Life-sized, Blue, and Completely Plastic

At the entrance of the grocery store is a life-sized, plastic blue hippo. Next to the statue, a young man stands half-erect, staring at the floor. As I walk into the grocery store, my gaze pauses on the young man. Ostensibly, he was hired to watch over the entrance. But, in fact, he seems more … Read moreLife-sized, Blue, and Completely Plastic

Proficiency in the Four Arts: 琴棋书画,样样清通

The saying “qing, qi, shu, hua” (琴棋书画) refers to the four ancient arts of guqin, chess, literature, and painting. This phrase is also used in the saying “qing, qi, shu, hua, yang yang qing tong”  (琴棋书画,样样清通), and can be translated as “proficiency in the four arts of guqin, chess, literature, and painting is to be … Read moreProficiency in the Four Arts: 琴棋书画,样样清通

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)