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Ed Jaggard's Chinese Words for September 1998

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Monday

皮雜餅
pi2 za2 bing3


比薩餅
bi3 sa4 bing3
pizza

pi2 za2 - transliteration for "pizza"
bi3 sa4 - transliteration for pizza
bing3 - 1. cakes; biscuits; pastry 2. anything round and flat, as a disc

In response to another e-mail, I have chosen the word pizza as the word of the day. Pizza is not an indigenous food in China. It, like the hamburger (which I will highlight someday), have been introduced to China from the outside world. Using this word, I would like to make a point on Chinese transliteration of foreign words. I have found two transliterations for the word "pizza" in two different dictionaries. There are probably several others, so it's not always exact to give a transliteration and attempt to say, "This is how you write or say pizza in Chinese." There may be several alternatives such as in the transliteration of the name Clinton. In the Chinese newspapers I read, primarily MingBao and SingTao, there are two slightly different combinations of characters.

In the case of "pizza", I did not attempt to give the meanings for the first two characters because the meanings are irrelevant. The characters are chosen for their sound. In the case of the second word bi3 sa4 bing3, the first character may have two different tones, bi3 or bi4, which have slightly different meanings. My dictionary did not make it clear which of these two tones is correct for this word, so I chose bi3, but that may be incorrect. This is why I am a little hesitant when dealing with purely phonetic transliterations. Enough said.

September 28, 1998


Pizza Expo Las Vegas '98
How to get started in the pizza business.

Sunday

淡紫色
dan4 zi3 se4
lavender; light purple


薰衣草
xun1 yi1 cao3
lavender (a plant)

dan4 - light; pale
zi3 - purple
se4 - color
xun1 - 1. to cauterize; to perfume; embalm; becloud; smoke 2. warm; hot
yi1 - clothes
cao3 - grass; straw; herb; weed
I received an e-mail today asking among other things, what the word for lavender or light purple is in Chinese. So I decided to put the words for lavender on the Word-A-Day site. In English there are two primary meanings for "lavender". One is the name of a color which is a light shade of purple and the other is the name of a mint-like plant with lavender-colored flowers.

The only character I really want to focus on today is 淡 - dan4. In the context of colors, it is useful in expressing a light shade of a given color as it does here in the word given above for lavender or light (pale) purple. If you place it in front of the character for yellow, huang2, you get the word dan4 huang2 or pale yellow. The same hold true for other colors.

September 27, 1998


Erowid Herb Vaults
Click on the link to "Lavender". This is an excellent reference site for herbs!

Color Coding Chart
This is a really useful page for checking to see what a given color looks like. Just click the radio button to select a color like lavender or papayawhip and the background changes to match the color you select.

Saturday

鼻屎乾
bi2 shi3 gan1
booger

bi2 - nose
shi3 - excrement
gan1 - dry; dried
This is certainly not one of the most appetizing words in the English language and definitely not for the squeamish. However, just to demonstrate that there is a Chinese counterpart for any word in English, here you have the word "booger". Enough said, I'll skip providing HTML links to any related sites, although I'm sure if you go to Hotbot or some other search site, you'll find a "nosefull" of them.

September 26, 1998


Wednesday

原腎管
yuan2 shen4 guan3
protonephridium


原韌皮部
yuan2 ren4 pi2 bu4
protophloem

yuan2 - source; origin; proto-
shen4 - the kidneys
guan3 - tube; pipe; duct
ren4 - soft but tough; elastic
pi2 - skin; fur; hide; leather; rind; pelt; bark
bu4 - part; section
I chose these two words for today to show you how knowing suffixes and prefixes can be useful in learning a new language. These two words demonstrate the use of 原 yuan2 as a prefix meaning "proto-". There are of course other meanings for this character, but there are times when you will see this yuan2 at the beginning of an already familiar word and you can make an educated guess that it is equivalent to the english prefix "proto-". The character 部 bu4 is sometimes used as a word suffix to indicate "part" as in a machine part. It can also mean section or department.

As for the words given today, protonephridium is a word from zoology. A nephridium is a tubular glandular excretory organ characteristic of coelomate invertebrates or a primarily excretory structure. [Websters Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary] Placing the suffix "proto-" or 原 yuan2 in front of the word gives it the sense of something that develops into a nephridium as in an embryo. Protophloem is a word from botany. Phloem is a complex tissue found in the vascular system of higher plants. It is usually associated with the transfer of water and nutrients throughout a plant analogous to the circulatory system in an animal.

I hope that you've enjoyed these two words. I know that they are "way out there" in terms of general vocabulary, but they do serve to illustrate my point about the importance of prefixes and suffixes. Now test youself by figuring out the Chinese word for "protostar".

September 23, 1998


Phloem

THE EXCRETORY SYSTEM
Use your find function to search for nephridium





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