Peking Opera

Related news: Experience Beijing, a series of events introducing traditional Chinese culture organized by Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchanges Center (BCEC), was held at Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Troupe last weekend. A group of foreign expats living in Beijing learned about the art of Peking Opera.

[Photo: China daily]

Peking Opera 京剧 jīng jù

As one of the opera that started in Beijing, Beijing opera has a history of over 200 years. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty loved the theatre. At the beginning, there was no Beijing opera. Kunqu opera(昆曲) was the most popular, but Emperor Qianlong gradually became bored with the this style. Various local opera were brought to Beijing to please the emperor. Drawing on the merits of these local operas, the new Beijing opera came into being and became Qianlong’s favorite.

Later, it became popular among the public. Beijing opera gradually became the most influential style of opera in China and was named the “national treasure”(国粹) of China. It is popular among not only the Chinese but also many foreigners.

[Photo: China daily]

Beijing opera has four roles: sheng(生), dan(旦), jing(净) and chou(丑). Sheng is the main male role. Dan refers to any female role. Jing is the painted-face male role with distinctive temperament, character or appearance. Chou is a male clown role with a small patch of white chalk around the nose. Renowned Beijing opera artist Mei Lanfang(梅兰芳) was famous for his skillful portrayal of female roles, with his beautifully rhymed and sweet arias and exquisite performances.

[chàng qiāng]  唱腔 aria
[liǎn pǔ]  脸谱facial painting
[jué sè] 角色 role
[guó cuì]  国粹 national treasure

MET Gala: Meet Chinese style!

Celebrities clad in ?Chinese?-inspired designs and accessories graced the red carpet at the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York on Monday night.
2015纽约大都会艺术博物馆时装馆慈善舞会(Met Gala)周一晚举行,身着中国风服饰的各界明星在红毯环节一展风采。

This year the gala(盛会), which is an annual fund-raising event for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, was held under the theme(主题)China: Through the Looking Glass”(中国:镜花水月).The event sought to explore(探究) and celebrate(庆祝) the influence of Chinese culture on fashion, painting, films and art.

Chinese people across the Pacific Ocean also had a good time, not only(不仅) because there suddenly popped up a group of Chinese stars they are familiar with, but also(而且) for American singer Rihanna’s yellow, fur-trimmed cape, which stole the show. In Chinese culture, yellow symbolizes(象征) prestige(声望), good luck(好运) and power(权力).

Netizens(网友) couldn’t help but link this fur-trimmed cape(毛皮斗篷) to “Jian Bing”(煎饼), a traditional breakfast in north China. Those creative enough even made some quite “yummy” Internet memes with the dress, mixing it with photos of jian bing and pizza.

重点词汇 Key Words:

主题 zhǔ tí

  • 大会的主题是文艺复兴时期的欧洲。
    The theme of the conference is renaissance Europe.
  • 这部小说的主题之一是爱国主义。
    One of the major themes of the novel is patriotism.
  • 你的发言偏离了我们讨论的主题
    Your talk is aside from the topic of our disussion.

象征 xiàng zhēng

  • v.
    A torch symbolizes the brightness (of the future).
  • n.
    I frequently use sunflowers as symbols of strength.

不仅……而且……bù  jǐn ……ér qiě ……
Not only… but also……

  • 不仅才华横溢,而且深受同事的喜爱。
    He was not only talented but also immensely popular with his colleagues.
  • 儿童电视节目不仅有娱乐性而且还有教育意义。
    Children’s television not only entertains but also teaches.
  • 不仅你,而且我也准备去.
    Not only you but also I am planning to go

煎饼 jiān bǐng
With quite a long history, “jian bing” is a kind of Chinese pancake that is usually sold as a fast breakfast food on the streets. When presented to customers, the thin pancake is rolled over with a deep-fried dough stick and some tailor-made condiments placed inside. It is prepared on the spot at the request of the buyer.

Top 50 Most Popular Chinese Names

The name of the new British royal princess has been revealed after days of speculation. Here in China, as a popular saying goes, “You are what your name is (人如其名rén rú qí míng )”, Chinese people also rack their brains when trying to come up with baby names.Given the huge population in China, it’s not surprising that lots of people end up with the same name. Recently, a list of the 50 most popular Chinese names has been widely circulated on Chinese social media.

We list them as follows: Rank/Specific Chinese name(Family name+Given name)/Pinyin and Meaning of Given name/No. of people with that specific Chinese name
1 张伟(wěi great) 290607
2 王伟(wěi great) 281568
3 王芳(fāng fragrant) 268268
4 李伟(wěi great) 260980
5 王秀英(xiù yīng elegant+outstanding) 246737
6 李秀英(xiù yīng elegant+outstanding) 244637
7 李娜(nà elegant) 244223
8 张秀英(xiù yīng elegant+outstanding) 236266
9 刘伟 (wěi great) 234352
10 张敏(mǐn quick) 233708
11 李静(jìng quiet) 232686
12 张丽(lì beautiful) 232533
13 王静(jìng quiet) 231914
14 王丽(lì beautiful) 226724
15 李强(qiáng strong) 223950
16 张静(jìng quiet) 221483
17 李敏(mǐn quick) 213606
18 王敏(mǐn quick) 213603
19 王磊(lěi upright) 209757
20 李军(jūn army) 199772
21 刘洋(yáng ocean) 199642
22 王勇(yǒng brave) 198720
23 张勇(yǒng brave) 197859
24 王艳(yàn beautiful) 194371
25 李杰(jié distinctive) 191759
26 张磊(lěi upright) 191065
27 王强(qiáng strong) 190266
28 王军(jūn army) 189999
29 张杰(jié distinctive) 189117
30 李娟(juān graceful) 187701
31 张艳(yàn beautiful) 181752
32 张涛(waves) 177993
33 王涛(tāo waves) 177978
34 李明(míng bright) 177898
35 李艳(yàn beautiful) 176676
36 王超(chāo surpass) 174891
37 李勇(yǒng brave) 173615
38 王娟(juān graceful) 171785
39 刘杰(jié distinctive) 166929
40 王秀兰(xiù lán elegant+orchid) 166111
41 李霞(xiá sunglow) 165189
42 刘敏(mǐn quick) 164133
43 张军 (jūn army)162773
44 李丽(lì beautiful) 162497
45 张强(qiáng strong) 159914
46 王平(píng peace) 155617
47 王刚(gāng strong) 154600
48 王杰(jié distinctive) 154113
49 李桂英(guì yīng laurel+outstanding) 153218
50 刘芳(fāng fragrant) 152189

Car Models Protest Ban

Whenever motor shows are mentioned these days, scantily-clad models always seem to come up. Sometimes they even attract more attention than the cars on display. The Shanghai Auto Show is trying to have a different narrative this year, as models have been banned from the event.

To protest(抗议) the new policy, a bunch of models(一群模特) held boards that read “We want to survive!”(我们要生存), “All efforts to slim down have been in vain!”(瘦身的苦白吃了) in Shanghai streets, all the while dressing in “rags” and smearing “dirt” on their faces.

Although the auto show(车展) is coming to an end today, the controversy(争议) seems far from over(远没结束). The event’s organizing committee has come out and explained that the ban is in place so that visitors could focus more on the cars(更关注车).

Regardless of(不管) whether the protest will actually affect(影响) any future decisions, models have once again(再次) outshined cars at the auto show. The pictures of those models dressing as beggars have been widely circulated and discussed on Chinese social media.

重点词汇 Key Words:

抗议 kàng yì

  • v. 学生抗议大学宿舍过于拥挤。
    Students were protesting at overcrowding in the university hostels.
  • n. 老师们在校长办公室门前举行了一场静坐抗议
    Teachers staged a sit-down protest in front of the president’s office.

不管 bù guǎn (conj.)
no matter/ regardless of /in despite of

  • 不管他们多久露面一次,都永远那么受欢迎。
    No matter how often they turn up, their welcome never wears out.
  • 不管天气好坏,我都要去。
    I shall go regardless of the weather
  • 不管有什么困难,我们一定会胜利。
    We shall be victorious in despite of difficulties.

再次 zài cì  (adv.)
once more/a second time/once again/again

  • 很高兴再次见到您。
    Nice to see you again.
  • 我们沿着一条崎岖的山间小路再次出发。
    We set off once more, over a rough mountain track.

The Exam Season

China’s gaokao(高考gāo kǎo), the nation-wide college entrance exam, is considered the most grueling and competitive of all. For most Chinese students, their performance in the exam will determine their fate in the future.

One Chinese saying likens the exam to “thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of horses squeezing through a single log bridge”(千军万马过独木桥) , and now the exam season is once again upon us—with students, teachers and parents all sharing the pain.

对话 Dialogue:

kàn xiǎo lǐ de xióng māo yǎn kěn dìng zuó wǎn yòu xué tōng xiāo le
Look at Xiao Li’s raccoon eyes! He must have pulled an all-nighter again last night.

tāzhè yàng de xué bà,wǒ xiǎng yīng gāi méishén me yā lìba
       He is a straight-A student. I don’t think he should be too stressed about it.

bù xíng a xiàn zài lián xiǎo lì dōu zài tōng xiāo xué xí le 。
He can’t afford not to. I mean, even Xiao Li is studying all night now.

tā yī bān zhǐ  yǒu sān fèn zhōng rè dù
      I doubt she can keep it up. She’s a typical “three-minute passion” person.
语言点 Language Points:

通宵 tōng xiāo
whole night/all night

Eg.通宵电影院 all-night cinema
通宵学习/工作 study/work all night
我昨晚通宵未眠。I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

学霸xué bà
super student
“学霸” is an online buzzword, referring to those who are not only smart, but also study hard and get impressive academic records in schools (typically straight A’s). The character “学” means to study and “霸” literally means a conqueror or a person with power, and in this particular word, a top student.

连……都…… lián ……dōu ……
Eg.你不认识? You don’t even know him?
自己的名字不会写。She can’t even write her own name.
三分钟热度 sān fēn zhōng rè dù
“3-minute passion” is a Chinese phrase to describe the type of situation in which a person feels passionate about someone or something, but then quickly loses interest.
He had never taken more than a passing interest in the girl.

Our interest was purely perfunctory.

Test your Chinese Level C Advanced

C001 Nǐ juéde guǎnggào huì gěi shèhuì dàilái fùmiàn yǐngxiǎng ma?
Do you think advertising has a negative effect on society?

C002 Nǐ rènwéi yīnggāi yǔnxǔ fùnǚ zài qiánxiàn zhàndòu ma?
Do you think women should be allowed to fight in the front line?

C003  Yǒurén jiànyì wǒmen yīnggāi bǎ Àozhōu de fǎdìng yǐnjiǔ niánlíng tígāo dào èr shí yī suì. Nǐ rènwéi zhè shì yīgè hǎo zhǔyì ma?
Some people have suggested we should raise the legal drinking age in Australia to 21. Do you think this a good idea?p> C004 Yǒuxiē zhèngfǔ yǐjīng jìnzhǐ zài gōnggòng chǎngsuǒ xīyān, nǐ shìfǒu tóngyì?
Some governments have banned smoking in all public places. Do you agree or disagree?

C005 Zài shénme xiàndù nèi shǐyòng dòngwù lái zuò kēxué yánjiū kěyǐ bèi jiēshòu?
To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable?

C006 Dòngwùyuán duìyú yěshēng dòngwù lái jiǎng shì bùshì guòyú cánrěn?
Are zoos cruel to wild animals?

C007 Zài guòqù de èr shí nián zhōng, chuántǒng de nánxìng juésè biànhuà dào le shénmeyàng de chéngdù?
To what extent has the traditional male role changed in the last 20 years?

C008 Wǒmen yīnggāi bǎ qián huā zài kōngjiān tànsuǒ shàng ma?
Should money be spent on space exploration?

C009 Yīnggāi duì xiǎoxuéshēng jìnxíng xìngjiàoyù ma?
Should primary school students be taught sex education?

C010 Rénshēng de yìyì shì shénme?
What is the meaning of life?

C011  Xìngfú de dìngyì shì shénme? Rénmen rúhé cáinéng zhǎodào xìngfú?
What does it mean to be happy? How does one find happiness?

C012  “Ānlèsǐ” duōnián yǐlái yīzhí shì yīgè chōngmǎn zhēngyì de huàtí. Shǐ qí héfǎhuà de yōuquēdiǎn gè shì shénme?
Euthanasia has been a controversial topic for many years. What are the pros and cons to it being legalised?

C013  Zài nǐ kàn lái, rúguǒ kěyǐ de huà, zài shénme tiáojiàn xià liúchǎn kěyǐ bèi jiēshòu?
In your opinion, under what conditions should abortion be acceptable, if at all?

C014  Yīnggāi yāoqiú xuéshēng chuān xiàofú ma?
Should students be required to wear a school uniform?

C015 Fǎdìng de tóupiào niánlíng yīnggāi bèi suōduǎnzhì shí liù suì ma?
Should the age to vote be reduced to 16?

C016 Zài shénme yàng de qíngkuàng xià, àiguó zhǔyì cái suàn shì hélǐ?
In what circumstances is patriotism justified?

C017 Zhèngzhìjiā kě xìn ma?
Can politicians be trusted?

C018 Yī wèi wěidà de lǐngxiù dōu xūyào jùbèi nǎxiē tèdiǎn?
What characteristics should a great leader have?

C019  Qīngshàonián yìyù dōu yǒu nǎxiē jīxiàng? Rúhé bìmiǎn huòzhě zhìliáo qīngshàonián yìyù?
What are the signs of teenage depression? How can teenage depression be prevented or treated?

C020 Kèlóng jìshù de yōudiǎn hé qí qiánzài de wéixiǎn dōu yǒu nǎxiē?
What are the advantages and potential dangers of cloning?

C021  Yīnggāi fèichú sǐxíng ma?
Should the death penalty be abolished?

C022 Nǐ duì quánqiú biànnuǎn hé qìhòu biànhuà yǒu shénme kànfǎ?
What are your views on global warming and climate change?

C023  Nǐ huì yǎnzòu nǎ zhǒng yuèqì? Rúguǒ bù huì dehuà, nà nǐ xīwàng zìjǐ néng huì yǎnzòu nǎ zhǒng yuèqì?
Do you play any musical instruments? If not, are there any you would you like to play?

C024 Kǒngbù zhǔyì cónglái dōu bù hélǐ ma?
Can terrorism ever be justified?

C025 Hǎoláiwù huì gěi shìjiè dài lái bu liáng de yǐngxiǎng ma?
Does Hollywood have a negative influence on the world?

C026  Yīnggāi zài gōnglì xuéxiào nèi jìnzhǐ tígōng lājī shípǐn ma?
Should junk food be banned in public schools?

C027  Nǐ shǐyòng xiàng Twitter huòzhě Facebook zhèyàng de shèjiāo wǎngzhàn ma? Wèishénme?
Do you use social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook? Why or why not?

C028  Nǐ juédé dàngjīn dàxuéshēng de yālì shì bù shì hěn dà?
Do you think university students are under a lot of stress nowadays?

C029  Nǐ juéde xuéfèi yīnggāi yóu zhèngfǔ háishì gèrén lái zhīfù?
Do you think the government or the individual should pay for tuition fees?

C030 Zài nǐ kàn lái, nǎ yī xiàng fāmíng gěi rénlèi dài lái le zuìdà de hǎochù?
In your opinion, which invention most benefitted humanity?

C031  Yīnggāi zài méitǐ zhōng bàodào guānyú zìshā de xīnwén ma?
Should suicides be reported in news media?

C032  Nǐ juéde zài Àozhōu dàxué xuéxí de guójì xuéshēng jiāng huì miànlín nǎxiē tiǎozhàn?
What kind of challenges do international students face studying at universities in Australia?

C033  Nǐ juéde guìguó de jiàoyù xìtǒng rúhé?
What do you think about your country’s education system?

C034 Zài xiàndài shèhuì zhōng, yìshù qǐdào le zěnyàng de zuòyòng?
What role does art play in modern societies?

Test your Chinese Level B Intermediate


B-Level (Intermediate)

B001  Nǐ jīngcháng chī kuàicān ma? Wèishénme?
Do you often eat fast food? Why or why not?

B002  Nǐ shēngmìng zhòng yī xiàng zhòngyào de chéngjiù shì shénme?
What is a major achievement in your life?

B003  Nǐ xǐhuan kǎlāOK ma? Wèishénme?
Do you like karaoke? Why or why not?

B004  Bǎochí jiànkāng de zuì hǎo fāngfǎ shì shénme?
What are the best ways to keep healthy?

B005 Jiéjiāo xīn péngyou de zuì hǎo fāngfǎ shì shénme?
What is the best way to make new friends?

B006 Nǐ suǒ dù guò zuì yúkuài de yīgè jiàqī shì nǎ yīgè?
What is the best holiday you’ve ever had?

B007  Nǐ juéde nǐ shì yīgè “zháinán” huò “zháinǚ” ma?
Do you think you are a “nerd”?

B008  Nǐ guójiā chuántǒng de shíwù shì shénme?
What are some of the traditional foods in your home country?

B009  Nǐ yǒuyī bù iPhone ma? Wèishénme?
Do you have an iPhone? Why or why not?

B010  Nǐ duì zhèngzhì gǎnxìngqù ma? Wèishénme?
Are you interested in politics? Why or why not?

B011 Nǐ juéde zhège chéngshì de gōnggòng jiāotōng xìtǒng zěnme yàng?
What do you think about this city’s public transport system?

B012 Nǐ shì Rìběn dòngmàn huò qítā kǎtōng de fěnsī ma?
Are you a fan of anime or other cartoons?

B013 Nǐ shìgè yèmāozi, háishì zǎoqǐ zhě?
Are you a night owl or an early bird?

B014  Nǐ jīngcháng kànwàng nǐ de jiārén ma?
Do you see your family often?

B015 Nǐ xǐhuan qù jiǔbā hé yèzǒnghuì ma?
Do you like going to pubs and nightclubs?

B016  Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de míngrén shì sheí?
Who is your favourite celebrity?

B017 Nǐ duì zhè zuò chéngshì de yìnxiàng zěnmeyàng?
What are your impressions of this city?

B018 Jīnqián zhòngyào ma?
Is money important?

B019 Nǐ xǐhuan kà shū ma? Píngshí dōu kàn xiē shénme yàng de shū?
Do you like reading? What books do you like to read?

B020 Nǐ wèilái de mùbiāo shì shénme?
What are your future goals?

B021  Nǐ guò shèngdànjié ma?
Do you celebrate Christmas?

B022 Nǐ dōu yǒu nǎxiē huài xíguàn?
What are some of your bad habits?

B023 Nǐ de fùmǔ hé qítā jiārén de xìnggé dōu shì shénmeyàng de?
What are the personalities of your parents and other family members?

B024  Nǐ xìnjiào ma?
Are you religious?

B025  Nǐ xuéxí dì èr yǔyán duō cháng shíjiān le?
How long have you been learning your second language?

B026 你的方向感好吗?
Nǐ de fāngxiànggǎn hǎo ma?
Do you have a good sense of direction?

B027 Nǐ zěnyàng lái zhīpèi zìjǐ de huā xiao?
How do you spend your money?

B028  Nǐ xǐhuan lǚyóu ma? Nǐ dōu qù guò nǎxiē dìfang?
Do you like to travel? What places have you been to?

B029  Shuō shuō nǐ chuān guò de yīfu zhōng, nǎ yī jiàn nǐ zuì xǐhuan? Wèishénme?
What is your favourite item of clothing, and why?

B030  Nǐ xǐhuan shàngwǎng ma? Yǒu nǎxiē wǎngzhàn nǐ kěyǐ tuījiàn yīxià?
Do you like surfing the web? What websites would you recommend?

B031  Nǐ céngjīng liàn’ài guò ma?
Have you ever been in love?

B032  Lǚyóuyè dàilái de wèntí shì shénme?
What are some of the problems of tourism?

B033 Nǐ xǐhuan màoxiǎn ma? Wèishénme?
Do you like to take risks? Why or why not?

Test your Chinese Level A Beginner

A-Level (Beginner)

A001 Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?
What’s your name?

A002 Nǐ zài nǎr chūshēng de?
Where were you born?

A003 Nǐ de jiāxiāng zài nǎr?
Where is your hometown?

A004 Nǐ píngshí xǐhuan chī shénme?
What do you like to eat?

A005 Nǐ píngshí xǐhuan hē shénme?
What do you like to drink?

A006 Nǐ duōdà le?
How old are you?

A007 Nǐ xué shénme de?
What do you study?

A008 Nǐ zài nǎr gōngzuò?
Where do you work?

A009 Nǐ jīntiān zuò le xiē shénme?
What did you do today?

A010 Nǐ xǐhuan shénmeyàng de yīnyuè?
What kind of music do you like?

A011 Nǐ zuì xiǎng chéngwéi nǎ zhǒng dòngwù?
What animal would you most like to be?

A012 Nǐ dōu huì shuō nǎ zhǒng yǔyán?
What languages do you speak?

A013 Nǐ zài zhège chéngshì zhù le duōjiǔ le?
How long have you lived in this city?

A014 Nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ kǒu rén?
How many people are in your family?

A015 Nǐ qù guò Xīní ma?
Have you been to Sydney?

A016Nǐ yǒu zuìhǎo de péngyǒu ma? Tā huò tā shì sheí?
Do you have a best friend? Who is s/he?

A017 Xiàtiān hé dōngtiān, nǐ gèng xǐhuan nǎ yīgè?
Do you prefer summer or winter?

A018 Nǐ zhōumò xǐhuan zuò xiē shénme ne?
What do you do on the weekend?

A019 Nǐ yǒu shénme àihào?
What hobbies do you have?

A020 Nǐ dōu xǐhuan nǎ zhǒng tǐyù xiàngmù?
What sports do you like?

A021 Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de shíwù shì shénme?
What is your favourite food?

A022 Nǐ zǎofàn píngshí dōu chī xiē shénme?
What do you normally have for breakfast?

A023 Nǐ píngshí shàngbān huò shàngxué dōu zěnme zǒu?
How do you get to work or university?

A024 Nǐ fàngjià dōu zuò xiē shénme?
What do you do on holidays?

A025 Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de diànyǐng shì shénme?
What’s your favourite film?

A026 Nǐ zuìdà de yuànwàng shì shénme?
What is your greatest wish?

A027 Nǐ jiéhūn le háishì dānshēn?
Are you married or single?

A028 Nǐ kāichē háishì zuò gōngjiāo?
Do you drive or take public transport?

A029 Nǐ píngshí xǐhuan zuò xiē shénme?
What do you like to do in your spare time?

A030 Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de diànshìjù shì shénme?
What’s your favourite TV show?

A031 Nǐ xǐhuan gòuwù ma? Wèishénme?
Do you like shopping? Why or why not?

A032Nǐ zài xuéxiào shí dōu xué le nǎxiē kēmù?
What subjects did you study in school?

A033 Huǒchē, diànchē hé gōnggòng qìchē, nǐ gèng xǐhuan nǎ yīgè?
Do you prefer trains, trams or buses?