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!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

As the Mid-autumn Festival nears, watch the night sky and see the moon wax until it becomes full. Referred to as the Moon Festival in the West, 中秋节 (Zhōngqiūjié) is a time for fall harvest and family reunion, the perfectly round moon symbolizing completeness and fulfillment. And, as the Chinese poets will tell you, no matter how far apart you are from your family or friends, you can always observe and share the same beautiful moon in the sky. Next Tuesday night, as you sip on a cup of tea, coffee, orange juice, or whatever drink you fancy, admire the full moon along with billions of other people in the world.

Zhōngqiūjié kuàilè.
Happy Mid-Autimn Festival!

(yuán) means round. (mǎn) means full. 圆满 (yuánmǎn) means satisfactory to all parties involved.

团圆 (tuányuán) is a reunion with family members. It can also be used as a verb.

花好月圆 (huāhǎoyuèyuán flowers are beautiful and the moon is full) is a blessing offered to newly weds to wish them perfect marital bliss.

While a Chinese family gathers after a scrumptious feast to watch the full moon, they will also be enjoying the mooncakes, or 月饼 (yuèbǐng). Although it could come in various sizes, the typical mooncake is a round pastry about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter and 1.5 to 2 inches in height. The traditional mooncake is filled with red bean paste, lotus seed paste, or a mincemeat concoction, but nowadays there’s probably a kind of mooncake filling to suit every taste. In fact, my aunt just informed me that you can now get an icecream mooncake!

By the way, the word (bǐng) represents a variety of disc-shaped food products. 饼干 (bǐnggān) is a general term for cookies, 煎饼 (jiānbǐng) is a pancake, 烧饼 (shāobǐng) is a baked flat bread, and 圈儿饼 (quānr bǐng) is a donut. 葱油饼 (cōngyóubǐng) is a flaky pan-fried flatbread containing chopped green onions. For the non-vegetarians, there are also the 肉饼 (ròubǐng ground meat patties) and 鱼饼 (yú bǐng minced fish patties). Now, 铁饼 (tiěbǐng) is literally an iron disc that you don’t want to sink your teeth into. This is the discus used in sports.

中秋节 (Zhōngqiūjié) is a happy time. Let’s listen to 风飞飞 (Fēng Fēifēi) sing a happy song. Click on “Show more” to display the lyrics. The first stanza of this song should be easy to understand and remember.

春天的花 (chūntiān de huā) means flowers in the spring. 秋天的月 (qiū tiān de yuè) is the moon in the fall.

When the word (shǎo) is pronounced in the third tone, it means few or little. For example, 少量 (shǎoliàng) means a small quantity, 不少 (bùshǎo) means quite a few (not a small quantity), and 多少 (duōshao) means how many or how much.

Bùshǎo měiguórén huì shuō Zhōngguó huà.
Quite a few Americans know how to speak Chinese.

When the word (shào) is pronounced in the fourth tone, it means young, junior or minor. 少年 (shàonián) is a youth or a young man, while 少女 (shàonǚ) is a young lady. In a traditional Chinese family, the young master of the house is addressed as 少爷 (shàoye), and his wife would be addressed as 少奶奶 (shàonǎinai). 少将 (shàojiàng) is a rear admiral.

多么 (duōme) is an adverb that can be interpreted as “so” or “how very”. For example:

Tā shì gè duōme kěài de háizi!
He is such a lovely a child! (How very lovely a child he is!)

知道 (zhīdào) means to know. 不知 (bù zhī) is an abbreviation of 不知道 (bù zhīdào) that is often used in writing. In everyday convervation, you would say, “不知道 (bù zhīdào).”

怎么 (zěnme) is an adverb used colloquially for “how”. For example:

Yuèbǐng zěnme zuò?
How do you make moon cakes?

Wǒ zěnme zhīdào?
How would I know?

怎么样 (zěnmeyàng how, how about) is a phrase that can be used in a few different ways. The following three examples are straightforward questions:

Tā xiànzài zěnmeyàng?
How is she doing now?

Nǐ juéde zěnmeyàng?
How do you feel about this? (What do you think?)

Nǐ kǎo de zěnmeyàng?
How did you do on the exam?

怎么样 (zěnmeyàng) also serves as the answer when used in the negative.

Bù zěnmeyàng.
Not so good.

After making a suggestion to someone, you could ask, “怎么样?” (zěnmeyàng) in a friendly tone. This translates to: “How about it? OK?” On the other hand, when you’re quarreling with someone, the same question issued in an angry voice would translate to: “So you’re not happy, and what are you going to do about that! (Want to fight?)”

When you explain to someone that you’ve run out of options to deal with an issue, you would throw up your arms and say:

Wǒ néng zěnmeyàng?
What can I do? (There’s really nothing I can do about it.)

Another common expression containing 怎样 (zěnyàng) is 又怎样 (yòu zěnyàng). This is the Chinese equivalent of “so what”, but it is placed at the end of the clause and never at the beginning. For example:

他不来, 又怎样?
Tā bù lái, yòu zěnyàng?
So what, if he is not coming?
(He’s not coming, so what?)

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