Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China


  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Contributors to this blog

  • roddy 143
  • anonymoose 85
  • skylee 61
  • mungouk 11
  • abcdefg 10
  • Publius 8
  • StChris 8
  • Tomsima 6
  • jbradfor 5
  • xiaocai 4
  • somethingfunny 4
  • ChTTay 4
  • Flying Pigeon 2
  • stapler 2
  • DrWatson 2
  • js6426 1
  • murrayjames 1

About this blog

Entries in this blog


橡皮鴨 Rubber duck

The giant rubber duck parked next to the Harbour City in Kowloon has been a sensation during the past few weeks. And its flattening and removal for maintenance was "heartbreaking". Some friends have sent me different jpegs on the duck, and I am posting two here. I find the ID card very amusing.


How far can you go, etc

I took the first picture last saturday in Tsimshatsui. It was a locked-up newspaper stall, I guess. Obviously those were promotion material for a film, but they looked interesting. If you like you can try to identify the two mistakes among the handwritten words.

The second picture was taken at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay. I am not sure what it was. I guess it was a stage for some performance.


From Madrid

Once again I am at the Thyssen-Bornesmisza museum in Madrid. This is one of my favourite museums which I have visited repeatedly. It has just occurred to me that the Museum has chosen to use Simplified Chinese in some (not all) of its signs (as shown), which seems a bit unusual / unconventional. I mean, usually, such museums would only use their native languages and the better ones would have English (like Prado, which is another great museum that I visited again yesterday). If a musuem chooses to use an Asian language, I think it would usually go for Japanese. The museum's brochure is of course in several different languages, including Chinese and Japanese. And as usual there is not a Korean version. At Prado yesterday I actually saw a group of Korean tourists with their own translated guide to the masterpieces, which I assumed that the tour guide / company had done for them.

I appreciate that all three of the grand museums in Madrid are open for free for everyone (every evening for Prado and Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-B on Monday PM). I think it is very generous of them.

PS - And the British Museum is always free (but suggests donation of like 5 pounds, haha).


From Taipei

Again I am in Taipei. This is not a well planned trip as I booked my ticket/hotel and did all the arrangements just yesterday. Anyways.

I've just taken this picture at Eslite in Xinyi. 男化妝室 is just so odd.

Thr other picture is a bonus, haha.

Is there anything I should do so that the pictures can be of the correct orientation after uploading?


Sexual harassment

A friend, who is a professional translator (E->C, C->E) sent me this picture, which he had got from a friend of his. His brief remark reads, 傑作,甘拜下風。 :D This photo reminds me of one I took in Shanghai featuring some "west point" . :D


PS - if you like, you can look up what 例 on the menu (as in ¥58/例) means.


From Seoul

I am now in Seoul. The city is much more tourist-friendly than when I first visited it solo over 10 years ago. There is English on most signs in Seoul now. And there are Chinese characters too. But sometimes I can't help but wonder if the Chinese characters are supposed to be Chinese, or Japanese Kanji or their own Hanja. Sometimes the characters don't look quite right if they are meant to be Chinese.

Look at the first two picturs. There is something very wrong in the first one, at least it is not in line with the common understanding AFAIK. I am not sure if it is intentional. Is the term 正体字(not 正體字) used to refer to simplified characters at all?

The 昇 in the third picture is wrong AFAIK.

I was quite speechless when I saw the sign in the fourth picture. 乳母車?貸與? They can't be right, right?





PS - additional picture added on 29.4.2014. This is relevant to the fifth reply below.



Sick note

Here's one from the entrance to my building.

1) What has happened to the writer of the note?

2) What are readers asked to do?

3) What job do you think the writer does?

4) What's happening at the end of the second line, I can't figure it out?

5) What information did I crop from the bottom?



Two pictures taken yesterday near my home. They are very simple, but Mandarin speakers might not be able to underatand them immediately.

Then another one taken in Causeway Bay. It was a protest. See if you can read what is on the yellow banner.


From Nara - 咬人。踢人。頂人。衝撞人。

They are the inappropriate/ wild behaviours of the sacred deers in Nara. I found the notice very amusing and laughed out loud when I first saw it.

The other one was taken in Himeji. The pattern was on an advertising banner. I thought it was romantic.



I said to the cashier, "兩個豬仔包". And this is what such small olive/round shaped bread rolls with hard. . skin are called here.

I wonder what it is called in Putonghua, English or in other languages. Anyone wants to share?

The bread is going to be my dinner tonight.

EDIT: New photo of a 豬仔包 sandwich with cava added on 19.1.2013. Some cava has already gone to my head. :D



I am not sure what has prompted this. But tomorrow is an anniversary of the 1937 七七蘆溝橋事變.


From Paris - 巴黎聖母院

I am currently at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I think it is kind and generous of the church to let tourists in and take pictures during mass. Many churches don't allow it. (But then at the same time the church is also selling souvenirs to and making money from tourists.)

Most signs are in multiple languages including Chinese. I have noted an interesting inconsistency. While most Chinese signs are in simplified Chinese, the sign asking for donations for the new bells is in traditional Chinese. Possible reasons: (1) general confusion over the two scripts in the "western" world; (2) the translations were done by different translators; (3) users of traditional Chinese are much more likely to donate money than users of simplified Chinese as the majority of the latter group are from mainland China where there are church problems (although the latter group is rich nowadays).

I think (3) is likely to be the reason.

Another interesting thing is the different names for the Treasury in Japanese, Korean and Chinese - 秘寶、 寶物、珍寶.


From Sevilla - 出力

Sevilla is gorgeous. It is cold and sunny so a good way to spend some time is to sit under the sun and type up a blog post.

I have just done the obligatory visit to the Cathedral (the third time), and I took these pictures there. The first one is about the lack of Chinese, and the second one is about 出力.

blogentry-32-0-05343800-1423165057_thumb.jpg blogentry-32-0-65231500-1423165130_thumb.jpg


From Taipei

I took these pictures in Taipei during the last weekend. Look at them from left to right.

The first sign was under a very tall tree. It caught my eyes because it seemed ridiculous. But then when I looked up and saw the tree it sort of made sense. Why do you think?

I took the second one at the Breeze's food court. It caught my attention because what it said seemed very strange. It seemed to me that besides the two cultures singled out all others were 異國. But this did not sound right (I mean, why is Japan not one of the 異國). I might just be over-interpreting it. Probably they take 異國 to mean all other foreign countries.

I took the third one at the cinema where I watched "Detachment" (excellent film IMHO). I found this notice, especially the part in quotation marks, difficult to understand. Do you know what it is about?



From Belfast - 中立

I took this picture at the Queen's University of Belfast.

If you like, you could try to rewrite the sentence to make it more concise.


From Singapore

I went to Singapore for a weekend break and spent most of my time in museums (instead of Little India, the waterfront and malls, etc), which was probably why I liked the country a bit better. I have some observations on the Chinese shown on some exhibits in the museums.

First, 肅清. Actually what struck me was the title "The Sook Ching". It is based on the Cantonese pronunciation I suppose. When I showed my friend this photo she was quite surprised that the title was not the "massacre".

Second, an old notice for Chinese hawkers. Note the different directions in which the words are printed on the same notice - vertically from right to left, horizintally from left to right, and horizontally from right to left. :P Traditional Chinese characters are used on this notice, and the name of the country on this notice is 新嘉坡. But this is a decades-old notice.

Third, the name of the dish Char Kway Teow. 炒粿條 is used in the photo. If I am not mistaken it is the same thing as what we call 炒貴刁 over here in HK. The Chinese terms are very different

Fourth, Chinese by a Vietnamese artist. It is all right. Although some characters used are odd / wrong (like the 垂 and 淂) but it is not difficult to get the general idea of the meaning.

I hope you find them interesting. Please share your views.


Police Station Idioms

It's often hard to entertain yourself while hanging around in a police station. So why not see what plausible explanations you can come up with (using your no doubt extensive knowledge of Classical Chinese) for the four idioms,four character phrases, or whatever you want to interpret them as, we can invent here:





Allow me to start:

1) Used to describe an efficient organization, where both people (人) and machinery and equipment (物) does (办) exactly as they say (说)

Or perhaps you can think of something better.


Housing ad . . .

It's all been a bit too easy for you lately, I think. Lets throw some handwriting at you . . .

1) What kind of housing is offered - apartment, villa, etc . . ?

2) Which famous Beijing building is it near?

3) What form of heating is available?

4) If you decide to take the place, how much money will you need to hand to the landlord in the first instance?


What does it REALLY mean to love China?

I had to pop to the international student center at uni to sort some visa stuff, and couldn't resist getting some snaps of this sign. I haven't even attempted to decipher anything that's on there, but there's plenty on there to keep one busy, especially if you are looking to perfect your 'reading handwriting' skills! I'd love to hear feedback on what people have written (there's not a lot on there I can read, other than the middle hah)!








I had not noticed these plaques until today. I think some of the translated names are great, especially 沈弼 (Sandberg), 唐信 (Thompson), 浦偉士 (Purves) and 費樂怡 (Farrell). Sandberg and Purves were Taipans.

PS - 尤德 (Youde) is also pretty good.



I took this picture today at a supermarket. The first thing that came up in my mind was "Why is this called 沙士?" and it took only seconds for me to remember the reason. This soft drink has brought back some childhood memory.

No when I was little we didn't have soft drinks imported from Australia. But we had a root beer by Watson's called Sarsae, which is still available today. Its Chinese name is 沙示, which I think has to do with the ingredient Sarsaparilla. In Taiwan a similar drink is called 沙士. The wiki has more information. So this is why root beer is called 沙士/示.

Whenever I think of the Sarsae drink I remember the song George Lam (林子祥) sang for its ad. It was a cover version of

, and in place of "sunny" he sang "沙示". I can still sing the song today. :) Too bad I can't find that commercial online.
  • Create New...