Model Mandarin: Clocking Out

0514_MMBear In Mind: Remember how to speak by saying things you shouldn’t.

Some gifts don’t make good surprises, and won’t be appreciated by your Chinese friends. Clocks can’t be a birthday present because the word clock (钟), sounds similar to the word end (终), which are both pronounced Zhōng. Presenting a clock on a birthday is like saying:

Jīntiān wǒ gěi nín sòng zhōng (zhōng) lái qìngzhù nín de shēngrì.
今天 我 给 您 送 钟 (终) 来 庆祝 您 的 生日。
I am giving you a nail to your coffin for celebrating your birthday today.

Likewise, giving an umbrella is also wrong. The word umbrella (伞`1) sounds similar to the word separation (散), both pronounced sǎn. Don’t insult your friend by saying:

Wǒ sòng wán sǎn (sǎn) yǐhòu, wǒmen jiù búbì zài liánxì le ba.
我 送 完 伞 (散) 以后,我们 就 不必 再 联系 了 吧。
After giving you this umbrella (separation), we don’t need to keep in touch anymore.

Talking Points: A supplement for grammar practice

Learning Chinese conjunctions is one of the first steps to communicating elaborate concepts.

suī rán … dàn shì … 虽然 … 但是 … Although … but …

When you want to express something that has no logical result, you can use this conjunction. Sometimes you can use just only “suī rán” or “dàn shì” in the sentence.

Suīrán zhège nàozhōng kàn qǐlái hěn piàoliang,
虽然 这个 闹钟 看 起来 很 漂亮,
Although this alarm clock looks cute,

dànshì nǐ bù yīnggāi sòng gěi Daisy zuò shēngrì lǐwù.
但是 你 不 应该 送 给 Daisy 做 生日 礼物。
[but] you shouldn’t give it to Daisy as a birthday gift.

bú dàn … ér qiě … 不但 … 而且 … Not only … but also …

There is a progressive relationship in this sentence to emphasize the second part of the sentence makes extra points there.

Tā búdàn bú huì xǐhuan nǐ de lǐwù, érqiě hái huì hěn bù gāoxìng.
她 不但 不 会 喜欢 你的 礼物, 而且 还 会 很 不 高兴。
She wouldn’t like your gift, but also she won’t be happy either.

Yīn wèi … suǒ yǐ … 因 为 … 所 以 … Because … so …

The first part of the sentence explains the reasoning, and the second part of the sentence explains the consequence. Using one separately in a sentence is also possible.

Yīnwèi nàozhōng de “zhōng” hé zhōngjié de “zhōng” dúyīn yíyàng,
因为 闹钟 的 “钟” 和 终结 的 “终” 读音 一样,
Because the word “clock” sounds similar to the word “death,”

suǒyǐ sòng nàozhōng tīng qǐlái xiàng sòngzhōng.
所以 送 闹钟 听 起来 像 送终。
presenting a clock to somebody sounds similar to present “death” to somebody.

Cartoon Characters: Mnemonic devices that work

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A big person has arms this long.

 

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A big nose makes the eyes look small.

 

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A flower is growing out of the mountains.

 

 

Cantonese Corner: Conversation starters for Guangdongers

Use it as a joke for making the conversation fun when watching friends speak Cantonese badly.

Mong Sing Sing (懵盛盛) – Slow and stupid, an adjective describing someone low on people skills. (Speak with a rising tone followed by two falling tones interrupted by hitting a wall.)

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