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; line of defence / barrier
- 樹籬 [树篱] (shù​lí) – quickset hedge*
- 籬垣 [篱垣] (lí​yuán) – fence / hedge
- 柵籬 [栅篱] (zhà​lí) – hedgerow

If you want to talk about hedge funds though, there’s 私募基金 (sī​mù​jī​jīn) or 對衝基金 (duì​chōng​jī​jīn), and a hedgehog is 猬 (wei).

From: MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary

*a quickset hedge is a type of hedge created by planting live hazel or whitethorn (common hawthorn) cuttings directly into the earth. Once planted, these cuttings root and form new plants, creating a dense barrier [source].

So I’m still not sure which word to use for the hedge in my garden (a privet hedge), probably 栵 or 藩籬. This is the kind of thing you often have to deal with when translating.

The English word hedge comes from the Old English *hęcg, hęgg from the Germanic *hagjâ.

The Mandarin for thistle is 荼 (tú), which also means common sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus) / bitter (taste) / cruel / flowering grass in profusion [source]. The English word thistle comes from the Old English þistil, from the Old Germanic *þīstil.

This entry was posted in Chinese, English, Language, Words and phrases.

One Response to Hedges and thistles

  1. cl says:

    Interesting to note that 荼 (tú) can be easily mistaken as 茶 (chá, “tea”) which has one stroke less.