Should schools start teaching traditional characters again?

Chinese director Feng Xiaogang, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), stressed on the cultural importance of traditional Chinese characters and suggested schools should teach those that reflect the wisdom of our ancestors.

“The meaning of learning Chinese characters lies in planting beautiful seeds in our children,” said Feng at a  session on Wednesday.

Feng cited two examples.

中国导演冯小刚,中国人民政治协商会议的一员,强调传统汉字的重要性,并建议学校应该教反映了我们祖先智慧的汉字。

“学习汉字的意义在于种植美丽的种子在我们的孩子,”冯说。

冯列举了两个例子。

zhong guo dao yan feng xiao gang ,zhong guo ren min zheng zhi xie shang hui yi de yi yuan ,qiang diao chuan tong han zi de zhong yao xing ,bing jian yi xue xiao ying gai jiao fan ying liao wo men zu xian zhi hui de han zi 。

“xue xi han zi de yi yi zai yu zhong zhi mei li de zhong zi zai wo men de hai zi ,”feng shuo 。

feng lie ju liao liang ge li zi 。

 

“Take the characters 亲 (qin, here referring to the meaning to be close to someone) and 爱 (ai, love) for example. The traditional character for 亲 is 親. On the left is 亲, and on the right is 見 (jian, the traditional character for 见 or to see). The traditional character for 爱 is 愛, there is a 心 (xin, heart) in it.

Put more simply, (the traditional Chinese characters are telling us that) to be close to someone, you have to meet them, and to love someone, you have to have a heart.”

The Chinese language has been written in its traditional form for a long time since its birth. In 1935, China’s Ministry of Education issued the first batch of simplified characters, 324 of them in total, but widespread use of them were delayed until the 1950s’.

Feng suggested the revival of 50 to 200 most meaningful traditional characters in the textbooks. This way, it will not pressure the children too much, and at the same time allow them to feel the essence of Chinese culture.

亲”的字符(qin,这里指的意义接近某人)和爱(ai,爱)为例。亲是親的传统角色。左边是亲,右边是見(看到)。爱的传统角色是愛,有心(心脏)。

更简单,传统汉字告诉我们亲近一个人,你必须与他相见,爱一个人,你必须有一个心。”

汉语已经自其传统形式诞生以来使用了很长一段时间。1935年,中国教育部发布了第一批简体字,总共324人,但广泛使用被推迟到1950年代”。

冯建议复兴50到200最有意义的传统汉字到教科书。这种方式,它不会孩子们太多的压力,同时让他们感受中国文化的精髓。

qin ”de zi fu (qin,zhe li zhi de yi yi jie jin mou ren )he ai (ai,ai )wei li 。qin shi yin de chuan tong jiao se 。zuo bian shi qin ,you bian shi yao (kan dao )。ai de chuan tong jiao se shi 愛,you xin (xin zang )。

geng jian dan ,chuan tong han zi gao su wo men qin jin yi ge ren ,ni bi xu yu ta xiang jian ,ai yi ge ren ,ni bi xu you yi ge xin 。”

han yu yi jing zi qi chuan tong xing shi dan sheng yi lai shi yong liao hen chang yi duan shi jian 。1935nian ,zhong guo jiao yu bu fa bu liao di yi pi jian ti zi ,zong gong 324ren ,dan guang fan shi yong bei tui chi dao 1950nian dai ”。

feng jian yi fu xing 50dao 200zui you yi yi de chuan tong han zi dao jiao ke shu 。zhe zhong fang shi ,ta bu hui hai zi men tai duo de ya li ,tong shi rang ta men gan shou zhong guo wen hua de jing sui 。

The expressions that Chinese like to use to express “I don’t care!”

I can’t remember how many times in a day my preteen daughter would use her favorite line – “I don’t care!” to answer my questions, or give comment on about anything, but I do remember how many times that line of her is happily received in my ear: ZERO! However, that does make me think that does the equivalent expression of “I don’t care!” in Chinese is used as often as it in English?

Honestly, I don’t feel like so. In mandarin, there are quite a few common ways to say “I don’t care!” But I can’t think of one as predominantly used as “I don’t care.” in English. Regardless, it is for sure a very useful expression for Chinese learners to grasp. The first one that pops out of my head is “管他呢 guǎn tā ne!”

For example,

” wǒmen zhèyàng zuò tā huì bù gāoxìng de。”

“我们这样做她会不高兴的。”

” guǎn tā ne!”

“管他呢!”

“She will not be happy if we do so.”

“I don’t care!”

“管他呢 guǎn tā ne!” stresses that you are truly NOT care. The tone is rather indifferent.

You can also say:”我不在乎 wǒ bùzàihu。” This expression is softer. In some cases, it implies that you might actually care, but pretend to be “not care”.

Another expression you can use to say “I don’t care.” is “无所谓 wúsuǒwèi。” This expression does not carry any emotion element. It simply means “To me it really doesn’t matter at all.”

Useful Expressions

Chinese is considered one of the world’s most difficult languages, but don’t despair. Even if you can’t say a word in Chinese, just print out this sheet and show people what you need to say. As you get more comfortable with the language, try to learn some of these useful phrases.

Chinese Tones

Every syllable in Chinese is associated with one of five distinct tones.

The first tone is high. The pitch of the syllable is steady and stays high throughout the entire pronunciation. In the second tone, the syllable has a rising tone, as if it is a question at the end of a sentence. The third tone starts at a middle pitch, then dips low and rises slightly at the end. The fourth tone falls from a high pitch to a low pitch abruptly, as if the speaker is disappointed. The fifth tone, or soft tone, is neutral. Syllables with a soft tone are not emphasized.

Tones can be represented by placing lines above the syllable. For example, “mā” should be pronounced with the first tone and “má” should be pronounced with the second tone. The word “mǎ” should be pronounced as the third tone and the word “mà” should be pronounced with the fourth tone. Simple “ma” uses the fifth, soft tone.

Tones are essential to Chinese because the meaning of a word changes depending on its town. If you say the tone incorrectly, others may or may not be able to guess your intended meaning. It is one of the most difficult aspects of learning Chinese so don’t get upset if it takes time to learn them.

Basic Greetings

Hello         nǐhǎo      你好
Goodbye         zàijiàn      再见
Thank you        xièxie      谢谢
You’re welcome       bú  yòng  xiè     不用谢
Pleased to meet you      hěn gāoxìng rènshi nǐ   很高兴认识你
Excuse me / I’m sorry      duìbúqì      对不起
Excuse me (I have a question)    q?ngwèn      请问

Places

Where are you from?    nǐ shì nǎli de?       你是哪里的?
I am from…      wǒ shì [name of country] rén    我是[a country]人
United States      měiguó        美国
England       yīngguó        英国
France       fǎguó        法国
Ghana       jiānà         加纳
Nigeria       nírìlìyà        尼日利亚
Canada       jiānádà        加拿大
India       yìndù        印度
Pakistan       bājīsītǎn        巴基斯坦

To say, for example, “I’m Canadian,” you can say “wǒ shìjiānádà rén” (我是加拿大人). This literally means “I’m a Canadian person”.

Asking Questions

Where?        zài nǎli?     在哪里?
When?        shénme shíhou?   什么时候?
Who?        shéi?     谁?
Why?        wèishénme?    为什么?
How do I get there?      qù nàli zenme zou?   去那里怎么走?
Where is [a place]?      …Zài nǎli?    …在哪里?
…bathroom       …xíshǒujiān    …洗手间
…long distance bus station    …chángtúqìchēzhàn  …长途汽车站
…the subway       …dìtiě     …地铁
…police station      …pàichūsuǒ    …派出所
…the exit        …chūkǒu     …出口

Notice that “nàli” means “there” but “nǎli” means “where?” The tones of these two words are different, so be careful when pronouncing them.

Shopping and Money

How much is this?      zhè ge duōsh?o qián?   这个多少钱?
Can you lower the price?    néng bù néng piányi diǎn?  能不能便宜点?
It’s too expensive!      tài guì le!      太贵了!
I don’t have any money     wǒ méi qián     我没钱

Travel

I want to buy a ticket to…     wǒ xiǎngmǎi qù…de piào 我想买去…的票
Long-distance bus       chángtú qìchē    长途汽车
Airplane         fēijī          飞机
Train          huǒchē        火车
Hard-seat          yìngzuò      硬座
Soft-seat         ruǎnzuò        软座
Hard sleeper        yìngwò        硬卧
Soft-sleeper        ruǎnwò        软卧
Lower berth        xiàpū        下铺
Middle berth        zhōngpū        中铺
Upper berth        shàngpū        上铺
Train station        huǒchēzhàn       火车站
Airport         jīchǎng        机场

Solving Problems

I can’t understand       wǒ tīng bù dǒng      我听不懂
Can you speak English?      nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma?    你会说英文吗?
Who can speak English?      shéi huì shuō yīngwén?     谁会说英文?
Please write it down      qǐng xiě xià lái       请写下来
Don’t cheat me        bié piàn wǒ le        别骗我了!
Go away!         zǒukāi        走开!
Don’t touch me!       fàngkāi!         放开!
Call the police!       jiào jǐngchá!       叫警察!
Please help me        qǐng bāng wǒ       请帮我
Save me!         jiùmìng!        救命!

 

Need To See a Doctor

It is never nice to fall sick or ill in a strange country. What happens if you do and need to see a doctor (看医生kàn yī shēng) and seek medical help? Let us provide you with some useful expressions in Chinese.

nǐ zěn me lā
你怎么啦?
What’s wrong with you?

wǒ jiào dé shēn tǐ bú shū fú
我觉得身体不舒服。
I’m not feeling well.

shí me zhèng zhuàng
什么症状?
What are your symptoms?

yī shēng wǒ de tóu tè bié téng ,wǒ gǎn jiào wǒ zài fā shāo
医生,我的头特别疼,我感觉我在发烧。
Doctor, I have a bad headache, and I think I have a fever, too.

wǒ gǎn mào le  tóu téng  dù zǐ téng   yá téng
我感冒了/头疼/肚子疼/牙疼。
I have a cold/a headache/a stomachache/a toothache.

wǒ hún shēn méi jìn
我浑身没劲。
I feel tired.

wǒ hún shēn fā lěng
我浑身发冷。
I feel chilly.

wǒ méi yǒu yī diǎn ér shí yù
我没有一点儿食欲。
I don’t have any appetite.

nǐ tóu tòng ké sòu ma
你头痛咳嗽吗?
Do you have a headache and a cough?

duō zhǎng shí jiān le
多长时间了?
How long have you had it?

liàng yī xià tǐ wēn ba
量一下体温吧。
Let me check your temperature.

yán zhòng ma
严重吗?
Is it serious?

wǒ gěi nǐ dǎ yī zhēn
我给你打一针。
I’ll give you an injection.

gěi nǐ chǔ fāng ,hěn kuài jiù huì hǎo de
给你处方,很快就会好的。
Here’s your prescription. You’ll be all right soon.

Tips (From Foreignercn.com)
The Chinese medical system comprises mostly of public and private hospitals. Small and personalized clinics are still uncommon. Big cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai have hospitals, clinics and dentists established for foreigners.

Many of them are a part of local hospitals. Most hospitals in China practise the Western medical treatment system while a good percentage practises Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Increasingly, a large percentage of hospitals also practise a mixture of Western and Chinese medicine.

Are You Serious This Time?

China has a rich culinary culture featuring numerous styles of cuisine, unique features and exquisite cooking methods. With beautiful colors, rich aromas and intense flavors, it is hard to resist the temptation of Chinese food. However, if you find it hard to say no, eventually you’ll have to pay for it, one way or another.

wǒ yào jiǎn féi le
Simon: 我要减肥了。
I am going to lose weight.

shuí xìn na nǐ dōu shuō guò hǎo duō huí le
Xiao Lin: 谁信呐?你都说过好多回了。
               Who would believe that? You’ve said this many times before.

zhè cì shì shuō zhēn de wǎn fàn wǒ yào shǎo chī diǎnr
Simon: 这次是说真的,晚饭我要少吃点儿。
I am serious this time. I will eat less in the evenings.

nǎ cì nǐ bú shì chī chēng le hái yào chī wǒ shuō nǐ hái quán dāng ěr páng fēng
Xiao Lin:  哪次你不是吃撑了还要吃?我说你还全当耳旁风。
When was the last time you didn’t ask for more even though you were already full?
Criticizing you is like water off a duck’s back.

People use rhetorical questions in order to stress a certain point. “谁信呐“emphasizes the fact that “nobody would believe (you).” “哪次你不是……” is not only a rhetorical question, it also utilizes a double negative in order to emphasize the fact that somebody always does a certain thing.

耳旁风“, which literally translates as “wind passing by the ear”, is equivalent to the English idiom, “like water off a duck’s back”. The phrase is used to describe incidents or comments that seem to have no effect on someone or something.

“说” appears three times in the dialogue. It is commonly used with many meanings. In “你都说好多回了“, “” means “say, talk or speak”. For example “说话”(speak/talk), “说出来”(speak out).  “说真的” means “I really mean it.” The last “” means “to scold”. For example, “老师说了他几句。” (His teacher gave him a dressing-down.) “她被说哭了。”(She was scolded so much so that she cried.)

Chinese Traditional Characters

During the ongoing “two sessions”, Chinese director Feng Xiaogang suggested schools should teach traditional Chinese characters that contain cultural connotations.
今年“两会”的分组讨论中,冯小刚呼吁在中小学的课本里恢复部分有文化含义的繁体字。

As a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)(政协委员), Fengproposed(提议) reviving 50 to 200 most meaningfultraditional characters(繁体字) in the textbooks. He said this would not give the children too much pressure, and at the same time would allow them to capture the essence(精华) of Chinese culture.

He also cited two examples(举例). The traditional character for (qin; meaning “to be close to someone”) is , whose right part is  (jian, the traditional character for 见, meaning “to see”). The traditional character for (ai, meaning love) is 愛; and there is a  (xin, heart) in it.

Feng said the traditional Chinese characters are telling us that to be close to someone, you have to meet them, and to love someone, you should have a heart, but the simplified Chinese characters(简体字)miss the meanings.

The proposal(提案) stirred a heated discussion in the group meeting, as well as on Chinese social media. A sample of comments on Weibo:

@Flower-rainbow: The structures(结构) of many traditional characters clearly imply their meanings and Chinese culture. I absolutely agree with Feng.

@Jianghuke: Traditional Chinese is the soul(灵魂) of Chinese characters, especially for Chinese calligraphy(书法).

@Flying-duck: Culture should keep up with the times, and times are changing! We should simplify(简化) our lives. We have adjusted to(适应) the simplified characters already, why bother with the traditional ones?

重点词汇Key Words:

繁体字 fán tǐ zì
traditional Chinese characters

简体字 jiǎn tǐ zì
simplified Chinese characters

提议 tí yì
propose/proposal
v. Eg. 我提议为两国人民的友谊干杯。
I propose a toast to the friendship between the peoples of the two countries.

n. Eg. 这个提议绝不会理所当然地获得通过。
This proposal is by no means a sure thing.

“Two Sessions” Period

Every early March, China’s top legislature and political advisory body are meeting in the capital for “两会(liǎng huì Two Sessions)”. Not only are media devoted to covering the event, ordinary folks are also keen on discussing hot-button issues that concern them.

 

对话 Dialogue:

nǐ kàn jīn tiān de xīn wén fā bù huì le ma

Simon: 你看今天的新闻发布会了吗?

Have you watched today’s press conference?

zhī kàn le yī bù fēn ,wǒ dǎ kāi diàn shì de shí hòu chà bù duō jiù yào jié shù le

Xiao Lin:只看了一部分,我打开电视的时候差不多就要结束了。

Only part of it. When I turned on the TV, it was nearly finished.

tài kě xī le jīn tiān fā yán rén de biǎo xiàn hěn jīng cǎi

Simon: 太可惜了,今天发言人的表现很精彩。

What a pity. The spokesman was very impressive.

wǒ kàn dào jì zhě qī zuǐ bā shé de gāo shēng xiàng tā tí wèn shí tā shǐ zhōng biǎo xiàn de zhèn dìng zì ruò

Xiao Lin: 我看到记者七嘴八舌地高声向他提问时,他始终表现得镇定自若。

I saw he kept as cool as a cucumber as the reporters shouted questions at him at once.

 

语言点 Language Points:

“只(zhī/ zhǐ)” can be used as a measure word as well as an adverb. 只zhī m. for one of certain paired things

一只手 a hand

两只脚 two feet

只zhǐ adv. only; merely; just 只有 only, alone

只能在外面看看 can only have a look from the outside

Apparently, in the dialogue above, “只” has the second meaning 差不多 chà bù duō close to; about the same; just about right; not far off; not bad

In the dialogue, it means “nearly”.

One more example, “这部机器和那部机器的质量差不多。”

(The quality of this machine isn’t far off from that one.)

七嘴八舌 qī zuǐ bā shé

七(qī) seven 嘴(zuǐ) mouth 八(bā) eight 舌(shé) tongue

Meaning: all talking at once, many men, with many minds.

Mandarin Descriptive Pairs

We often use two adjectives or adverbs when describing things, as in “The books is both interesting and informing.” In Mandarin Chinese, this kind of sentence is constructed with 又 (yòu).

The sentence format is like this:

SUBJECT – 又 – STATIVE VERB – 又 –STATIVE VERB

Stative verbs are verbs which describe a relatively unchanging condition, and have a similar function to adjectives and adverbs.

Here is an example:

高速鐵路又快又舒服。
高速铁路又快又舒服。
Gāosù tiělù yòu kuài yòu shūfu.
The high-speed train is both fast and comfortable.

Neither Nor

The opposite of “both … and” is “neither … nor”, which is Mandarin Chinese is expressed 也不 … 也 不 (yě bù … yě bù), in this construction:

SUBJECT – 也不 – STATIVE VERB – 也不 – STATIVE VERB

Here is an example:

今天也不太熱也不太冷。
今天也不太热也不太冷。
Jīntiān yě bù tài rè yě bù tài lěng.
Today is neither too hot nor too cold.

Adding A Reservation

Sometimes we need to add a qualifying statement to our two positive points, as in “He is so bright and smart, but he has no job.” This is done with 可是 (kě shì) in this construction:

SUBJECT – 也 – STATIVE VERB – 也 – STATIVE VERB – 可是 – STATEMENT

Here is an example:

他也有錢也聰明可是沒有女朋友。
他也有钱也聪明可是没有女朋友。
Tā yě yǒu qián yě cōngmíng, kěshì méiyǒu nù péngyou.
He is both rich and intelligent, but he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

Not Only

Another common expression is “not only … but” as in “He is not only talented, but rich.” In Mandarin, this type of sentence is constructed with 不但 (bú dàn) … 也 (yě):

SUBJECT – 不但 – STATIVE VERB – 也 – STATIVE VERB

Here is an example:

他不但有錢也大方。
他不但有钱也大方。
Tā bù dàn yǒu qián yě dàfāng.
He is not only rich, but also generous.

Mandarin Conditional Sentences

Just as in English, Mandarin conditional sentences deal with hypothetical situations and their outcomes.

Mandarin conditional sentences consist of two clauses: the condition, and the consequence.

Mandarin Chinese has several expressions related to conditionality, such as “if…then” or “unless”.

Many of these expressions are translated in English as “if”, but the range of Mandarin expressions is much larger, and cover more specific situations.

There are several Mandarin Chinese words that translate as “if”, but only two of these are in common use. The others are used in literary or formal situations.

The most common way to say “if” in Mandarin Chinese is either with 如果 (rú guó), and 要是 (yào shì). These words are equally common and can be used interchangeably.

The other words that can be translated as “if” are as follows. These are not usually used in daily life, and will mostly be found in specialized situations and texts:

若是 – ruò shì
倘使 – tǎng shǐ
倘若 – tǎng ruò
假若 – jiǎ ruò
假如 – jiǎ rú
假使 – jiǎ shǐ
設若 / 设若 – shè ruò

Notice that many of these words use the same characters, such as 倘 (tǎng), 若 (ruò) and 假 (jiǎ).
If … Then

Both 如果 (rú guó), and 要是 (yào shi) are usually paired with 就 (jiù), which precedes the complementary phrase of the sentence, as in the following example:

如果晚上下雨我就不去看電影。
如果晚上下雨我就不去看电影。
Rúguǒ wǎnshang xiàyǔ wǒ jiù bú qù kàn diànyǐng.
If it rains this evening, I won’t go to the movies.

Note that the 就 (jiù- then) may not be translated to English, but is usually necessary in Mandarin Chinese.

Here is another example:

要是我喝咖啡我會睡不著。
要是我喝咖啡我会睡不着。
Yàoshì wǒ hē kāfēi wǒ huì shuì bù zháo.
If I drink coffee I won’t be able to fall asleep.

only If…

In order to emphasize the conditional “if”, we can use the Mandarin Chinese word 除非 (chú fēi), which translates as “only if…”; “only when…”; or “only in the case that…”.

除非 (chú fēi) is used to stress the outcome of an action or inaction, as in the following examples:

除非雨停了,我才會出去。
除非雨停了,我才会出去。
Chúfēi yǔ tíng le, wǒ cái huì chūqù.
I won’t go out unless it stops raining. (literally: only if the rain stops, I will be able to go out.)

除非有錢,要不然我是不會買房子的。
除非有钱,要不然我是不会买房子的。
Chúfēi yǒu qián, yào bu rán wǒ shì bú huì mǎi fángzi de.
only if I were rich would I be able to buy the house.

Even If…

A related Mandarin Chinese expression is used to emphasize that something is precisely or exactly what is stated. 就是 (jiù shì) translates as “precisely”; “exactly”; “even”; “if”; “just like”; or “in the same way as”. When used in conjunction with 也 (yě), it can mean “even if”, as in the following example:

你就是再聰明,不努力學習,也不會得到好成勣的。
你就是再聪明,不努力学习,也不会得到好成绩的。
Nǐ jiùshì zài cōngmíng, bù nǔlì xuéxí, yěbù huì dédào hǎo chéngjī de. Even if you are inteligent, if you don’t study hard, you will not get good marks.

Just as in the examples with 就 (jiù – then) when combined with 如果 (rú guó), and 要是 (yào shì), 也 (yě – also) when combined with 就是 (jiù shì) is not necessarily translated into English. Nonetheless, it is an important part of Mandarin grammar, and your sentences may sound awkward without these helper words.

Conditional sentences fall into two major categories: factual and hypothetical. Factual conditional sentences could be true, but are unverified. Hypothetical conditional sentences are based on conditional which are not true, such as “If I were a king…”.

The Mandarin conditional sentences covered in this article can be used for either actual or hypothetical conditional sentences.