Chinese vocabulary notes

Chinese vocabulary notes (December 2021)

The end of year is drawing near. I hope you had a good and productive one so far and managed to stay positive, despite of the state our world is currently in. Here are some more Chinese vocabulary notes, a double dose of omicron or 奥密克戎 included.

How did I learn English well enough to become a lawyer in California?

I’m not Chinese and I’m not studying English either, but I got some useful tips from this video (with transcript). What’s more, there’s a load of vocabulary on language learning in it. Maymay is a Chinese lawyer based in the US who reached a high proficiency in English and speaks Chinese quite fast. Basically, she’s advocating old-school reading and writing, combined with speaking. Of course not just blindly reading away, but only picking stuff that’s relevant to you.

Some of the tactics discussed in this video remind me of Chinese class in China. The basic procedure for each chapter was always the same:

  1. Listen to the text and vocabulary (like 100x), discuss it
  2. Read, read aloud, read fast (our teacher would give us a time limit)
  3. Do exercises, role-playing games, dictation (good old 听写!)
  4. Write your own “essay” based on the text (what she calls 默写 in this video)

Although, back in the day in China, this kind of “textbook-centered” learning made me feel like a school kid, however, it did work to some extent. At the end of each chapter, I had the feeling I learned about everything the authors wanted me to know. I absorbed all the important information. I had invested a serious amount of time completing the chapter and practiced all four language skills. To do this outside of a class situation by self-studying requires the highest standard of discipline though.

遇到生僻词yùdào shēngpì cíEncounter rare words
背词汇书bèi cíhuì shūMemorize vocabulary book
背单词bèi dāncíMemorize words
提高自己的词汇量tígāo zìjǐ de cíhuì liàngImprove your vocabulary
通过上下文的理解tōngguò shàngxiàwén de lǐjiěUnderstanding through context
在一个自然的语境中zài yīgè zìrán de yǔjìng zhōngIn a natural context (语境 )
在这个新闻的标题里zài zhège xīnwén de biāotí lǐIn this news headline
猜测一下这个词大概的意思cāicè yīxià zhège cí dàgài de yìsiGuess what the word means

She also mentions rote learning in alphabetical order as a particularly ineffective practice for language learning. Surprisingly, this approach must be quite common. Many HSK vocabulary books are in alphabetical order. I prepared my HSK 4 test in China by rote learning all vocabulary from A to Z, because I knew no better. I couldn’t agree more that this is not the way to actual fluency.

上下文阅读理解的能力shàngxiàwén yuèdú lǐjiě de nénglìcontextual reading comprehension
固定搭配gùdìng dāpèifixed collocation
跟着MP3朗读gēnzhe MP3 lǎngdúread aloud with MP3
默写mòxiěwrite from memory
巩固你自己的记忆gǒnggù nǐ zìjǐ de jìyìconsolidate your own memory

Chinese top medical expert offers first statement regarding “Omicron”

钟南山对“奥密克戎”毒株做出最新研判 |《中国新闻》CCTV中文国际

The top Chinese medical expert for respiratory diseases 钟南山 (Zhong Nanshan) talked to CCTV about the newest SARS-Covid virus mutation named Omicron. The German media have been hyping this topic for days as I write this. That’s why 钟南山’s calm demeanor is absolutely refreshing in my eyes. He tells his Chinese viewers what is known about the newest variant, namely next to nothing. He cannot say if Omicron is more harmful than any of the other previous mutations, it might be more contagious. That’s about it.

奥密克戎Ào mì kè róngOmicron
变种病毒biànzhǒng bìngdúVariant virus / mutant virus
免疫能力miǎnyì nénglìImmunity
免疫力miǎnyì lìImmunity
危害性wéihài xìngHarmful(它有多大的”?)
奥米克戎变种病毒似乎更容易传播ào mǐ kè róng biànzhǒng bìngdú sìhū gèng róngyì chuánbòthe Omicron variant seems to spread more easily.
疫苗对于Omicron的保护力yìmiáo duìyú Omicron de bǎohù lìThe protective power of the vaccine against Omicron

VOA: Is Omicron worth panic?

时事看台: “奥米克戎”值得恐慌么?

Contrary to the previous video, VOA presents twenty minutes of more or less well informed speculation about the nature of the “new variant of interest”. I’ll just share the video here for reasons of historical documentation. It’s a perfect example of hyperventilating media coverage. A comment summarizes the answer to the main question nicely: “If you want to panic, you can panic; if you don’t want to panic, you can not panic.”

感染病例gǎnrǎn bìnglìInfection cases
引发广泛担忧yǐnfā guǎngfàn dānyōuCause widespread concern
实施旅行限制shíshī lǚxíng xiànzhìImplement travel restrictions
采取防范措施cǎiqǔ fángfàn cuòshīTake precautions
值得恐慌zhídé kǒnghuāngWorth panic

Is China’s real estate bubble about to burst?


This is a compilation of short videos of people relating their bad experiences buying property in China. I don’t know what to make of this. The situation seems to be the exact opposite of what I’m seeing over here. In contrast to Germany at the moment where property prices continue to rise, in China they are falling – or at least so it is claimed in this video. This means that people who recently bought property to live in or as an investment are loosing money or overpay in case they still have to pay off the debt. Say you bought the apartment for 500.000 Renminbi a year ago and now its worth has dropped 20 percent to 400.000. That’s not something that you intended to happen.

亏了30万kuīle 30 wànlost 300.000
方正fāngzhèngright, the right layout (看的时候,我们就觉得这个房子方正)
次卧cìwòsecond bedroom
主卧zhǔwòmaster bedroom
小露台xiǎo lùtáismall terrace
烂尾楼lànwěi lóuunfinished building
花光了我们所有的积蓄huā guāngle wǒmen suǒyǒu de jīxùSpent all our savings
房子降价降得非常厉害fángzi jiàngjià jiàng dé fēicháng lìhàiThe price of the house has dropped drastically
从A跌到Bcóng A diē dào B(price) dropped from A to B
说起来都是泪shuō qǐlái dōu shì lèiidiom, talking about it makes me want to cry
交物业费jiāo wùyè fèipay the property fee
停车费tíngchē fèiparking fee

Visiting the countryside of Shanghai

This month’s overview wouldn’t be complete without a Afu video. Here’s a quite interesting one about Shanghai’s countryside. Amazing to see how long it takes to leave the urban jungle of Shanghai and visit one of the villages on edge of the city. What’s particularly interesting in this episode is Afu’s struggling with the local dialect, although he gets by extremely well. It’s just one of these occasions where you get reminded no matter how splendid your command of Chinese, you should never underestimate the lingual variety of China.

国际大都Guójì dàdūinternational metropole
住在郊区zhù zài jiāoqūlive in the suburbs
现金xiànjīncash, change
赶上车gǎn shàng chēcatch the bus
终点站zhōngdiǎnend station
太偏僻了tài piānpìletoo remote
讲究jiǎngjiùto be picky about something
村庄的老干部cūnzhuāng de lǎogànbùold cadre of the village

That’s it for this month and 2021. I really hope and pray for a better 2022 without travel restrictions so our two-year-old daughter can finally visit her Chinese grandparents. Thanks for visiting my blog and hope to see you in ’22! : )

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