Archive for the ‘Chinese’ category

White hair …

March 26th, 2010

I was reading some Chinese poems today, and came across a couple of lines by 杜甫 (Dù Fǔ, 712-770AD) which sadly are all too applicable to me:

“When I scratch my white hair it gets even thinner,
There is hardly enough left to fix a hairpin.”

Chinese cars

March 2nd, 2010

With the official environment for Welsh being so unremittingly hostile to free (GPL) software, over the last couple of months I’ve taken to learning Chinese as a pick-me-up, mainly via the excellent UWB Life-Long Learning courses run by Manman Jones, and also via the international students at the Business School. Jason and Frances taught me various things about cars last night:

我花了五千磅买的这辆车。(的 is a really interesting syntactic “glue” word)

我的车是雪铁龙。(Citroën phonetically, but it translates to Snow Iron Dragon, which is very poetic!)
我的车是大众。(Volkswagen – because they’re so popular!)
我的车是丰田。(Toyota – very popular in the South)
我的车是奥迪。(Audi phonetically)
我的车是沃尔沃。(Volvo phonetically)
我的车是尼桑。(Nissan phonetically)


I’ve put them up on purpose without pinyin, so that I force myself to remember the characters when I read the sentences again. If you’d like a transliteration, use the free Firefox dictionary plugin at the excellent Popup Chinese site manned by David Lancashire and colleagues – well worth a subscription if you want to access a lot of good modern idiomatic stuff to help you learn Chinese. There’s also a plugin there that uses Nathan Dummitt’s system for colourising Chinese characters according to tone: red (tone 1, high); orange (tone 2, rising); green (tone 3, low-lift); blue (tone 4, falling); black (neutral). This is quite helpful when you’re trying to read what you’ve written out loud. For speed, it’s best to open this post on its own page first, and then call the colouriser.