shiny pearl in one’s palm. This term refers to one’s precious daughter.

泪珠 (lèizhū) are teardrops. 汗珠 (hàn zhū) are drops of sweat.

A number of other jewelry items, or 珠宝 (zhūbǎo), also feature the “jade” radical.

珊瑚 (shānhú) means coral or items made from coral. 玛瑙 (mǎnǎo) is agate. (huán) is a ring, a hoop, or a link in a chain. 耳环 (ěrhuán) are earrings. (huán) also means to encircle or to be surrounded by mountains, such as in 环境 (huánjìng surroundings, circumstances). 污染环境 (wūrǎn huánjìng) means to pollute the environment.

玻璃 (bōli) is glass. A glass tumbler is called 玻璃杯 (bōli bēi). Nylon stockings are called 玻璃丝袜 (bōli sī wà), or 丝袜 (sī wà nylons) for short.

(qiú) refers to any spherical object. 地球 (dìqiú) is the earth. The eyeballs are called 眼球 (yǎnqiú) or 眼珠 (yǎnzhū). 有眼无珠 (yǒuyǎnwúzhū with eyes but without eyeballs) is an interesting expression that means lacking perception, failing to discern an essential point, or failing to see an obvious quality or capability in a person you know.

(wán) is to play or to amuse oneself. 好玩 (hǎowán) means interesting or great fun.

Tā xǐhuān wán lánqiú.
He likes to play basketball.

If any of your friends is getting married soon, you might present the new couple with a card bearing these congratulatory words:

Jīnyù Liáng Yuán
Gold and jade, a perfect match.

(liáng) is the formal word for “good”, “fine”, or “a good deal of”. (yuán) has a number of different meanings. It could refer to the edge or fringe of an object, the reason that causes something to happen, or a predestined relationship, which applies in this case.

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