Chinese Resources

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stuff I've Learned 1.0

Probably the most exciting thing about living in Taiwan or Mainland Chinese as a Mandarin learner is the fact that Chinese is all around us. Even a bus ride across town can turn into a game of "how many characters do I know." As a Chinese teacher, I also appreciate the nearly infinite access I have to authentic material.

In an effort to store a bit of this information for when I inevitably forget it (about 30 days from now) I thought I would start a new series of posts titled "Stuff I've Learned." Today's entry showcases a few of my favorite bits of language I've collected. Sometimes the material is new to me, and other times I simply find the information too good not to share.

While this blog was created to document my own journey through language learning and teaching, I also recognize that some of my readers might have a different level of Chinese than I. If you ever have questions about the material I put forth, be sure to ask in the comments below. However, since it is my own blog I won't be giving Pinyin (at least on these posts) in an effort to force character recognition. There are tons of apps that will display Pinyin for ya, so go get one if you need it.

And now... onto the show!

Don't we look cute?
I updated my Facebook with this picture of Pui (my fiancé) and I.  One of the great things about being friends with native speakers on Facebook is that you always have an opportunity to learn new stuff while waisting your day away (and stalking your friends). Among the comments was this one from a classmate of mine. 

"俊男美女、郎才女貌 :D"

俊男: "Handsome guy" was new for me.. the word that is, my mom calls me handsome all the time! And while I could read 郎才女貌 individually as characters I was pleased to learn that it meant "a perfect match between a man and a woman." I'll be sure to add that little idiom to my list of things to bust out at the next Chinese wedding I attend!

Some of the best material comes from bathroom signs!
I find bathroom signs to be a perfect challenge of language competency. You don't really have to ever read the signs (we all know what to do), but they are generally formally written, polite, and to the point. The second bullet point warranted this picture the other day.


維護 (safeguard; defend; uphold) 

I'm sure this should be translated as something along the lines of "for your own safety..." but it sounds way more crazy to say In order to defend your safety...". Also, are people still standing on western-style toilets these days?

Bold move sir. Bold move.
Saw this picture in the paper today. At first I thought, oh they are just kissing, but after reading the article I noted where the guys hand was. And here I thought Taiwan was conservative. That aside, I was drawn to reading the caption where I discovered the proper way to say "making out in public." Before I might have said something like 在大家的面前親吻 to describe the situation, but now I know that I can just use 公然親吻. I'll have to keep an eye out for more 公然 actions on my next MRT ride!

That's all I've got for the past few days, but now that I've started this little series I'll be sure to be on the lookout for future content.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Remembering 獸 forever

What the hell is this thing? What a crazy 野獸!

I'm not really sure why, but 獸 has been an elusive character for me for quite some time. I always seem to get it wrong when ever I want to talk about beasts (野獸) or Unicorns (獨角獸), which is more often than some would care to admit. I however find unicorns to be totally badass (or at least the mystical properties of their blood) and would love to be able to actually write the word at will should I choose to. So after months of struggle (I have a 62.5% success rate writing it on Skritter) I figured it was time to do something about it.

Rather than just copy the character a zillion times onto paper like I would have in my formative years of Chinese study, I decided to step back and actually look at the character, specifically the left side of the character, and find a way for it to stick in my head. See, the issue I was having at first was that it reminded me a bit of the left side of 顫; at least just enough to through me off, but upon closer inspection the difference is huge.

Take a look at the left side. What do you see?
So how did I remember this character forever? I came up with a sick mnemonic worthy of its very own blog post. You see, rather than try to remember all the stokes of the left side I broke them down into little components, and came up with 口、口、田、一、口, basically a bunch of characters that I could write after just a few days of studying Chinese. Once I did that it dawned on me. 獸 is the character for beast or wild animal (see image at top of blog), and everyone knows that beasts are mean and ferocious... so in order for the left side to really stick in my head I just pictured some kind of crazy dog feral (because of 犬 on the right), or rather two crazy feral dogs (口、口) entering a field (田) and fighting to the death until one (一)dog (口) walked away the victor.   

Seriously, how could I forget how to write it now?

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