I had earlier discovered that you reach a point in your Chinese studies where you kinda pick words up along the way, you learn new words without trying.
It becomes partly about discovering Mandarin, and no longer just about learning Mandarin.
Here is my stream of consciousness as I tried to work the sign out ...
- My eyes gravitated to 是主 which I immediately (mentally) translated as "is master"
- So then my eyes settled on the 耶穌 on the left
- I knew I had seen the first character 耶 before, but couldn't remember how to pronounce it, nor what it means
- The second character 穌 I know well, from Scotland (蘇格蘭) and soda-water (蘇打水) - but I only seemed to remember how it was pronounced , and I couldn't remember the meaning!
- For a fraction of a second, it felt hopeless - I couldn't work it out
- Suddenly I noticed the cross in the middle (why didn't I notice it before?) and realised immediately that there was something of a religious theme going on
- Right away, my mind clicked that the right probably meant "is Lord" ...
- ... so the left in all likelihood must be "Jesus"
- Another piece of the puzzle fitted in place with the second character being pronounced sū
- So I deduced that the first probably sounds like "ye" - making the left half sound like "Yesu"
- Got it!
This has happened to me a number of times before - where I saw a word that I'd never known, and based on the context I worked out what it meant - and I've never forgotten it.
- 防水 (fángshuǐ): I know that 防 means defend (from the expression 防不胜防 which I knew) and 水 is water, and after seeing what they were selling, it was easy to see that every was waterproof. Yes 防水 means waterproof.
- In the shopping district part of Causeway bay, Hong Kong, there are a lot of signs with 水晶 (shuǐjīng) written out front - meaning "water bright", which I could similarly work out meant "crystal" from the context.
- In a store in Taipei one I saw a sign on the wall which read "手工" (shǒugōng) which literally means "hand work" - and it was easy to deduce that it was indicating that the items there were hand-made. Now I know.
- Other words that I discovered without learning included: 法院 (law court), 石油 (rock oil = petrol), 加油站 (add oil station = petrol station), 海绵 (sea cotton = sponge)