Saturday, March 12, 2011


Have I mentioned that Chinese grammar makes no sense?

Well, that's really because I haven't found any pattern to Chinese grammar. Well, nothing beyond the rudimentary who + when + what sentence order. The title 中国means "zhong guo wen" - middle country language. Which, well, basically it's the Chinese language.
I think, so far, my favorite Chinese word is 滑 which means "hua" which is slippery. Put it in front of 雪, "xue" which is snow, and you get skiing. "hua bing" which is slippery ice, and means skating. I really do enjoy this language, at least when I don't have to worry about the language. 冰淇淋 doesn't have hua in it, but it's "bingqilin" which means ice cream and all three of those characters has the radical for water. I shall explain radicals. Maybe.

The language is just fun. I mean, it's a puzzle, because there's so many different pronunciations and everything. It's enjoyable, I think.  

So far, my favorite sentence in Chinese is "我有三个哥哥." Which translates to the pinyin system as "wo you san ge gege." "Ge" and "gege" do have different tonal marks, however, with the first "ge" being a down slash and the "gege" having just the level bar. The sentence translates as I (wo) have (you) three (san) measure word  for people (ge) older brothers (gege). I have three older brothers. Yay me.  

My family is the largest in the Chinese class. They all seem to think it's either hysterical or horrendous that I have "si ge xiong di": four measure word brothers. 

Did I mention the measure words? That's one thing I never understood when I was working with the Rosetta Stone program; stuff like the fact that there's different measure words like "ge" (people), "zhe" (animals, I think), "zhang" (paper/books/etc, again, I think) and oh so many more... that's not something the Rosetta Stone format would have taught me.

Anyway, I did mention the radicals. In the character system, there's a bunch of smaller sets of strokes that have a specific meaning behind them. Three dashes running down the left side is water, and I mentioned that one, but the text-characters kinda screw it. Picture a slanted colon with an extra dot. If a character has that in it, it usually has something to do with water. Most radicals are pictographs, simply evolving from the original character, like the one for "eye." This radical, 目, started out as an actual picture of an eye and then it was flipped upright and straightened out. Now it's the radical for eye. 

This stuff is fascinating!

My teacher says that the major difference between the traditional and simplified systems for characters is that the traditional system based more on pictorgraphs and is a lot more curved than the simplified system. 

The character for older brother, 哥哥, has the radical for mouth in it. Four times. It's the little box thingy. My class found it hysterical when my teacher made a joke about how older brothers always like to talk a lot because they have big mouths. My Chinese class is strange. The teacher isn't so great, but it's the only class I'm actually learning something that I really couldn't learn alone, so, I enjoy it.

Oh. Oh. Oh! Bob had a movie playing and this guy was working for a Chinese restaurant that had the character for fortune on it. Except the character wasn't upside down. Because during the Chinese New Year, people hang the big character for fortune upside down because the pronunciation of the word "upside down," is the same (besides for tonal marks) with the pronunciation of the word "attend/arrive" so hanging the character for fortune upside down would symbolize that fortune is arriving. Chinese humor. Who knew?


(I'm not translating it. It's only my favorite sign off. Use Google translator if you can't guess)


  1. What is that from? Fish? ReallY? WHY?

  2. Read Douglas Adams! -commands-

    Fish are a sign of surplus in China.

  3. Thanks for all the surplus? XD

    Okay, if I could have EVERY BOOK IN THE WORLD at my fingertips then I could read at your and whoever else's command, but the fact is even though there is a library five minutes away I cannot get anyone to drive me there. GR.

    I will read Douglas Adams eventually. =P