Chinese vocabulary notes (April 2023)

In this edition: methods to fight insomnia, China’s First Lady, living off-grid in China, cheating partners and Taiwanese history (and two idioms 甩锅 + 擦边球).

Daily Chinese Expression 192 「甩锅 」 Speak Chinese with Da Peng 大鹏说中文

甩锅 or “throwing the pot” means to “throw” the responsibility of the matter to others (to shirk responsibility and blame someone else). I wasn’t aware of this, but Da Peng warns us that this expression is very colloquial and should not be used in formal occasions. That reminds me that communicating in Chinese is one thing, using the right expressions in the right place and time is another.

Level indication: HSK 4 / 5 (with Chinese subtitles)

来源于网络的中文表达láiyuán yú wǎngluò de zhōngwén biǎodá Chinese expressions from the Internet
甩锅shuǎi guōthrow the pot
背黑锅bēihēiguōto take the blame
把责任推卸给别人bǎ zérèn tuīxiè gěi biérénto shift responsibility to others
承担责任chéngdān zérènto take responsibility
我把锅甩给你wǒ bǎ guō shuǎi gěi nǐ I throw the pot to you
推卸tuīxièto shirk
别甩锅给你的朋友bié shuǎi guō gěi nǐ de péngyǒudon’t blame your friends

Daily Chinese Expression 193 「擦边球」 Speak Chinese with Da Peng 大鹏说中文

I enjoy these short podcasts by Da Peng, so I decided to include one more. The idiomatic expression “擦边球” literally means “edge ball” and refers to a bad ball in table tennis. However, in life, “playing around the edge” is a metaphor for taking advantage of loopholes (漏洞) in regulations or laws to get what you want or achieve your goals.

Level indication: HSK 4 / 5 (with Chinese subtitles)

擦边球cābiānqiú edge ball
正方形zhèngfāngxíng square
边缘biānyuán edge
只能靠运气zhǐ néng kào yùnqìonly by luck
运气球jiǎoxìng xíngwéilucky ball
可以比喻一种侥幸行为qiú kěyǐ bǐyù jiǎoxìng xíngwéiit describes an act of fluke
利用漏洞lìyòng lòudòngexploit
碰碰运气pèng pèng yùnqìtake a chance

What I Do When I Can’t Sleep – Intermediate Chinese Podcast HSK4 Listening 失眠/睡不著

What do you do when sleep won’t come? Anyone who suffers from insomnia knows to what kind of despair sleepless nights can lead. But you can take countermeasures as discussed in this podcast by Abby in Taiwan.

Level indication: HSK 4 (with Chinese / English subtitles)

失眠shīmián insomnia
跟有些人比起来gēn yǒuxiē rén bǐ qǐláicompared to some
乐极生悲lèjíshēngbēi “extreme joy begets sorrow”
奇妙qímiào wonderful
满有效mǎn yǒuxiàovery effective

彭丽媛 the China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan interview (2007)

Did you ever wonder who is the first lady of China? I found this old interview with Peng Liyuan (Chinese: 彭丽媛; pinyin: Péng Lìyuán) which marks the fact that she served for 27 years in the Chinese military as an “entertainment officer”. She is a well-known Chinese singer and originates from Shandong Province. Peng married XJP in 1987, but never stopped performing for the Chinese troops. The main purpose of the interview seems to honor Peng Liyuan and her work.

Level indication: HSK 5 (with Chinese subtitles)

当兵dāng bīngto serve as a soldier
级别jíbié rank
高调gāodiào high profile
低调dīdiào low key
文艺兵wényì bīngart soldier
演唱yǎnchàngto perform

Off-grid living in China

I was looking for a video about off-grid living in China and found this guy called 胡子大哥 (big brother beard if that makes sense). He seems to be living in rural Yunnan somewhere and grows his own food, keeps four dogs and plays a colorful guitar.

Level indication: HSK 4 (with Chinese subtitles)

原生态环境生活yuán shēngtài huánjìng shēnghuóliving in the original ecological environment
胡子大哥húzi dàgēbearded brother
多才多艺duōcáiduōyì versatile
原始生活yuánshǐ shēnghuóprimitive life
公鸡gōngjī rooster
自己纯手工做的zìjǐ chún shǒugōng zuò dehandmade
茶树cháshùtea tree
摘茶叶zhāi cháyèpicking tea leaves
搭了一个梯子dāle yīgè tīzibuilt a ladder

What Would a Chinese Girl Do If She Catches Her Guy Cheating? – Mandarin Corner

Always a pleasure to watch new content from Mandarin Corner, especially since I don’t see much other channels doing this kind of street interviews that are subtitled specifically for Chinese learners. In this video, Eileen hits the streets of Guangzhou to ask people the following questions:

  1. What percentage of women cheat and why?
  2. Emotional and physical cheating, which one is worse?
  3. What’s considered cheating? Does going to prostitutes count?
  4. If your partner cheated, what would you do?
  5. If there were kids, would you stay in the marriage for their sake?
  6. Would you beat the mistress?
  7. Would you cheat in the future?
  8. If your best friend cheated, what would you do?
  9. Who faces greater social pressure due to cheating: men or women?

One thing I learned is that there are two kinds of cheating: 肉体出轨 (physical) and 精神出轨 (mental). Not less interesting: according to recent statistics women in China are not only being cheated, with their growing financial independence they also cheat on their husbands more and more.

Level indication: HSK 5 (with Chinese / English / pinyin subtitles)

出轨chūguǐ to cheat in a relationship
经济独立jīngjì dúlìeconomic independence
肉体出轨ròutǐ chūguǐ physical cheating
精神出轨jīngshén chūguǐmental cheating
嫖娼piáochāng whoring
分手fēnshǒu to split up
离婚líhūn to divorce
为了结婚而结婚wèi le jiéhūn ér jiéhūnget married for the sake of getting married

Taiwan’s Tragic History: Colonialism, 228 and the White Terror

It is strange, but I hardly know anything about Taiwanese history, except for the fact that the Kuomintang took over the island after they lost the civil war against the communists (and that my Dutch ancestors occupied ‘Formosa’ for a while, yet not nearly as long and thoroughly as the Japanese). This podcast episode covers the contemporary history of Taiwan. From Japanese colonialism (1895-1945), the rule of the Kuomintang (国民党) and the white terror (白色恐怖). Abby shares some crucial insights why Taiwanese people’s identity is so complex and manages to explain it without difficult terminology or confusing idioms.

Level indication: HSK 5 / 6 (with Chinese / English subtitles)

日治时期Rì zhì shíqí Japanese occupation period
日本统治台湾rìběn tǒngzhì táiwān Japan ruled Taiwan
反抗fǎnkàng resist
抗日活动kàngrì huódònganti-Japanese activities
原住民yuán zhùmínaborigines
受到压迫shòudào yāpòoppressed
残暴cánbào brutal
贡献gòngxiàn contribute
很腐败hěn fǔbàivery corrupt
国民党guómíndǎng Kuomintang
悲剧bēijù tragedy
白色恐怖báisè kǒngbùwhite terror

That’s it for April. As always thanks for dropping by and hope to see you back next month with more Chinese content!

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