Common Abbreviations in Chinese

Chinese Brush Painting – Chicks in Springtime

As if there weren’t already so many words to learn in Chinese, we must also be able to deal with abbreviations that are thrown at us from time to time, especially by news reporters, who must deliver vast amount of information within a very short time.

Many of the Chinese abbreviations, or 简称 (jiǎnchēng), are sort of like acronyms. When a word is made up of two or more other multi-character words, often a new word is formed by combining the initial character of each of the constituent words. For example,

今早 (jīnzǎo) stands for 今天早晨 (jīntiān zǎochén this morning); 明早 (míngzǎo) stands for 明天早晨 (míngtiān zǎochén tomorrow morning).

Hey, aren’t you glad that spring has sprung? 今春 (jīnchūn) stands for 今年春天 (jīnnián chūntiān this spring); 明春 (míng chūn) stands for 明年春天 (míngnián chūntiān next spring).

流感 (liúgǎn) refers to 流行感冒 (liúxíng gǎnmào, influenza); 股市 (gǔshì) refers to 股票市场 (gǔpiào shìchǎng, stock market).

台湾大学 (Táiwān Dàxué National Taiwan University) is abbreviated as 台大 (Táidà).

中学 (zhōngxué) is middle school. 女子中学 (nǚzǐ zhōngxué) is abbreviated as 女中 (nǚ zhōng).
高中 (gāozhōng) is high school. A girls high school is called 女高 (nǚ gāo).

Obsiously, any word that starts wtih 国 has something to do with a country or nation.
国防 (guófáng) is short for 国家防卫 (guójiā fángwèi, national defense).
国小 (guó xiǎo) is short for 国民小学 (guómín xiǎoxué, national elementary school).
内宣 (nèi xuān) is short for 内部宣传 (nèibù xuānchuán, internal propaganda).
外宣 (wài xuān) is short for 外部宣传 (wàibù xuānchuán, external propaganda, or publicity).

The Chinese transliteration of most of the foreign country names are a mouthful. Luckily we mostly refer to these countries by their abbreviated names. For example:

United States of America 美利坚合众国 (Měilìjiān hézhòngguó) is shortened to 美国 (Měiguó).
China 中华人民共和国 (Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó) is 中国 (Zhōngguó).
Great Britain 大不列颠 (Dàbùlièdiān) is 英国 (Yīngguó).
France 法兰西 (Fǎlánxī) is 法国 (Fǎguó).

When talking about two or more countries, each will usually be represented by just one character, as shown below.

台美半导体会议 (Tái Měi bàndǎotǐ huìyì, Taiwan American Semiconductor Conference)
中美贸易 (Zhōng Měi màoyì, Sino-U.S. Trade)

For Hong Kong 香港 (xiānggǎng), the second character is chosen for the abbreviation, as in 台港关系 (Tái gǎng guānxì, Taiwan-Hong Kong relations).

欧盟 (ōuméng) stands for 欧洲联盟 (ōuzhōu liánméng, European Union).

公共 (gōnggòng) means shared by the public, and 公用 (gōngyòng) means for public use. Therefore, a bus is called 公共汽车 (gōnggòngqìchē), or 公车 (gōngchē) for short. Similarly, 公园 (gōngyuán) is short for 公共花园 (gōnggòng huāyuán, a public garden or a park), and 公厕 (gōngcè) is short for 公共厕所 (gōnggòng cèsuǒ, public restroom).

公公 (gōnggōng) is the father-in-law and 婆婆 (pópo) is the mother-in-law, whereas 公婆 (gōngpó) refers to both of them. Similarly, 父母 (fùmǔ) means parents, i.e. 父亲 (fùqīn, father) and 母亲 (mǔqīn, mother).

家用电器 (jiāyòngdiànqì, household appliance) is abbreviated as 家电 (jiādiàn).
驾驶执照 (jiàshǐ zhízhào, driver’s license) is abbreviated as 驾照 (jiàzhào).
空气调节 (kōngqì tiáojié, air conditioning) is abbreviated as 空调 (kòngtiáo).
空中运输 (kōngzhōng yùnshū, air transportation) is abbreviated as 空运 (kōngyùn).
世运会 (Shìyùnhuì) is short for 世界运动会 (Shìjiè yùndònghuì World Games).

Often some other (more significant) characters, rather than the initial characters, in the constituent words are selected to form the abbreviation, as shown in the following examples.

汽车 (qìchē) are cars. Vehicle license plates are called 汽车牌照 (qìchē páizhào), or 车牌 (chēpái).
厨具 (chújù) stands for 厨房用具 (chúfáng yòngjù, kitchen utensils).
糕饼 (gāobǐng) covers the sweet treats, such as 蛋糕 (dàngāo, cakes) and 饼干 (bǐnggān, cookies).

学校 (xuéxiào) are schools. Here, the second character is the one that designates the educational institution and is used for the following abbreviations:
校园 (xiàoyuán) is the school compound.
校花 (xiàohuā) is the generally acknowledged prettiest girl of a school.
校车 (xiàochē) is a school bus.
校长 (xiàozhǎng) is the principal.

专科学校 (zhuānkē xuéxiào) is a specialized school, such as a technical college. It is abbreviated as 专校 (zhuān xiào).

Finally, the four-character Chinese idioms are the ultimate in abbreviations. As we have seen in my previous blog post about 塞翁失馬 (sāiwēngshīmǎ), there can be a long story behind some of those pithy expressions.

Read a novel in Chinese and English

Chinese edition of The Little Monk

The Little Monk in Chinese

The Little Monk

The Little Monk in English

Earlier this year I mentioned that I planned to publish a middle-grade novel in both English and Chinese. I am pleased to announce that the English and Chinese editions of “The Little Monk are now available as Kindle eBooks at amazon.com.

It’s been quite a few years since I started this blog site, and I hope that some of you have advanced to the intermediate level in your study of the Chinese language. Are you ready to take on the challenge of reading a complete novel in Chinese? To date there is still a shortage of bilingual English-Chinese reading material for intermediate level language students.

The fact is that reading the same material side by side in Chinese and English can greatly benefit both the Chinese and English language learners.

If you don’t have a Kindle reading device, you can still read Kindle eBooks─on your PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android-based phone or tablet. Please see the information provided at this link.

To give you an idea of what the story is about, here is a brief description.

十七世纪中, 台湾被称作福摩萨,  
Shíqīshìjì zhōng, Táiwān bèi chēng zuò Fú Mó Sà,
In the 17th century, Taiwan was called the Island of Formosa,

意为美丽的小岛.
yì wéi měilì de xiǎodǎo.
meaning “Beautiful Island”.

岛上有宜人的气候, 令人瞩目的风景, 
Dǎo shàng yǒu yírén de qìhòu, lìngrén zhǔmù de fēngjǐng,
The island featured pleasant climate, eye-catching scenery,

以及丰富的自然资源.
yǐjí fēngfù de zìran zīyuán.
and rich natural resources.

各国强权纷纷来到, 建立了殖民地.
Gèguó qiángquán fēnfēn láidào, jiànlì le zhímíndì.
Foreign powers flocked to the place to colonize it.

这个故事发生在一个被西班牙统治的地区.
Zhègè gùshi fāshēng zài yīgè bèi Xībānyá tǒngzhì de dìqū.
This story took place during the brief Spanish rule of part of the island.

娃娃出生之后不久就与他的父母分离
Wáwa chūshēng zhīhòu bùjiǔ jiù yǔ tā de fùmǔ fēnlí
Shortly after Wawa was born, he was separated from his parents

而被一位中国少林和尚收容了.
ér bèi yī wèi shào lín héshàng shōuróng le.
and taken in by a Chinese Shaolin monk.

他十二岁时已经熟读佛经, 并且练了一身好功夫.
Tā shí’èr suì shí yǐjīng shú dú Fójīng, bìngqiě liàn le yīshēn hǎo gōngfu.
At the age of 12, he was already trained in Buddhism and kung fu skills.

娃娃想要从另外一位师父那儿学习石猴功.
Wáwa xiǎng yào cóng lìngwài yī wèi shīfu nàr xuéxí shí hóu gōng.
Wawa wanted to learn the unique Rock Monkey Kung Fu from another master.

在前往那位师父的途中, 他遇到了他的父亲尤大, 
Zài qiánwǎng nèi wèi shīfu de túzhōng, tā bùyì yùdào le tā de fùqin Yóudà.
On the trip to seek the other master, Wawa encountered his father Yotas,

但是两人都不知道他们之间的父子关系.
Dànshì liǎng rén dōu bù zhīdào tāmen zhījiān de fù zǐ guānxi.
but neither one was aware of their kinship.

娃娃也遇到他的对手明善. 
Wáwa yě yùdào tā de duìshǒu Míngshàn.
Wawa also encountered his adversary, Mingshan.

明善正要帮助西班牙军队逮捕尤大.
Míngshàn zhèng yào bāngzhù Xībānyá jūnduì dàibǔ Yóudà.
Minshan was helping the conquistadors to capture Yotas.

The twists in the plot of this story will keep you wondering what eventually happened to each of the main characters. At the same time, you will have a glimpse of the local scenery and the multi-cultural history of the place. You will be entertained by the amazing kung fu fighting actions, and hopefully also give some thought to racial prejudice and religious tolerance.

To watch a video showing scenes similar to those used as the background of this story, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhzZ3n8Q0Q

To watch a video about the aborigine tribes in Taiwan, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cRl8FuK-YQ

Learn Chinese word radical – Hair

Shapes

Various Shapes

The simple, pictorial Chinese radical represents hair or tassels. It is pronounced shān or xiān, but you don’t have to worry about the pronunciation, as you are not likely to encounter this symbol as a stand-alone character in ordinary books and documents.

The radical is found in numerous Chinese characters, many of which are out of circulation. Therefore, we will only discuss those that are commonly used in everyday speech.

In Traditional Chinese, the character for hair is (fǎ), which features the hair radical. Unfortunately, this character was replaced by in Simplified Chinese, and one no longer sees the strokes representing the tassels. So, the hair on your hair is 头发 (tóufa). The hair on your body and head is referred to as 毛发 (máofà). 发型 (fàxíng) means hair style or coiffure, 短发 (duǎnfǎ) is a short haircut, and 假发 (jiǎfà fake hair) is a wig.

理发 (lǐfà) is to have or get a hair cut, while 刮胡子 (guā húzi) means to shave one’s beard. The Traditional Chinese word for beards, moustache or whiskers is 鬍鬚 (húxū) or 鬍子 (húzi). Here again, you can see that the radical is absent from the Simplified Chinese word for beards. A moustache that has its ends grown much longer and often flared out is called a 八字胡 (bāzìhú) because it reminds one of the Chinese word for “eight”.

Not all men sport a beard. Rather, they shave their face. The action of shaving one’s face is called 修面 (xiū miàn). Please note that here (miàn) refers to the face rather than noodles. This is one of the ambiguities created by Simplified Chinese, which sometimes oversimplifies.

(xiū) as a verb is to repair, mend, embellish, trim or prune. The word commonly used for repairing is 修理 (xiūlǐ).

必须 (bìxū), or 须要 (xūyào), means to have to, or must. For example,

我的车子须要修理.
Wǒde chēzi xūyào xiūlǐ.
My car needs to be repaired.

Note that 需要 (xūyào) is a homonym of 须要 (xūyào); it means to need or to want.

孩子们需要父母的爱护.
Háizǐ men xūyào fùmǔ de àihù.
Children need the parents’ love and caring.

As the needle leaves of the fir tree resemble strands of hair, fir trees are called 杉树 (shān shù). 文质彬彬 (wénzhìbīnbīn) is a phrase often used to describe a cultivated, gentle person, who is likened to a graceful fir tree.

We encountered the (shān garment) character when we talked about the “clothes” radical on 2/15/12. Do you still remember that a shirt is called 衬衫 (chènshān)?

The character (cǎi) can take on a number of different meanings. For example, 色彩 (sècǎi) means color; 彩色的 (cǎisè de), or 五彩 (wǔcǎi), means multicolored; 彩霞 (cǎixiá) are rosy clouds; 彩虹 (cǎihóng) is a rainbow; 水彩 (shuīcǎi) is watercolour; 精彩 (jīngcǎi) means splendid; 喝彩 (hècǎi) means applause or cheer; 挂彩 (guàcǎi) means to decorate for festive occasions, or to be wounded in action.

As an adjective (zhēn) means rare, precious or valuable. As a noun, it means a treasure. 珍珠 (zhēnzhū) are pearls. The American writer and novelist Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese name is 赛珍珠 (Sài zhēnzhū).

疹子 (zhěnzi) is a rash. 麻疹 (mázhěn) are measles.

诊断 (zhěn duàn) is to examine a patient and make a diagnosis.

(xíng) is a form, a shape, an entity or a situation.

形状 (xíngzhuàng) is the shape or appearance of an item. 方形 (fāngxíng) is a square; 圆形 (yuánxíng) is a round shape; 半月形 (bànyuèxíng) is a crescent. 变形 (biànxíng) means to become deformed.

隐形 (yǐnxíng) means invisible. Therefore, 隐形眼镜 (yǐnxíngyǎnjìng) are contact lenses (i.e. invisible eyeglasses).

形容 (xíngróng) means to describe. Therefore, 形容词 (xíngróngcí) are adjectives. This is a good time to review how to use the many adjectives listed in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

情形 (qíngxíng) circumstances; situation; condition; state of affairs.

参加 (cānjiā) means to join, take part in or attend. 参考 (cānkǎo) means to refer to or to consult. So, 参考书 (cānkǎoshū) are reference books.

, when pronounced as (shēn), refers to ginseng. Asian ginseng is called 人参 (rénshēn) because its root resembles the (rén) character. 西洋参 (xīyángshēn) refers to American ginseng, which differs from the Asian ginseng with respect to herbal properties.

Things to be thankful for in Chinese

Pumpkin and Acorn Squash

Pumpkin and Acorn Squash

 

As I bring in an acorn squash from my garden as the last of the harvest of the year, my heart is filled with gratitude. Indeed I’m thankful for many other things. Here is a partial list. I am sure you can add many more to your own list (in Chinese, please).

 

感谢父母的养育.
Gǎnxiè fùmǔ de yǎngyù.
Thanks to my parents for bringing me up.

感谢家人的爱护.
Gǎnxiè jiārén de àihù.
Thanks to my family members for loving me.

感谢老师的教导.
Gǎnxiè lǎoshī de jiàodǎo.
Thanks to my teachers for educating me.

感谢朋友分享欢乐及分担忧虑.
Gǎnxiè péngyǒu fēnxiǎng huānlè jí fēndān yōulǜ.
Thanks to my friends for sharing my joys and worries.

感谢邻居的友情和帮助.
Gǎnxiè línjū de yǒuqíng hé bāngzhù.
Thanks to my neighbors for their friendship and help.

感谢同事的合作.
Gǎnxiè tóngshì de hézuò.
Thanks to my colleagues for their collaboration.

感谢农人生产粮食.
Gǎnxiè nóngrén shēngchǎn liángshi.
Thanks to the farmers who produce food for us.

感谢医护人员的医疗.
Gǎnxiè yī hù rényuán de yīliáo
Thanks to the health care professionals for their treatments

感谢邮差递送信件及包裹.
Gǎnxiè yóuchāi dìsòng xìnjiàn jí bāoguǒ.
Thanks to the mailman for delivering the mail and packages.

感谢能够居住在稳定的社会.
Gǎnxiè nénggòu jūzhù zài wěndìng de shèhuì.
Thanks for being able to live in a stable society.

感谢能够呼吸新鲜的空气及喝清洁的水.
Gǎnxiè nénggòu hūxī xīnxiān de kōngqì jí hē qīngjié de shuǐ.
Thanks for having clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

感谢有美好的大自然可以欣赏.
Gǎnxiè yǒu měihǎo de dàzìrán kěyǐ xīnshǎng.
Thanks for the beauty in nature for everyone to appreciate.

感谢有悦耳的音乐抚慰我们的心灵.
Gǎnxiè yǒu yuè’ěr de yīnyuè fǔwèi wǒmén de xīnlíng.
Thanks for the beautiful music that comforts the soul.

感谢能够通过网路获取丰富的知识.
Gǎnxiè nénggòu tōngguò wǎnglù huòqǔ fēngfù de zhīshí
Thanks for the Internet that connects me with a wealth of knowledge.

感谢读者爱阅我的书及网页.
Gǎnxiè dúzhě ài yuè wǒde shū jí wǎngyē.
Thanks to my readers for reading my books and web page.

Granted that not all days are rosy, and each one of us has some problems to deal with, let’s remember, though, that it could be much worse. As we’ve mentioned before,

比上不足, 比下有餘.
Bǐshàngbùzú, bǐxiàyǒuyú.
Things may fall short of the best but still be better than the worst.

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

 

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