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It’s So Hot!

These past couple of days have been midst of a heatwave. Of course, this is nothing compared to the ones they experience in Southern China or Saudi Arabia. But for NYC, it feels like a sauna when you walk outside, which is nice if you like to sweat.

desert

In light of this (or should I say, in heat of this?), I’d like to teach everyone how to say, “It’s so hot!” – 好热啊!

好 (hao3) = Very

热 (re4) = Hot

啊 (a1)= Preposition to express an exclamatory statement

Remember back in the Ni Hao lesson, we learned that 好 means goods? 好 can also serve as an adjective, as in this case, where it means “very”, or “so”.

hot weather

Now if today were negative 0 degree Celcius, you can exclaim: 好冷(leng3)啊!This means, “It’s so cold!”

cat

In fact, this sentence structure 好 + Adjective + 啊, you can form many different exclamatory sentences, such as:

好酷(ku4) 啊 = Very cool!

好爽(shuang3) 啊 = So refreshing!

好烦(fan2) 啊 = So annoying!

好饿(e4) 啊 = So hungry!

WW+hungry

The last one is an useful expression that we’ll explore in the next lesson. In the meantime, why don’t you form a sentence like this and post it in the comment section of this entry?

You good, me good, everyone good – 你好, 我好, 大家好!

So we’ve all heard of the greeting 你好, Ni Hao. I get this a lot from non-Asian people trying to strike up a conversation with me. Although the effort is appreciated, it sounds a bit pretentious and mocking at times, depending on the way the speaker says it. 

To a natural Mandarin speaker, 你好 is usually followed by 吗? So together it would be, “你好吗?”. Literally translated, it means, “You good?” Make sure the intonation is correct, because this is what makes or breaks it. 

The listener would usually respond with, “我很好”, which means “I very good”. Or “不太好”, which means “not so good”. (Normally one wouldn’t say “我不好“, which literally means “I no good”).

Essentially, a whole conversation could be started with 你好:(I have indicated the pronunciations with the Pin Yin and corresponding tone after each Chinese phrase).

A: 你好吗?Ni2 hao3 ma1? How are you?

B: 我很好。你呢?Wo3 hen3 hao3, ni3 ne1?. Very good and you?

A: 我也很好. Wo3 ye3 hen3 hao3. I am good as well.

B:    那就好. Na4 jiu4 hao4. That’s good. 

So you see, 好 is a very important word in Chinese. Here are some useful adjectives in Chinese:

不好 = not good

很好 = very good

最好 = the best

That’s it for this post. Good luck with practicing 好! 祝你好运! Zhu4 ni3 hao3 yun4! 

What’s in a Name?

Chinese character for "age"

Chinese character for “age”

In Chinese culture, names are one of the important things that an individual could have. They tell a lot about a person’s characteristic and even lifestyle and behavior.

Chinese names are usually three characters in length, starting with the family name, then the first and middle. So John David Smith would be Smith David John or Smith John David in Chinese. This has a lot to do with Confucian influences in Chinese culture, as family is considered the most important unit in one’s life.

In ancient China, average citizens like you and I are called 老百姓,  or literally translated, the Old Hundred Names. This is actually a book from the Song dynasty with over 400 common surnames of common people. Different surnames originates from different dynasties:

  • 1st: Zhao (趙) is the family name of the Song Dynasty emperors.
  • 2nd: Qian (錢) is the family name of the kings of Wuyue.
  • 3rd: Sun (孫) is the family name of the queen of Wuyue.
  • 4th: Li (李) is the family name of the kings of Southern Tang.

Source: Wikipedia.com

In the dynasties that ensued, over 800 names were derived from the original ones like Wang (王), Liu (刘), and Jiang (蒋).

Auspicious Names

Names that rhyme or sound auspicious are considered lucky, so traditional names usually had the character 美 (beautiful) or 佳 (best). Many people name their girls tranquility (静) or harmony (怡). Amongst my Chinese friends, two share the exact same name of  怡 (yi4)静 (jing4), and at least two have the character 卓 (dexterous) in theirs.

During the Cultural Revolution, parents often added 军 (soldier) to their child’s name to associate themselves with the people’s army.

But just as the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, sometimes it can bring detriment to the entire name. For instance, if a person’s like name is 吴 (wu2), you cannot name your child anything like 信任 (trust),成功 (success), 智慧 (wisdom), because 吴 is a homonym of 无 (wu2), or nothingless. So naming you child 吴信任 sounds like “No Trust”.

That’s why you should always consider the name as a whole or better yet, ask a name Chinese speaker.

Write a reply to this blog or email me if you want nam personalized name in Chinese!

Ni Hao

Hello world,

A big Ni Hao (你好) to everyone!

First off, a little about myself: I’m a Mandarin speaker born in China, raised in Canada, living in the US, who is proficient in Mandarin, Chinese, French and Korean.

I want to share with you my secrets to speaking these languages proficiently (or at least enough so you can order at a takeout joint). But more importantly, I want to help you find your inner identity to confidently speak on – stage and off – in any language.

You see, I am actually a professional emcee whose job is to speak in front of thousands of people every day. It’s not the easiest thing to do in the world, but certainly not the hardest (think of all the computer programmers whose job it is to maintain this website). There are some tricks to the trade, and some things that are inborn. I will help you master the things that you can master, and give you the confidence to the ones that you will find on your own.

So I hope you join along the journey – it will not be easy at times, but your courage will lead you through.

From “Kung Fu” 1972:

Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?

Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?

Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?