Mandarin Weekly #106

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #106, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Why celebrate Spring Festival?

Intermediate Why do people in China celebrate the Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year)? Here is a story, in characters (with pinyin and translation), which describes the legend:

Celebrating Chinese New Year

Beginner How do Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year, which starts later this week? Here are some celebratory traditions to get you in the mood:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

One, two, three, travel!

Intermediate Enormous numbers of people travel for Chinese New Year, which means that just about every form of transportation is clogged at this time of year. Here is a description of the mad rush that ensues, and what different people can do about it:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Chicken phrases

Intermediate It’s the year of the rooster! Here are some sayings and expressions that use the term “rooster” or “chicken” in them:

A song for spring

Intermediate A music video for 春天 (Chūn tiān), from famous singer 汪峰(Wāng Fēng):

WeChat (微信, wēi xìn) vocabulary

Beginner You might use e-mail, Web browers, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, but most Chinese people use a single app, known as 微信. Here are some basic vocabulary words for using this super-app:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Intro to Chinese characters

Beginner Chinese characters often seem daunting to learn: There are so many, and they all look so similar! But with a bit of practice, you can identify the differences between them, and start to read them, as well. Here is a video intro from

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Mainland vs. Taiwanese Chinese

Intermediate How is mainland Chinese different from Taiwanese Chinese? They both speak “Mandarin,” but there are differences, as described in this video from

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Children’s cartoons

Advanced Looking for some television shows to help your children (or you; we won’t tell) to improve your Chinese? Here are 10 series watched by native Mandarin speakers, which might well help:

Twitter: @AlsSydney

Serial verb phrases

Intermediate You can combine verb phrases to communicate complex meanings, as described here:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

What’s for lunch?

Beginner What do people have for lunch in China? Here are some examples, with characters and pinyin (as well as some photos):

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Suggestions and recommendations

Intermediate How can you suggest something, or make a recommendation? Here are some suggestions and recommendations for doing so, in a video from

Twitter: @ChinesePod

How to flirt

Beginner How do you flirt with someone in Chinese? Here are some words and phrases that you can use:

Twitter: @MyTutorMandarin

What to eat in Shanghai

Beginner Heading to Shanghai? Don’t forget to have some of the local delicacies:

Twitter: @spoonhunt

Doubling classifiers

Intermediate You can often double words in Chinese to change the meaning somewhat. What does it mean to double a classifier (i.e., measure word)?

The sounds of old Chinese

Chinese is an ancient language; we have many written texts that are thousands of years old. However, what did ancient Chinese sound like? After all, we don’t have ancient recordings! However, as this posting describes, there are some old pronunciation guides that can be of help:

Knowing nothing

Intermediate The phrase 无所知 (yī wú suǒ zhī) means “to know nothing,” and allows you to describe your ignorance with elegant Chinese:

Trolling in Chinese

Beginner If you have ever let your temper rage on the Internet, then we might say you’re “trolling” in English. In Chinese, the word is 怼 (duì):

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

About the Analects

Advanced Confucius (孔子, kǒng zǐ) is China’s best-known ancient scholar, and his book 论语 (lún yǔ), known as the “Analects,” is still studied. Here is a short dialogue about these books and their place in society:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Poetry time

Advanced Learn a poem by 李白(Li Bai), a poet from the Tang dynasty; if classical Chinese is new to y ou, then this might be a good place to start:

Twitter: @MyTutorMandarin

Cats and dogs

Intermediate Why do both 狗 (gǒu) and 猫 (māo) use the “dog” radical?


Advanced The word 感冒 (gǎn mào) means to have a cold , but what does 冒 mean in that word?


Beginner How do you say “spouse” as a general term? And which of the (many) terms for “husband” and “wife” are most often used in Chinese?

Also published on Medium.

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