Posts Tagged 'Chinese'

吃不消 Food Inc in China

吃不消 Food Inc

Interesting translation of Food Inc., 吃不消 chībuxiāo means “unable to stand” (as in exhaustion, exertion) made up of individual characters
吃 to eat
不 not or no
消 to consume, use, disappear, remove or spend.

I’m going to guess this is a Chinese “original” as the original Food Inc is not even a book but a documentary (available for download and DVD) — and very much worth watching.


New Zealand to launch first Chinese digital communities website

Excited to see new New Zealand Chinese Community online (, launching at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas International conference July 18th.

From Xinhuanet:

“This partnership between Auckland City Libraries and the New Zealand Chinese Association has been a great opportunity to develop this tool and provide the Chinese community with platform to share stories for future generations, said Group Manager Libraries Allison Dobbie on Friday.

“New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc (NZCA) is delighted to be partnering with Auckland City Libraries to launch and produce the Chinese Digital Community,” said Kai Luey, Chairman of New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc.

“Chinese Digital Community is replete with rich, everyday stories which will resonate with people from all walks of life. It is a landmark project for our Association and one which will ensure Chinese New Zealand stories are kept alive forever,” he added.

NZ Chinese Journals 先驅者之聲


Delighted to discover NZ Chinese Journals 先驅者之聲 project containing over 16,000 pages from three publications: 民聲旬報 Man Sing Times (1921-22), 僑農月刊 New Zealand Chinese Growers Monthly Journal (1949-72) and 中國大事週報 New Zealand Chinese Weekly News (1937-46) that span 50 years of Chinese New Zealand history.


Wonderful interface makes it a joy to view and search these fascinating historical sources in English and Chinese. Kezia Singleton (project manager) and David Adams addressed some of the challenges creating this complex project in this presentation at the New Zealand Digital Forum conference 2008.

More info on Chinese print culture in Aotearoa from New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

The Fun of a Naughty Pun: 草泥马 Cao Ni Ma

UPDATE 16 March 2009: The original 草泥马 “Grass Mud Horse” children’s chorus video below was removed from YouTube, but reposted here by Rebecca Mackinnon. Also of interest: 12 March NYT article “A Dirty Pun Tweaks China’s Online Censors.”

This adorable video features Chinese children singing on top of an English Oxfam/Mastercard ad. The word for alpacas, cǎonímǎ, 草泥马, literally “grass mud horse” when sung, sounds just like  càonǐmā, 操你媽, “f*ck your mother.”

From a Singapore Angle points out how respect for elders and ancestor worship colors Chinese swearings:

The Chinese believe that to directly insult a person’s character (the Anglo-American way) or belittle his abilities (the Japanese way) are not the best methods; rather only by abusing the person’s elders and ancestors can the biggest insults be achieved. For this reason the “national swears” of the Chinese: ta ma de (他媽的; lit. “his mother’s…”), cao ni ma (操你媽; lit. “—- your mother”), etc., all do not directly abuse the person being swore at, but abuse the person’s mother; cao ni nainai (操你奶奶; lit. “—- your grandmother”), cao ni zuzong (操你祖宗; lit. “—- your ancestor”), etc., on the other hand, are intensified versions of cao ni ma.

But we’re not just talking about curses here. The video, which is becoming increasingly popular, is basically a commentary on the frustration of political censorship. (via Ethan Zuckerman writing up a talk by Rebecca MacKinnon onWorldchanging.) China Digital Times has an in-depth write up of the lyrics, which offer a coded song of struggle with internet censors, represented by “river crabs” 河蟹 héxiè, a homophone for 和谐   héxié “harmonious.”

If you want more, Ten Legendary Beasts of Baidu offers up other species whose names map to juvenile puns for curse words or genitalia.

Chinese Language Learning Tool: nciku


Delighted to discover nciku, an online Chinese-English dictionary and language learning tool. There are lots of helpful features like autocomplete and saving to vocab lists.

What really sets this one apart is the ability to handwrite characters on the screen using any input device. As you are writing, a grid of possible characters appears and you can select the appropriate character from the list. I am using a Wacom Cintiq 21UX 21-Inch Interactive Pen Display at my desk and a Bamboo (Small) Pen Tablet with my laptop, and it’s a great way not only to practice writing the characters, but to get searchable text versions I can then paste here rather than using images.

The character I have handwritten above is 网 wǎng, which I learned in class last week as part of 上网 shàngwǎng “to go online”. I love that 网 wǎng looks like a net and has historically been used as both “net” and “web” in other contexts: 渔网 yúwǎng fishing net, and  蜘蛛网 zhīzhūwǎng spider’s web.

Last time I was studying Chinese, the 互联网 hùliánwǎng Internet was around, but not the 万维网 wànwéiwǎnɡ World Wide Web. Now I am finding such great resources for language study online. One man in my class says he learned everything so far on, which I am starting to explore. I’ve also enjoyed finding and talking with Chinese language partners through, though it’s not limited to Chinese — or English.

Do you know of any other online Chinese language study resources I should check out? I welcome your suggestions in comments.

Translating the woman who missed her flight from HK

Chinese Lesson 1: DàiWéiDàoism

Wellington Chinese Language School

Enrolling at Wellington Chinese Language School

二月 十四天 February 14, 2009

Wellington Chinese Language School

Intermediate Chinese 3

So excited to be back in Chinese class. It’s been a long time since I’ve been conversing regularly in Mandarin. The last time I was in a Chinese class, I don’t even think there was a word for online (上网 shàngwǎng). I’m going to log my class and study notes on this site to help me study and learn.

Enrollment was a bit stressful — I couldn’t remember how to write my Chinese name: 戴維道 Dài Wéi Dào. Luckily, younger me blogged it in 2006, so I was able to find it through search on my mobile phone. Thanks, younger me! Thanks also to thank my awesome high school Chinese teacher, Robert Demerrit, for giving me this uncommonly beautiful name that’s not only a transliteration of my English surname but inspiringly aspirational.

Dài is my surname, and it also means ” to support.”
Wéi means “to maintain or hold together.”
Dào you may know as Tao, the road or way, the ineffable essence of the universe pointed at by 老子 Lǎozǐ in the 道德經 Dàodéjīng, more commonly known as the Tao Te Ching.

The next step was a conversational interview for placement. I was shocked and delighted to be in Intermediate 3, led by the lovely 樊晓莉 Fán Xiǎolì. There is no advanced, because they don’t want students to slack. This is going to be good for me!

We introduced ourselves 介绍 自己 jiè shào zìjǐ. We’re a diverse group — one other 美国人 and others from:

  • 香港 Xiānggǎng Hong Kong
  • 阿根廷 Āgēntíng Argentina
  • 越南 Yuènán Vietnam
  • 菲律宾 Fēilǜbīn Philippines
  • 韩国 Hánguó Korea (Republic of Korea)

The words for New Zealand were new to me – there are two ways to say/write it:

新西兰 Xīnxīlán – literally New Western Orchard

纽西兰 Niǔxīlán, which is the same Niǔ as 纽约 Niǔyuē, from where I’ve just come.

惠灵顿 Huìlíngdùn – Wellington
奥克兰 ào kè lán – Auckland

介绍 自己 然后, 我们 游戏 [charades].
Jiè shào zìjǐ ránhòu, wǒmenyóuxì [charades].
After introductions, we played charades.

There were 4 categories:

  1. 体育运动 tǐyùyùndònɡ sports
  2. 电影 diànyǐng movies
  3. 电视 diànshì tv
  4. 名人 míngrén famous people

My offering was Slumdog Millionaire, which was guessed from a rough sketch of a dog and a dollar sign.

An auspicious beginning.



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