Sunday, February 20, 2011

In space, no-one can hear you learn vocabulary

There's a great little character (actually it's the same size as all other characters :-) that comes up really often in Mandarin, so it's worth spending a moment with it.

If you're a beginner, the content of this article may be new to you; and even if you're intermediate, then there are probably still words that are new.

Overall in the WordPack context, this is an example of what we discussed recently about being an active learner, when reasonable beavers co-operate.

The root of all time & space
Our starting point is 间 (間) which is pronounced 'jiān'. You can get the full definition at MDBG, but for our purposes, it comes down to "time & space".

When 间 (jiān) is used to mean 'space', these are some of the resulting words:

空间 (kōng​jiān) space (literally empty space)
房间 (fáng​jiān) room (literally house space)​
洗手间 (xǐ​shǒu​jiān) bathroom (literally wash hands room)
雅间 (yǎ​jiān) private room
田间 (tián​jiān) farming area / village (literally field space)

When 间 (jiān) is used to mean 'time', these are some of the resulting words:

时间 (shí​jiān​) time (perhaps literally this is: time space)
日间 (rì​jiān​) day-time (literally sun time)
夜间 (yè​jiān​) night-time (literally night time)
北京时间 (Běijīng Shíjiān​) Chinese Standard Time
格林尼治标准时间 (Gé​lín​ní​zhì​biāo​zhǔn​shí​jiān​) Greenwich Mean Time, GMT (ignore the literal meaning here, this is more of a transliteration)

Special Mentions
I've put these into a separate group because they have a bit of an 'angle' on them:

之间 (zhī​jiān) between
外层空间 (wài​céng​kōng​jiān) outer space (literally outside stratum empty space)
空间站 (kōng​jiān​zhàn) space station (literally empty space platform)
网络空间 (wǎng​luò​kōng​jiān) cyberspace
三维空间 (sān​wéi​kōng​jiān) three-dimensional space
坐标空间 (zuò​biāo​kōng​jiān) coordinate space (maths)
拓扑空间 (tuò​pū​kōng​jiān) topological space (maths)

How many of these words will you remember next week?  Are you really progressing over time?

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