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Learn Chinese in China


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Entries in this blog


Hello Signese

Thanks to @roddy for inviting me to join in here... most of what I post will probably be quite simple due to my level.


What's going on here?  Taken in a hotel dining room in Nanjing.



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Guess the brand

Sorry for not posting any Signese lately. 乐不思蜀.

Sorry also for the quality of this one - mobile phone photo taken through the sliding doors of a subway. Should be legible, although I'll help you out with the last character - it's the traditional version of 价.

Your question - what brand is being advertised?


Guangzhou Subway

A set of photos from the Guangzhou subway, with thanks to xuefang. A lot have English on so I won't propose any questions - but feel free to print them out and recreate that genuine Chinese subway feeling at home.



I took this picture today. It was the back of the seat in front of mine in a van. If you like, you could try to figure out -

A. Who the writer was unhappy about, and

B. Who in particular, and

C. Why.


Government education

Spotted on the way back from a wedding in a local 祠堂 surrounded by chaotically half built houses, attended by 400 people, lots of burning incense and sacrificing animals to ancestors, copious pyrotechnics,  unbelievable amounts of money given and received in 红包's and no doubt a massive 聘礼.




Got lemons?

If you have a ____________ you can go to ____________ and when you buy any one of _____________, ________________, or ______________ (good luck translating those) you get a _______________ for the price of a _____________ .

There's a couple of company names in there - plug one into Google and you should find the English name easy enough, the other you can translate easy enough. Skip the drinks names if you like.



Available for purchase in one of our hotels during our recent trip. I think there's some useful vocabulary here :mrgreen:

This is the first hotel I've stayed in for a long time that includes condoms for purchase -- and it wasn't a particularly cheap hotel! I assume it's not part of an anti-AIDS campaign or something like that?

I also appreciate the price being labeled in four languages.


Future grammar

When the yellow light lighting the door dooring. Simple! 


Surprising (or not) that the Beijing subway still has these kinds of errors. 



From Valencia

I just want to show a butchered Chinese word on a window in Valencia. To be fair, the same word on the next window had its both limbs intact.

同場加映 (though it is not related to Chinese) :I went to see a free photo exhibtion celebrating the 10th anniversary of the renowned City of Arts and Sciences when I was there. And when I read the English caption (photo attached) of a photo with a dophin in it, I laughed out. Who do you think is/are to be X-rayed? :D


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 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?


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.


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.

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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.



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 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 Lyon

I took this photo in Lyon a couple of days ago. If you are interested, you can try to find out the following -

1. What is written on the big character? How are the small characters arranged?

2. What characters (traditional / simplified) are used on the poster?

Side story about a scam - outside the Cathedral Notre Dame in Lyon, different young people asked me to sign on a form with a big UNICEF heading. They did not speak to me, but just held up that signature form to my face. It appeared that they were asking for support for the cause of UNICEF. But then I noticed that their fingers covered the last column of the form, which was for the signers to write down the amount of money they would give. If that was legitimate they would not need to play such a trick. I had been fooled by this trick once many years ago in Paris.

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