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!

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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