Model Mandarin: December 2015

Model mandarin

BEAR IN MIND Learn by saying things you shouldn’t

Do we just have men男人(nánrén) and women 女人(nǚrén) in this world? Well, let’s just say there are different types of men and women. For example, we have女汉子(nǚhànzi) and 娘娘腔 (niángniángqiāng).

A女汉子(nǚhànzi) is tomboy, i.e. a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors considered typical of the gender role of a boy. We also use the word男人婆(nánrénpó) to describe people like this.

Then how about a boy who exhibits characteristics or behaviors considered typical of the gender role of a girl? We call them 娘娘腔 (niángniángqiāng). Some people don’t care about being called a 娘娘腔 (niángniángqiāng). However, be careful, some will be really angered when hearing this, and may consider it an insult. Still, it takes all types to make the world go round.


nǚ hàn zi
女 汉 子
manly woman

nán rén pó
男 人 婆

niáng niáng qiāng
娘 娘 腔
nancy boy, or sissy

TALKING POINTS A supplement for grammar practice

Some might argue, but one of the greatest things that happens between a man and a woman is probably getting married 结婚 (jiéhūn). When Chinese people ask if you are married, or ask if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they are not just being curious about your personal life. Instead, it is quite possible that they are interested in you and want to be friends. So let’s learn how to ask and answer the questions.

To ask about marriage,the question is:

Nǐjiéhūn le mɑ?
Are you married?

The answers are:

Wǒjiéhūn le. / Wǒméiyǒujiéhūn.
我结婚了。/ 我没有结婚。
I’m married./ I’m not married.

If you are not married, be careful if you say say:

Wǒ bù jiéhūn, as this implies that you do not want to get married.

To ask about boyfriend or girlfriend:

Nǐ yǒu nán pénɡyou ma?/nǚpénɡyou ma?
你有男朋友 / 女朋友吗?
Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

If you have one, you can say:

1215_MM1Wǒ yǒu nán pénɡyou/nǚ pénɡyou.
我有男朋友 / 女朋友。
I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.

If, unfortunately, you don’t, you will say:

Wǒ méi yǒu nán pénɡ you/nǚ pénɡ you.
我没有男朋友 / 女朋友。
I don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend

Anyway, good luck. We hope everyone finds a lover by the end of the year!



CARTOON CHARACTERS Mnemonic devices that work

1215_mm3() – woman
Let’s take a look at the development of character 女. Due to the traditional morality of ancient times, Chinese women had a lower social status. The initial appearance of 女 looked like a woman bowing, later kneeling. Today women have developed a stronger sense of dignity and respect, and are almost equal to men in Chinese society. So today, the character 女 looks just like a women walking with self-confidence and elegance.

Hear this mini audio lesson online at


1215_mm4(nán) – man
The evolution of the character 男 originated from 田(tián), which means cultivated land, and the rest of it looks like the farming instrument, a harrow. It’s not difficult to tell the reason why the Chinese character that stands for male is created like this: men used to work in the fields! Chinese characters are full of associations and pictographs like this.

Hear this mini audio lesson online at

 CANTONESE CORNER Guangdong conversation starters 

kau1neoi5(沟女) –The meaning of this word is “chasing a girl”. For example, if your friend has a crush on a hot girl but already has a girlfriend, you can say: “Don’t think of chasing girls so much “(唔好成日记住沟女m4 hou2 seng4 jat6 gei3 zyu6 kau1 neoi5

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