Mandarin Weekly (每周中文) #107, 2017-January-30

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #107, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Beginner Around this time of year, you’ll hear lots of Chinese New Year greetings. But there are lots of greetings in Chinese, and lots of ways to wish people well. Here is a long list of what to say, and how to say it, for numerous occasions:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

About the 鸡 (jī)

Intermediate This is the Year of the Rooster. Why a rooster? Here is a story that describes its origins and usage:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Year of the Cock?

Beginner Some say “chicken,” some say “rooster,” and still others might say “cock.” Are you giggling? Well, you won’t be alone, since there are similar connotations in Chinese:

Chinese New Year traditions

How can you celebrate Chinese New Year? Here is a list of traditional ways to celebrate, including the appropriate characters and pronunciation:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Gods of the Chinese New Year

Beginner Around Chinese New Year, you’ll hear about traditional gods. What are these gods, and how do Chinese factor them into their celebrations?

Holiday foods

Beginner China has many holidays, and every holiday has its own traditional foods. Here is a whirlwind tour of the edible Chinese calendar:

Happy New Year Teeth

A short, funny, pun in a Chinese advertisement for a dental clinic:

How to bargain

Intermediate Buying something in China? It’s always worth bargaining with the shopkeeper. It’s a popular (non-Olympic) sport in China, and is a great way to practice your vocabulary. Here is a video from, describing how to bargain:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

How to use 了 (le)

Intermediate One of the hardest things for Chinese learners to understand is the use of 了. Part of the issue is that it’s unlike anything in other languages, and part of the issue is that it’s used in a number of ways. Here is an explanation, with many examples, that can help you:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Learning from everyone

Intermediate An expression from the Analects of Confucius, indicating that we have something to learn from everyone, in a short story:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Must-eats in 广州(Guǎngzhōu)

Beginner Traveling to 广州? Here are some local foods you should know about, and maybe even eat:

Twitter: @spoonhunt

哈尔滨 (Hāěr bīn) in winter

Beginner The northern (and cold) city of Harbin can be an interesting place to visit, particularly during the winter. Here are some things to do there, as well as vocabulary to describe the most common sites:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

In short

Intermediate How do you say, “in short,” or “to make a long story short” in Chinese? There’s a phrase for that, of course:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Using 连 (lián)

Intermediate The word 连 can be used in a few ways, one of which is “even,” and another is “connect.” These examples make it clearer:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Chinese TV

Advanced Looking for Chinese TV shows to watch, and improve your language skills, cultural understanding, or ability to chat with friends about shared favorites? Here is a list of interesting Chinese TV dramas:

Twitter: @MyTutorMandarin

Serial verb phrases

Intermediate I did THIS to do THAT is a pretty common type of sentence. In Chinese, we can use “serial verb phrases” for this kind of sentence, as described here:

Chinese in 50 minutes

Beginner Can you really learn Chinese in 50 minutes? Of course not — but perhaps this 50-minute video, incorporating many previous ones from, will help to improve your vocabulary and grammar:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

What do you do?

Beginner What sort of work do you do? Here’s a list of common occupations in Chinese, useful when you introduce yourself to others and also when applying for jobs:

Twitter: @HanbridgeOnline

I’ll do X, then I’ll do Y

Intermediate If you want to express that you’ll do X, and then immediately continue to do Y, you can use the 一X就Y (yī X jiù Y) construct, as described here:

Why no measure words?

Intermediate Most words in Chinese require a “measure word” when you’re quantifying them. But some, like 天 (tiān) don’t. Why not?

Two ways to smoke

Intermediate There are two words that mean “to smoke,” 抽烟 (chōu yān) and 吸烟 (xī yān). How are they different?

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