Maria Holland

Learn Something Interesting Every Day!

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Interesting notes from class today:

– The upcoming May 1st holiday, supposedly one of two Golden Week vacations, is actually a three-day weekend this year.  In America, a three-day weekend just means one extra day off of school and work but in China, where they work on days that end in ‘y’, a three day weekend is kind of a big deal.  (Once I read that the government sometimes declares “two-day weekends”, which in China does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Redundancy Department.)  Also, even a “Golden Week” is not as long a vacation as a week-long break would be in America.  They push the work days over to the weekends, which means your 5-7 days of vacation are bookended by 7- or 9-day workweeks. 

– The words for stay-at-home-mom and stay-at-home-dad are distinguished by a single tone difference on the last syllable.  You’re either a jiātíngzhǔfù or a jiātíngzhǔfū, and you better say it right either way.  Potential for awkwardness and embarrassment abound.

– Our lesson is about the working-at-home movement in China, as opposed to the traditional working situation.  In America, we call it “9-to-5”; in China it is called “8出8进" or “out at 8, in at 8”.  Interesting, no? 


Interesting notes from some blogs I read today:

– An article about Chinese humor and the phenomenon of post-punchline explanations. 

A list of the abrupt ways that Chinese people end phone calls.  In my experience these are more often used for ending class, meetings, announcements, press conferences, etc., while phone calls tend to end in an endless stream of “恩,恩,好的,拜拜,好的,会儿见,拜拜 . . .” (“mm, mm, okay, bye, okay, see you soon, bye-bye . . .”)

A guide to ordering food in China that is actually practical for foreigners who want to eat normal – good, cheap – Chinese food.  In addition to descriptions, characters, and pronunciation, it also includes such helpful tips as, under the heading ‘Soup’: “Most foreigners don’t order soup when out on their own.”  He also brilliantly omitted foods with too many bones like “ ‘chainsaw chicken’ –you know, where it looks like they just took a chicken and cut up the whole thing with a chainsaw and threw it in the pot”.  Couldn’t have said it better myself. 

A compilation of rhyming syllables in Mandarin.  Useful because, while Mandarin has relatively few possible endings for syllables (25), most of the ones that look like they should rhyme, actually don’t.  ‘li’, ‘si’, ‘hui’, ‘zhi’, and ‘ai’ all sound completely different. 

A list of characters that Chinese people usually can’t write.  Good for a self-esteem boost, as I am perfectly capable of writing 钥匙 (‘key’). 

– Several posts regarding the prevalence of homonyms in Chinese: numbers that have meanings because of what they kind of sound like (a.k.a., why 8 is the luckiest number), and traditional New Year’s foods and why they’re considered so auspicious (a.k.a., where the phrase “Year after year have fish” came from). 

– Examples that happen when languages are treated as a one-to-one correspondence – basically, when you speak English with Chinese words or vice versa.  The writer had a few examples of how to learn from others making this mistake, and a few examples of how he had made this mistake. 

I liked these posts because they were all directly pertinent to my everyday life here in China.  They’re things I noticed, lists I meant to make, questions I kept meaning to find answers to. 


Today’s weather was finally decent – warmish and, while not clear, at least not raining.  Maybe I’ll be able to pack the leggings away someday soon . . .

In celebration of the end of the lamest weekend ever, a few of us got together to play Catan this afternoon.  I won; if such things were possible, I would have won with 13 points by stealing Longest Road as well.

  1. I must say, I’ve been an interested reader for quite a while and have only now taken the opportunity to respond. It is extremely amazing to have someone document their experiences in China. It almost puts me to shame because although I understand and speak Cantonese fluently, my ability to read/write it is quite lacking. When I was younger, I spent 6 years in Chinese-school, but learned very little in terms of written/reading. Most of my ‘learning’ of Chinese nowadays are watching Chinese drama series, movies and such, lol.

    I just wanted to say kudos for upkeeping such an interesting blog and even almost a diary of your experiences. I will of course continue reading!! Hope you keep it up-to-date for all your reader’s reading-pleasures. :)

  2. Nice to hear from you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it; I would write mostly the same for my own memories, but I hope that other people will get something out of it. Three months to go!

    Do you have any good movies or series to recommend??

    • To be honest, I watch so many of them I lose track and the ones I do watch are in Cantonese rather than Mandarin. However, I’m sure that having lived in China for a while, you know services like PPLive – essentially p2pTV? If you go on there, you’ll find over a hundred thousand different shows, movies or series – probably whatever you can think of (although I do not believe they have adult-oriented films, not that I am suggesting you do/do not watch them). My mom and I watch so many that each one just becomes a blur, lol.

      I’ve watched Cupid Stupid (戀愛星求人) and In the Eye of the Beholder (秋香怒點唐伯虎). In terms of movies, the only one that sticks out in my mind so far is Overheard (竊聽風雲). I really enjoyed Cupid Stupid, although the reviews weren’t tremendous, but I’m a hopeless romantic and I’m a sucker for sappy-love-stories :lol:

  3. Hey Maria! I can´t remember if I´ve ever talked to you in real life before or not but… just thought I´d let you know your blog is sweeeeet! It´s keeping me really entertained as I avoid studying! Soo… hello from Spain! Have fun and enjoy the rest of your time in China!!

    • Hi Tiffany! I think we’ve probably talked in real life . . . or maybe Caitlin and other people talked about you enough that it felt like it! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog – I write enough that it’s probably really good for procrastination! I’ve been reading your journal too, getting jealous over your travels in Europe and meeting up with people from TU (say hi to Kristin for me!). Sounds like you have about a month left, right? And then one more year at TU, like me?

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