Tag Archives: chinese language

I share my thoughts on the Chinese language and literature with you.

Recommending 3 inspiring Chinese culture blogs

Today I am going to share with you three sites that I visit frequently about Chinese languages and culture. In my blog, I have talked about my experiences in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and in England, and my family ties with the mainland China. I have moved from many places. I now eat more pasta than rice. I am known by my English name. However, my connection with my root is still strong. I enjoy reading stories about other people’s Chinese experiences. I read for pleasures, and I also read to be educated.

Surprisingly, most Chinese related sites I visit are written by people living outside of China, or visitors to China. I am attracted to people with an outsider’s experiences, and as a permanent outsider myself, I always find their stories or perspectives fascinating. Continue reading

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“And The Rain My Drink” new edition by Han Suyin

When the medical doctor Han Suyin arrived in Johore Bahru of Malaya in the early 1950s, what was Malaya like? What was the smell of Malaya?

I have a few still images to show you.

Continue reading

An age with relative freedom

We played some music by the band Queen yesterday. When listening to the song, I Want to Break Free, my husband commented that many radio and TV stations in the USA banned this song since its release in 1984. I was surprised. I have always considered the USA a relatively ‘free’ country, much freer than many Asian countries, but why would it be so prudish as to ban a music video of four men dressed in women’s clothes? Or, could it be because some people in power didn’t like skinny ballerinas performing a modern dance in skin-tight leotards?

What does it feel like being shackled? It is the sense of total isolation, in the deafening and incoherent cacophony. Continue reading

Tweetable in Oxford Dictionaries

Learning English is hard. Some new words recognised by Oxford Dictionaries make me feel a bit dizzy. Below is a list of some of the new words that have been added to Oxford Dictionaries as part of their February 2013 update. Read the original post here.

A selection of new words from the February 2013 quarterly update, by Oxford Dictionaries.

Image from OxfordWords Blog

Image from Oxford Words Blog

appletini, Baggy Green, biosimilar, blootered, braggadocious, burrata,
cane corso, cruft, dumbphone, feature-complete, flexitarian, FOSS, friend zone,
hump day, metabolic syndrome, omnium, range anxiety, schlumpy, sillage, social sharing, SSD,
touchless, tray bake, tweetable, upcharge, voluntourism

Why is Tray Bake a new term? Tweeter is so powerful that now certain things are ‘tweetable’. I haven’t got a Tweeter account, and does it mean that I’m out? It’s also interesting to learn about a new form of anxiety — range anxiety:

[mass noun] informal

  • worry on the part of a person driving an electric car that the battery will run out of power before the destination or a suitable charging point is reached:range anxiety is often cited as the most important reason why many are reluctant to buy electric cars

From the list, I can tell you that I’ve got a dumbphone, and my neighbour is a flexitarian.

Wy not try making a few sentences with these words? Please share your creativity with us in the comments.

It’s a hump day. Let’s have some tray cake, burrata and appletini. Make sure you’re not too schlumpy.

The Polish delight

Yesterday I wrote about Polish being the second most spoken language in England and Wales, according to the 2011 census.

I sensed the rise of the Polish language just over 2 years ago. In our local library, the self-service machine offered 4 language options, namely, English, Chinese, Russian and Polish.

Today I went to Winchester library to check if the language options have changed. No. It’s the same language options. This picture shows what I saw in the Polish version about account, borrowing and renewal and making payment.

Polish at your fingertips.

Polish at your fingertips.

There are 2 issues here. First, why offering the Russian option? How many Russian speakers have you ever met in Hampshire, or in England? Without any statistic, I’m sure the Russian population in Hampshire is minimal.

Second, why offering the Polish language option? Have you met any Polish who can’t speak or write English well?

Based on my encounters with people from different ethnic groups, the majority of the people who can’t (or can’t be bothered to, or who are culturally discouraged to) learn English are from South China, especially women. Sadly, a lot of people (especially women) whose dominant language is in Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali or Gujarati (which I called the Big 4) can’t function in English in this country. If the library is to offer any practical support to the needy groups, I feel that the languages needed would be the Big 4.

I think it’s time I (and you) learnt some Polish

This chart I created shows you the main spoken languages in England and Wales.

English (and Welsh), Polish and Punjabi

English (and Welsh), Polish and Punjabi

According to the 2011 census, English (and Welsh) — 92% — is still the dominant language in England and Wales, followed by Polish (1%).

The top 10 reported languages were English, followed by Polish, Panjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese, which were the 27th and 40th most commonly-used languages) and Portuguese. According to the census, Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese) ranked number 9.

See the data from the Office for National Statistics,

Language distribution in England and Wales, 2011 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

Language distribution in England and Wales, 2011 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

As a linguist, I’m curious of this data regarding the Chinese language. What does Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese) really cover? Shanghainese, Min and Taiwanese, Hakka, Fuzhou……? How were various Chinese languages (regional languages or dialects) defined? Most modern Chinese speak Mandarin, and their functional language will be Mandarin (though they may are born speaking regional language/dialect.) Which option would the Chinese people have chosen? Mandarin or their regional languages/dialects? I reason that the percentage of the population who speaks Mandarin would be higher, if you included those who also speak their regional language/dialects.

To learn Polish, please pop over to the BBC for some quick tips. Good luck!

Click the image below to learn Polish.

Surviving Polish

Polish or dummies

Where was HAN Suyin in Malaya in the 1950s?

What do you think enhance a city? What element would exude fragrance and charm? For me, it’s the presence of art, the spirit of a writer who once lived there.

If you were to visit me in England, I would take you to the nearest city Winchester, England’s historic city, adorned with magnificent architectures. It’s where you’ll find the little house where Jane Austen had lived before she died. We would walk along the water meadows, abundant in wild flowers and butterflies. Continue reading

The most refined Chinese Farewell song

In my last post, I recalled the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne, commonly sung at graduation assemblies and funerals. Now, I’m going to share with you an original Chinese farewell song, elegantly written as a poem in 1915 by the charismatic and talented artist, LI Shutong 李叔同 (1880 to 1942), three years before he abandoned all worldly desires to become a Buddhist monk. This classical song with shared Chinese symbols is also often top choice for graduation assemblies. Continue reading

Friend: the word to honour 2012

In response to my previous post, Chinese Character of the Year 2012 Revealed: From ‘Tiny’ to ‘Lust’, my friend Vera Poh from To Dad With Love told the world with a warm heart that she would choose the Chinese character 友 (pronounced as yǒu; meaning ‘friend’) to be her character of the year 2012.

Here is the character ‘friend’ in Chinese, as chosen by Vera.

Poh Character of the Year 2012If you have been on WordPress for a while, you might also share Vera’s reflections on this Chinese character. Aren’t we not grateful that we’ve found some genuine friends through blogging, especially on WordPress? The most invaluable experience on WordPress is that many friendships have transcended nation, age and culture. Friendships have flourished and minds are nurtured. Our life has thus been wonderfully enriched.

Fascinating Chinese Character of the Year 2012

In China, the character 微 (pronounced: wēi) has been chosen by some media in China as the character which encapsulates the year 2012. This character means tiny, small, micro and insignificant.

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

In China, the equivalent of Twitter is called 微博(micro-blogging; pronounced ‘wēibó’), which is powerful in breaking firewalls and has allowed the voice of the general public in China to be heard. A few Chinese idioms also carry this character. It may refer to people feeling ‘insignificant’ and powerless. It also refers to the selflessness of many ‘tiny’ people of China with their spirit of sacrifice. Continue reading