The Digital Story of The Nativity

I’d like to share this creative, funny and cute story of the Nativity to say Merry Christmas-圣诞快乐!

How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity.
Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon…

Times change, the feeling remains the same

If unfortunately you are in mainland China, here is the video on Tudou

Correcting news anchors’ pronunciation

Stumbled across this website with some hilarious videos about Mandarin. Especially check out the one about the Pinyin Pirate. They also give a snarky but accurate presentation about how to pronounce the name of our fair city.

All campy jokes aside, the videos are actually useful for learning Mandarin. They’re hosted by real university Mandarin teachers.

What web resources have been useful to you in your study of Chinese? Help out fellow students and post in the comments.

Embarassing Underwear Story

During the winters in China, it is very common (almost necessary) to wear long johns or long underwear. Being a foreigner, I’m not used to wearing long johns, but there was one day when the weather was as cold as -20 C. It would have been crazy not to have been wearing long underwear that day, and indeed I was crazy enough not to. I was even keen enough to tell my Chinese friends this. Funny enough, instead of telling them that I wasn’t wearing long johns, I had informed them that I wasn’t wearing any underwear.

longjohns

A common mistake by foreigners is to call long underwear “nèikù” (内裤), which in Chinese actually means “underwear”. The right term to use is “qiūkù” (秋裤)。As a foreigner speaking to a local the Chinese, it is quite embarrassing but common to tell him/her that you’re not wearing any underwear. Even more embarrassing is to ask your Chinese friends whether or not they’re wearing underwear!! Don’t make this same embarrassing mistake!

What’s the Deal with 的

Read this sentence aloud:

我带我的太太和我的小孩儿去我的朋友的家吃他做的饭
wǒ dài wǒ de tài tɑi hé wǒ de xiǎo hái ér qù wǒ de pénɡ you de jiā chī tā zuò de fàn

Does this sentence read funny? Does it sound funny when read out loud?

Try it again:

我带我太太和我小孩儿去我朋友家吃他做
wǒ dài wǒ de tài tɑi hé wǒ de xiǎo hái ér qù wǒ de pénɡ you de jiā chī tā zuò de fàn

What’s 的 problem?
Herein lies the problem: too many ‘s!!! Grammatically there’s no problem with this sentence, but it’s not smooth. Locals will look at you funny if you talk like this.

But what’s the meaning of 的 anyway?
的 is called a “particle” – a word that doesn’t have a specific definition but changes the relationship between the parts of a sentence.

For example: 我的太太

Between 我 (me) and 太太 (wife), we see 的, which, in this case turns

我 (me)
into 我的 (mine).

Because the particle “的” is present, 太太 has become mine (我的). If only grammar reflected real life…sigh.

So 的 can demonstrate possessiveness (Good thing grammar doesn’t always reflect real life), as it does in every case in the sentence above. But in spoken language, locals don’t use so many 的s. It sounds awkward.

So when do you use 的 and when do you NOT use 的?

“我带我的太太和我的小孩儿去我的朋友的家吃他做的饭”

It’s pretty simple. When you have a personal pronoun such as I, my, he, she, they (我, 他, 她,他们), and you want to show possession of something, you can leave off 的.

“我带
我太太
我小孩儿
我朋友
吃他做的饭”

However, you CANNOT leave off 的 when:

To show possession between a noun and another noun.

For example, 王老师的学生 (Miss Wong’s student). In this case you see that acts like “‘s“, a possessive.

If you leave off 的, you get
王老师学生

What’s that mean? Miss Wong student? Does it mean Miss Wong is a student? But she’s a teacher.

王老师的学生
王老师学生
is as different as
Miss Wong’s student
Miss Wong student

So in this case, 的 cannot be left out. A and a ‘s makes all the difference. Here’s another more specific case:

的 Cannot be left out when the two nouns in the sentence cannot have a relationship with each other, i.e. a human and an inanimate object. See the difference:

总统的水饺
总统水饺
The President’s dumplings
President dumplings

超人的保暖内衣
超人保暖内衣
Superman’s thermal underwear
Superman thermal underwear

布兰妮的猴子
布兰妮猴子
Britney’s monkey
Britney monkey

Hope this helps! If something’s unclear or you have some other questions about Mandarin, let us know in the comments.