My Favourite Chinese Mandarin Phrase

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Wednesday, 12 August 2009 10 comments

Whilst going over my first couple of lessons again tonight, I revisited some of the first things I learnt, and laughed when I realised my favourite Mandarin Phrase to say (so far) is the following, fairly menial sentence. The reason for it being my favourite is that it just flows nicely and sounds wonderful. This is my (anticlimatic, but) favourite spoken phrase in Mandarin.

zhè gè nánháizǐ zài chī miànbāo

This boy is eating bread

For me; 在吃面包 (zài chī miànbāo) just rolls of the tongue fairly easily. So I must apologise if you ever hear someone walking around talking about 'eating bread'. It is probably me, getting excited about Mandarin, having not learnt enough other phrases to be excited about.

I thought I would share this funny little insight into my learning process.


Chinese Yo-Yo : Diabolo

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin 3 comments

The Chinese yo-yo (扯鈴 : chě líng) is a toy from China found dating back to the Ming dynasty; roughly 1386-1644 A.D. The Chinese yo-yo consists of two equally-sized discs connected with a long axle. It is kept spinning on a string tied to two sticks at either end. Each stick is held in one hand, and the yo-yo spins on the string inbetween.

In modern times, it is more commonly used as a children's toy and as a performance tool in juggling and sometimes in Chinese ethnic dance. It is possible to perform a large variety of tricks with the Chinese yo-yo which can be as easy as throwing the yo-yo up into the air or tossing it around the user's back.

The Chinese yo-yo has travelled around the world and even adapted to become a craze in the West, where it is called a diabolo in the UK and US and is commonly misspelled as diablo.

The diabolo is usually made of a rubbery plastic and is fairly flexible as opposed to its Chinese counterpart which was traditionally bamboo (although this made complex tricks difficult as it was so fragile) though more recently it's adapted a hard grooved plastic, much harder than we are used to with diabolos.

Aside the material, there are two main differences between the Chinese yo-yo and the diabolo. Firstly, the axle of the Chinese yo-yo is much longer than that of the diabolo. And secondly, the Chinese yo-yo has wheel-shaped discs, whereas the diabolo consists of two bell-shapes.

Some circus acts have adapted Chinese yo-yo within routines, Cirque du Soleil in their show Quidam had four young girls performing the Chinese yo-yo, incorporating backflips, dance and choreographed synchronisation of multiple Chinese yoyos. Culminating in the four young ladies clad in futuristic, silver-metallic dresses twirling them through the air while the acrobats themselves perform flips. I include a video of them performing from that show.

Daily Chinese Proverb: Happiness

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin 0 comments

This is a quote that really questions the age of consumerism that we live in. Things cannot make us truly happy, it is ourselves that decides whether we are happy. Some people who have nothing are happier than people that have everything they could ever want will ever be. Most importantly they are content with what they have.

ān pín lè dào
Better to be Happy than Rich

The literal translation is more like :

contentedness whilst living a poor life is happiness (or the way)

Happiness comes from inside and paired with your attitude and the way you set about the day. Think about the next time you 'need' something new to keep you 'happy'. It is also said that if you achieve this four character proverb. Then you have achieved enlightenent (or at least are a long way down the path).

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