Linguistic Laughingstock-a-phobia

WARNING: This post contains explicit content because the Chinese language contains explicit content and we sometimes say it without meaning to. Fear of getting laughed at (not with) is a common affective problem for language learners. While there’s no escaping it in any language, there are a few reasons why Chinese is especially nerve-wracking to learn. […]

What’s up with Persuade?

Another post from the ranting “What’s up with…?” series that focuses on vocabulary words we can’t quite get a straight answer about. Look in the dictionary for “persuade” and you basically end up with: shuōfú 说服 quàn Now, let’s ignore (for this whole post) the fact that these words often mean “try to persuade” […]

Linguistic Complaining

Learning a foreign language can be very rewarding. But it can also be very frustrating. Chinese sometimes seems to be unfairly frustrating in many ways. I’ve been thinking about outlets for that frustration and I’ve decided that the one I’m most prone to is complaining about the Chinese language. I’ve found the following to be […]

Unlimited Wireless Internet

I just got back from China Telecom trying to get an ADSL (broadband) internet connection installed. My end goal is to get a wireless router so I can have wireless internet and blog from the balcony as well as my desk. But I didn’t tell the lady that, which is why I was so surprised […]

He/She Mistake in the News

I was most intrigued when I saw a snippet of a recent article in the China Daily about the new U.S. ambassador to China: “The ambassador also introduced her family to the media in fluent mandarin…” This surprise me because I thought the new ambassador was Jon Huntsman. Turns out he is, and this is […]

Unnecessary Measure Words

Sticking with the number theme, here’s a little quiz. Now don’t be nervous, and don’t read ahead to the answers (I tired to find an upside-down font for the answers, but you’ll just have to be on your honor). Anyone who’s studied Chinese for a few weeks or months should be able to do the […]

Cognate Coincidences

Chinese has no cognates with English (one of the reasons it’s difficult to learn). So, when I come across words like these, I know one of the words has been imported from one language to another (yes yes, I know, that means there are some cognates NOW–but precious few): 1. sofa = shāfā 沙发 (English […]

Beware of False Friends

I had a guy who came to my first (ever) English corner in China who was obsessed with little idioms and sayings. I called him “Jingle” because everything he said sounded like it had come out of a TV commercial. Me: So now let’s hear from one of the students on that same question: What’s […]