Archive for the Category: Chinese

Bilingual aphasia

I recently read The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, an interesting novel by Ruiyan Xu about a Chinese man who loses his ability to speak Chinese after suffering brain damage in an accident. The main character, Li Jing, grew up in America and spoke nothing but English until the age of 10, when his […]

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Dialect, vernacular, patois?

The other I found quite an interesting article about Shanghainese which suggest that’s it has become a bit more popular recently, and is being used for some announcements in public transport and on planes, and that children are allowed to speak it at one school, at least during breaks. The article says that about 10 […]

Also posted in Language, Language revival 1 Comment

Mandarin v English

I came across an interesting article about the relative importance of Mandarin and English in South East Asia today. It talks about children from Malaysia being sent to school in Singapore because their parents want them to be fluent in English – schools in Malaysia teach in Malay, while those in Singapore teach in English. […]

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Ventriloquism

There was quite a bit of talk about ventriloquism on an episode of QI I watched recently, mainly because one of the guests was a ventriloquist. The word ventriloquism comes for the Latin words venter (stomach, belly, womb) and loquī (to speak) so it means “to speak from the stomach”. It was known as εγγαστριμυθία […]

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神马都是浮云

神马都是浮云 (shénmǎ dōu shì fúyún)is a Chinese phrase I learnt yesterday which means something like “everything is fleeting / transient” or “nothing is permanent”. The 神马 part is internet slang for 什么 (shénme) = what, and 浮云 [浮雲] (fúyún) means floating clouds, fleeting, transient. This is apparently a popular phrase in China at the moment, […]

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Chinese app

A new application for Android devices that teaches you how to read and write the 100 most widely-used Chinese characters was launched today. It shows you how to write each character with animations, and also has recordings in Mandarin Chinese and English, as well as pinyin transcription and English translations for each character, It was […]

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Just playing around

In Mandarin Chinese when you want to talk about playing a musical instrument, there are quite a few different words you could use, depending on the type of instrument. – 拉 (lā) is used for bowed instruments such as the 二胡 (èrhú), violin (小提琴 xiǎotíqín), viola (中提琴 zhōngtíqín) and cello (大提琴 dàtíqín), and also means […]

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我们AA吧!

The Mandarin Chinese expression, 我们AA吧! (wǒmen AA ba), is the equivalent of “lets split the bill” or “let’s go Dutch”. I heard it for the first time from a Chinese friend the other day. My friend assures me that it’s a very common expression and is used when going out for a meal with friends […]

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Hedges and thistles

During a conversation with a Chinese friend yesterday neither of us could think of the Mandarin word for hedge or thistle, among others, so I thought I’d look it up. There appear to be a number of words for hedge in Mandarin: – 栵 (lì) – hedge – 藩籬 [藩篱] (fān​lí) – hedge / fence; […]

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上海闲话 (Shanghainese)

According to an article I came across today, the local government in Shanghai is trying to preserve Shanghainese, the variety of Wu spoken in Shanghai. This involves recording people who speak ‘pure’ Shanghainese talking about local legends and traditions, etc. This is the third time such a project has been attempted, and they hope to […]

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