Can You Read This?

11 03 2012

Not surprisingly, after last week’s blog with my story about encountering a rat in a restaurant, I haven’t received many inquiries about joining me on a trip into China!  However, when you are brave enough to try a trip to China (or even if you go to a truly authentic Chinese restaurant) you will need to be able to recognize some basic Chinese characters.

Since many places in China do not post their signs in English, you’ll want to be able to know the difference between the characters for man & woman (think bathrooms), push or pull (think doors) to name just a few. Being able to make the right decision at those times will help you avoid some embarrassing situations, or even impress the people you are with!

So while Joel is on the road again this week traveling in China, we have put together a very simple quiz to test your ability to recognize 10 primary Chinese characters.

See if you can match the English words on the left with the correct Chinese word on the right.

English Word

Chinese Character (pinyin)

1. Up / Top A. (dà)
2. Down / Bottom B. (lā)
3. Push C. 狗肉 (gǒu ròu)
4. Pull D. (nán)
5. Man E. (nǚ)
6. Woman F. (shàng)
7. Large G. (tuī)
8. Small H. (xià)
9. Pork I. (xiǎo)
10. Dog J. 猪肉 (zhū ròu)

Once again we will use the honor system – no peeking at the answers below!

Now that you have made your choices, here are the answers!

English Word

Chinese Character (pinyin)

1. Up / Top A. (shàng)
2. Down / Bottom B. (xià)
3. Push C. (tuī)
4. Pull D. (lā)
5. Man E. (nán)
6. Woman F. (nǚ)
7. Large G. (dà)
8. Small H. (xiǎo)
9. Pork I. 猪肉 (zhū ròu)
10. Dog J. 狗肉 (gǒu ròu)

How well did you do?  The good news is that you don’t need to score 10 out of 10 to come travel with us in China – but it just might help you make the right choices at the right time!

Until next time,

Joel & Debbie

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Chinese Word Power

12 12 2011

Joel just returned from a week-long trip in China, and came across a few Chinese words that he hadn’t seen or read before. On one day, he was at a restaurant ordering a meal when he realized that while he recognized the four Chinese characters describing the dish (新奥尔良 – xīn ào ěr liáng), he couldn’t figure out what they meant!  It was only later that he realized that this was a ‘New Orlean’s’ style dish.  [The first character means ‘new’, and the last 3 characters are supposed to sound like ‘Orleans’].
As in most other languages, some Chinese characters/words are literal translations of a specific word: 书 (shū) – book; some words are transliterations from English (the Chinese pronunciation sounds like the English word) -咖啡 (kā fēi) coffee; and then there are words where the Chinese characters represent the concept of the particular word: 打字机 (dǎ zì jī / hit character machine) – typewriter.
So here’s the challenge for you with the following quiz.  We have put together 10 Chinese words – and given you the English translation for each character.  We have also provided you with the pinyin translation of the word (sound it out).  We have also put together a list of 20 words to choose from.  Can you match the Chinese characters with the correct English translation?  Make sure you sound out all the words (read the pinyin translation), but also consider the concept being expressed by the Chinese translation. Give it a try – test your linguistic and deductive skills!

Chinese Word / Phrase English Word / Phrase
1. Add oil (加油) A. Bowling ball
Pinyin:   jiā yóu B. Bright idea
2. Electric brain  (电脑) C. Brunette
Pinyin:   diàn nǎo D. Coca-Cola
3. Fire vehicle  (火车) E. Computer
Pinyin:   huǒ chē F. Counterfeiter
4. Many changes  (多变) G. Fax machine
Pinyin:   duō biàn H. Fickle
5. Sand hair  (沙发) I. Fried noodles
Pinyin:   shā fā J. Gas station
6. Stinky beautiful  (臭美) K. Go for it! Let’s go team!
Pinyin:   chòu měi L. Golf
7. Strolling, strolling ball  (遛遛球) M. Great meal!
Pinyin:   liù liu qiú N. Race car
8. Tall that husband ball  (高尔夫球) O. Sandwich
Pinyin:   gāo ěr fū qiú P. Sofa
9. Tasty delightful  (可口可乐) Q. Three Mile Island
Pinyin:   kě kǒu kě lè R. Train
10. Three bright cure (三明治) S. Vain
Pinyin:   sān míng zhì T. Yo-Yo

Now that you’ve made your decisions, here are the correct answers!

Chinese Word / Phrase English Word / Phrase
1. Add oil [jiā yóu] K. Go for it! Let’s go team!
(This is a cheer often used by fans at sporting events in China.)
2. Electric brain  [diàn nǎo] E. Computer
(Makes sense, doesn’t it?)
3. Fire vehicle  [huǒ chē] R. Train
(Possibly based on early descriptions of trains in China)
4. Many changes  [duō biàn] H. Fickle
(Much like the English definition – quick to change one’s mind)
5. Sand hair  [shā fā] P. Sofa
(It’s supposed to sound like the English word for sofa)
6. Stinky beautiful  [chòu měi] S. Vain
(Much like the English definition – excessive self regard)
7. Strolling, strolling ball  [liù liu qiú] T. Yo-Yo
(They must have seen someone perform that trick with a yo-yo!)
8. Tall that husband ball  [gāo ěr fū qiú] L. Golf
(It’s supposed to sound like the English word for golf)
9. Tasty delightful  [kě kǒu kě lè] D. Coca-Cola
(It’s supposed to sound like the English word for Coca-Cola)
10. Three bright cure [sān míng zhì] O. Sandwich
(It’s supposed to sound like the English word for sandwich)

Was it as easy as you thought it would be to figure out which Chinese phrase matched up with the correct English phrase?  Let us know how you did—we promise we won’t post your results online!
Until next week,

Joel & Debbie

PRAY WITH US
Praise God for the good report Joel received from a pastor about the leadership training they attended last month.  This pastor was so encouraged by what she learned, they are now wanting to schedule another training class for lay workers in their local church.  PRAY that Joel would have wisdom in working with this local church and the trainers to find a suitable time for this training seminar.

PRAY for students at ICS whose families are going through times of conflict and turmoil.  PRAY that God’s Spirit would bring peace and healing to them during this holiday season.





In Other Words – Again

31 10 2011

Last year, one of the first quizzes we put on our blog was a test of your ‘language’ skills.  We asked you to match 10 Chinese sayings with 10 familiar English idioms, to test of your ability to go beyond the literal translation of what was being said to understand the concept being expressed.  After all, every language has colloquial expressions that, while easily understood by native speakers, can be confusing to new language learners.

After one year of sharing insights on Chinese culture, we thought we’d provide you with another opportunity to test your language skills. Just as we did last year, we have put together another list of 10 Chinese sayings, along with familiar English expressions.  We have even included the Chinese characters for each of the Chinese proverbs. As you read through the list, you’ll see that some of the sayings are fairly easy to figure out.  Some of them are a little more difficult.  The answers are listed below, so no peeking (we’ll use the honor system here)!

Chinese Saying English Saying
For the mouth to say yes but the heart A.  No pain, no gain
to say no – 口是心非
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
2.  It is easy to move river and mountains, B.  It goes without saying
but difficult to change a person’s basic
nature – 江山易改, 本性难移
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
3.  Pick up a needle from the bottom C.  Pay lip service
of the sea – 海底捞针
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
4.  Fortune does not arrive in pairs; D.  Lock the barn door after
trouble does not come singly
江山易改, 本性难移
the horse is gone
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
5.  To dig a well only after one is E.  Burn one’s bridges
already thirsty – 临渴掘井
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
6.  It can be understood without F.  Easy come, easy go
being explained – 不言而喻
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
7.  A tiger does not father a dog G.  A leopard cannot change his spots
虎父无犬子
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
8.  If you don’t enter the tiger’s den, H.  When it rains, it pours
how will you get the tiger’s cub?
不入虎穴,焉得虎子
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
9.  Thirty years on the east side of I.  Like father, like son
the river, thirty years on the west
side of the river
三十年河东,三十年河西
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
10.  Break the pot and sink the boat J.  Find a needle in a haystack
破釜沈舟
————————————————————- ————————————————————-


Now that you’ve made your decisions, here are the correct answers!

Chinese Saying English Saying
For the mouth to say yes but the heart C.  Pay lip service
to say no – 口是心非
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
2.  It is easy to move river and mountains, G.  A leopard cannot change his spots
but difficult to change a person’s basic
nature – 江山易改, 本性难移
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
3.  Pick up a needle from the bottom J.  Find a needle in a haystack
of the sea – 海底捞针
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
4.  Fortune does not arrive in pairs; H.  When it rains, it pours
trouble does not come singly
江山易改, 本性难移
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
5.  To dig a well only after one is D.  Lock the barn door after
already thirsty – 临渴掘井 the horse is gone
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
6.  It can be understood without B.  It goes without saying
being explained  – 不言而喻]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
7.  A tiger does not father a dog I.  Like father, like son
虎父无犬子
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
8.  If you don’t enter the tiger’s den, A.  No pain, no gain
how will you get the tiger’s cub?
不入虎穴,焉得虎子]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
9.  Thirty years on the east side of F.  Easy come, easy go
the river, thirty years on the west
side of the river
三十年河东,三十年河西
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
10.  Break the pot and sink the boat E.  Burn one’s bridges
破釜沈舟
————————————————————- ————————————————————-

So were you able to answer all 10 correctly?  If not, then console yourself with this thought: “Sometimes I’m confused by what I think is really obvious. But what I think is really obvious obviously isn’t obvious.” Thank you for your prayer support, particularly for Joel as he travels into China and trusts God to enable him to clearly understand what is being said in each of the conversations he has along the way.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie

PRAY WITH US:
Joel will be traveling to south central China this week, meeting with church leaders to follow up on several opportunities, including plans for a lay worker training seminar.  PRAY that these church leaders would have wisdom as they work together on finalizing all these plans.
Pray for God’s guidance and will to be made known in the next few weeks as decisions are made concerning the future leadership at International Christian School.





Happy Chinese New Year!

25 01 2011

Living in Asia, we have the opportunity to celebrate not just one, but two different New Years. Chinese New Year – or Spring Festival (春节) as it is more commonly known – is the most important festival for the Chinese people. It is like a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas for them as family members make every effort to return home.  This has become the busiest time for transportation systems in China, as migrant workers take advantage of the country’s most important holiday to return home to visit family members.  About 230 million people are expected to travel during the Lunar New Year holiday season – for many of them, it’s their only visit home during the year.

With Chinese New Year just around the corner – in fact it will begin next week on February 3rd – we have prepared a little quiz for you, to check your knowledge about this all important Chinese holiday.  The answers are listed below, but no peeking (we’ll use the honor system here)! How much do you know about the Chinese New Year?

1] One way of naming a given Chinese New Year is with an animal. Which of the following animals is not on the list of names the Chinese use to identify years?
Pig                       Dragon                  Rat                       Panda

2] There is a grand celebration that takes place about fifteen days after the day of the Chinese New Year. What is it called?
Lunar Celebration                             Lantern Festival
Kung Fu Boxing Day                         Cherry Blossom Festival

3] What fruit, representing luck and prosperity, is traditionally the most popular to hand out for the Chinese New Year?
Papaya                  Mandarin Oranges          Star fruit            Pineapple

4] The traditional Chinese New Year’s greeting – 恭喜发财 – “Gong Xi Fa Cai”(Mandarin) “Gung Hey Fat Choy” (Cantonese) means:
Have a Happy New Year                      May everything be as you wish
May you achieve your great plans      Congratulations – may you be prosperous and wealthy

5] What color is the most commonly and liberally used for Chinese New Year decorations?
Yellow                 White                    Red                      Black

Bonus Question: 2011 is the year of the                       (animal).

ANSWERS

1] One way of naming a given Chinese New Year is with an animal. Which of the following animals is not on the list of names the Chinese use to identify years?
Correct answer is:     Panda

While the panda bear is commonly associated with China, it is not one of the 12 animals used in the Chinese New Year cycle.  Here is the list of animals, which follow a 12-year cycle:

Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit / Hare
Dragon Snake Horse Sheep / Ram
Monkey Rooster Dog Pig / Boar

2] There is a grand celebration that takes place about fifteen days after the day of the Chinese New Year. What is it called?
Correct answer is:     Lantern Festival

To our knowledge, there is no Kung Fu Boxing Day – although it may seem like that if you fight the crowds and head to any of the street markets or malls right around Chinese New Year! Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities with the first full moon of the year. The Chinese celebrate with parades and night lantern displays, and often thousands of lanterns line the streets, hung from homes and storefronts, setting the stage for the processions and colorful performances to end the festivities.

3] What fruit, representing luck and prosperity, is traditionally the most popular to hand out for the Chinese New Year?
Correct answer is:     Mandarin Oranges

At Chinese New Year, different foods take on special significance, and Mandarin oranges are considered good luck.  Other foods that are enjoyed during the Chinese New Year holiday include:
Bamboo shoots = wealth
Black moss seaweed = wealth
Chicken = happiness and marriage
Eggs = fertility
Egg Rolls = wealth
Fish (served whole) = prosperity
Chinese garlic chives = everlasting, a long life
Lychee nuts = close family ties
Noodles = a long life
Peanuts = a long life
Pomelo = abundance, prosperity, having children
Seeds (lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc.) = having a large number of children

4] The traditional Chinese New Year’s greeting – 恭喜发财 – “Gong Xi Fa Cai”(Mandarin) “Gung Hey Fat Choy” (Cantonese) means:
Correct answer is:     Congratulations – may you be prosperous and wealthy

Often children and teenagers will playfully add an extra phrase to this greeting and say – “Gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái” (恭喜发财–紅包拿來) which basically means – “Congratulations – be prosperous and wealthy, now give me my red envelope!” Another common new year’s greeting is: “Xīn nián kuài lè” (新年快乐) which literally means – Happy New Year!

5] What color is the most commonly and liberally used for Chinese New Year decorations?
Correct answer is:     Red

Red is the Chinese color of celebration, as it is believed to ward off evil spirits. Besides wearing red, Chinese married couples give red envelopes of money (红包 – hong bao) to children and unmarried friends to share their good fortune on the holiday.

It is common to hang or paste banners (spring couplets) at the entrance to your apartment or house. These couplets are normally written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style possible, and are meant to convey a happy, hopeful, uplifting message about a better new year to come.

In addition to pasting couplets on both sides and above the main door, it is also common to hang calligraphic writing of the Chinese characters for “spring,” (春) “wealth,” (财) and “blessing” (福). Some people will even invert the characters for blessing with the hope that good fortune, blessing and wealth will rush down from heaven onto the family.  Would you pray with us that the people of China would come to know the author and giver of true peace and lasting blessing.

Bonus Question: 2011 is the year of the Rabbit.

We will be gone from Hong Kong over the Chinese New Year – attending a retreat in Thailand with other international workers from Hong Kong and China.

See you in two weeks.

Joel & Debbie





In Other Words

1 11 2010

We all know that there is more than one way to say something.  Most of us have used an idiom or a favorite saying to help clarify an idea when trying to make a point.  Now imagine doing that in another language.  Imagine doing that in Chinese.

During our time in Asia, language acquisition has meant not only learning the grammar and syntax of the Chinese language, but also some of their idiomatic sayings and proverbs.  This week, we are providing an opportunity for you to test your ‘language’ skills.

We have put together a list of 10 familiar English sayings, along with Chinese sayings.  We have even included the Chinese characters for each of the Chinese sayings / proverbs. As you read through the list, you’ll see that some of the sayings are fairly easy to figure out.  Some of them are a little more difficult.  It will test your ability to go beyond the literal translation of the saying to understand the concept being expressed. Now imagine doing that in another language.  Imagine doing that in Chinese.

Chinese Saying English Saying
1.  When hungry, one is not choosy A.  Bite off more than one can chew
about what to eat [饥不择食]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
2.  That which you do not desire, do B.  Birds of a feather flock together
not do to others
[己所不欲, 勿施于人]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
3.  One who is overly proud will C.  Kill two birds with one stone
certainly meet defeat [骄者必败]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
4.  Greedily take too much, but unable D.  Shed crocodile tears
to chew it up [贪多嚼不烂]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
5.  Things of a similar nature are found E.  The early bird gets the worm
together  [物极必反]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
6.  If one plants melons, one gets F.  Beggars can’t be choosers
melons [种瓜得瓜]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
7.  The fast foot climbs to the top first G.  A drop in the bucket
[捷足先登] 
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
8.  One hair from nine oxen H.  Do unto others as you would have
[九牛一毛] them do unto you 
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
9.  With one action to obtain two I.  Pride goes before a fall
rewards [一举两得]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
10.  Cat crying for the mouse J.  As a man sows, so shall he reap
[猫哭老鼠]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-


Now that you’ve made your decisions, here are the correct answers!

Chinese Saying English Saying
1.  When hungry, one is not choosy F.  Beggars can’t be choosers
about what to eat [饥不择食]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
2.  That which you do not desire, do H.  Do unto others as you would have
not do to others them do unto you 
[己所不欲, 勿施于人]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
3.  One who is overly proud will I.  Pride goes before a fall
certainly meet defeat [骄者必败]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
4.  Greedily take too much, but unable A.  Bite off more than one can chew
to chew it up [贪多嚼不烂]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
5.  Things of a similar nature are found B.  Birds of a feather flock together
together  [物极必反]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
6.  If one plants melons, one gets J.  As a man sows, so shall he reap
melons [种瓜得瓜]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
7.  The fast foot climbs to the top first E.  The early bird gets the worm
[捷足先登] 
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
8.  One hair from nine oxen G.  A drop in the bucket
[九牛一毛]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
9.  With one action to obtain two C.  Kill two birds with one stone
rewards [一举两得]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-
10.  Cat crying for the mouse D.  Shed crocodile tears
[猫哭老鼠]
————————————————————- ————————————————————-

We’d love to hear from you if you were able to match up all 10 of these proverbs – we could provide you with an opportunity to use your exceptional language skills to use here in Asia!  Thank you for your prayer support, particularly for Joel as he travels into China and trusts God to enable him to clearly hear what is being said in each of the conversations he has along the way.

In closing, remember this: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  Now imagine hearing that in another language.  Imagine hearing that in Chinese.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie





Test Your China I.Q.

4 10 2010

We’ve put together a little quiz to test your overall knowledge of mainland China.  As you’ll see, it covers a wide range of issues that you may or may not have seen lately in the news.  The answers are listed below, so no peeking (we’ll use the honor system here)! How much do you know about China?

# (1)  China celebrates their National Day on which day?
(a) May 1st (b) July 1st (c) October 1st (d) October 10th

# (2) The current leader of the Mainland China government is:
(a) Chen GangSheng – 陳港生           (b) Hu JinTao – 胡锦涛
(c) Jiang ZeMin – 江泽民                    (d) Wen JiaoBao – 温家宝

# (3) The largest (most populated) city of China is:
(a) 北京 Beijing     (b) 广州 Guangzhou     (c) 上海 Shanghai     (d) 深圳 Shenzhen

# (4) Giant pandas are native only to Mainland China. They subsist almost entirely on what food?  (a) Tree nuts    (b) Rice     (c) Eucalyptus     (d) Bamboo

# (5) What year did Protestant missionaries first go to Mainland China?
(a) 1807     (b) 1830     (c) 1854     (d) 1888


ANSWERS:

# (1)  China celebrates their National Day on which day?  (c) October 1st
This past week, on October 1st, National Day celebrations were held throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government-organized festivities, including fireworks and concerts.  Here in Hong Kong, the highlight was the 22 minute long fireworks display over the Hong Kong harbor, with an estimated 200,000 people on hand. [The large crowd and small space for viewing was one of the reasons we didn’t go watch the fireworks in person!]

# (2) The current leader of the Mainland China government is:
(b) Hu JinTao – 胡锦涛
In 2012, the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) leaders will retire and a new generation — the so-called fifth generation — will take the helm. President Hu and his Premier – Wen JiaoBao, are both due to retire from the Politburo at that time, although President Hu is expected to hang on to the position of Chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission – the equivalent of commander-in-chief – for up to five years..
Jiang ZeMin was President of the PRC from 1993 to 2003, and came to power in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Chen GangSheng is better known by his English name – Jackie Chan.

# (3) The largest (most populated) city of China is: (b) 上海 Shanghai.
With a population of 17 million people, Shanghai is China’s most populated and developed city.  In the past 20 years Shanghai has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world, and this year is hosting the 2010 World Expo, where nearly 200 countries and 70 million visitors are expected.
Beijing – the capital of China, in the northeastern part of the country and home to 2008 Olympic Games has an estimated population of 13.2 million people.
Guangzhou – the capital city of Guangdong province in southern China has a population of 12 million people.  Sometimes called Canton, Guangzhou is the leading industrial and commercial center of southern China.
Shenzhen has grown from a small fishing village in the 1970’s, to a city of nearly 9 million people.  Located right across the border from Hong Kong, it was China’s first Special Economic zone, where foreign nationals have invested heavily, building factories and forming joint ventures.
There are over 50 cities in China with a population over one million.

# (4) Giant pandas are native only to Mainland China. They subsist almost entirely on what food?  (d) Bamboo
A panda consumes some 30 lbs. (14 kg) of bamboo shoots (not to be confused with this blog page), stems and leaves daily.  The Giant Panda is native to central-western and south western China, and can be found mainly in Sichuan province, but also in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Dr. Robert Morrison

# (5) What year did Protestant missionaries first go to Mainland China?     (a) 1807
Englishman Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China, starting at Macao and then moved on to Canton (Guangzhou).  Morrison produced a Chinese translation of the Bible (both Old & New Testament), and also compiled a Chinese dictionary for use by westerners.  In 1830, Elijah Coleman Bridgman, the first American missionary to China, arrived at Canton at the urging of Robert Morrison.  Check this web page for more stories about Christianity in China.

Let us know how well (or badly) you did on the test!

PRAY WITH US:

Pray that leaders at the Guangxi Provincial Training Center (south central China) would continue to experience God’s enabling for all of their work.  In addition to teaching the 40+ students currently enrolled in the nine-month training program, they are also involved in planning the construction and financing of the Guangxi Provincial Training Center – pray for God’s leading and provision for this need.

Debbie has resumed her leadership role as the chairman of the Bible division for ICS.  We are finishing up a review of the Bible curriculum and are in the midst of proposing some new elective courses for high school, which is a new step for our school.  Pray for the Lord’s wisdom and unity to be ever present during this process.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie Chute

(a) 北京 Beijing     (b) 广州 Guangzhou     (c) 上海 Shanghai     (d) 深圳Shenzhen