2014 in review

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 18.39.08

新年快乐!Happy new year! (it’s not technically the new year here in the UK, but it depends on which country you live in). WordPress has created an overview of my blogging year and I think its kind of adorable >.< There’s a little extract below but in essence it summarised my statistics from the year (although I’ve had this for half a year) and presented them with diagrams and facts. There was an option to publish the review but I think it’s a bit private (对不起这是个秘密) so instead I will show you some of the extracts…

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

…There were 36 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 61 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per month”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.08.33Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.08.47

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.10.26

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.09.07

have mentioned before that I have a list of posts that I plan to write, but for one reason or another I have not been able to complete them yet. The other day I did the photography for a post I planned to put up yesterday (trying to maximise primary sources😁), but a movie marathon came along and well now it is likely to become the first post of 2015. Stay tuned 😉

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that has engaged with my posts in 2014! It’s been half a year but feels like only 2 months have passed. Thank you to the silent supporters, as well as those of you who are subscribed to my blog; thank you for the comments, and thanks for the likes (翻译:谢谢为你们对我博客的称赞). Hopefully you can stick around to help me through 2015 so that we can continue to learn new things. 一起学习比自己学习是更好,你们同意呢。

If you take the time to review your year, good luck 世界 .


[Also if you haven’t noticed, I occasionally include short phrases in Chinese like I have done in this post but I wanted to point out that what follows in english usually is not the translation. If you’re bored you can try translating them using a search engine, but I will leave that to you].

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.09.40

Dong Shi Xiao Pin 东施效颦

2014-12-22 02.03.18

东施效颦 (dong shi xiao pin) is based on a story of the ordinary woman ‘Dong shi’ and the Chinese beauty ‘Xi Shi’. Literally the idiom translates into “Dong shi copy frown”.

西施 Xi Shi is one of the Chinese beauties. Her beauty is such that it shines through even when she frowns from illness. 东施 Dong Shi is an ugly woman who desperately wants to become pretty. Dong Shi sees Xi Shi frowning and copies her frown, but unfortunately for Dong Shi, it only makes her uglier.

The idiom teaches us that copying someone in the wrong way only makes things worse. This does not prohibit copying people altogether (as we do tend to emulate the good actions of admirable people), but copying someone ‘in the wrong way’ tells us that we need to copy people in the correct manner and we can expect that we are not meant to copy things that are bad.

It is also interesting to note that the character颦 (pin) is usually only used in the idiom of 西施效颦 and is not incorporated into daily language usage. The character颦 is one that scares me upon first sight (quite fitting given that it means ‘frown’) because it is comprised of several detailed radicals/smaller characters that you would need to look at closely to dissect. It’s not that bad once you do look closely, but since it is not commonly used even my teacher had trouble recalling its composition.

I felt quite sorry for Dong Shi because it’s said quite bluntly that her efforts to become pretty made her uglier than she already was, especially since prettiness is quite subjective to judge. But I understand that for the sake of the story she must have transformed into something that was socially grotesque. I think that rather than focusing on Dong Shi’s pitiful outcome, it is better to take away the lesson that we should not envy other people for how they look, or generally for who they are. I also think the idiom tells us that we should not feel the need to copy other people.

There are a few things I could tell you now, but I would like to end by asking you not to pursue your ‘Xi Shi’ because it will inevitably make things worse.

If you begin to frown, good luck 世界。

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

Chinese numbers 中文数字

20141205_215159我真的太不喜欢数学但是现在我给大家介绍一下中文数字 = I seriously dislike maths, but today I will give you all a small introduction to Chinese numbers.

I think it was on Monday that a student in the year below me was asking me about Chinese. He had practiced a Mandarin greeting with me, and then I offered to teach him something. I was quite rushed for time so I got out my trusty sticky pad and began to write the Chinese numbers (I only managed to get to number six because we needed to leave our classroom). I scribbled down the characters, pinyin, and then an extension of the pinyin I had created to simplify the pronunciation (since it isn’t always that straightforward to read pinyin).

Unless you already know the Chinese numbers, I’m assuming that this is your first time seeing the first six. I will introduce you to the rest of the numbers in the same inventive format 哈哈 [Roman number, Chinese character for the number, pinyin, my simplification of pronunciation for certain characters]:


1一 yi (yee)

2二 er (urh) (*the sound Pirates make*)

3三 san

4四 si (suh)

5五 wu (woo)

6六 liu (leoh)

7七 qi (chee)

8八 ba

9九 jiu (jeoh/jyo)

10十 shi (shuh)

11十一 shi yi

I usually ignore ‘zero’ when I learn numbers, but in Chinese it is read as ‘ling’ and the character is零.

To count up in the tens you must put the number in front of ‘ten’. For example ‘twenty’ is ‘two’ followed by ‘ten’ 二十. Which number is七十? Also, numbers below 100 but over their domain of ten (不知道怎么说啊!) would make use of the previous rule, and then add another number to the end of the structure (懂不懂?). So the number ‘64’ would be written as六十四.

To further add to my disdain about numbers (with Chinese, English or any language), I recently learnt that the number ‘one’ in Chinese has two different readings. This is typically seen when talking about dates. For example, in an article the date ‘12th May’ may be presented in Roman numbers as ‘5.12’. My instinct would be to read this as 五十二 (wu shi er) which literally means 5,10,2.

However there are several reasons for why this is wrong…

  1. Although as I explained before about digits above 10, like ‘12’ we must construct the number with a 10 and a 2. But in this case we do not follow this structure and we simply read the numbers as they are seen; ‘one’ and ‘two’. This is likely to happen so that numbers can be read with ease. For example, the event of the 11th September Twin Tower collapse is referred to as 911 (nine eleven) in English, and in the same way the Chinese would shorten their numbers for brevity.
  1. Following on from the previous point, we would then expect the date ‘12th May’ to be read as 五一二 ‘wu yi er’ (I’m inserting the Chinese numbers as an illustrative example, but in actual fact Roman numbers are commonly found in formal Chinese writing). This is correct in the sense that the appropriate characters are being used, however the pinyin would be wrong because in this case the number one would not be read as ‘yi’. Instead of reading the character for the number ‘one’ as ‘yi’(which is 一), we would read it as ‘yao’. This is a special version of the number ‘one’ that is used in texts like newspaper articles for the same reason previously mentioned of maintaining brevity.
  1. Another example of where this alternate reading of ‘one’ is used is in Chinese emergency numbers; such as 110 for Police, and 119 for the Fire Brigade (do you know the pinyin for the numbers?). I came to confront ‘yao’ the other day whilst reading an article in my Mandarin lesson, now you have too.

I hope that this has not disheartened you, but I thought it was best to introduce you to the fact that the Chinese numbers are not as simple as they appear and that you should be prepared to experience deviations in the rules you had originally been taught since Chinese is such a vast language. Following on from what I have introduced you to today I could teach you about how to write higher figure numbers like 100 or 1000, but I don’t think I can muster the courage (refer to the first sentence of this post if you need clarification as to why that is).

Allow me to also briefly explain the picture I drew at the start of the post. It’s a Chinese children’s poem. If you scroll back up you should be able to recognize the numbers, but there are some other words included as well. The poem can be translated as ‘One two three for five six seven, where are my friends? In Beijing, in Shanghai, my friends are here’. Not worthy of the canon, but it sounds cute when sang in tune.

I will leave you with a supplementary link I found earlier where you can listen to the pronunciation of the numbers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primarylanguages/mandarin/numbers/ It seems as though it is part of an initiative by the BBC to encourage learning languages with primary school students, the pages are actually quite cute (I’m somewhat surprised).

If you teach someone how to count in another language一二三 good luck 世界。

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.