Chinese vocabulary notes (July 2022)

In this month’s edition: bitcoin explained in Chinese, what do people in China have to say about the Johnny Depp – Amber Heard trial, the story of Will hart (fluent in Chinese after 1.5 years), apartment hunting in Taipei and more!

In Dutch we call this time of year the “komkommertijd”, in German “Saure-Gurken-Zeit”. The Dutch word translates into “cucumber time”, referring to the time of year where most people go on holidays and productivity and even life itself seem to slow down to a more comfortable pace. That’s not the reason this post is later than it should be though. No, it’s something else: on July 28th our second child was born. It’s a boy and he is called Dylan. That is such a great event in our lives that my blog had to wait.

However, I did manage to protocol last month’s vocabulary notes. For me Will Hart’s Chinese learning story further below definitely July’s highlight. If you haven’t listened to the interview already, I recommend that you do, it’s very inspiring.

Teacher Li Yongle talks about Bitcoin

Bitcoin: a topic hard to illuminate? Teacher Li Yongle gives his in-depth explanation of this digital currency in high speed, covering the origin of the no. 1 cryptocurrency and its technicalities. Advanced listening for sure, but he does a great job at breaking down a hard subject into understandable parts or bits, in this case. Activating subtitles and slowing down the video to 0.75 is recommended.

区块链qū kuài liànblockchain
挖矿wā kuàngmining
数字货币shùzì huòbìdigital currency
白皮书báipíshūwhite paper (referring to Satoshi’s “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System“)
电子记账系统diànzǐ jì zhàng xìtǒngelectronic billing system
中心化zhōngxīn huàcentralized
去中心化qù zhōngxīn huàdecentralized
哈希函数Hā xī hánshùhash function

Chinese React to Johnny Depp – Amber Heard Trial

The bizarre Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial went around the globe, not excluding China. Watch how amazingly well informed these Chinese citizens of Shenzhen and Zhongshan answer questions about the court case and share their own views.

美国演员Měiguó yǎnyuánAmerican actor
剪刀手爱德华jiǎndāo shǒu àidéhuáEdward Scissorhands
加勒比海盗jiālèbǐ hǎidàoPirates of the Caribbean
家暴jiābàodomestic violence
诬陷wúxiànto frame
八卦bāguàgossip, to gossip

To let things deteriorate | Chinese language conversation

Another short sketch telling you not to give up (摆烂). I agree!

健身卡jiànshēn kǎfitness card
变瘦biàn shòuto loose weight
摆烂bǎilàn“To let things deteriorate”, to give up
滚蛋gǔndànto piss off

He SELF STUDIED Native-Sounding Chinese in 1.5 Years?! How Did He Do It?

Finally someone who did the right thing during the pandemic! Will Hart, a British med student, spent the long months of lockdown mastering Chinese. In this interview, he not only speaks super fluent Chinese, but also sounds native-like, using Chinese filler words and conjunctions like a pro. The vocabulary he uses to describe his Chinese language journey is impressively elaborate and precise. To be honest, it’s almost uncanny.

Most Chinese learners spent years to reach this level of spoken fluency and some never get even close. What amazes me the most is that he never visited China (even though he uses the word 国内 almost as if he was born in China himself)! Nor did he buy any textbooks or book expensive classes. In other words, his learning success is completely based on self-study.

系统的方法xìtǒng de fāngfǎsystematic approach
应试教育yìngshì jiàoyùExam-oriented education
有挑战性yǒu tiǎozhàn xìngto be challenging
华裔朋友huáyì péngyǒuChinese friends
被动的输入bèidòng de shūrùpassive input
自言自语zì yán zì yǔtalking to oneself
电视剧diànshìjùTV drama

What is his secret then? Judging from his statements in this interview, I see several clues:

  • Chinese friends to speak with from the start
  • speaking from day on, including “自言自语”
  • Strong focus on pronunciation and getting the tones right
  • discipline & dedication
  • curiosity or the ability to keep things interesting (跟着兴趣走)
  • talent
  • Input, input, input
  • Flashcards and dictionary (and the discipline to use them efficiently)

By the way, the interviewer (Rita) clearly knows more than a thing or two about phonetics. She does an excellent job explaining the subtleties of Chinese pronunciation. Extremely helpful and entertaining as well, since she evaluates the pronunciation of several laowai YouTubers like (her husband) Laoma Chris.

看不太懂kàn bù tài dǒngI don’t quite understand
北方口音běifāng kǒuyīnnorthern accent
书面语shūmiànyǔwritten language
交流的工具jiāoliú de gōngjùtool of communication
anki卡片anki kǎpiànanki cards
句子结构jùzǐ jiégòuSentence Structure
大量输入的学习方法dàliàng shūrù de xuéxí fāngfǎLearning method with a large quantity of input

Should we be ashamed to admit how others influence us?

Oh but this is rather personal stuff, right? I like to listen to these personal, unscripted stories though. This is the kind of authentic Chinese the typical textbook doesn’t cover. The short video contains lots of useful expressions to describe different stages of personal development.

尽量避免焦虑的话题Jǐnliàng bìmiǎn jiāolǜ de huàtíTry to avoid the topic of anxiety as much as possible
分享自己最近的感想fēnxiǎng zìjǐ zuìjìn de gǎnxiǎngshare your latest thoughts
攀岩pānyánrock climbing
受一个人的影响shòu yīgè rén de yǐngxiǎngto be influenced by someone
优秀的伴侣yōuxiù de bànlǚexcellent companion
是不可否认的shì bùkě fǒurèn desomething is undeniable
跨国恋kuàguó liàn“transnational love”
应该这两个区分清楚yīnggāi zhè liǎng gè qūfēn qīngchǔone should distinct these two things clearly
自然而然去学习zìrán’érrán qù xuéxílearn naturally (or natural to learn something)
这是一种本能zhè shì yī zhǒng běnnéngIt’s an instinct
一件耻辱的事情yī jiàn chǐrǔ de shìqínga shameful thing

Apartment hunting in Taipei / Taiwan – Intermediate Chinese Podcast – Renting a house in Chinese

In this podcast, Abby shares her experiences hunting for apartments in Taiwan and give tips in case you ever decide to rent your own place in the Taiwanese capital. Unfortunately, I don’t know Standard Mandarin and Taiwanese well enough to point out the distinctions in vocabulary or tones, but I think it’s a good thing to vary the monthly listening diet and include different variants of Mandarin.

分享在台北租房子的经验Fēnxiǎng zài táiběi zūfángzi de jīngyànShare the experience of renting a house in Taipei
预算有多少yùsuàn yǒu duōshǎoWhat is the budget
预算不高yùsuàn bù gāolow budget
在台北租房的社团zài táiběi zū fáng de shètuánsocial media groups for apartment renting in Taipei
理想的房子lǐxiǎng de fángziideal house
在意哪一些条件zàiyì nǎ yīxiē tiáojiànWhat conditions do you care about
对声音很敏感duì shēngyīn hěn mǐngǎnvery sensitive to sound

That’s it for this month. Keep on enjoying the summer, learn Chinese and hope to see you back soon!

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