Monday, April 5, 2010
A (flowery) connection between Chinese & English
There is almost no overlap in how words sound in English vs Mandarin. (Just open up a Spanish-English dictionary to a random page, and see how much similarity there is!). Also, sentence construction is very different.
And yet, every now and then, I come across something which links the two languages, but it is difficult to explain how that came about.
I'm not referring to words like 'microphone' (麦克风) - which is pronounced "màikèfēng" - this was intentionally created as a loanword from English. No, I'm talking about something odder.
Take, for example, the word 花 (huā) which means 'flower'.
It has another meaning, and that is "to spend" - which I first heard in a ChinesePod* lesson. In English, we talk about "spending time" or "spending money". And this is the interesting thing ... in Chinese, when using the word 花 (huā) - is is also used both for spending time and for spending money.
Spend your money where it's needed most
qián yào huā zài dāokǒu shàng
Spend a lot of time
hěn huā shíjiān
This realisation hasn't improved my Mandarin learning - oddities like this aren't common enough to rely on. However, by the time you've finished reading this, you'll probably never forget: 花 (huā) means flower, to spend time, or to spend money.
If you're feeling brave, can you work out for yourself how to say "I spent a bit of time deciding which flower to spend my money on". My version** (with Yen's support) appears below.
* affiliated link