great job! just a minor correction regarding how provinces are named: when there is some sort of direction involved, it usually means the position of the province in relation to something. so for jiangxi, it's not so much the great river of the west but rather the province that is west of the great river. and the first province you tried to identify is Zhejiang. i have some further comments below in green.
浙江 Jiang is the second character, so, it might be Fujiang (if this province exists, I didn't verify, but it seems to ring a bell in my mind...) yes, you're right about 2nd character! as mentioned above, this is Zhejiang province; the first character no longer has an intrinsic meaning--just refers to the province itself (although it's interesting to note its rebus means "to divide, separate")
you got the words absolutely correct for the following 5, just the meanings need a bit of tweaking to get the exact definition, as mentioned above.
江西 Jiangxi : the great river of the west 湖北 Hubei : the lake of the north 湖南 Hunan : the lake of the south 河北 Hebei : river of the north 河南 Henan : river of the south
北京 Beijing : something of the north the capital in the north (when naming places, the chinese are usually pretty straight-forward )
南京 Nanjing : the same, but in the south the capital in the south
上海 Shang and something with the radical of water in it... the 2nd is "ocean"; this is shanghai, "above/over the ocean", since it's right at the mouth of the river
天津 Tian and something with the radical of water in it... 2nd is "ferry"; this is tianjin, "sky ferry"
西安 Xi an : quiet in the west yep! the place most famous for the terra cotta warriors!
黃河 something (maybe ying ?) and the word for river the first character is "yellow", so this is, obviously, the yellow river or huang he
Now, the exercise 2...
武林 it seems to me that the scond character is " lin ", so, it might be wulin... correct! "wu" means "martial", so this is literally the martial forest
江湖 Jianghu :the great river and the lake absolutely!
英雄 it seems to me that the first character is " ying ", so, it might be yingxiong, the hero great educated guess! and correct!
武功 it seems to me that the scond charater is gong, so, it might be qigong 1st character is "wu" (like wulin), so this is wugong, martial arts
師傅/師父 could it be shifu, the master ? correct! there are two ways of writing shifu, so i listed both. 1st character "shi" is "teacher". 2nd character of first variation means "tutor, teacher", and is related to the radical "ren" 人 for "person, people", so the whole term is redundant. 2nd character of second variation means "father", since the shifu is often a father figure to the students.
reinafu's post just reminded me: i should talk a bit about the family unit and its related words!
despite having built a civilization, the chinese never quite got out of the tribal mindset from their hunter-gatherer days. a tribe 族 "zu" back then was the group of people that went hunting and gathering and shared foodstuff and resources. after the agriculture revolution and the development of villages, a tribe came to mean the people who shared the same surname as oneself, the family clan.
so, some characters related to family:
族 "zu" - family clan, tribe
家 "jia" - home; family
interestingly, the character for family is made up of two radicals: 宀 "roof" and 豕 "pigs, boars, hogs" (the term we normally use for pig is 豬, which derives from this radical). so, a home and a family is defined as having pigs under a roof. also, you should note that, like the english, the chinese differentiate between "house" (the building in which you live) and "home" (the collective term for your family unit and your property and contained possessions). there are a few words that can be used to describe "house"; the most common are 屋 "wu" and 房 "fang".
and because the chinese didn't lose the tribal mentality, 家 (and by extension 族) has always been the most important unit for one's loyalties. rulers come and go, empires rise and fall, so the family is the one constant. this explains why nationalism has never been a big deal (until recent history, when the communist party made it a big deal--but still, people care more for family than the state to this day) and why people are so region-biased (i.e., to people of a particular place, like shanghai or beijing, people who live outside of that place are barbarians; there is a divide between north and south, separated by the yangtze river; and the people of guangdong take it even further: everyone living outside of the province are collectively "northerners" 北方人 "bei fang ren").
here are two terms (one i've covered before) closely associated with the topic on hand:
姓 "xing" - surname
氏 "shi" (r) - clan, family
姓氏 is a compound term used to denote the surname of the family clan. and you'll note that "surname" has 女 "girl, female" as its radical. when surnames were first in use, a person identified himself as belonging to both parents, so he'd say he was part of a certain patrilineage and a certain matrilineage. over time, only the term for matrilineal surname 姓 was retained and came to represent the patriarchal family clan surname. a bit of irony, methinks.
so, onto some characters for members of the family:
父 "fu" (r) - father (this is the traditional term; most people use 爸爸 "ba ba" nowadays)
母 "mu" - mother (again, this is the traditional term; people say 媽媽 "ma ma" now)
堂 "tang" + 兄弟姊妹 - how the children of brothers call/refer to one another
表 "biao" + 兄弟姊妹 - how all other cousins (between brothers & sisters' kids, sisters & sisters' kids) call/refer to one another
侄(女) "zhi" - one's brother's son; add 女 to refer to his daughter
外甥(女) "wai sheng" - a man's sister's son; add 女 to refer to her daughter
姨甥(女) "yi sheng" - a woman's sister's son; add 女 to refer to her daughter
孫(女) "sun" - grandson; add 女 to refer to granddaughter (nowadays, 孫 is the generic "grandchild"); 外 is added in front of the term by old-fashioned grandparents who still distinguish between grandchildren by sons and by daughters
the whole tribal mentality had some serious consequences, especially in the later dynasties of the ming and qing. if the emperor wanted to really punish you, he didn't just kill you, he annihilated your entire family clan.
here's the breakdown of the two most severe forms of royally-decreed family annihilations:
(1) 誅連九族 execution implicating the nine tribes
一族 (父母, 兄弟, 姊妹, 兒女) what is considered one tribe? 1st degree relatives: parents, siblings, children
九族 = 父族四, 母族三, 妻族二 the nine tribes are broken down into the patrilineal 4, the matrilineal 3, the in-laws' 2. here are the details:
(a) 父族四 patrilineal 4 tribes: = 己之同族 (父母, 兄弟, 姊妹, 兒女) one's own tribe (parents, siblings, children) = 姑及其兒子 tribes of one's aunts (father's sisters) and one's cousins (aunts' sons) = 姊妹之子 tribes of one's sisters and one's nephews (sisters' sons) = 女兒之子 tribes of one's daughters and grandsons (daughters' sons)
(b) 母族三 matrilineal 3 tribes: = 外祖父 tribe of one's maternal grandfather = 外祖母娘家 tribe of one's maternal grandmother = 姨母及其兒子 tribe of one's aunts (mother's sisters) and one's cousins (aunts' sons)
(c) 妻族二 in-laws' 2 tribes: = 岳父 tribe of one's father-in-law = 岳母娘家 tribe of one's mother-in-law
remember, these are the tribes of each set of relatives, not just the individuals' nuclear family unit. that is a shitload of people!
(2) 誅十族 execution implicating the ten tribes
oh yes, there is an upgrade to #1. it happened in the ming dynasty, during the reign of the yongle emperor. he didn't like the criticism of one of his ministers, they got into an argument, and the result was a 9 tribe + 1 punishment.
what are the 10? all the nine tribes in #1 plus 門生 the tribes of one's students (the minister was a confucian teacher-scholar).
and this ultimate annihilation won the world record: 873 people killed because the emperor was angry at one person. also, the wealth and assets of the affected families were seized by the government. it's no wonder the yongle emperor could afford to send zheng he on those expeditions around asia and africa.
the compound term 滅族 is used to describe this type of annihilation--complete wipe-out. well, almost. your father's brothers and their families were spared, as were the wives and children of your mother's brothers. the emperors weren't so powerful that they'd risk offending the ancestors--some male progeny of the family line had to be left to do their duties and pass on the family name. still, nasty business, this tribal annihilation stuff!
So, when a character says " zhe shi shenme di fang ", it means " what is this house ", right ? What is the use of the word " di " in this sentence ?
i'm guessing the question is "what is this place?" or "where are we?" 這是什麼地方 (zhe shi shenmo difang) so the "di" in this sentence is the word for ground. "di fang" is the compound term for place, location. so, this "fang" isn't the same as the one for house. homophones are a pain in the butt, i know. and "shen mo" 什麼 is "what".
the light barge traverses endless mountains
oh and just a general apology for the chinglish that crops up periodically--my bad! i hope i catch them all, but do point them out if i've missed! if you see "edited" at the end of my posts, that's usually why! *sigh*
the light barge traverses endless mountains
as has already been hinted at, despite a staggering number of characters in the chinese lexicon (upwards of 8000 by some estimates), they still aren't enough to fully encompass thoughts, ideas, descriptions, and explanations needed to communicate to each other about life, the universe, and everything. so, on top of those individual words, there are compound words, usually pairs of characters, that are needed. to attempt to list the most common of these compound words is an exercise in futility. so, i'll limit this post to listing a handful of compound words that are the most useful in everyday, ordinary communication. (this, of course, will be a work in progress as i think of stuff and queries are raised about useful characters.)
問題 "wen ti" - question; problem 什麼 "shen mo" - what? 因為 "yin wei" - because 為什麼 "wei shen mo" - why? (literally, "for what?") 為了 "wei liao" - in order to 由于 "you yu" - due to, because of 如果 "ru ge" - if 但是 "dan shi" - but 所以 "suo yi" - therefore 虽然 "sui ran" - even though
没有 "mei you" - have not, none
可以 "ke yi" - can; may 可能 "ke neng" - possibly; can 已經 "yi jing" - already 知道 "zhi dao" - to know 需要 "xu yao" - to need 要求 "yao qiu" - request; demand 情況 "qing kuang" - circumstance 許多 "xu duo" - many 開始 "kai shi" - to begin 包括 "bao kuo" - include, including 現在 "xian zai" - now, at present 重要 "zhong yao" - important 結果 "jie guo" - result
時間 "shi jian" - time 時候 "shi hou" - hour
自己 "zi ji" - self, myself 生活 "sheng huo" - (everyday) life, existence 工作 "gong zuo" - work 公司 "gong si" - company 主要 "zhu yao" - main 地方 "di fang" - place 地點 "di dian" - location 後悔 "hou hui" - regret 思想 "si xiang" - thought 主意 "zhu yi" - idea 意見 "yi jian" - opinion 解釋 "jie shi" - explanation 朋友 "peng you" - friend 喜歡 "xi huan" - like, enjoy 困難 "kun nan" - difficulty 容易 "rong yi" - easy 唱歌 "chang ge" - sing a song 美麗 "mei li" - beautiful 奇怪 "qi guai" - strange, weird 翻譯 "fan yi" - translation
various combinations with a single word to give related compound words
我/你/他 + 們 "wo/ni/ta" + "men" - "men" is used to give plurality to singular nouns, so "we/us", "you guys", and "they/them", respectively
我/你/他 + 的 "wo/ni/ta" + "di" - "di" is used to show possession, so "mine, my", "your, yours", "his (her(s))", respectively
昨/今/明/每 + 天 "zuo/jin/ming/mei" + "tian" - "tian" here means day rather than sky, and the combinations give you "yesterday", "today", "tomorrow", and "every day", respectively (also useful for longer time periods, like what year 去/今/明/每 + 年)
這 + 個/些/裡 "zhe" + "ge/xie/li" - "zhe" = "this" and combined with other words gives concepts like "this thing", "these things", and "here, this place", respectively 那 + 個/些/裡 "na" + "ge/xie/li" - "na" = "that" and, like the previous example, gives "that thing", "those things", and "there, that place", respectively
第 + 一/二/三 "di" + "yi/er/san" - this allows numbering: "di" gives the order of things, so you just have to add the appropriate numbers following so, respectively, "first/number one", "second/number two", "third/number three" (and so on)
不 + 是/同/能/知/懂 "bu" + "shi/tong/neng/zhi/dong" - "bu" means "no, not" and is used as a negative, so you can get "isn't", "different", "cannot", "don't know", "can't understand", respectively
最 + 多/小/重要 "zui" + "duo/xiao/zhong yao" - "zui" measures an extreme, so you have "the most", "the least", and "the most important; more importantly", respectively
some common topics of conversation (just 'cause this list can't be avoided):
i googled some common phrases and tourist essentials--links below. just thought i'd point out a few that are useful for everyday conversation:
你好 (nǐ hǎo) - Hello (general greeting) 喂 (wéi) - Hello? (on the phone) (你)好嗎? ((nǐ) hǎo ma) - How are you? 早 (zǎo) / 早安 (zǎo ān) / 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo) - Good morning 晚上好 (wǎn shàng hǎo) - Good evening 晚安 (wǎn ān) - Good evening, Goodnight 再見 (zài jiàn) - Goodbye 慢走 (màn zǒu) - Take care; Have a good day 我先走了 (wǒ xiān zǒu le) - I gotta run
謝謝 (xiè xie) - Thank you 不客氣 (bú kè qi) / 不用謝 (bú yòng xiè) - You're welcome 沒關係 (méi guān xi) / 沒問題 (méi wèn tí) - No matter; it's OK 請等一下！(qing3 deng3 yi1 xia4) - One moment please!
我懂 (wǒ dǒng) / 我明白 (wǒ míng bai) - I understand 我不懂 (wǒ bù dǒng) / 我不明白 (wǒ bù míng bai) - I don't understand (我)不知道 ((wǒ) bù zhī dào) - I don't know 我餓了 (wo e le) - I'm hungry 我渴了 (wo ke le) - I'm thirsty 我累了 (wo lei le) - I'm tired
請問 (qǐng wén) - (to attract attention in order to ask a question) Excuse me 對不起 (duì bù qǐ) - I'm sorry
這是什麼？(zhe shi shen mo) - What is this? (這個)多少錢？ ((zhè ge) duō shǎo qián?) - How much is this?
乾杯! (gān bēi) - Cheers! (when drinking/toasting someone(s)) 别管我! (bié guǎn wǒ) - Go away! 救命啊! (jìu mìng ā!) - Help! 停! (tíng!) - Stop! 嚇死我了! (xià sǐ wǒ le) - You scared me! 随你了 (suí nǐ le) - Up to you 我聽你的 (wǒ tīng nǐ de) - You're the boss 拿去！(na2 qu4) - Here you go; Take it 给我！(gei1 wo3) - Give it to me 算了! (suan4 le5) - Forget it; Never mind; Whatever
是誰? "shi shei" - who is it? 在那裡? "za na li" - where? 什麼時候? "shen mo shi hou" - when? 怎麽辦! "zen mo ban" - what do we do? what are we gonna do? how do we fix this? 氣死我! "qi si wo" - pisses me off 够了! "gou le" - enough (when fed up with someone or a situation; to tell your host you've got enough food on your plate) 哎呀! "ai ya"