今日说法 - "Today’s Expression"


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May 6th 2010
Published: May 6th 2010
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The word 说法, “shuofa,” can mean a “way of saying something.” I find it fascinating to compare how languages word similar sentiments and ideas; language and culture are part of each other, and studying a language can really give you insight into a culture’s worldview and your own. I’m working on a list comparing interesting words and expressions in English and Chinese. The list below is just a start. Any Chinese students or native speakers, please feel free to correct and/or add to the list:

Same (more or less)

Dark horse: “hei ma” - black/dark horse in Chinese, has the same meaning.

I’m starving: “wo e si le” - I’m hungry to death/starving. Both just mean “I’m really hungry”

Have a dream (i.e. ambition, plan): “you yige mengxiang” - have a dream (i.e. ambition, plan)

Perfect: “wanmei” - completely beautiful. Figures.

A thousand times, … : “qian wan, …” - Ten million, … Used to emphasize something you must or must not do.

Planet: “xing xing” - travelling star. “Planet” comes from a Greek word meaning “wandering star.” I know this because I once dreamt of being an astronomer. I first saw the Chinese word for planet the other day and had one of those “whoa…” moments.

Different

Last time: “shang ci” - up time

Next time: “xia ci” - down time

The day after tomorrow: “houtian” - back day

The day before yesterday: “qiantian” - front day

Time is visualized in a different way; it flows upwards and from behind. Sometimes this really confuses me when I’m speaking.

Snow flake: “Xuehua” - snow flower. I like how poetic this one is.

Eat soup/yogurt/porridge: “He tang/suannai/zhou” - drink soup/yogurt/porridge

“Zhongwu hao”: Greeting - “Good noon/midday.” English doesn’t have an equivalent as far as I know.

Water: usually means H2O in English. “Shui” (water) can mean many things in Chinese as a short form of the normal expression, like a drink or hairspray/mousse, and you find it in the words for perfume (like in English) and shampoo (unlike English), tea, etc.

Have a dream (while sleeping): “zuo yige meng” - make a dream. I like the idea that we actually make our dreams and they’re not just things that happen to us. It’s very Freudian; or maybe Jungian? I like Jung better, let’s go with Jungian.



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7th May 2010

汉语不错。 加油!
你的汉语不错。 加油!
7th May 2010

谢谢啊!
14th July 2010

Some of the Chinese expressions may have been borrowed from the west in the late 19th or the early 20th century. Of course, I do not know for sure...

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