Does Mandarin Have a “Soul”?

If you try to translate the word “soul” into Mandarin, then you might find it particularly difficult. In fact, you’d be right to think that it’s downright impossible because there doesn’t actually seem to be a direct translation for the word. I came upon this translation problem one day at work, when looking over an … Read moreDoes Mandarin Have a “Soul”?

Translating the Mandarin Word for Festivals: 节日

The English word “holiday” is seemingly not that complicated − simply two words, “holy” and “day”, stuck together. However there are differences between the way the word is used in American English and British English. In American English, we normally reserve the term for a religious or culturally significant day; while in British English it can be … Read moreTranslating the Mandarin Word for Festivals: 节日

Mandarin Vocabulary: “消费降级” Consumption Downgrade

Today’s Mandarin language point is 消费降级. 消费 (xiāofèi – to consume) + 降级 (jiàngjí – to downgrade) = 消费降级 (xiāofèi jiàngjí – consumption downgrade).  From a cultural perspective, the phrase 消费降级 symbolizes the current idea business/economic climate in China; i.e. the cooling off of the Chinese economy. As of writing today, the Shanghai Composite Index … Read moreMandarin Vocabulary: “消费降级” Consumption Downgrade

Tea and Tea House Culture

One of the coolest parts about living in China is the opportunity to refine your tea drinking palate. Although I still haven’t given up coffee completely, there are lots of interesting, different types of teas which I’ve come to know since moving here. One type which is relatively unknown in the U.S. is pu’er (普洱茶). … Read moreTea and Tea House Culture

Formal Mandarin Chinese (五道口 banner example)

Above you will see an advertisement from the back of a bus stop just outside of the U-Town shopping center. The poster shows two shop owners not accepting cash, stating they prefer customers use their digital wallets (不收现金). The poster was sponsored by the People’s Bank of China (中国人民银行) and interestingly at a time when the … Read moreFormal Mandarin Chinese (五道口 banner example)

Is the Term “China Hand” Still Relevant for Foreigners in China Today?

The word 中国通 (zhongguo tong) means “China hand” or “China watcher” in Mandarin. It’s a combination of 中国 (zhongguo – China) and 通 (tong – to know well). The three characters, when combined together, create the meaning of one who knows China well, i.e. a “China hand”. Today it’s still used to describe foreigners in … Read moreIs the Term “China Hand” Still Relevant for Foreigners in China Today?

The Difference Between 外婆 and 姥姥 In Chinese

Do you know how to refer to your maternal grandmother in Chinese? It depends on who you ask. One way to say it is 外婆 (waipo). The first character, 外 (wai), means outside. The second character, 婆 (po), means grandmother. The two characters come together to mean your “outside grandmother”, as in traditional Chinese culture the women goes … Read moreThe Difference Between 外婆 and 姥姥 In Chinese

40 Years of Reform and Opening up in China – the Importance of Perspective

By all records and opinions, China has developed quite fast over the past forty plus years. Starting in 1978 with Deng Xiaoping’s famous market reforms, the country has maintained an annual GDP growth of 9% on average. In fact, if you were to compare a modern Chinese city (commonly referred to as “first-tier”) with one … Read more40 Years of Reform and Opening up in China – the Importance of Perspective