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Ed Jaggard's Chinese Words for Week of 02-02-98

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fang2 shui3 yi1


fang2 - to resist; guard against; -proof (as in fireproof, waterproof, etc.)
shui3 - water
yi1 - clothes; suit

I'm sure that there are several words in Chinese for "wetsuit". This is one that I found recently in a magazine article. My one experience with a wetsuit was some years ago white-water rafting during the spring on the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. What I remember is that although wetsuits are good at keeping the cold water out, the inner lining material tends to absorb perspiration. When you first put on a wetsuit that's been used a few times, have a clothespin ready to put on your nose!

February 8, 1998

Wetwear - Design Your Own Wetsuit

mu3 qiu2

cue ball

mu3 - mother
qiu2 - ball

From the world of pool and billiards, I present to you - the cue ball. The cue ball in Chinese is - the mother ball. Oh well, make of it what you will, but it does explain the tendency of some players, particularly when having a bad day, to mutter something about mother under their breath.
For those of you who don't have the foggiest idea what I meant here, it's not even worth asking about. I just couldn't resist a little wisecrack. Besides, there's not much point here in discussing cue balls!

February 7, 1998

21st Century Billiards Homepagebr Billiards instruction, jokes, pix, etc.

zhong4 yi4 zhang3

Speaker of the House (Am. government)

zhong4 - crowd, multitude, the masses
yi4 - to discuss, argue, debate, negotiate
眾議院 - (美,澳,日等) House of Representatives;
(意,墨,智等) Chamber of Deputies
zhang3 - chief; leader; commander; chairman

Here in the United States, we have a bicameral division of the legislative branch of the government. The Senate is populated by a fixed number of elected officials from each state and the House of Representatives is apportioned by population.
The word of the day, Speaker of the House, refers to a person selected from among the representatives of the House of Representatives to preside over the deliberations of that august body. This person carries a great deal of weight in the political life of the country and is close to the top of the Presential Succession chain.

The current Speaker of the House is Newt Gingrich.

February 6, 1998

News from the Speaker of the House
Read the latest from Newt Gingrich

la1 lian4

zipper; zip fastener

la1 - to pull
lian4 - chain

Here's a useful word, somewhat common, but it does give me another "Z" word for the word a day dictionary. The Chinese call a zipper a "pull-chain". It seems to be a celebration of the obvious. My favorite example of that is the German word for skunk - Stinktier (stink-animal).

February 5, 1998


fu2 zhong1 yu2

fish in a kettle - doomed

fu3 - cauldron; kettle
zhong1 - middle; among; within
yu2 - fish

I love these expressions!! Chinese has many wonderfully descriptive expressions like this one. Think about it. If you were a fish in a kettle, what chance would you have? Okay, sure! Someone might knock the kettle over and you'd flop around on the floor for a little while, but the end result would be the same - DOOMED!!!!

February 4, 1998


jiao3 ban4 qi4


jiao3 - to stir; agitate; disturb
ban4 - to mix
qi4 - apparatus; appliance

Not much to tell here. A blender is an agitating, mixing appliance.

February 3, 1998


gong4 jia4 jian4

covalent bond

dian4 jia4 jian4

electrovalent bond; ionic bond

gong4 - common
dian4 - electric
jia4 - price, cost; value; valence [chem]
jian4 - key; bond [chem]

I decided to give you these two words at the same time. They give you two characters which have ordinary meanings as well as a specialized meaning. Jia4 is commonly encountered in its sense of price or value. It also is used for the chemical term "valence". Jian4 is commonly encountered in its common meaning of "key". It is a generic term for key and can mean a key to a door, piano key, computer keyboard key, etc. It also is used in chemistry to mean "bond".
These two words should be familiar from your chemistry courses. They represent two ways in which atoms combine to form molecules. Sodium chloride, salt, is an example of a compound formed by ionic or electrovalent bonding. Water is a good example of covalent bonding (although something called hydrogen bonding also enters the picture here.)

February 2, 1998

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