I was trying to write to someone in Chinese the simple idea of “I miss the ocean,” but it didn’t sound right without the English definite article “the.”
I miss oceans. I miss great oceans. No, I miss the ocean.
I had to resort to using reverse-Chinglish, or Zhonglish, for the time being.
我真怀念 the 海
wǒ zhēn huáiniàn the hǎi
In class today, we covered the word for clothing, 衣 (yī), which brought us to Uniqlo because the Chinese translation is yōu 衣 kù (yōuyīkù).
The name is a great brand translation since the 优 (yōu) means extraordinary. In the traditional style, it’s written as 優. Yōu didn’t always mean extraordinary. On the right side, the top character is page, 頁 (yè), which originally meant face. In the middle is a heart, and below it is the character for walking slowly. Originally, 優 referred to a worrier. Its meaning might have evolved because a worrier, someone who cares a lot, may eventually become someone extraordinary. (And later 優 got simplified to 优 because 尤 has a similar sound and it also meant something that stood out.)
As for kù, at the time we did not know which character was used and thought it was either 裤 (pants), or 酷 (a loanword for “cool”). It turns out Uniqlo uses 库, a warehouse.
Not bad, but 优衣酷, extraordinary clothing cool, would’ve been some awesome Engrish branding on par with Coke’s 可口可乐. And very fitting for a company such as Uniqlo.
Hanging around 外国人 who already speak a 语言 other than 英文 and are here learning Chinese, is making me feel like 我需要再多学一种语言.
In Chinese, there is an archaic character, 囧 (jiong3), which referred to the old ricepaper windows overlaid with wooden patterns. It fell out of use because houses were no longer built with such windows, but in the past decade internet users started to use this character as a emoticon, thus bringing the word back with a new meaning.
我好囧阿! (wǒ hǎo jiǒng a, I’m so embarassed!)
Came across this nice collection on bizarro Tumblr while trying to find the source of the Julião Sarmento illustration. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of Chinese copies of Tumblr out here: Kuandao, Diandian, iFeng. The content is generally the same stuff that gets reblogged here (cute girls, nicely designed items, illustrations, architecture, kittens..), but there’s some original content as well. I found this guy’s stream on farming pretty cool (he also took a photo of his jacket in the field—workwear!). And the light nature of microblogging makes it easy for a beginner Chinese reader to comprehend words.
(Of course much of the writing leans towards ennui/angst.)